Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Surrendering Our Future

Leslie Basham: Here's Dr. Amy Baker.

Amy Baker: If you are not growing in godly character, you are certainly not going to recognize that in someone else. For example, if you are very impatient and easily irritated, you are probably not going to recognize that if you get involved in a relationship with an angry man.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, July 9.

All week we've gotten good advice from Dr. Amy Baker about living for God in whatever state we are in single or married. Our conversation has focused on singleness and today we'll start with an important question. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Several months ago we recorded a series on singleness and after I finished teaching that evening, I remember our producer came up to me and he said, "Nancy, that was really good. But how do you get from singleness to marriage?"

I've actually had that question asked in different ways by listeners who have written and said, "I'm dating this guy, I'm in this relationship, how do I know if God wants me to marry this man? How do I know God's will when it comes to marriage?"

Well we are going to talk about that today. And our guest to help us, because she knows more about this than I do, is Dr. Amy Baker. She's a biblical counselor; she's ministered to children and to women. She has a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology. Thank you for being with us here on Revive Our Hearts this week to talk about the subject of singleness.

Amy Baker: It's my pleasure, Nancy. I'm glad to be here.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Let me say, by the way, which I neglected a moment ago, that you lived as a single for 40 some years and then a year and a half ago God led you into marriage. So you've been on both sides of this equation and out of your own life I think I can share with us some of what you have learned.

Amy Baker: One of the things that I learned and I am very thankful for is to not evaluate relationships based on the intensity of emotions. I think it's very easy to do that.

And one of the things that I learned in all those years as a single was how fickle emotions are. I came to realize that it would be unwise to base a continuing relationship on whether there was a spark or not.

That special feeling that we often have or wish we could have in a relationship really is just an emotion and it's a wonderful, wonderful feeling and it does often times accompany relationships that we are in. But it is an emotion and emotions are not to be our criteria for relationships.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You and I have both counseled with plenty of women who got married primarily because there was a feeling, there was a spark, they were in love and went to the altar with those stars in their eyes.

But within a period of months or years, they ended up with the dream turning into a nightmare and now there's no spark left, there's no romance, there's no feeling left. And so even if the spark got them into marriage, the spark isn't going to sustain the marriage.

Amy Baker: Exactly, as I talk with ladies who are in that particular situation the truth of Ephesians 4:17 and following came back again just in very vivid detail, "Don't live by your feelings, that's how unbelievers live." You know, if it feels good, go for it.

We as believers are to be living by the truth, by God's Word. And I think that just vividly illustrates that because in relationships those feelings can be often times so good that we think certainly, This has got to be it because look at these feelings I'm having.

Certainly we don't want to leave people thinking, Oh I just have to try to erase feelings and that would be the solution. They are something to really enjoy sometimes in relationships.

I really enjoy them in my marriage now with my husband. I enjoy the feelings that come but want to be basing my life on God's Word and not on feelings.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So what are some of the criteria beyond feelings, beyond that spark that can help a woman to know, Is God leading me into a permanent marriage relationship with this person?

Amy Baker: The first one, God spells it out and says believers are "not to be yoked together" and certainly that would mean marriage "with unbelievers" [2 Corinthians 6:14]. We are not to put ourselves in the same harness as an unbeliever, make a commitment, a permanent commitment, with someone who is not a believer.

God didn't set up that regulation to somehow make life more difficult for us. God in His goodness knows how lonely it would be if you've got one person in a marriage who is heading one direction with a goal in life to bring glory and honor to God to please Him and you have got another person in that relationship who is headed in a different direction and can't even understand what it is that is exciting you, what your goals are--how very, very lonely. And it's permanent.

Nancy Leigh DeMosss: So we have some listeners saying, "I am a believer. I'm dating a guy I'm not sure if he is a Christian or not" or "he doesn't give evidence" or "I hope he is, I'm just not sure, should I marry this guy? Is it okay to consider marrying this guy?"

And the answer unequivocally based on the authority of God's Word; we've been looking at the passage 2 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 14 "No, do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers."

This is a life partnership, a permanent life commitment. And for you to be yoked with an unbeliever, you as a believer in marriage, is wrong. So you can know that this man is not God's will for your life if he does not share your faith.

Oh my goodness I wish I had not had to hear, over the years, all the stories I have heard from women who went ahead thinking he would come to know Christ or that it wouldn't be such a big issue; they got into the marriage, found out as you just said, Amy, that they were heading in different directions, their values were different, their heart was different and then they end up in your office or mine for counseling with a broken heart and no biblical way to get extricated from that situation.

So just a word of warning, and I probably sound pretty impassioned about this, but I am because I have seen the violation of this principle bring such heartache and heartbreak to women.

So the first criteria, you want to make sure he is a believer and not just a nominal believer but really committed to the lordship of Christ in his life. So he's a committed Christian, does that necessarily mean he's the right one and how do we know? What are some of the other criteria we should be looking for?

