Wed by the Word, p.5: Does premarital counseling make you uncomfortable?

I’m excited and honored to welcome back Pastor Bruce Goldsmith, of Laurel Hill Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Va., to guest post on Classic Bride blog today as he continues to share valuable insight on creating a Godly marriage. Our hope is that this series will help couples in forming a beautiful and strong foundation for their marriage built on God’s love – you can read all the posts in this series here. And I’ll turn it over to Pastor Bruce now:

Some years ago, a woman called me to ask if I would officiate her wedding. I did not know her, so I said I would like to meet her and her future spouse. She was agreeable to that, but then I also said, “I require counseling before I am willing to perform a wedding.” To that she said, “That’s okay. I will find someone else.” I have often thought about that woman and wondered if she did go through with her wedding and if so, how she is today. I require counseling for a couple of reasons. It is not because I have anything to offer personally, except a lot of trial and error experiences to pass along, but because I am accountable before God, for the weddings I officiate, and I want to make sure couples understand what they are doing Biblically, so their lives are blessed for many years. When I thought about the woman’s rejection of premarital counseling, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was afraid that there would be something I said that made her uncomfortable about her relationship. In other words, was she inwardly uncertain about it in the first place and counseling might bring out the truth and secondly, was her marriage not important enough to sit for a few sessions with a pastor to discuss what a godly marriage looks like? I guess I will never know the answer to either of those questions.

I have since learned, like this woman, there are many people who are not interested in seeking counsel before they get married. Usually, it’s because of what I just said or, if they are Christians, it’s because they believe God has said everything they need in His Word, and they don’t need anyone to help them. Some even believe counseling takes away from what God has said, and, therefore, they don’t want that. I will be the first to say that God has said all that is necessary to have a godly and prosperous marriage. His Word is complete in all its part and capable of leading a person gloriously through life. But, God also says in Proverbs 15:22 (NASB) “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.” In other words, there is often a great help to people, from other people. Many times people who are hurting need someone to listen to them. Or, most people need someone to befriend them and make them feel valued. God didn’t make anyone to be an island to himself or herself. We were created to need each other, in many ways. But sadly, people will also reject help from others, thinking they have all the answers they need to have a successful life, and in this case, marriage. Let’s take an example outside of marriage. I once worked for a man who owned a construction business. I was an office worker and not in the field. Many days, I would offer suggestions that would fall on deaf ears. These were suggestions that I thought, from my perspective, would help the company and him. However, he was not interested. Now, maybe it was because I was young, and he felt I didn’t have anything to contribute to his company. And that may be well justified on his part. But the point is, he was not willing to listen to something that may be helpful. Many people work for bosses who will not listen to suggestions or take counsel from their employees. Sadly those people either ruin the company or run people away.

The verse from Proverbs teaches us that God wants us to be wise and listen to people who may have suggestions or information that will help us succeed in our lives. That’s why He says that if you don’t seek the advice of people you trust, you will make a lot more mistakes. But if you do seek advise from people with experience, you will be more fulfilled and make better decisions for your life. Godly counsel for marriage is the same way. A pastor or godly counselor is someone who can offer suggestions or give advice for marriage that will help the marriage to be all God wants it to be. Listen to another verse from Proverbs – Proverbs 11:14 (NASB) “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” This is very similar to Proverbs 15 and says basically the same thing. When a person seeks someone with experience and godly Biblical wisdom for all areas of life, and especially in marriage, since that is the context for this discussion, life goes much better. Think about this also. Even though God’s Word is sufficient for all we need to know for a wonderful life, He still uses people to help us understand His Word. For example, God says that preachers are to preach His Word as a way of helping people understand it. Romans 10:14 (NASB). How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” In other words, God uses preachers and teachers to help people understand what He is saying in His Word. How foolish to think that a person doesn’t need to hear preaching and teaching to learn about God and His Word. It doesn’t mean a person can’t learn the Bible on his or her own, but God’s method is to have His people sit under preaching and teaching of His Word. So, doesn’t it make sense that God would use counselors/pastors to help people understand His Word when it comes to healthy, God-honoring marriages?

If you are thinking about marriage, one of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for it, is to seek out a godly pastor/teacher/counselor who will help you understand, not only how to live together in harmony, but also what God says about living together as husband and wife. There is so much value in taking time to learn from people who have the knowledge of God and people who have walked with God in His Word, to help you have the relationship you really want. After thirty-one years of a great marriage, I can tell you, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of work and energy. And there is great value in gaining all the advice you can get from people who love God and His Word.

Whomever you are planning to officiate your wedding, ask them to help you understand marriage from a Biblical point of view. (See my other blog posts for more understanding about how marriage was created by God and what it represents.) Don’t be afraid of hearing about marriage from someone you can trust and what God says about it all. You will be so thankful you did. And one day you might just find yourself giving counsel to someone who will greatly benefit from what you have learned.

Learn more about Pastor Bruce and Laurel Hill Baptist Church by visiting the website where you can listen to weekly sermonsread the pastor’s blog and more.

Photography and styling by Sarah Darcy.