Advice for confused single Christian men, part 3

This is the third part in a series offering advice to Christian men who are looking to get married. Part one, which sets the scene, is here, and part two, which considers expectation levels, is here.

3. Keep your eyes open but don’t let them wander

Having suggested that you should have high expectations without creating an impossible fantasy in your head, the advice that follows is: be on the look-out! Part of a man’s general call in life is to lead, to initiate, so it’s not surprising that God wants you to be the one who makes things happen. This isn’t always the case, and it does of course take two to tango, but someone has to get things started and I suggest that it’s you, so get looking.

Am I really saying that your eyes can wander during a worship service? Your enemy wants to distract you from God, and this can be an easy way for him to do that. But if you are in a situation where you have a chance to get to know someone, make the most of the opportunity. I met Deb at a church weekend away where I was the visiting speaker: there were loads of great people to chat with but I knew from my first conversation with Deb that I wanted to speak with her as much as possible and that I had less than 48 hours to get to know her and make a good impression! The opportunity was there, I took it. So did she, of course!

However, there’s another thing you need to know about your eyes. If you think that once your eyes have settled on your wife, you will never want to look at another woman, I’ve got some disappointing news for you:
Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of a man. (Proverbs 27:20)
Your wife should be the most beautiful person in the world to you: you should delight in her, fill your memory with images of her, concentrate on her only. This will take effort on your part. If this sounds unromantic to you, have you been fooled into thinking that emotional stimulus are the only criteria for commitment? That is a recipe for disaster, Proverbs warns us against such naivety.

The godly husband Job determined, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” (Job 31:1) Most guys struggle with this as we are highly visually-stimulated but it’s not simply a matter of training your eyes not to stare – that’s a legalistic quick-fix that doesn’t get to the heart of your problem: your heart. If your heart isn’t right, your eyes will wander. The great news is that God is at work in our hearts, Jesus has freed us from the power of sin and sends His Holy Spirit to make us more like Him, with His wonderful characteristics of “love... patience... self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Godly habits back this up. If a woman who catches your eye is not a realistic contender (she’s said she’s not interested, she’s with someone else, you’ve never actually met her because she’s a film star) then you need to relate to her like you do with anyone else who isn’t your wife. I tried to learn this way before I met Deb: I would think to myself, How would my wife want me to treat this woman? The Bible sets the challenge this way: treat “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2). How about that for a metaphor to make you uncomfortable?

If you haven’t resolved to live this way, if you aren’t co-operating with the Spirit to change your heart, not only are you grieving God now, you are at high risk of disaster later on in life. If you never stop looking at 18-year-old girls, what kind of mess could you get into when you’re 40? A restless heart and eyes are the start of a terrible slippery slope, as King David could tell you (2 Samuel 11).

So here we are again: two true things to understand and hold together. As a single man who wants to get married, it is legitimate for you to be on the lookout for the answer to your prayers. Once you’ve found her, stop looking anywhere else and fix your eyes on her. You need the Holy Spirit’s help. Remember, there’s only going to be one woman for you: the rest do not belong to you and your wife is all you will need. That is great news, believe it.

Next: making a decision.