Thinking Biblically About Marriage
About the Guest
If you want to marry, what are the options? Steve and Candice Watters, co-founders of the Marry Well relationship service, coach men and women to think biblically about marriage.
Steve and Candice WattersSteve and Candice Watters founded Boundless.org webzine for Focus on the Family in 1998. Candice served as the Boundless editor for four years until leaving in 2002 to be a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen. Steve is director of young adults for Focus on the Family. He is the author of Real Solutions for Overcoming Internet Addictions. Together they wrote Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. The Watters met at Regent U...more
If you want to marry, what are the options?
Thinking Biblically About Marriage
Bob: Are you single and hoping to someday be married? Steve Watters says you need to be doing more than just hoping.
Steve: There is no way in this culture, the way it is structured, that your trajectory is going to get you to a good marriage if you are not intentional. So we would say, “Be intentional about your purity, be intentional about the community you are surrounding yourself with, be intentional about forming a good marriage for God’s glory and you will probably surprise yourself by getting married earlier than your peers might.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, December 6th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine. What does it look like to be intentional about getting married? We are going to talk about that today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You grew up in Ozark, Missouri, right?
Dennis: You keep reminding folks of that. (laughter)
Bob: How many folks...
Dennis: I think you have a St. Louis problem. (laughter) It is a big city.
Bob: I just want folks—there is a context for this.
Dennis: It is a small town!
Bob: How many people?
Bob: 1,350 people.
Dennis: On a good day. (laughter)
Bob: At your church growing up,...
Dennis: One yellow flashing light. (laughter) It is the county seat of Christian County, Missouri. (laughter) What else do you want to know?
Bob: How many people at the church...
Dennis: You had to get a prescription to get a Coke (laughter)—it was so conservative. (laughter) How many people went to church?
Bob: At the church you went to—How many people in the church?
Dennis: A couple hundred.
Bob: Okay. Here’s my question.
Dennis: Okay. What is it?
Bob: I want you to imagine that you are 24 years old, living in Ozark, Missouri. You are a serious follower of Christ, you love the Lord, you are going to your church, and you are thinking, “Boy, it is about time for me to meet somebody and get married.” What were the options there for you in the county seat of Christian County, Missouri, in Ozark? Among the 1,350 people,...
Dennis: You know what? There were some fine young ladies...
Dennis: I guarantee you—some great families that had some young ladies who were class acts. I think they are all across the country. It is interesting as you go to college and come out of college, though as a single person, quite honestly that would be—if it was still the same size—it is not today—it is over 20,000 people today. It has grown like a weed because of Branson and Springfield, Missouri.
Dennis: For single people, this is one of the big issues—“Where do I fit in? How do I fit in? How can I relate to someone?” That is why so many singles are going to the big cities—Atlanta; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Southern California—they are going where singles are and where they can meet other single people.
Bob: If you are in a small town or a small church, once you have dated the two or three people who are maybe marry-able—if that doesn’t click...
Dennis: Especially at the age of 24 because, honestly, most of them, by the time they have gone away to college, if they have come back, they come back married.
Bob: Or they may be delaying—a lot of folks delaying until their late 20’s. I think there are a lot of singles, challenged today, going, “There is a desire to get married; but I am not sure what to do with it, where to go with it, how to satisfy it. I am frustrated, and I don’t know where to go.”
Dennis: We have a pair of folks in the studio today who have got a passion for single folks and wanting to come alongside them—put their arm around them—and cheer them on as being singles—not condemn them—but coach them, encourage them, and train them to think biblically. I know that sounds scary for some single people; but it really is, not only the right way, but it is the best way.
Steve and Candice Watters join us on FamilyLife Today. Candice, Steve, welcome back to the broadcast.
Steve: It is great to be here.
Candice: Thank you so much for having us.
Dennis: Steve and Candice have been married since 1997—so they have the same last name—they are no longer single. They made the leap. They have four children. They worked for Focus on the Family for a number of years and are just forming a new ministry called Family Making. That is all about helping singles around this choice of marriage, right?
Steve: That is right. It is about both the path to marriage as well as the path to starting a family and trying in that time to grow as close to God as possible because that is a spiritually-ripe time in those transitions.
Dennis: Candice, when you were single, who came alongside you, as a young lady, to help you think biblically about being single and making this all-important decision of who you marry? Personally, I think there are two decisions in life that are life-altering: One is, “What do you do with Jesus Christ?”
