How Do You Find a Mate?
About the Guest
Alistair Begg, senior pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, instructs college students on the finer points of choosing a mate.
How Do You Find a Mate?
Bob: Wait, wait, wait! I’ve heard of that program. In fact I listen to it every day. I do!
The message we are going to hear from Alistair today is a message that he shared with the student body at Cedarville University. You can bet those young people were taking notes when he started talking about relationships that can lead to marriage because that is on the mind of some college kids today, isn’t it?
Dennis: It really is and, as you listen to him, you are going to enjoy his Southern accent—he is from South Scotland. [Laughter]
Bob: Let's listen together. Here is Alistair Begg.
Alistair: Can I invite you to take your Bibles, and we'll turn to 1 Peter and chapter 3. I want to talk to you tonight about relationships and particularly interpersonal relationships between the sexes. Since they inevitably—in God's plan—lead to marriage, we'll read just these few verses in the instruction given by the Spirit of God—via Peter—to husbands and wives in 1 Peter 3.
"Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and call him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life so that nothing will hinder your prayers."
There is more than an even chance that whether you meet your intended life's partner in this institution or not, it may well be that in the next two or three years of your life, you will—in some context—meet the person that will share your life with you—providing that God has planned for you to be married.
Since the statistics on relationships and marriage are so horrendous—not least of all within the framework of the Christian church—it's important that we are constantly making reference to this in our own thinking—planning accordingly—so that we do our very, very best if God intends for us to be entrusted into the custody of another to come to that day and to that opportunity prepared and ready for the privileges and the responsibilities.
When you think about relationships at all—in every relationship—our relationship with God must come first. Indeed, unless we have a meaningful, viable, increasing relationship with the Lord Jesus ourselves—not being kept afloat by our family structure, but our own personal walk with God—practicing the presence of the Lord Jesus, memorizing His word, being in it daily, sharing it regularly—then we really should go no further than that in terms of developing relationships, because it is in direct relationship to our walk with Christ that everything else falls into line.
Now, that is particularly so when we think about relationships with the opposite sex. It is important that when we find ourselves in a context such as this—where the opportunities for friendship are many and varied—that we never assume that a friendship has to be more than a friendship when it begins. We should never assume that friendship is going to be more than friendship when it begins and—by the same token—we should recognize that the absence of a friendship with someone of the opposite sex does not determine our significance on our meaning in life.
We need to recognize that there is no good thing that the Lord will withhold from those whose walk is blameless. If we are not involved in a dating relationship, if we do not have a special other person, there is no need for panic.
God makes everything beautiful in His time. To be unattached to someone of the opposite sex may actually be God's very best for you tonight—and it may actually be God's very best for you for always.
But let us assume, since the Bible lays it out as the normal pattern of life that each of you who as yet is not married is planning on being married and, therefore, you are going to be faced with crucial decisions as you go forward.
You are going to have to decide where you are going to take advice, and whether you're going to listen to those who love you most and care for you the best of all. When we make friends with the opposite sex, it is important that we take into account the way in which others view those friendships.
I wouldn't go so far as to suggest to you tonight that I believe in arranged marriages—but I think I'm quite close to the idea—because it has always struck me as very strange that our children grow up entirely dependent upon us. They want to know whether they should attend this function or that function—whether they should apply to this school or that school.
In the earlier days, whether these shoes are right with these trousers or whether this skirt looks good with these heels or whether my hair looks good here or over there or whether you like this color on me now or then, and you're just dying under the weight of all the decisions that you have to make in order to help you chart your course and then—all of a sudden, out of the blue—you show up at the front door on the arm of someone I don't even know called Rodney. [Laughter]
Who in the world is Rodney? And then, I see in your eyes this strange, glazed look as you look up at Rodney. The look in my eyes is not glazed at all—it's piercing. [Laughter]
I want to know all about Rodney—who his dad was, who his mum was, what size his shoes are, whether he washes his socks at night. I want to know everything about him because, as a father, I care for my girl—ss—and the same is true with our sons. [Laughter]
Listen—most people on their dating relationships are on their best behavior. So, you have to very, very careful. You need to see this potential spouse in a variety of different situations.
