I have another question concerning a young Christian couple marrying. What if a young person was baptized and convinced their boyfriend or girlfriend to become a Christian, subsequently got married, but eventually they stop attending Church? It appears that they only became Christians to marry. It disheartens me because people, including myself, allow feelings to interfere with our Christian walk. Is there any advise you can provide to assist in this matter?

Solomon pointed out in his prayer that "You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men" (I Kings 8:39). We are not given the gift of reading the thoughts of another. We can only go by what another person does and what they say. "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?" (I Corinthians 2:11).

One of the reasons I recommend a long engagement period is to make sure you have an opportunity to see a person for who they truly are. "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:16-20).

Those who know me personally are probably laughing as they read this. I asked my wife to marry me two weeks after our first date. To give her credit, she waited a month before saying "Yes" and we didn't marry until five months later. But I had also done my research. I knew from others what she was like before I met her and what she was like when I wasn't around. She wasn't my first girlfriend. I dated one young lady in high school who became a Christian at my urging. I made it clear that I wasn't interested in marriage for several years -- not until I finished with my education and had a job that could support a family. It bothered me that when I was gone with my family for an extended vacation that I would hear she didn't go to services much while I was gone. Shortly after I left for college, I heard more of the same. When my family moved to another state, I soon heard that she stopped attending altogether. I sadly moved on, but I was determined to marry someone who would raise me up, not bring me down. I found her in my beautiful wife and I never regretted the decision.

You are quite correct. You can't let emotions cloud your sight. I will pass on the same advice my own father gave me. Decide what you are looking for in a mate long before you have anyone in mind. If you are interested in someone, there is tendency to twist things into the current person's favor. Make a list of the things that you think are important. Put them in order. Talk with others who have successful marriages about your list. They may have ideas you haven't thought of or they might point out that some of the things you think are important really don't matter. When you think you found someone, go through your list objectively point by point. Don't go just by your own observations, talk with others as well who might know her better than you do. Met her family and observe how they interact because your own future family might show similar traits. Notice her "personal space" and realize that your home will probably be kept in a similar fashion.

If you are uncertain about the woman you are currently dating, give it more time. Time won't hurt a growing relationship if it is based on truth. But if deception is involved, it tends to come to light as time passes. Be strong enough to call the relation off if there is a mismatch and you decide you can't marry this person. If for no other reason, it is not fair to give another false expectations. And whatever you do, don't lower your standards, especially when it comes to religion.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Dating
Preparation for a Lifetime