Dennis: Whether He is going to be your Savior, Redeemer, and Master for your life. The other is, “Who are you going to select for a spouse?”
Dennis: I think it is either the “Great Multiplier” or the “Great Neutralizer.”
Bob: Dennis is asking who came alongside because obviously you did so well in this assignment. You must have had coaching.
Dennis: Maybe I need to ask the question of Steve? (laughter)
Candice: The coaching came pretty late in the game. I got married late—at 27—the average age—but it is delayed. My whole college career and then being single and working in Washington, D.C.—like you mentioned—I had no coaching.
I had parents who prayed that I would marry well—that I would marry a godly man. I had a little bit of input from my mom early on when I would say, “Oh, isn’t he cute?” She would say, “You know, he is; but that doesn’t really matter. I want you to marry someone you can minister with and walk alongside in your faith and be a powerful couple for the Kingdom.”
That was back when I was 13. By the time I hit college, I didn’t have any input other than what my peers were telling me.
Dennis: I am glad you said that because we have a lot of parents listening to this broadcast, too; and they need to understand this assignment is not a one-conversation training of a 13-year-old, or a 15-year-old, or one who is about to go away to college. This really is a repetitive training, over and over again, around the key qualities of what you look for in the opposite sex.
Steve, how about you, did you have someone coaching you as a single man or is it pretty much the same story as Candice?
Steve: Very similar story. We both grew up in Christian homes, went to Christian colleges, and I am sure at some point took some classes that talked about good Christian marriages.
It wasn’t until graduate school that we met an older couple who were very vocal about the importance of marrying for God’s glory. They not only elevated that but also made themselves available, and discipled, and got in people’ s business at times—it seemed like—to encourage people who may have overlooked their potential together. That is what they did with Candice and me.
Dennis: I want you to go back to what you just said. I want you to unpack it a bit because you just used a phrase that some of the singles who are listening, and maybe some of the parents who are thinking about training their children, may not fully understand what your statement was. What does it mean to marry for the glory of God? Unpack that.
Steve: We obviously live in a culture where people want to end up in good marriages, but we don’t realize just how consumer-focused we tend to be about it—of wanting to focus on our happiness and how we can be more complete with another person instead of realizing God has so much more at stake in what He designed marriage for.
For one thing, it is going to be how marriage shapes us because we have to lay our lives down for each other—how we sacrifice for each other—how we live out these vows and how that shapes us to be more focused on God’s Kingdom. Also, just the idea of compatibility—not just so you can enjoy certain recreational things together—but compatibility where you are more fruitful together than apart.
Bob: I had a friend of mine who said that when he proposed to his spouse, he used Psalm 34:3, “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
Steve: That is awesome.
Bob: It was awesome. I thought, “I was not thinking anything like that when I proposed to Mary Ann.” That was maybe 10 on my list—maybe 9. It was way down.
Dennis: What was No. 1, Bob?
Bob: It was something other than magnifying the Lord and exalting His name forever. It really is counter-cultural and can I say, counter-hormonal, to have that as a focus. That does not come naturally.
Candice: I think that is one of the reasons for parents listening to realize they have to talk about this with their young people before the young people get to the hormonal phase with the person they are in love with. These are things you have to start instilling in your kids to say, “You know, you are going to grow up to be a wife some day, if God blesses you with marriage. You are going to grow up to be a mommy, if He blesses you with children.”
How do we raise our little girls to be wives and mothers? How do we raise our little boys to be husbands and fathers? You have to lay that foundation before they get to the hormonal stage so they can think clearly about their choices.
Steve: I would say for parents to realize that this is one of those areas where their desire to see their children grow up to be great in their profession, use their gifts and talents, and to be people who love the Lord that the whole sex-dating relationship area can either be a catalyst for taking that to new places—giving them a yoke, direction, and purpose or this can be the place where the wheels fall off the bus and where they end up in a ditch because that hormonal drive—these bad relationships that seem attractive on the surface—can steer them in a direction where there is tension with their faith and where they say, “You know what, if these are intention, I am going to go with what feels good and it is sex.” That is where a lot of good Christians fall off the wagon.
Dennis: I think you guys did a great job answering the question. I think singles, as they think about marriage being for the glory of God, need to recognize marriage is a spiritual institution. It was created by a spiritual Person—God. It was made—male and female in His image.
