“I cannot find a mate within the congregation, and I am afraid of growing old alone.”
“Some men in the world are kind, lovable, and thoughtful. They are not opposed to my religion, and they seem to be more interesting than some brothers.”
Some servants of God who are single have said something similar. They know that Jehovah wants his servants to marry “only in the Lord,” that is, to marry only true Christians. (1 Corinthians 7:39) So why do some Christians say these things?
WHY SOME HAVE DOUBTS
Christians who say these things may feel that there are more single sisters than single brothers. In many countries, this is true. For example, in Korea, 57 percent of single Christians are sisters and 43 percent are brothers. And in Colombia, 66 percent of Christians are sisters and 34 percent are brothers.
In some places, parents who are not Witnesses may demand a lot of money or other expensive gifts when their daughters get married. And some single brothers may not be able to afford these gifts. As a result, some sisters worry about whether they will ever be able to find a Christian husband. *
CONFIDENCE IN JEHOVAH IS ESSENTIAL
If you have ever had similar feelings, you can be sure that Jehovah understands your situation and knows exactly how you feel.
Still, in the Bible, Jehovah commands us to marry only in the Lord. Why? Because he knows what is best for us and he wants to protect us. He does not want us to make bad choices that will hurt us or make us unhappy. In Nehemiah’s day, many Jews were marrying women who did not serve God. So Nehemiah mentioned the bad example of Solomon. He “was loved by his God, so that God made him king over all Israel. But the foreign wives caused even him to sin.” (Nehemiah 13:23-26) Jehovah knows that his reminders are good for us, and that is why he has directed Christians to marry only in the Lord. (Psalm 19:7-10; Isaiah 48:17, 18) We are very thankful that he gives us counsel that is loving and reliable. When we obey Jehovah as our Ruler, we accept that he has the right to tell us what to do.
Surely, you do not want to become “unevenly yoked,” that is, to marry someone who does not love Jehovah. That person could cause you to stop serving God. (2 Corinthians 6:14) God’s counsel always works, and many Christians today have wisely chosen to obey Jehovah. However, others have chosen differently.
A sister in Australia named Maggy began dating someone who was not a true Christian. * (See footnote.) She says: “I missed a lot of meetings just to be with him. My spirituality dropped drastically.” Another young woman in India named Ratana dated a classmate who started studying the Bible. However, he only studied the Bible so that he could date her. Eventually, she stopped serving Jehovah and joined another religion so that she could marry him.
Ndenguè from Cameroon was 19 years old when she married a man who did not serve Jehovah. Before their wedding, he promised that she could continue to be a Witness. However, two weeks after their wedding, he told her that she was not allowed to go to congregation meetings. She says: “I found myself lonely and weeping. I realized that I had lost control of my life. I felt constant remorse.”
It is true that some Christians have married a mate who does not serve Jehovah but who is still kind and fair. However, even if your mate who did not serve Jehovah was kind, how would your relationship with Jehovah be affected? How would you feel knowing that you did not listen to the counsel he gave for you to be happy? And most important, how would Jehovah feel about what you have done?
Brothers and sisters around the world who have obeyed Jehovah’s counsel to marry “only in the Lord” are convinced that this is the best decision. Single brothers and sisters are determined to make Jehovah happy by marrying someone who worships him. Michiko from Japan was determined to obey God even though her relatives tried to convince her to marry someone who did not love Jehovah. And it was hard for her to watch some of her friends marry true Christians while she remained unmarried. She says: “I kept telling myself that since Jehovah is a ‘happy God,’ our happiness does not depend on whether we are married or not. I also believe that he grants us the desires of our heart. So if we cannot find a mate even though we want to marry, it is best for us to stay single for the time being.” (1 Timothy 1:11) Later on, Michiko married a fine brother, and she is happy that she listened to Jehovah’s counsel.
There also are some brothers who have waited to find the right person to marry. For example, Bill from Australia admits that at times he was attracted to women who were not Witnesses. However, he did not get too friendly with any of them because he did not want to start a relationship that would result in his becoming “unevenly yoked” with an unbeliever. Over the years, he was also interested in a few sisters, but they did not feel the same way about him. Bill waited 30 years until he found a Christian woman who had similar goals. He says: “I have no regrets. I feel blessed because we go out in the ministry together, study together, and worship together. I am happy to meet and associate with my wife’s friends because they are all fellow worshippers of Jehovah. We work on our marriage using Bible principles.”
WHILE WAITING ON JEHOVAH
What can you do while you trust in Jehovah’s counsel and wait for a husband or a wife who serves him? You can think about why you are not married. If you feel that it is because you want to obey Jehovah’s command, then you can be sure that this makes Jehovah happy. (1 Samuel 15:22; Proverbs 27:11) Also, continue to pray to Jehovah regularly and tell him exactly how you feel. (Psalm 62:8) As you do your best to resist temptation and fight wrong desires, your relationship with Jehovah will be strengthened day by day. You can be confident that Jehovah cares about your desires and your needs because you are precious to him. He does not promise anyone a husband or a wife. But if marriage is what you really need, Jehovah knows the best way to satisfy your needs.
At times you may feel like David, who said: “Do answer me quickly, O Jehovah; my strength has come to an end. Do not hide your face from me.” (Psalm 143:5-7, 10) Do not give up. Give Jehovah time to show you what he wants you to do. Listen to Jehovah by reading the Bible and meditating deeply on what you have read. This will help you know what Jehovah requires of you and how he has helped his servants in the past. By listening to him, you will have the confidence to keep obeying him.
What else can you do to remain happy and busy while you are single? You can work on strengthening your relationship with Jehovah and developing a good reputation. You can also learn to be generous, hardworking, easy to get along with, and loyal to Jehovah. These qualities are necessary for a happy marriage. (Genesis 24:16-21; Ruth 1:16, 17; 2:6, 7, 11; Proverbs 31:10-27) Seek first the Kingdom by staying busy in the ministry and in your congregation. These things will protect you from making unwise decisions. Bill says of the years that he was single: “They passed so quickly! I used the time in Jehovah’s service as a pioneer.”
Jehovah’s command to marry “only in the Lord” is not old-fashioned or out-of-date. By choosing to marry a true Christian, we honor Jehovah and we will be happy. The Bible says: “Happy is the man who fears Jehovah, who takes great pleasure in his commandments. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness continues forever.” (Psalm 112:1, 3) So be determined to obey God’s command to marry “only in the Lord.”