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5 Ways That Every One of Us Should Be Preparing for Marriage

preparing for marriage

As I’ve said recently (here and here), the American church often has difficulty incorporating single adults into the life of the church. So much of the church’s language toward single people implies that the only task they have is preparing for marriage. And that’s true, but not in the sense that most people think.

Single Christians are preparing for marriage—but marriage to God, not to another person. Seen from this perspective, in fact, we’re all preparing for marriage. Some of us won’t experience marriage on this earth. But that doesn’t mean singles miss marriage completely. No, they will simply skip the shadow of earthly marriage and go straight to the substance of the heavenly marriage with Jesus Christ.

The ironic thing about preparing for marriage to Christ is that if and when you do find your spouse, you’ll be ready for them. Far too often we obsess about finding the right person, when Scripture counsels us to become the right person. As Andy Stanley says it, “Are you the person that the person you’re looking for … is looking for?”

Practically speaking, what does this kind of ultimate preparing for marriage look like?

1. Break bad habits (and start good ones).

Don’t think that on your wedding day you’ll suddenly be able to promise your way into a host of new habits. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. As I’ve heard it said, promises are no substitute for preparing for marriage.

So let Christ break you of your bad habits now. Stop looking at porn. Quit obsessing about your image. Decide that you aren’t going to go further into debt—and start paying that debt off.

And let Christ cultivate new, godly habits. Start serving in the church. Learn to be a giver. Pick your Bible up off the shelf and actually read it, consistently. Find out where your church is involved in missions and join in. You want this to characterize your life. So start today.

2. Get into real community.

Join the church and get involved with a small group. And don’t just use the church as a potential dating pool. Look to the church for real community. It’s good to find a spouse, but it’s better to find true friends, people who can join with you as you engage in God’s mission together. Friendship matters far more than we realize: both because you were made for it, and because it makes you.

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.