Pursue a Spouse, Not a Career

Pursue a Spouse, Not a Career

Preached By John MacArthur

Now there are some people who have a gift for singleness that means a spiritual–unique spiritual capacity to remain single for the purpose of serving the Lord. Unless you have that gift and it’s clearly defined for you, then you need to be married. I don’t need to remind you that in biblical times people were married by the time they were fifteen or sixteen. Some of you are way overdue. Get married. Many of you are focused on pursuing a career, pursue a spouse. This is a very good place to find one because we have a huge number of single people who need to be married; they need to be married, for every reason that you can think of, but mostly for the reason that this is a gift of God called the grace of life.

I’m not sure why in this particular Christian culture in which we live that we are prone to follow the habits of the world and remain single for long periods of time, but that is a worldly kind of life, taking people who should be married and having them try to survive as single people when they are wired, hard wired and even given the opportunity by God to be married. Stop waiting for the Messiah, ladies. He came and went. Settle for somebody less. And, men, stop looking for the Proverbs 31 woman. That is an ideal to which women aspire. And the truth of the matter is, find another Holy Spirit-led, loving Christian, and get married.

Now on that basis, you can listen to what I’m going to say because if you’re not married, you’re going to be getting married. And if you’re married and you haven’t had children and the Lord enables you, you’re going to be having children, so this is all very urgent for you.

I’m asking you to do something very foundational and you laugh because it sounds humorous. But there’s so much truth that we have a society of people who way over exaggerate singleness, who way over extend singleness and make it very difficult on themselves and develop habits of singleness that make it harder to come together with another person because the groove keeps getting deeper and deeper out of which you have to get yourself out and walk together with someone in unity and love. Your singleness should be as short as possible. Marriage as quickly as possible. And once you’ve picked the right one, engagement as brief as possible.

And all of this, of course, is against the grain of our culture. I’ve been around long enough to know that people used to get married in their late teens and early twenties. That was the norm. And now the society perpetuates singleness out of its own selfish preoccupations and it’s fraught with all kinds of things, not the least of which is immoral behavior. And we are living in time when way too many people are single and single because they are selfish and because either no one can live with them in their selfishness or they’re not willing to give someone else the opportunity to intrude into their agenda.

We are watching the death of marriage. And you could say while we’re watching the death of marriage because of divorce and you would be right. Or you could say we’re watching the death of marriage because of homosexuality and you would be right. And we’re watching the death of true marriage because we’re watching the rise of homosexual marriage, and you would be right. You could say we’re watching the death of the family because of sterilization and abortion. But we’re also watching the death of the family because of an over-extended, preoccupation with selfish desires and personal agendas that push people into some perpetual singleness.

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
1 Timothy 5:14

34 thoughts on “Pursue a Spouse, Not a Career

  1. Lori, you have no idea how grateful I am that you published these wise, Biblical words from John MacArthur. Thank you so much for performing your duty of teaching the young women {and maybe some older ones, too} these things. May God bless you and your ministry!

    P.S. ~ I purchased your book recently and have just begun reading it. I can’t wait to fully dig in!

  2. I want to marry, no matter what I end up doing! Jobs only get you so far, and you’re easily replaceable! Family, including a spouse is forever! I think everyone should have the love, commitment and companionship of a husband or wife, as who really truly cares about you in this world? Jobs can replace you in a heartbeat. Friends can only give so much, but family is there through thick and thin, for rich or for poor, etc… when I do marry, I will consider it a great honor to be called wife and serve my husband!

  3. I gave up on marriage once and in a strange turn of events I had my sister make an online profile for me because I was going to have fun and go on every date I was invited on just to meet people instead of looking for love. I was so angry at my sister because I thought no one would respond because she made me sound like a prude. One person responded to that profile and we married 3 months later. It’s been almost 4 years now.

    We discussed marriage, children, faith, and spiritual warfare on the first date and had a lot of very deep and important conversations early on. In some ways both of us were set in our singleness and marriage was difficult at first. We both even said that had we not married our relationship would not have lasted, but neither of us regret our choice and we are absolutely head over heels in love and in a strong marriage. I can tell you in my singleness my expectations of what a relationship should be and what marriage was because so unrealistic because it all centered around keeping my life unchanged from what I’d made it as a single woman. A selfish perception.

