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Praying for your Child’s Spouse

August 6, 2015

Over the past few years, we have been privileged to attend wedding receptions where the bride &/or groom’s parents shared that their son/daughter’s new spouse was the answer to years of prayer. Those prayers began, in some cases, even before the child was born. Although not daily like some parents have indicated, Sarah and I try to pray regularly for each of our children’s future spouses.

wedding pic free dig photoIn praying for their child’s spouse, some parents’ have shared how thankful they are that their new son/daughter-in-law comes from a Christian home as this was one specific detail they prayed for. Personally, I really struggle with asking God for this because I’m not sure it is biblical. We are certainly praying and parenting with the desire that each of our children come to choose Christ as his/her Lord and Saviour, preferably at an early age. Correspondingly, we are praying the person they choose to marry will already be a growing, maturing, follower of Christ.

Yet I do not see in Scripture a requirement that the person come from a Christian family. Certainly, the people of Israel were not to intermarry with foreigners because they worshipped other gods. Yet there are also stories in the OT where God puts his people in foreign territory and expects them to live and be a light there and differentiate between what is right and wrong biblically and what is simply cultural (eg. Daniel and other exilic posts). The book of Ruth shows an Israelite marrying a Moabitess, yet an individual who clearly feared and sought to honour God! Then there’s the book of Hosea…!

Likewise in the NT, there is consistent teaching on marrying a believer (2 Corinthians 6:14), on marriage being a picture of Christ and His Church (Eph. 5:21-32), and the importance of fidelity and love in marriage (Luke 16:18; 1 Cor. 7; Col. 3:18 & 19; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6). Yet these concepts are also important in a marriage where one spouse is an unbeliever (1 Peter 3:1-7). There is no teaching in regard to advising your child who to marry or how to pray for your child’s spouse, beyond general teachings on relationships and prayer.

Some point to promises regarding blessing children for a thousand generations (eg. Deut. 7:9; 1 Chron. 16:15; Psalm 105:8) as a reason to pray for your child’s spouse to come from a Christian family. Yet along with the challenges of applying this directly to a post-NT context, each of these passages point to God’s covenant keeping ability and faithfulness, not the individual’s faithfulness or the family line’s faithfulness.

At my niece’s wedding last summer – where both the bride and groom’s parents are happily married to the same person and have raised their children consistently with Christian biblical values – I was again challenged with this consideration because of the bride’s maternal grandparents (my sister-in-law’s parents). As they gathered for a family photo with their grand-daughter and her new husband, six of their seven children were present and a number of their grandchildren. You could see the rich heritage being passed on to a third generation because of this God-fearing couple. Nonetheless, at least two of their children married partners who were Christians, and yet did not come from “Christian backgrounds.” Yet as these parents got to know the person, see their son/daughter’s affection for the individual, hear how they had come to Christ as older teenagers, and desired to follow Christ in their life, they welcomed them into their family. Those two couples have now been married almost 25 years and each, and they have raised their children with Christian principles.

Again, Sarah and I are blessed to both come from families where Christ was proclaimed to us, and God’s Word and principles were taught both verbally and in action. I recognize that a person’s family of origin plays a significant role in their view and expectations entering marriage. Yet to insist that the person your child marries come from a “Christian home” is an extra-biblical ideal that minimizes another opportunity for God to demonstrate His amazing grace and glory!

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