Before assuming the responsibilities involved in marriage, young men and young women should have such an experience in practical life as will prepare them for its duties and its burdens.
Since both men and women have a part in homemaking, boys as well as girls should gain a knowledge of household duties. To make a bed and put a room in order, to wash dishes, to prepare a meal, to wash and repair his own clothing, is a training that need not make any boy less manly; it will make him happier and more useful.
There are very many girls who have married and have families, who have but little practical knowledge of the duties devolving upon a wife and mother. They can read, and play upon an instrument of music; but they cannot cook. They cannot make good bread, which is very essential to the health of the family. They cannot
cut and make garments, for they never learned how. Theyconsidered these things unessential, and in their married life they are as dependent upon some one to do these things for them as are their own little children.
What a Young Man Should Look for in a Wife
Let a young man seek one to stand by his side who is fitted to bear her share of life's burdens, one whose influence will ennoble and refine him, and who will make him happy in her love.
"A prudent wife is from the Lord." "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her." "She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all." "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord." Proverbs 19:14; 31:11, 12, 26-29; 18:22.
ROLF WAS THE SON OF A LEADING MINISTER IN EUROPE. THE GIRL HE WANTED TO MARRY WAS NOT SURE IF SHE LOVED HIM, BUT HE WAS URGING HER TO MAKE A COMMITMENT TO HIM.
THERE WERE OTHER PROBLEMS THAT INDICATE SHE WAS NOT READY TO TAKE ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF MARRIED LIFE, EITHER BY TEMPERAMENT OR BY TRAINING. ELLEN WHITE ASKS SOME QUESTIONS OF ROLF THAT SHOULD BE ANSWERED BY EVERY YOUNG MAN WHO PLANS FOR MARRIAGE.
Great Grimsby, England September 23, 1886
While at Basel I had some conversation with Edith in regard to your attentions to her. I asked her if her mind was fully made up that she loves you well enough to link her interests with you for life. She answered that she was not fully settled upon this point. I told her that she should know just what steps she was taking; that she should give no encouragement to the attentions of any young man showing him preference unless she loved him.
She plainly stated that she did not know as she did love you, but thought if she were engaged to you she might become acquainted with you. But as it was you both had no opportunity to become acquainted.
I had reason to think that she disliked domestic labour, and I knew that you should have a wife that could make you a happy home. I asked her if she had any experience in those duties that make a home. She answered that she had done housework at home in her father's family. I asked these questions because as her character had been presented to me she needed special education in practical duties of life, but had no taste or inclination for these things.
She told me that she was not decided in anything, that you were very urgent and loved her, but she could not say that she loved you although you were very kind and attentive. Said I, "Then come to an understanding. Do not lead him on."
I told her she should consider the object of a marriage with you, whether by such a step you could both glorify God; whether you would be more spiritual; and whether your lives would be more useful. Marriages that are impulsive and selfishly planned generally do not result well but often turn out miserable failures.
Now, Rolf, I cannot say that it is my business to say that you shall not marry Edith, but I will say that I have an interest in you. Here are things which should be considered: Will the one
you marry bring happiness to your home? Is Edith an economist, or will she if married not only use up all her own earnings, but all of yours to gratify a vanity, a love of appearance? Are her principles correct in this direction?
I do not think Edith knows what self-denial is. If she had the opportunity she would find ways to spend even more means than she has done. With her, selfish gratifications have never been overcome, and this natural self-indulgence has become a part of her life. She desires an easy, pleasant time.
I must speak plainly. I know, Rolf, that should you marry her you would be mated, but not matched. There would be something wanting in the one you make your wife. And as far as Christian devotion and piety is concerned, that can never grow where so great selfishness possesses the soul.
I will write to you, Rolf, just as I would write to my son. There is a great and noble work lying just before us, and the part we shall act in this world depends wholly upon our aims and purposes in life. We may be following impulse. You have the qualities in you to make a useful man, but if you follow inclination, this strong current of self-will will sweep you away. Place for yourself a high standard, and earnestly strive to reach it.
Let it become the ruling purpose of your heart to grow to a complete man in Christ Jesus. In Christ you can do valiantly; without Christ you can do nothing as you should. You have a determination to carry out that which you purpose. This is not an objectionable feature in your character if all your powers are surrendered to God. Please bear this in mind, that you are not at liberty to dispose of yourself as your fancy may dictate. Christ has purchased you with a price that is infinite. You are His property, and in all your plans you must take this into account.
Especially in your marriage relations, be careful to get one who will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in spiritual growth.
Rolf, I want you to consider all these things. God help you to pray over this matter. Angels are watching this struggle. I leave you with this matter to consider and decide for yourself .
Ellen G. White.
Letter 23, 1886
Questions a Girl Should Ask Before Marriage
Before giving her hand in marriage, every woman should inquire whether he with whom she is about to unite her destiny is worthy. What has been his past record? Is his life pure? Is the love which he expresses of a noble, elevated character, or is it a mere emotional fondness? Has he the traits of character that will make her happy? Can she find true peace and joy in his affection? Will she be allowed to preserve her individuality, or must her judgement and conscience be surrendered to the control of her husband? As a disciple of Christ, she is not her own; she has been bought with a price. Can she honour the Saviour's claims as supreme? Will body and soul, thoughts and purposes, be preserved pure and holy? These questions have a vital bearing upon the well-being of every woman who enters the marriage relation.