When you think about glorifying God, I think, it is a part of replicating His love between two imperfect people. It is a part of expressing forgiveness because, as you think about what God did when He became flesh, what did He do? He went to a cross to secure our forgiveness. Finally, I think it is about a mission.
It is about a spiritual mission and purpose that a young couple, as they begin the journey together—I think back on this—Barbara and I just celebrated our 38th anniversary. As I look back on that, we didn’t have the foggiest idea where we were headed. We were committed to Christ; we were followers of Christ—we were both in full-time Christian work—but in terms of really having a sense of mission beyond wanting to be part of the Great Commission and proclaiming Who Jesus Christ is to the world, we didn’t really know as we started our journey. It became evident later on within the first five years of our marriage that God had imprinted us to want to make a difference in marriages and families long-haul with our lives.
I think singles do well to step back and ask themselves a question, “First and foremost as a single person, am I honoring God in the way I deal with relationships, with the same sex, opposite sex, in dating, in conversations? Is my life reflecting Who God is to a fallen world?”
Bob: I had a friend of mine one time make it real simple for me. He was talking about what it means to glorify God in any area of your life. He said, “Really, what it means is that what you are doing brags on God. People should be able to look at your marriage; and they should say, “Boy, that God is something great!” When they see God reflected in you, it should brag on God. I didn’t get married thinking, “The most important thing about our marriage is that it brags on God”; but that should have been in the forefront of my thinking.
Dennis: Just to fill a little blank in here, because I think a lot of singles may be listening and saying, “Okay, when I do get married, I am going to glorify God then.” No. No. No. No. (laughter) It starts now.
Dennis: You have to practice now because it is not like you “flip the switch” and move from a “me-oriented single” person to an “others-oriented married” person. No. In fact, you need to learn how to be others-oriented, a servant, and a sacrificial leader and lover of people now.
Candice: There is such a need for the older men to come in and come alongside these guys. There is a vacuum of mentoring in these men’s lives. So many of them are a product of divorce—their dads left. I don’t know if it is because men are too busy that they don’t think to mentor the younger men, but that is the Titus 2 model—that is the Paul-to-Timothy model. That is what is going to make a big difference in the lives of these young single men.
Bob: Do you think guys today and ladies today should be looking at 21 and 22 as the time to start getting married?
Steve: At 21, 22, the majority of singles would tell you, “I hope to get married some day.” It is not until their late 20’s that they feel any sense of urgency about it. I think the thing we would encourage people to realize is that you can’t just assume that by 30 or so, you are just going to land into the good marriage you desire without being intentional.
There is no way in this culture, the way it is structured, that your trajectory is going to get you to a good marriage if you are not intentional. So we would say, “Be intentional about your purity, be intentional about the community you are surrounding yourself with, be intentional about forming a good marriage for God’s glory and you will probably surprise yourself by getting married earlier than you thought you might and earlier than your peers might.
Bob: And if you live a town of 1,300 people, and there are 150 at your church, and six of them are single, and you just go, “How am I going to find anybody here?”
Steve: That is exactly why more people are looking to the internet. I think it is a tool that creates new opportunities, creates new connections; but it is a tool. You can’t just assume it has all these built-in morals. You have to bring your character to it.
We really appreciated that Josh Harris and Isaac Hydoski, at his church, took the time to draft a pastoral response to online dating with his team. He spelled out these concerns about how online dating can create an individualistic-focus and a consumer-focus. We really do need to find a way to use internet services for the glory of God—to bring our biblical morality to the process and not just expect the services we use, even Christian ones, to already have the biblical framework in place.
Bob: We have a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com to that response that you talked about that Josh put together so if folks want to see it, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and read that.
You guys have tried to help facilitate a way for singles to think more seriously about this intentionality around relationships at the site that you put together called Marry Well, right?
Steve: That is right. Our thought was, “What if someone, instead of just having to find great principles to apply to existing services, what if you have references? What if everyone on the site has to bring a parent, a pastor, a mentor into the process so you have accountability so you don’t have some of the craziness you have on some of the other services?” It feel s more like the community you would have offline.
Dennis: It is like a job application reference.
Steve: Yes. In some ways...
Dennis: That is not a bad idea.
Steve: It is knowing that anybody you are connecting with—that you can look down and say, “I am going to check in with your references to see just how your profile you had about your spiritual maturity—just to see how well that is lived out.”
Bob: “I’d like somebody to validate that.” Yes.