For example, you need to see what he’s like when he’s late for an appointment because of congested traffic and you’re driving in the car with him. You need to see what he or she is like when visiting a hospitalized loved one. You need to see what he is like in the way that he treats his mother and speaks to her and whether he looks into her eyes when she asks him a question.
You need to see the way in which she brushes her hair from her forehead when her father asks her a question across the dining room table. You need to see what she’s like playing with children in the street, being around their parents, with their regular friends, participating in competitive sports, handling various stressful situations.
The tragedy that I face as a pastor is in finding couples coming to me to be married and they’ve never seen each other in any of these situations.
They’ve got a kind of ‘hurry-up offense’—stirred by their emotions—fueled by their glands. They’re ready to be married. Very often, they haven’t decided whether they’re actually marrying a person—or whether they are marrying a body.
Western society is obsessed with externals—facial features, figure, muscular composition, weight, hair style and so much more. Most magazines—even "Reader's Digest," is there now—managed to have an article somehow or another related to our bodies even if it is only the health of our bodies—this puts tremendous pressure on our culture.
Young women quickly assuming that their significance is directly related to their shape and to their dress size. Young men frequently modeling themselves after professional athletes—disappointed that their features are less than perfect.
Products offered from toothpaste to self-tanning products with the covert message that image matters more than character.
Image doesn't matter more than character, therefore, it is vitally important that when you think these issues through that you're asking yourself the question—is the attraction that I feel for this fellow—is the attraction that I feel for this girl—motivated primarily by physical instincts?
Now, I want to suggest for a moment that that is some marginal consideration but beauty is—for all of us—in the eye of the beholder. Oh, there may be shared perceptions, but we often have very clear understandings of what we regard as lovely.
So the more significant questions don't have to do with shape and size and structure—but we need to be asking questions like, "Do I enjoy having a conversation with her?" "Can this fellow carry on an intelligent conversation?" [Laughter] "Is this character a social misfit?" "Does he or she have a growing interest in spiritual things, or do I get the impression that they are simply saying that because they know that it is important to me?"
My young friends tonight—listen—these questions get to issues that are enduring. Age takes its toll on all of us. Physical beauty is passing. To invest in a person as simply a physical package is to set ourselves up for a dreadful fall, because the package will begin to sag and will begin to droop, over time.
The law of gravity is the law of gravity. There is only so much you can do to keep it all up where it needs to be—[Laughter] —and some of us never, ever had it up where it needs to be in the first place, and so we are—of all men—most miserable. [Laughter]
When I came to America for the first time in 1972, I came in search of a girl. I knew who the girl was. I wasn't trying to pick her out of the crowd, but I tracked her down to Michigan, to the shores of Western Michigan, found her there amongst a bunch of young American fellows who had muscles in places that I didn't have places. [Laughter]
They took great delight in teaching me how to water-ski. They could ski in their bare feet. They didn't need two skis—one ski—no skis—they skied in their bare feet. They gave me these gigantic doors on which to stand, never telling me that if you don't get up the first time, you let the rope go. [Laughter]
They dragged me through the water like a dead dog, much to their hilarity—"We'll get rid of this Scottish whippersnapper—139 pounds soaking wet—ugly little creature that he is—coming over here for our American girls."
Then they took me on dirt bikes—that was a bad decision on my part. [Laughter] Some fellow's father had an agency or a dealership or something, and I arrived at a place that I don't know where it was to find all these bikes. The fellows got on the front, the girls got on the back, and off we were going through the Michigan dunes.
