By Mrs. Chancey
I was sitting in class learning about all the ways our country was slipping from its constitutional foundations. And in a moment of exasperation, I raised my hand and called out, “So what’s the solution?” … I knew how hard it was to change the culture and was losing my will to believe there really was a solution. But I was hoping that maybe this passionate, articulate, creative professor had some new ideas to teach us…. Dr. Hubert Morken didn’t disappoint. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and let his grenade fly: “Get married, make babies, and do government. That’s how we win.” His response was so different from what I was expecting that it nearly knocked the wind out of me…. Even though I grew up in a Christian home, with parents who were committed to staying married…I had picked up the idea from the Christian culture around me that celibate service was superior to marriage and that to be truly spiritual, you had to at least be open to the possibility. Now this was professor was telling me that God’s plan for believers, most of them anyway, and for the future good of society, was marriage and babies. Family. It was a shock to my system. ~ from the introduction to Get Married by Candice Watters
Candice Watters is bold, and she’s on a mission to challenge the “being single is holier” myth that has pervaded Christendom in recent years. Her unabashed endorsement of Christian marriage is a breath of fresh air and offers hope to unmarried women who desire godly spouses and families.
I first came across Mrs. Watters’s writings on Boundless.org, the webzine she started in 1998. Boundless overflows with thought-provoking articles for Christians who want to live by God’s Word in a world that is often hostile to its precepts and principles. I’ve been most encouraged to see a number of Boundless writers stand firmly for Christian marriage, encouraging men to grow up and pursue it and women to prepare and pray for it.
Let’s face it; there are thousands of unmarried Christian women out there who wonder where all the “Mr. Rights” have gone. Where are the men who desire a godly wife and have a vision to bring up the next generation of Christians? In our culture of “hooking up” (yes, sadly, even in Christian circles) and extended adolescence, a mature, respectable man is regarded like a UFO sighting: rare, unbelievable, and unlikely to pass by again.
So when Candice Watters boldly declares that women need to get serious about marriage and pray for it to happen, it might seem a bit pie-in-the-sky to jaded women who’ve nearly given up. But Mrs. Watters doesn’t just cast the vision; she provides practical, biblical steps that single ladies can take in their quest to become a “Mrs.”
Get Married: What Women Can do to Help it Happen covers this topic from many angles, providing insights into the “holy pursuit” of marriage, why men aren’t jerks, living in preparation for marriage, and praying boldly for a godly spouse. Whether you come from the courtship camp or have never heard of the term, you can benefit from this refreshing, challenging book. I found myself dog-earing pages and highlighting sentences and paragraphs as I read through the book twice, marking out quotes I wanted to send to unmarried friends to encourage them. Get Married is chock-full of winners, and Mrs. Watters is not afraid to tackle the hard questions and the sticky situations.
For those of us who have grown up homeschooled, guided and protected by godly parents who prepared us for marriage, it’s often all too easy to forget that there are women who come from very different backgrounds – women whose fathers are absent or uninvolved; women who weren’t provided the option to prepare for marriage but were pushed into a career and now wonder if it’s too late for marriage; women who were told that putting off marriage and cramming in as much education before having children was the best route to take. Mrs. Watters deals with all of these situations and more, making this book extremely helpful for those caught in the cultural and economic backwash of the feminist movement and lacking godly mentors or instruction.
Right from the start, Get Married tackles the notion that it’s better or more spiritual for Christians not to marry. Practically speaking, Mrs. Watters demonstrates that very few Christian singles actually pursue the “undistracted” celibate service that Paul wrote about in first Corinthians. It’s far easier to pursue leisure, consumerism, and selfish ends:
In our culture, a single woman must take pains to experience “undistracted devotion to the Lord.” There are few, if any, cultural expectations placed upon her that require selfless service…. While there are some first-class single Christians serving faithfully, most Christian singles spend their free time doing things outside the realm of biblically defined celibate service…. In my experience, the demands of caring for spouse and children have actually pushed me closer to holiness and pulled me further from the temptations of idleness.
As Hebrews 13:4 declares, “Marriage is honorable among all,” and Mrs. Watters allows Scripture to speak for itself as she demonstrates that marriage is the norm and celibacy the exception. Having shown that it is a good thing to desire marriage, Mrs. Watters naturally moves on to the nitty-gritty. How on earth is a girl to get married when the culture (and often even the church) discourages it?
One chapter I appreciated greatly is titled “You Need a Network.” Too often, unmarried Christians are encouraged to simply pray and wait instead of plugging into a multi-generational community that can and will help them toward marriage:
[C]ommunity provides the framework for receiving the protection, input, accountability, and encouragement essential for a strong foundation for marriage. What does your community look like? Are you in fellowship with a multigenerational body of believers who encourage and challenge each other? Are there people in your life who are able to see your Christian character in action and also know you desire a good marriage?
But, as Mrs. Watters notes, many women have no desire to seek counsel from older women and often consider it “meddling” when moms, grandmothers, and church “aunties” ask about their married state. Young women are spending time with their peers instead of seeking the very women who can help steer them toward godly marriage. Mrs. Watters writes, “It’s counterproductive to give older women—who may have good leads—the impression that you can take care of yourself, and that any effort to help is interfering.” Asking for help is a good thing!
Perhaps most importantly, Get Married emphasizes the importance of prayer—and not just individual prayer-time in one’s closet but group prayer with fellow unmarried friends and godly mentors. Mrs. Watters encourages unmarried women to pray boldly for the desires of their hearts and shows from Scripture that God both commands us to pray and desires us to do so because He loves us. She also convincingly declares that prayer will change things:
For all the damage done by two generations of feminist activism, think of the positive change that could come if a generation of women prayed faithfully for godly marriages. When you pray, it changes you, transforming your character and making it possible to live daily like you’re planning to marry.
Get Married does also provide a reality check for those hoping that marriage will make them happy or provide the fulfillment they seek. While marriage certainly can bring these things, the goal of godly marriage is not the advancement of the almighty self. Mrs. Watters writes, “Asking God to help you find a mate is asking Him to take you from a place of single focus to one that will require selflessness. Far from being the answer to all your dreams and fantasies, marriage will be a crucible for making you more like Christ.” And that brings us back around to the whole purpose of Christian marriage: to present to the world a picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Doing this will take us through valleys and up mountains. It will challenge us, change us, and sanctify us. Marriage is, ultimately, not about us; it is about Christ Jesus, as Candice Watters aptly demonstrates in this excellent book.
If you’re an unmarried woman who wonders what God would have you do, read this book. I don’t guarantee you’ll agree with every word (have any of us ever met a book we’d agree with 100%?), but I do guarantee you will be challenged to change your thinking, pray hard, and seek out the counsel and guidance of godly older Christians. You will find yourself driven to the Word with new zeal and you will find renewed hope that God hasn’t forgotten you. If you’ve got the gift of celibacy, then you don’t need this book. But if your heart’s desire is to marry a godly man and serve the Lord through building a Christian family, get this book, buy copies for your friends, and start praying:
It’s time we stop wasting our most marriageable years wondering if we’re meant for marriage and start doing what we can to get there. I’m not suggesting you find a guy and pop the question. And I’m not unaware that in this fallen world, some women will remain single because of poor decisions on their part or the part of men who might have been their mates. But I am encouraging young women to do what they can.
Thank you, Candice Watters, for the boldness to declare the truth of God’s Word on marriage and the impact Christian families can have on their world. We need more reminders of the obvious in our confused times, and Get Married clears the haze and focuses a sharp lens on this most important topic.
Originally published July 15, 2008.