Amy Baker: One of the things I was taught when it came to relationships is that, if you were going to be in a relationship with someone, you wanted to make sure that you knew how to solve problems in a godly way.

In marriage, as in any relationship, basically you are putting two sinners together and there are going to be problems. If both of you do not know how to follow God's principles of communication that He gives us in Ephesians 4 and other places about speaking the truth, edifying, attacking problems not people, acting not reacting, if you cannot do that well together, then you are not ready for a relationship that's going to be permanent.

You need to be able to solve problems together. You want to know, Are both of you committed to growing and being God's kind of person and are you willing to encourage and edify each other in that direction.

How does he handle it when he's heading one direction in life and he comes to realize that God's Word says something different? You want to know that.

Now I need to say that you are not going to ever observe these things if they are not already true in your life. If you are not growing in godly character, you are certainly not going to recognize that in someone else.

For example if you are very impatient and easily irritated, you are probably not going to recognize that, if you get involved in a relationship with an angry man.

That would be another thing that God tells us, "Avoid that." In Proverbs it tells us over and over again, "Don't get yourself ensnared with an angry man lest you learn his ways and have hurt come to yourself" [Proverbs 22:24-25].

So God gives us some things that we ought to be sensitive to, but if those characteristics are not present in our life, we are going to be blind to them in someone else.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now let's say that you are growing, that you want to please God in this relationship, how are you going to know about the other person? How do you know, "Well is this person a godly man, is this person someone who really wants to please God?"

Amy Baker: I just say to you, "I think it takes time." Now it's application, how much time, I think that's probably longer than a month.

You don't necessarily want to be led by my example because I knew my husband for ten years before we ever married and I don't think most people want to wait for ten years.

Now we had the opportunity to look not only at how this person responds to me, but how does this person respond to others in their life including their own parents. Because I know from myself when I'm in a relationship and I have feelings for someone, I want to treat them kindly, I want to do special things for them and it's easy for me to do.

Is that true of me though in other relationships or do I only do it in circumstances where my feelings are engaged and it's easy for me to do it?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Something else I appreciate, Amy, about the way you handled your relationship with Jeff that I think is so important, and that is that you allowed others in the Body of Christ, who maybe could be more objective than you were, to give input into your life and into that relationship.

Amy Baker: You know that became very important to me because those emotions get involved and then you just stop seeing things clearly. I had some pastors and some godly men who allowed me to come to them and say, "Here's what I am thinking, please help me to look at this properly."

In fact they had helped me in previous relationships and had discouraged me from continuing in them, relationships that I probably would have pursued had it not been for their good counsel.

So I had learned the value of that and was very, very thankful for it and was thankful in the relationship that I am in now and in my marriage that those men were able to give their hearty blessings to it.

But [the fact] that they could look at it from an objective standpoint and say, "Look, I can see this person's character from this vantage point and you may not be able to see that, that was very, very helpful.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That is so important. Proverbs says over and over again that the wise person listens to counsel. I've watched women in relationships where their parents, their siblings, their pastor, their friends said, "He's not the right one for you."

They would say, "I've got this feeling. I've got this spark. And they proceeded anyway, they stepped over the counsel, they stepped over the input of those who knew them and loved them and wanted God's best for them and ended up, in some cases, with some real heartache and heartbreak.

And how I would want to spare you from that if at all possible. Now, Amy, our time has gone so quickly and I just wish we had more time to develop this more thoroughly.

I know there are lots of things on both our hearts that we'd love to share. And we are going to let our listeners know in just a moment how they can get a hold of a resource that will give solid, biblical guidance on developing a dating relationship, a courtship relationship and how to know if this is God's best for marriage: some practical questions to ask, some scriptures to study.

This is such an important decision and you don't want to miss it here. I know, Amy, that you are so thankful that you waited for God's best, that you took that counsel and God has given you the man of His choosing for you and now you have the fun of letting God sanctify you in the context of marriage.

We look forward to having you back on Revive Our Hearts, Amy, and thanks so much for sharing your heart with us on some of these topics related to singleness.

Amy Baker: Thank you, Nancy.

Leslie Basham: Let me tell our listeners how to get a copy of the material you just mentioned, Nancy. It's called Biblical Principles of Love, Sex and Dating. It's not a flashy package, but it's solid practical material.

You can call us to order the workbook or even better get several workbooks and also order a leader's guide. There are probably singles in your church that could use direction on this topic. This workbook would be perfect for a class or a small group discussion. For more information, visit us on-line at ReviveOurHearts.com or call us toll free at 1-800-569-5959.

What have you thought about this week's series on singleness? Would you let us know? Our address is Revive Our Hearts, P.O. Box 2000, Niles, MI. 49120.

Next week we'll find out why homemaking isn't a dirty word. We hope you can join us again for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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