So I did what they did—I got on the front; the girl got on the back—they all took off. I went about 100 yards and ditched it in the sand—with the girl as well. I got back up. I can't bore you with the story—
I had dreadful hay fever—the worst kind of hay fever—it produced horrendous nosebleeds. I ditched the bike in the sand—my nose began to bleed—the hay fever began to go—the blood began to congeal with the sand on my face—I looked like a Mohican Indian somewhere. [Laughter] And they had given a helmet—of all things—and my hair was sticking out in bunches at the side. Boy, did I look good! [Laughter]
The final ignominy was that I had to ask the girl to drive the bike while I sat on the back. [Laughter] She rode the bike back around in the sand, and they were all there waiting for me—the All-American Marines—and here he comes, peering over the shoulder of his girl—the Mohican with the hair sticking out of the back. What possible hope did I have? I was a no-hoper—no chance.
Now I have to go home across the Atlantic Ocean and leave this girl—and the dirt bike and everything else—behind. Sometimes when we ride in the car together now—all these years later—I look across at her, and I say, "My, my, my, it certainly couldn't have been physical." [Laughter]
I actually met her when she was 13. I decided pretty quickly that if ever this girl would grow up around her eyes—and I got the chance—I would marry her. I've never, ever wanted to marry anyone else. For me—just 16—I wrote letters to her for seven years—four of those years across the Atlantic Ocean.
Never doubt the power of the pen. All those American water-skiers bowed to the Scotsman's pen. [Laughter, applause]
So girls—your beauty shouldn't be that which comes from time spent in front of a mirror but rather time spent in front of the mirror of the Word of God. And men—the biggest thing that you can bring to the possibilities of marriage is the character of integrity and a life of spiritual maturity.
Bob: Well, that's part one of a message from Alistair Begg.
Dennis: The power of the Scottish—
Bob: —the Scotsman's pen. Barbara said the same about you.
Dennis: Oh, sure, she did.
Bob: That pen from Ozark, Missouri.
Dennis: Ozark, Missouri. Here is what I don't want our single listeners to miss—because we have literally hundreds of thousands of single listeners—and we have moms and dads who are raising the next generation of young men and women who are going to date.
The message is this—character does matter. Why? Because life is full of choices—marriage is full of choices—family is a reflection of our choices—and your choices are ultimately a reflection of your character and what you're basing your life on.
What Alistair has so beautifully exhorted us—and illustrated for us—is that if our lives are not built upon the foundation of God's Word, and we're not making our character upon that foundation, there is no way we're going to be qualified to get married.
Bob: I was talking to a young woman not long ago who was dating a guy and she said, "You know, I think he may be a diamond in the rough," and I remember thinking to myself, "He may be—he might be a piece of cut glass, too.” It’s hard to tell sometimes when you don’t have a microscope to look at.
I think that is what Alistair is trying to say to us in this message. We need to take this assignment of considering a perspective marriage partner—take it seriously. First, try to be the right kind of person and then—make sure we are looking for the right kind of person.
We always recommend to folks who are thinking about getting married—one of the best things you can do during the engagement phase—is for the two of you to attend a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway and start your marriage with the right kind of Biblical foundation.
Have an understanding of God’s design for marriage—what it’s all about and how He intends for us to live together as husband and wife.
We have Weekend to Remember getaways starting in September. Now is the right time to start thinking about the getaway you’d like to attend. Go ahead and put those dates on your calendar so that weekend is blocked off so you can get a away together and attend a Weekend to Remember. By the way, it’s good for married couples—not just engaged couples. Married couples can use a good tune-up in their marriage relationship.
We’d love to have you join us this fall at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the Weekend to Remember or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, if you have any questions. Again the website is FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call 1-800-“F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word, “TODAY”, to get more information about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
One of the things that is our goal here at FamilyLife is to help couples who—maybe you grew up without a strong model of what marriage and family is supposed to look like—we want to help you break what may be generational cycles of dysfunction and learn how to thrive in your marriage and pass on to your children a healthy legacy. We want them to be able to look back and say, “I learned what a godly marriage and family, looks like from my mom and dad.”
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Now tomorrow we are going to hear from Alistair Begg about one of the key qualities you should be looking for in a future mate—it’s the quality of humility. We’ll hear why that is so important tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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