by Tad Lindley
If you’ve ever been to a busy hospital, you might understand that occasionally babies get mixed up and end up going home with the wrong family, but how could a man end up accidentally married to the wrong woman? It seems impossible, but that is exactly what happened.
It could hardly happen in the United States today, because the bride and groom look each other face to face and make vows, and are allowed to kiss in full daylight. In the culture of ancient Palestine, apparently a wedding feast was held for the men of the community. Afterwards the bride was brought to a tent, and the groom went in to her and they celebrated the marriage alone.
Jacob marries wrong woman
After the feasting was done, the father-in-law notified the groom, and Jacob went into the wedding tent. He had worked for a full seven years to buy his new bride, Rachel, but we know that so great was his love that he worked with pleasure. With what must have been great joy he entered the tent. Apparently it was late in the day and the oil lamps were out; the tent was dark. Almost no conversation passed between the newlyweds, and after the marriage was consummated, they went to sleep.
In the morning, as the sun cast its light upon the walls of the tent, and Jacob’s eyes opened, and he looked over across the pillow and to his horror, the woman lying next to him was not the woman he had sought after for seven long years. Instead, it was an older uglier woman whom he instantly realized was his supposed-to-be wife’s older sister, Leah. He had married the wrong woman! (To get the full story please read Genesis 29)
He’s not the man I married
Forgive me for not catching the man’s name, but recently on Christian radio a marriage minister said, “Everywhere I go women are coming up to me and saying, ‘My husband is not the man I married. After the wedding he changed, and not for the better.’” He went on to say, “I always tell them, ‘You’re wrong about that. He is the man you married, the one you were dating was a fake!’”
Many of the folks who have been married for any length of time either laughed on that last statement or got madder. You see, it is the unfortunate case that during courtship, people only put their best foot forward, hiding their flaws the best that they can. If I could let a bride-to-be look into the future and see that the city league all-star she is currently in love with will in ten years still be unemployed, sitting on the couch, the remote in one hand, the bong in the other, smoking up her hard earned money while he watches the NBA playoffs, she’d probably turn the other way and run. If I could take the hard working young man raised with the values of his grandparents and flip the calendar forward and show him the toddlers with 20 pound diapers, the undone laundry, the PFD checks thrown away on rippies and bingo, and the wife texting him to get home from hunting right now and make dinner for the kids so she can go to basketball, he would drop her like a hot potato.
It’s not God’s plan for us to end up married to the wrong person. Unfortunately when it comes to relationships our own voice can sound very much like the voice of God. As a result, people make terrible mistakes that everyone else could see coming.
First, let’s look at what God does say about our relationships. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness? … or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel [unbeliever]? (II Corinthians 6:14-15) Young single person, if you are a Christian, you have no place involving yourself in any type of relationship that could lead to marriage with someone who is not an active Christian. She may believe in God, but if she does not have an active prayer life, does not read her Bible, does not hunger and thirst for righteousness, stay away. He may have played the lead role in every Christmas program since he was 3, but if he doesn’t go to mid-week Bible study, stay away.
No such thing as missionary dating
If you are a single person already headed down the wrong path, you may be thinking, “Brother Lindley you don’t understand, my man is different, and plus, I’ve got enough Jesus for both of us.” If you are dating someone and telling yourself that you will save them, you are believing a lie. You are setting yourself to wake up one day and feel like you were tricked into marrying the wrong person. If you went into it knowing that your future husband or wife did not love Jesus at the start, it wasn’t your spouse that tricked you, you tricked yourself.
Don’t enter into marriage lightly
Marriage is a God-given life choice that I highly recommend. In your rush to get married though you may decide that this feels so right that it can’t be wrong. Don’t be deceived by yourself, ask others. The Bible says, Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22, NIV) You would do yourself a big favor to pray and seek God’s direction and to seek the advice of Christian elders who are familiar with both you and your potential husband or wife, and of course with your parents. They will see flaws and assets that you may not see, their advice will be extremely valuable.
Marriage is too permanent and too powerful to take a chance on marrying the wrong person. Obey God and seek the advice of others so you won’t wake up one day realizing that you married the wrong person.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.