Steve: Exactly. Also, we found that most of the other services were focused on just making a connection—just create a market place to get people together. We thought, “Boy, there is so much missing on the front-end of that and on the back-end.”
On the front-end we said, “It is probably helpful to have a self-assessment,” and, “Are you ready for a biblical marriage?” That is very different from, “Are you ready to date and have companionship?” “Are you ready for the job description for marriage that you get in the Bible?” Encouraging people and say, “If you are not, do not rush into a community like this. Don’t bring your baggage and your immaturity and drag somebody’s heart around.”
On the back-end to say, “Once those connections are formed, that is when the real questions start: “What do you do with red flags? What do you do with concerns that you see?” We wanted to be there with coaching and counsel.
To be honest, we still believe that some of the best matches are going to form in the local church—are going to form where people are. God is Sovereign, and He has put people in their lives. We do know there is an audience that is in transition—that is maybe coming off the mission field—that is maybe in transition in education and work—who really would benefit from meeting other people in a community who are serious about their faith, who are serious about their path to marriage.
Dennis: A single person today is going to have to be intentional to turn his or her back on the world—being conformed t the world—and turn toward a biblical view of life. As we have mentioned several times on this broadcast, a life that reflects God’s character and relationships that also glorify God.
Bob: That brag on Him.
Dennis: That brag on Him. I have to read this verse again. I am reading it—it seems like, Bob, a lot recently on FamilyLife Today—Romans 12:1-2. This is really good because it begins with an urging, an appeal that says, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers and sisters by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world.”
No matter how lonely you are; no matter how much you want to escape the problems that plague single people, there is only one thing worse than being lonely and single—that is being lonely and married.
“Do not be conformed to this world”—Don’t panic—“but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,”—the right person, okay? What is the will of God is “what is good, acceptable, and perfect.”
That is the Apostle Paul’s advice for all of us. I am going to tell you something, “For this generation of single people, with all the mixed messages they get, there is a fresh need of going to Romans 12:1-2 and make sure their lives are on the altar—make sure they have surrendered their lives and have become counter-cultural singles and they don’t care about what people say about them because of their standards and because of the lives they live.
Bob: I think your point is: If you are going marry well, which is what we have been talking about here, you have to be counter-cultural. In fact, you guys put together—you worked with a number of different authors to put together an electronic book that we want to invite folks to download. There is a Guys’ Guide to Marrying Well and a Girls’ Guide to Marrying Well. If you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, you can click the link and you can download either the guys’ guide or the girls’ guide. It will help you think rightly instead of culturally about how you approach this whole subject.
In addition, we have got copies of the book you wrote, Candice, called Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen. That is available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
I don’t know that I have mentioned this, but today’s program, in fact all of the programs you hear on FamilyLife Today are available for free mp3 download. If you want to download these programs and pass them on to somebody else, just go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You can download the audio file from today’s program—listen back to it again or listen to it at your convenience—or like I said, pass it on to somebody else.
If folks are interested in the website we have talked about today, MarryWell.org, you can go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. We have a link there, or just go to MarryWell.org. There you are trying to help singles have the right frame of mind—have the right mindset and meet other folks who share these kinds of convictions.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about any of the resources we have talked about or for the link to MaryWell.org.
Now quickly, let me make sure that those of you who are regular FamilyLife Today listeners know about the recent matching gift that has been made available to us here at the end of the year. We are excited about this. More than $2 million has been pledged toward this matching-gift opportunity. Actually, we are continuing to get some matching funds that have been added to that number. Right now, if a FamilyLife Today listener calls in, or goes online and makes a donation—whether it is $10, $20, $50, or $100—that donation is going to be matched dollar for dollar up to at least $2 million and probably beyond that as this matching gift continues to grow.
I just have to say this could not have come at a more opportune time for us obviously as we head toward the end of a calendar year—that is a critical time for nonprofit ministries like FamilyLife Today. Not only that, in this particular year, we have faced some challenges and we want to head into 2011 in a good place. So we are asking you to be as generous as you can be and make a year-end donation to support FamilyLife Today.
Again, when you do, your donation is going to be matched dollar for dollar. You can donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation over the phone. We just want you to know how much we appreciate your support and your partnership with us here at the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We really do appreciate you.
And we hope you can be back with us tomorrow. Steve and Candice Watters are going to be here again. We are going to continue talking about what singles can do to marry and marry well. We will talk about that again tomorrow. I hope you can join us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey; I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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