I know that she is somewhat attracted to me, and even her family seems interested in me.
Should I pursue her, hoping that I will become attracted to her, or should I keep my distance?
There are many facets to your question, but I’d like to focus on two: your feelings of readiness to marry and whether the woman you are thinking of is a woman you should pursue for marriage.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:11b, “When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” He doesn’t say, “When I gave up childish ways, I became a man.” The becoming a man happened in season, and he gave up the habits and inclinations of being a child accordingly. This has profound implications for Christian men in our culture, who are being told that “30 is the new 20,” and that pursuing pleasure and entertainment is a fine way to spend as much of your life as you please. Scripture shows a better way.
The way to human flourishing and fruitfulness is to embrace manhood and all its obligations and responsibilities. There is a timing element that is fundamental. Whether you feel ready is not primary. What should drive your decisions is the reality that at 28, you are a man — and have been a man for a decade. You should be actively working to give up any and all childish ways. It is time to lead, including leading your feelings (something King David did often; see Psalm 42:5-6, 43:5).
By God’s grace, this is not something you must do in your own strength. In fact you can’t. The good news of the Gospel is that in Christ, we have everything we need to obey, not in our own strength, but in His (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Now to the second issue at hand: Should you pursue this woman for marriage? It is too early to pursue, but if she is all you say she is, keeping your distance isn’t the answer either. Do you live in the same town? Do you attend the same church? This would be the ideal setting for spending time together. Don’t view her as a project to pursue. Rather, ask the Lord to give you the ability to relate to her as a sister in Christ, with all purity and honor. As you spend time together, growing in friendship, you may be surprised to see attraction for her grow.
What if she lives out of town or is otherwise not “in your life” at present? Then I would urge you to apply the same advice but not with her. Look around at the women the Lord has placed providentially in your life. Don’t neglect them — real women — for an idea. It can be very tempting to delay taking initiative toward marriage by imagining yourself with a woman with whom you have no regular interaction.
The goal of all of this should not be to achieve your goal of getting married, but rather to glorify God and to discern His will. He may bless your friendship with her and give you eyes to see how it could go further to marriage. And that would be wonderful. But even if He doesn’t, you will have grown in your ability to seek the good of another with no ulterior motives. This will be essential should you marry, whomever you marry.
What you should not do is pursue this, or any, woman for marriage without any desire to do so, hoping that the desire will develop down the road. Given the way you have described things currently, such a pursuit would be selfishly motivated: a case of not feeling any attraction to her but not wanting to miss out on “a good thing.” To pursue her for this reason would be unloving and self-serving, and would not provide a stable foundation for marriage.
Just before David died, he urged his son, Solomon, to “Be strong, and show yourself a man” (1 Kings 2:2). This is good advice for all men in all generations. God has given you His Word to show you how to live as a man in your generation. He said from the beginning, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). And His solution to man’s undesirable aloneness was, and is, marriage to a woman (Genesis 2:23, Proverbs 18:22). The best way to go about seeking this blessing in your life is to be a man under godly authority. Seek mentors whom you can imitate as they also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Finally, I appeal to you, as Paul did to the believers in Rome,
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
It is good that you are seeking to marry well. I pray God will equip you through His Word to know His will and that the Holy Spirit will empower you to obey.
Copyright Candice Watters 2016. All rights reserved.