    All in God’s time he showed me what marriage really is. I hope to become an older woman who teaches Godly womanhood and helps young women see the truth and the light.

  4. I just came across your page, Lori! Thank you so much for the work that you do. I am actually quitting my job & will be home in the new year. I will be running a small business out of our house, but I am thrilled that my husband & my home will be my #1 focus, after years of guilt & unfulfillment in the workplace.

  5. The line I was fed was “Live your life as a single person, and God will bring you a husband when He’s ready.” Okay, that’s strictly true, but you’re a lot more likely to get a husband if you go looking for one! No use in wasting time with regrets, but it would have been lovely to meet my husband 5 years before I did.

  6. Since life has happened & I was raised in a pretty dysfunctional family, I know that I was absolutely not ready to get married before the age of 25. I was way too stupid/damaged to know a good quality man if I saw one. I so clearly remember a strong sense- a God nudge?- at 28 that I was absolutely ready. And I made a decision to seriously look for a quality man. There was one that I knew and he was crazy about me. But, he was Jewish. I knew that I might never love him the way I should, but he was the only one I knew would make a good husband. So, I started laying the groundwork in Sept. of that year, and we went out to dinner several times. My best friend told me in Oct. that she had paid for me to attend a church retreat with her in early Nov. So, I went. We walked into the large lodge to get my cabin assignment and my eyes locked with the man doing the registering. Apparently, God did not agree with my choice to marry a Jewish man, nice as he was, but sent me another. That was who I married. The crazy thing is that my best friend had known him for years and she said, “I always knew he was the nicest guy, but I never thought of it…”

  7. Lori, I have a daughter who is almost 25 and would want nothing more than to be married. The Lord has not placed her mate in her life yet. I have been praying for this young man non stop! She is not one to go out and join clubs etc so the Lord will have to bring him to her. she is a godly young woman who loves Jesus and His word. I am praying the Lord sends him soon!

  8. Incidentally, Ecclesiastes 4 has it right: “9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. 10For if one falls down, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to help him up! 11Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though one may be overpowered, two can resist. Moreover, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

    When you’re married, you’ve got an automatic ally, someone to watch your back. You don’t have to worry about how many friends you’ve got, and if something bad happens to you you’re not alone. And yes, having someone to “keep you warm” is very nice.

    Being married is fun, and a married couple is strong. To use a modern metaphor, you’re less likely to lose data with a RAID than a single-hard drive setup.

  9. I was told that all the time. Just wait on God. Just wait on God. That’s all I was ever told. I was discouraged for years because it’s all I wanted. But eventually someone told me stop waiting and talk to some people. I did then he responded and eventually he asked me out and now we are married.

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  11. I have received the same advice from Christian books and other Christian women I admire. The funny thing is though, is that when it’s a career that you are looking for, you are told to pursue it with all your might. There is no “trust God to bring you a career.” I have sometimes wondered if we should take that same attitude of finding a career and use it to find a husband.

  12. Heidi, “A Cord of three strands is not quickly broken” is what we had on our wedding invitations. There was a braided cross with 3 strands hanging down. 🙂

  13. This was an awesome and amazing article, Lori! Thank you for posting!

    “Stop waiting for the Messiah, ladies. He came and went. Settle for somebody less.” – Ha, ha! So funny, so true!!

    I completely agree with all of the points that Pastor MacArthur makes here. And it’s so true that marriage doesn’t get easier if you wait till you are older. More temptation to sexual immorality, fewer available spouses your age, and also the rarely mentioned issue of becoming more and more inflexible and set in one’s way because one has not had to learn to live with a spouse and children and learn flexibility.

    When I was in college, the “Christian” advice that I constantly heard was that one had to stay where one was and learn complete contentment in one’s singleness before God would send you a spouse. Looking back, that is nonsense. God gives us that deep desire for marriage for a PURPOSE – to drive us to marriage! As one commenter said above, we would never look for a career by saying, “God, place a successful career in my life.” We would work for it! Pursuing marriage makes so much more sense than sitting and doing nothing. Prayer is always important, and so is human effort.

    Blog on, dear Lori!