Let the questions be raised, Will this union help me heavenward? will it increase my love for God? and will it enlarge my sphere of usefulness in this life? If these reflections present no drawback, then in the fear of God move forward.
True love is a plant that needs culture. Let the woman who desires a peaceful, happy union, who would escape future misery and sorrow, inquire before she yields her affections, Has my lover a mother? What is the stamp of her character? Does he recognise his obligations to her? Is he mindful of her wishes and happiness? If he does not respect and honour his mother, will he manifest respect and love, kindness and attention, toward his wife? When the novelty of marriage is over, will he love me still? Will he be patient with my mistakes, or will he be critical, overbearing, and dictatorial? True affection will overlook many mistakes; love will not discern them.
Let a young woman accept as a life companion only one who possesses pure, manly traits of character, one who is diligent, aspiring and honest, one who loves and fears God.
THIS LETTER TO NELLIE LOOKS AT SOME OF THE SAME QUESTIONS AS THE EARLIER ONE TO ROLF. THE CROWD SHE IS ASSOCIATING WITH IS NOT GOOD. HER SPECIAL FRIEND IS IRREVERENT, LAZY, AND USES FOUL LANGUAGE AS WELL. OTHER HABITS ARE QUESTIONABLE ALSO. ELLEN WHITE ASKS SOME VERY STRAIGHTFORWARD QUESTIONS THAT MIGHT WELL APPLY TO YOU AS YOU READ THIS LETTER.
Norfolk Villa, Prospect St. Granville, N.S.W. August 9, 1894
I am thankful to God that you love the truth, that you love Jesus, and I am anxious that you should press your way forward and upward in order that you shall reach the standard of Christian character that is revealed in the word of God. Let the word of God be your guidebook that in everything you may be moulded in conduct and character according to its requirements.
You are the Lord's property both by creation and redemption. You may be a light in your home, and may continually exercise a saving influence in living out the truth. When the truth is in the heart its saving influence will be felt by all that are in the house. A sacred responsibility is resting upon you, and one that requires that you keep your soul pure by consecrating yourself to be wholly the Lord's.
Your acquaintances who are utterly averse to spiritual things, are not refined, ennobled, and elevated by the practice of the truth. They are not under the leadership of Christ, but under the black banner of the prince of darkness. To associate with those who neither fear nor love God-unless you associate with them for the purpose of winning them to Jesus-will be a detriment to your spirituality. If you cannot lift them up, their influence will tell upon you in corrupting and tainting your faith. It is right for you to treat them kindly, but not well for you to love and choose their society; for if you choose the atmosphere that surrounds their souls, you will forfeit the companionship of Jesus.
From the light which the Lord has been pleased to give me, I warn you that you are in danger of being deceived by the enemy. You are in danger of choosing your own way and of not following the counsel of God and not walking in obedience to His will. The Holy One has given rules for the guidance of every soul so that no one need miss his way. These directions mean everything to us, for they form the standard to which every son and daughter of Adam should conform .
You are just entering upon womanhood, and if you seek the grace of Christ, if you follow the path where Jesus leads the way, you will become more and more a true woman. You will
grow in grace, become wiser by experience, and as you advance from light to a greater light you will become happier. Remember your life belongs to Jesus, and that you are not to live for yourself alone.
Shun those who are irreverent. Shun one who is a lover of idleness; shun the one who is a scoffer of hallowed things. Avoid the society of one who uses profane language or is addicted to the use of even one glass of liquor. Listen not to the
proposals of a man who has no realisation of his responsibility to God. The pure truth which sanctifies the soul will give you courage to cut yourself loose from the most pleasing acquaintance whom you know does not love and fear God, and knows nothing of the principles of true righteousness. We may always bear with a friend's infirmities and with his ignorance, but never with his vices.
Be cautious every step that you advance; you need Jesus at every step. Your life is too precious a thing to be treated as of little worth. Calvary testifies to you of the value of your soul. Consult the word of God in order that you may know how you should use the life that has been purchased for you at infinite cost. As a child of God you are permitted to contract marriage only in the Lord. Be sure that you do not follow the imagination of your own heart, but move in the fear of God.
If believers associate with unbelievers for the purpose of winning them to Christ, they will be witnesses for Christ, and having fulfilled their mission, will withdraw themselves in order to breathe in a pure and holy atmosphere. When in the society of unbelievers, ever remember that in character you are a representative of Jesus Christ, and let no light and trifling words, no cheap conversation be upon your lips.
Keep in mind the value of the soul, and remember that it is your privilege and your duty to be in every possible way a labourer together with God. You are not to lower yourself to the same level as that of unbelievers, and laugh and make the same cheap speeches .
The Lord will be your helper, and if you trust Him, will bring you up to a noble, elevated standard, and will place your feet upon the platform of eternal truth. Through the grace of Christ you can make a right use of your entrusted capabilities and become an agent for good in winning souls to Christ. Every talent you have should be used on the right side.
My dear sister, I have written to you because I have a love for your soul, and I beseech you to hear my words. I have more to write to you when I shall find time.
With Christian love,
Ellen G. White.
Letter 51, 1894