For the next several episodes, we are joined by Matt Chandler, the lead pastor at The Village Church in Dallas. He’s the author of several books, including his newest title The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption. And he joins us on the phone from Dallas.
Question #1: The Bible, of course, commands Christians to marry “in the Lord” — that is, other Christians. But in a day when so much nominalism passes for authentic maturity, give us a few simple marks of spiritual growth that a man or woman should be looking for in a potential spouse.
Well, I think what you are looking for is a seriousness about growing in the person’s faith.
Growth in Godliness
And so I think the way the church really serves and helps Christian singles consider marriage and consider dating is that in the covenant community of faith, a person should be known and there should be those around them that can speak of their reputation: whether they are growing in the Lord, whether they are serious about growing in the Lord, whether they are putting sin to death in their life. And really that is what you are looking for. You are asking: Is there a seriousness in this person to grow in their relationship and understanding with the Lord?
Because what I have found that is so tragic is that Christian singles, they will hit this area of desperation, particularly young women, and they will say, “Yeah, he is a Christian; he comes to church.” And really what they are saying is they come to church a couple of times a month, but outside of attending a service, there is no real seriousness about growing in their understanding of the Lord, growing in an understanding of the Bible, being a prayerful person. There is no real vivification or mortification that can be spotted and no one who really knows them enough to speak to the growth in their character.
And so I think that is what you are looking for: Is there a seriousness to grow in the things of the Lord?
Discipleship in Community
Now practically, that is going to look like they are involved in the life of the church. They have sought out people to speak into their lives. They are being discipled — whether that be organically or organizationally. So they are a part of a church’s systems for discipleship, or they just found an older man or an older woman and invited that person to speak into their lives.
And I think if those pieces are there, those are a much safer gauge than just, say, they highlight, know passages in their Bible, or you see them at service every week.