  14. I think another reason couples aren’t marrying is because today, many live together, and feel no need to marry. This is so unfortunate and ungodly.

  15. I was never told to “wait on God” to bring me a husband. But I didn’t exactly search for one, either. I just went out and about and talked to people and when I met the one for me, I just *knew*.
    Staying at home and not meeting anybody is not going to find us a husband. But if we go out there and are open to opportunities for meeting people, the man God has planned for us will show up 🙂

  16. I have been struggling with a negative view of marriage and sex for a while. I always thought (in the back of my head, I wouldn’t admit it) it was more holy to stay single than to marry, and that if I got married it was because I couldn’t control myself or couldn’t be content alone or something like that. I have no idea where this came from, but I guess I took the verses in Corinthians about singleness too literally. Also from hearing sermon after sermon about how all we need is Jesus, we need to be content, you’re probably called to singleness etc. I still have these thoughts and it’s kind of why I make no effort to date or find anyone. I always think I’m young and I have plenty of time.
    I know marriage is a gift from God now and I hope I can train myself out of these thoughts.

    I’m not married and I’m almost 19 so I’m still really young but I already feel myself getting a bit selfish. I never had to share a room with siblings and I’ve always been able to do things my way. I imagine being selfish in a marriage would make it quite difficult. It really does make you more selfless. Probably part of the reason God invented marriage!
    I hope us Christians can present marriage more positively from now on ~ It is a gift from God

  17. When I was a little girl that’s all I ever wanted was to be a mommy.I couldnt wait! I wanted lots of children and would play house everyday with like 10 of my stuffed animals and dolls,etc…I’m the youngest of 14 and was raised by parents that stood the test of time and stayed married till the end.I never could tell that they weren’t happy.We lived on a farm with tons of animals and a huge garden that I got to help take care of and I loved it!Dragging my dolls with me!…As I got older,I never went to college,but was a nurse till I married at 19.Truth be told I was so happy….I would of married him way sooner.We got pregnant right away and I was so thrilled!!!!…17 years later and 9 kids and counting,were still going strong!….I love it so!!!There about 2 years apart and now the world pretty much just knows we have another coming right behind the last.I love God and feel so overwhelmed with joy that I get to do this everyday…..I am content and I can NOT imagine having 1 or 2!After 2 is when we started getting the comments that we were crazy for having 2 children in r early 20’s AND we wanted more….Well the comments haven’t stopped,just get worse.But the children also haven’t stopped coming….and I’m soooo ok with that, and could care less about those nasty comments.Im almost to the amount of dolls I carried around with me as a child!We love our children and feel that we are doing what God wants for our lives and there’s.I have no guilt and I’m not ashamed.This is all I’ve ever known and longed for and I am content.

  18. I have 2 sons (28 & 30) that would love a Titus 2 wife but the Titus 2’s are just not easy to find. The online route has not worked and church is full of too young or already married people at this point. Work is full of men and 50’s and above. I so pray they are given God’ s favor and that HE brings them wives. I wish it were as simple as the “go marry as soon as possible” thought. I am Praying/Begging God daily for godly Titus 2 wives for them. Not sure why HE is saying NO to them both so far.

  19. I am a believing Christian woman, married to a believing Christian husband. And it is sad that that has become rather rare in the world, and rare also, increasingly, in the Church – the Body of Christ. My husband and I have been married 42 years, now. We have seen times of prosperity, and we have seen times of famine. But what we have not seen is spiritual famine. As far as our marriage goes, it has been prosperous the whole time, and that is largely because me and my husband both know our roles in the marriage, and we stick to them vigorously.

    We live in a culture that celebrates a number of ungodly things. One of them is singleness. Being single does not fulfill the biblical role that God says he created man and woman to fill: husbands and wives, being fruitful, multiplying and subduing (populating) the Earth. Another thing celebrated by our culture is that of “equal but separate”, as though marriage were akin to man’s secular government. The bible speaks of the husband and wife being one flesh, not two separate beings in a legal arrangement.

    In the beginning, in Genesis, God lays out the entire reason why woman was created: “It is not good for man to be alone.” The work of tending the Garden of Eden was placed on the man, and indeed, for a while, the man tended it alone. A lot transpired before woman was ever created.

    All of creation was finished.

