Pre-Marital Counseling for the Glory of God

By: Tim Matthews

Tim Keller once said, “Both men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community but as a way to reach personal life goals. They are looking for a marriage partner who will ‘fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires’. And that creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to a deep pessimism that you will never find the right person to marry.”

We see the many effects of this “pessimism” playing itself out in our culture today. More studies than you can count show that people, especially millennials, are waiting longer and longer to get married, and more and more are moving in together to “test things out” prior to marriage. And in light of this trend, the local church needs to be at the forefront of elevating and lifting up the divine creation and institution of marriage.

One of the ways we elevate and lift up marriage at Prestonwood is through our – Before You Say, I Do – pre-marriage ministry. Each year, we have the privilege of encouraging, equipping – and empowering nearly 150 couples to glorify God in and through their marriages. Our goal is to help couples gain a biblical perspective on marriage and to give them practical principles to use in their marriages. As we see in Genesis 2, God is the author and creator of marriage. Therefore, as the local church, we should be at the forefront of laying a biblical foundation for marriage.

To get practical, these are the topics that we feel best lay that foundation.


The first marriage union started out perfectly, but sin changed everything. We are now broken people getting married in a broken world. And it’s in this context we find couples unrealistically hoping and dreaming that this other person will truly satisfy their every need and desire. Their marriage will surely be “happily ever after.” That’s not reality and that not biblical! Expectations are normal, but disillusionment comes when they are unrealistic and they are all about you. Expect to serve in marriage, not be served.

(Scripture references: 1 John 4:7-12; Ephesians 4:31-32; 5:22-33; Matthew 19:4-6; 20:26-28)

Men’s Roles

God has ordained the role of husband as one of leadership and authority. This is God’s design; therefore, men are called to lead their homes. And it’s through this role that men provide for and protect their wives as well as study and cherish them all the days of their life. (Scripture references: Ephesians 5:25-28; 1 Corinthians 11:3; John 17:1; 1 Peter 3:7; Proverbs 2:6)

Women’s Roles

God has ordained the role of the wife as one of helper. It’s the wife’s calling from God to affirm the leadership of her husband and help him through her various gifting. That is what the Scripture means by submission. As husbands emulate Christ’s example of leadership, wives are called to emulate Christ’s example of submission. (Scripture references: Genesis 1:27; 1:31; 2:18; 3:16; Ephesians 5:1-2; 21-24; 33, 1 Corinthians 11:3; Acts 2:17; 8:12; Galatians 3:28; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Peter 3:1; Proverbs 31)

Communication and Conflict

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1) In marriage, there is going to be communication breakdown and conflict. Why? We are sinners; therefore, we are selfish. We must learn how to communicate and fight well. We have to learn how to talk to one another, listen to one another, and forgive one another. That’s what a Gospel-centered marriage is all about. It’s all about grace!

(Scripture references: James 4:1; Matthew 18:21-22; Ephesians 4: 25-32; 1 Corinthians 13:4-6; Proverbs 13:10)


It is clear in Scripture that God cares about out finances. There are more than 2,350 verses in the Bible that deal with this topic. In marriage, it is vital that you become “one” when it comes to money and possessions. God owns it all and He controls it all, and He promises to provide for our every need. In marriage, God asks for us to be faithful stewards no matter how much or how little we have. And as beleivers, we should be givers. Why? Because God has been infinintely generous towards us in Christ!

(Scripture references: Psalm 37:21; Romans 13:8; Proverbs 3:9-10; 11:25; 22:7; 21:20; 30:2; Leviticus 27:30; Genesis 14:20; 1 Timothy 6:18-19; Malachi 3:8-10; Acts 20:3; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8; 1 Timothy 5:8; 17-18; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Proverbs 19:17; Romans 15:25-27; Galatians 6:7-10; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; Philippians 4:14-19; Matthew 25:21, Mark 10:27)


God created sex; it was all His idea. It is a loving gift to couples to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. As His creation, we are to follow His design and what He desires for us as it relates to physical and emotional intimacy. Our culture has many views on this topic, but ultimately it is what God’s Word has to say that truly matters. (Scripture references: Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Matthew 5:27-28; Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:45; Proverbs 5:15-20; 26:14; Song of Solomon 4:1-5:1, Psalm 103:10-14)


God’s plan for married couples is to leave and cleave. This is not always easy. We must look through the lens of the Gospel to understand, communicate, accept, honor, bless, pray, enjoy, and love the family we are marrying into. (Scripture reference: Genesis 2:21-24)

In their recently published pre-marriage study “To Have & To Hold”, Byron and Carla Weathersbee cleverly state, “Thousands of dollars are spent on the wedding day, which only lasts a day. But in our culture, very little time, money, and energy is spent in preparation for the marriage itself, which is designed to last a lifetime.” If we want marriages to be successful, then the local church needs to continue to point couples to the One who created it. Our prayer is that an effective, God-glorifying pre-marriage ministry will do that.

Tim Matthews serves as the Minister to Young Couples at Prestonwood Baptist Church.