I am a single male, 27 years old, who is passionately in love with Christ and very active within my local church community. I definitely know I am not called to singleness and have attempted to follow Boundless' advice on being intentional about pursuing marriage.
I would estimate that about 60 to 70 percent of my church's single population is single women, and I would estimate at least half of those women are really Bible-believing ladies, authentically pursuing Christ (I am at and around my church more than most people, and I get to see and talk to a lot of people in the process).
My question is how does a single guy narrow his search for a godly wife with so many potential prospects? I have been on many group outings with various friends, and thinking that would make the decision easier, it seems even more difficult simply because there really are some phenomenal young ladies I am surrounded by. Many of them are passionate about Christ, and I have actively witnessed His transforming power within them.
I am a pretty easy going guy, so I don't have a long laundry list of preferences and must haves outside of authentic salvation and progression in Him. Any advice you could provide would definitely help. I don't want to ask multiple women out back-to-back since many of them are extremely excited about the potential of being married (and since according to some, they are being pursued hardly at all; the pressure would amp up if I were to).
Thanks for your question. I don't at all mean to make light of it, but given the agonized questions and intractable issues I often deal with, I have to say that if an abundance of wonderful, godly women from which to try and find a godly wife is the biggest struggle in your dating life, Providence has truly smiled upon you, my friend! Obviously, none of that means it's not a real issue, and you want to proceed in a biblical way in this situation no less than in others, so let's think it through.
First, as a theological matter, let me affirm you in this: Based on your description of the solid women in your church (which I'm taking at face value), you could marry any of them. As you will have read in numerous pieces on Boundless, God calls Christians to pursue only other Christians in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:39) so that our marriages can glorify God by reflecting the way Christ loves the church and the church responds to the love of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). Beyond that, we are largely given Christian freedom to decide whom we will marry. I'm also encouraged that you are looking within your own church as a first option for finding a spouse. Very often that will mean a high level of basic theological agreement, shared priorities, and built-in agreement on where to attend church — at least for now. It also gives you, as you point out in your question, a ready, practical window into how the woman you are pursuing lives her life, what her reputation is with other believers, and how she serves in the church (a window she will also have into your life!). Well done on that.
Having said all that, God makes each person unique, and God calls us to use wisdom in deciding who specifically we pursue. So here are a few practical (if not creative) ideas to consider in deciding on a godly woman in your church to pursue.
Among the women in your church, are there women who tend to overlap with you more than others in the ministries in which you choose to serve, or in where and how you otherwise spend your time? Decisions like that can give you a good window into a person's priorities — inside and outside of ministry — as well as how a person conceives of godly womanhood or manhood (for example, does a particular woman seem to enjoy kids or practice hospitality or have a pronounced gift for serving and caring for others?). It might also tell you something about that woman's long-term life and ministry goals. One practical way to "narrow" your search, to use your word, is to look around and see who is with you as you are spending all that time at the church.
Second, don't forget to pray for wisdom. The primary way we get guidance is from God's Word, and I don't mean to suggest that you pray for some mystical lightning bolt to tell you who to ask out for coffee, but you can pray for biblical wisdom as you think about the women in your orbit, who serves well, who has a reputation for godly wisdom and character, and who you naturally seem to get along with.
Third, seek counsel. If you are living transparently and allowing other men in the church to know you well, then elders or other leaders in the church, your small-group leader, and trusted brothers in Christ will probably have good insight and advice in terms of particular women whom you could serve well as a husband.
Finally, when you've considered all these things, act. I appreciate your desire to "get it right the first time" and not need to initiate with multiple women before you find your bride (and I pray that happens for you and her), but that may not be the way it goes down. Dating relationships do not always lead to marriage. Be faithful, think and act biblically in the relationship (lots of good material on Boundless to help you do that), and lead. My point is, don't let the fear of something not working paralyze you. If you're not called to singleness, pursue!
I will pray for you to have wisdom as you look for a wife to serve (Ephesians 5:25-28).
Copyright 2013 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.