Two Nonnegotiables

9 days since my last post? Lame.

Last Sunday at All Saints Church Bill gave the first sermon in a series about relationships titles “Finding the Love of Your Life” - provocative, eh? The foundation of the sermon was Proverbs 3.6: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Seems like a good foundation. I am actually not going to talk about the bulk of the sermon (but feel free to listen to it, it was quite good), but I wanted to take a brief look at one of his points. He noted that going into marriage there need to be two nonnegotiables (and one strong recommendation) in finding “the one” (which is a load of crap by the way, if you disagree about that, feel free to argue!).

Nonnegotiable #1: Spiritual Compatibility. Where are we in our walk with God? If we are in vastly different places, that could cause problems. The extreme of this is being in a relationship with a non-believer; this is a touch subject and is bound to piss people off, but it really is crucial. If you are going to be devout in your faith, how would being married to an unbeliever work? These are problems that would never go away. Being able to walk with God together is a foundational aspect of a healthy relationship.

Nonnegotiable #2: Life Purpose Compatibility. Where are our lives heading? Amos 3.3 says “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” Or in the the paraphrase of The Message: “Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?”  How could two people walk together if they were not going in the same direction? This is not to say that the couple cannot or should not have separate interests, but it does mean that two people heading for marriage should actually sit down and discuss where they want to go in life and see if those visions are compatible. If it is pushed away to be dealt with inside the marriage, it will just cause problems. If you can’t agree now, you probably won’t then.

Strong Recommendation: Personal Compatibility. This isn’t a nonnegotiable, but it is still pretty important. How did you grow up? What is your family like? What is their background? These are important questions that really do need to be asked. Of course a person’s history does not completely determine who they are and how they act, but it can still play a big role. Understanding a person’s context will help to understand them. Are the ways that you relate compatible or are there always misunderstandings? Personal compatibility is a big issue that should most definitely be explored.

The reality is that our choices, and they are our choices (“decisions determine destiny”), should be made within appropriate boundaries. There are a number of ways that God guides/teaches/communicates with us in a number of way (which Bill expounds on in the sermon). It is up to us to use those resources to make the best choices we can; when we do that, God will bless our decisions. That doesn’t mean thing will always be easy, in fact things will always get difficult at times (obviously), but it means that there can always be forward progress (Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Marriage is a great read on this topic as well). There is freedom in the choices we make within the boundaries God has provided for us. And he truly has provided them; without boundaries things would be chaos and problems within the relationship would abound. Enjoy the freedom! Now if only I could get a date…

Categories: Theology
  1. October 11th, 2007 at 15:14 | #1

    That may sound well and good on paper, but the old saying ‘opposites attract’ is fairly accurate.

  2. October 11th, 2007 at 20:47 | #2

    Here’s a great pick-up line that I learned from watching Scrubs: “Hey beautiful, can I buy you a house?”

    btw, if she gets really excited after hearing that one, she’s probably not a keeper. ;)


  3. October 12th, 2007 at 03:42 | #3

    IMO, compatibility is something that can be worked out.

  4. October 12th, 2007 at 09:40 | #4

    There’s a difference between “I listen to metal and she listens to showtunes” kind of opposites and “I’m an anarcho-nihilist and she’s a Christian” opposites.

    In one you can compromise and listen to country, the other no one should compromise on and will affect how you view everything from society to religion to child raising to the nature of marriage to death.

    Of course, others might argue I have it backwards. :P

  5. October 12th, 2007 at 11:29 | #5

    I would have to agree with Krisin on this one Tony. Opposites totally attract and for many aspects of the relationship, that is awesome, but for some crucial parts, it can be hugely detrimental. Two of my best friends are completely different, but they have a great marriage because they are on the same page with the two nonnegotiables.

    Jae, I really hope that is true… because I won’t be able to afford a house for a long time! ;)

    Ronnie, I suppose anything is possible. That doesn’t mean we should put ourselves in that situation if it can be avoided. I definitely believe that once someone is in the marriage things should be worked out regardless of how long it takes or how much pain it causes; it CAN and SHOULD be worked out. But it I can avoid that pain by checking these compatibilities, I most definitely will.

    Kristin, I think you just found a third nonnegotiable: No country. Haha ;)

  6. October 12th, 2007 at 20:39 | #6

    Well, Johnny Cash must be an exception, but other than that, yes.

  7. October 12th, 2007 at 20:41 | #7

    Well obviously Johnny Cash is an exception, I thought that was a given.

  1. November 11th, 2007 at 19:05 | #1

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