    God created a Garden and put the man in it, to tend it.
    The first Law and Commandment was given to the man alone.
    The naming of all the animals was given to the man alone.

    But throughout it all, while all the beasts of the field had their counterpart, none was found suitable for the man, and so God says, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will create a helper suitable to him.” Not a helper. Not a helper alongside in the work. A helper for him, himself.

    My work, and my service is not to work for, and serve the Lord directly. My work, and my service is to help and serve my husband, because that is what God created me, and all women, to do. My husband and I are not co-workers in the field. The field is his work. My work is he, himself.

    I remind myself that God did not create Eve out of the dust of the ground like he created Adam. Eve was created out of a being that was already alive: Adam. That is why Adam says of her, “this is flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone”, not because it was poetic, but because it was literally true.

    The commandment they were given, jointly, was “be fruitful and multiply”. My husband and I have 7 children, all now grown and living their own lives. Three of them married, themselves. Some of them have become believers, and some have not. My husband and I are completely accepting of this because we both know that faith is a gift from God that God himself gives, or withholds according to his own purposes. God says of children only that they are a blessing and an inheritance from the Lord. It doesn’t say “The good children are a blessing and inheritance”. He says that all children are. And
    there is a reason for that that I will not elaborate on at this time.

    So, I have spent my 42 years of marriage being a servant first, and foremost to my husband. He and I both know that being a servant of the Lord means not serving God directly (because he lacks nothing, and needs no service), but rather being a servant of the Lord means that we serve others, and specifically it means that we server others in the church.

    And to me that means serving my husband first, then my children, and also other members of the Body of Christ in our church. When God calls us his servants, he means that we serve others, and he specifically means other believing brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. In other words, our local church, and the churches of God all over the world.

    But for me, my first focus, and my best efforts are spent on helping my husband, at home, because that is what the Bible calls women to do. If you really need the long list of scriptures that teach women that they should be helpers at home, helpers of their husbands, and servants in the church, I can compile that list for you. But in reality, open any one of the New Testament epistles, and just poke your finger in. You will likely land on one of them.

    My work is to help him do his work. Only then am I a “helper suitable to him”, and I want to obey the Lord and be found faithful. And my work is most certainly not to make even more work for him. Again, his work is the field. My work is him.

    As I focus my work on helping him accomplish his own work, I find that we are both working in harmony, with the same goals. This leads to unity in the marriage – the kind of unity that God has spoken of over and over again in scripture. Unity is a kind of peace and joy all in itself. Unity is the sense that all is well no matter what is going on in the world around us, or in his job, or in my work in the home, or in our children’s lives, or even to some extent in the church. Our first priority is each other. Then children. Then the church. Then his job. Then my leaky kitchen sink, or broken dishwasher.

    And if I do not get distracted, this unity persists for weeks, months, even years at a time without interruption.

    When we do find ourselves out of unity, it is always because one or the other of us has become selfish, paying attention to our own wants and needs instead of the wants and needs of the other. We start to falter on extending just the kindness of simple gestures. He complains because super is not ready. I complain that he hasn’t fixed the leaky sink.

    When I get into the state of mind that I am willing to complain about a leaky faucet, or a light fixture that I don’t like, it only happens because I, for whatever reason, stop noticing the simple acts of kindness that he shows me on a daily basis. Or I take my eyes off the fact that for 42 years he has provided me with a roof over my head that keeps that rain out, and keeps me warm in the winter. I cannot really speak for him, for what is going through his mind that causes him to stop being kind to me and start being more critical of my failures.

    I’ve had some failures that he has had to call out, and he should. That is the role assigned to him by God as the “leader” of the family. His role is to lead, and my role is to follow where he leads. When I get slack about following him, or when he gets slack in leading, or starts getting “lazy” about making decisions in the relationship, or starts putting off those decisions that he is supposed to make and starts dumping them on me…..

    All these things lead to disunity, and disunity soon leads to grumbling, and grumbling leads to the earth opening up and swallowing up whole families. Well, OK, so not literally.

    But just as in the old testament, grumbling against God’s leadership ended up in God killing the grumblers, so also grumbling and complaining in the marriage makes the marriage groundwork open up and swallow the unity, the joy, the peace and the blessing of marriage. No matter which one is grumbling. This is a marriage, and any grumbling in it is ultimately complaining against God who made it.

    The remedy to this is always the same. You stop the grumbling, and you serve the other, and you sacrifice for the other. That means that in those times when you want to complain, those are the very times when it is most essential that you sacrifice. That time when he wants to focus more on his own wants than on yours, that is the very time that he needs to step back and sacrifice. Resort to simple, yet (most importantly) deliberate acts of kindness.

    On my part, sometimes just the simple touch of my hand can remedy the entire malady. On his part, just a simple lunch or dinner with just the two of us can bring me back to his side. When, during a period of strife, or bitterness, I see him doing something for me that I know he is doing because he simply wants to extend a kind gesture, right at that moment is when I most clearly see the same work that Christ has done for us. That “while we were yet sinners, Christ sacrificed for us”. And sacrificed even his entire life, for us. And in that moment, I either feel tremendous relief that I know he
    still loves me (If I have done something wrong), or I feel an almost overwhelming sense of gratitude that he, of all men, is my husband (if he has done something wrong).

    For that reason, I make even stronger effort to be selfless and sacrificing especially in those times when our unity is struggling or being challenged. That selflessness and sacrifice is the very thing that God has placed in the marriage in order to protect it. In other words, when I least feel like being a servant is the very moment when it is more important than anything else in the world to serve. When I least feel like sacrificing, that is the very moment when “sacrifice” really is sacrifice and not just a word in the dictionary.

    It is not a “give and take”. It is a “give and give”. Most people will say that “it takes two to tango”. That the marriage will only work if both parties are actively engaged. But really, that’s not always true.

    The best part about setting your eyes on “give and give”, and not “give and take”, is that “give and give” will remedy the situation, even when only one person in the relationship is doing it. It takes only the sacrifice on one side to bring the unity back. That is how Christ saves the Church, because he “gives and gives”, even while we yet “give and take”.

    If both parties are playing “give and take”, there is opportunity for strife. Because when he flips the coin and gets “take”, and you flip your coin and also get “take”, you can see immediately where that will go.

    But of one party flips the coin and gets “take”, and the other party refuses to flip the coin and instead goes straight for “give”, you see immediately the outcome of that. Combine “give”, with “sacrifice”, and there is no longer any obstacle in the marriage to prevent it being healthy, productive, with unity and joy.

    Does that mean that sometimes I give even though I think I am right? Absolutely. But my goal is unity, and peace and joy in the Lord. And often, that comes by doing what our Lord calls us to do, and that is to be sacrificing and giving. I would rather be right by serving my husband, and sacrificing for him, than the mere intellectual (and empty) satisfaction of being right, while being alone.

    We’ve been at this for 42 years, and so far it has served us well. He wishes that young men today really understood what it means to be a man, and love one woman for life. And I wish more young women knew how satisfying and fulfilling it is to serve one husband for life.

  20. In these wicked days, men don’t know how to be men, and women don’t know how to be women. Imagine a world where we both know how to be as God intended? There’s tremendous power in surrender for both of us. The problem is how our society has twisted reality. Deep inside all of us is God’s goodness, in that we truly want to be children of God as he intended which means Godly men and women. We absolutely need to support each other to get and stay in that mindset. God bless you all…

  21. Thank you so much, Melinda, for sharing your wisdom and insight from your 42 years of marriage. This has been such an encouragement to me! God bless you and your husband.

  22. Hi I am 30 and still single…but I don’t want to presume I would be a good match for either of your sons :/ I have been praying for a godly man since I was 18, and have been wanting to find someone for a long time. I have been dating for years now, prayerfully every time and sadly, the guy ends up breaking up with me…oh well :(. Extended singleness has led me to a career to earn money, but I have been working to pay bills and dating. I would love to be a momma with lots of children and have been preparing for that (it isn’t easy but I always want to learn). Blessings!

  23. Marriage has always had secular roots though. They married for property,status, finances, and land. There were marriages before Christianity and marriage will surpass Christianity

  24. I’m a little confused. There seems to be tons of emphasis on ‘being a wife’ and that’s our calling as women when being married was never promised to us and it is actually biblical that those who live in singleness have more blessings and closer relationship with God.

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