The details of the following situation have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved.
Q. A friend of mine has come to me for advice. His girlfriend has told him that one of her close friends told her that God wanted them to hurry up and get married. He is not so sure as they have only been going out for three weeks.
A. The first thing to say is that your friend needs to be reminded that modern prophecy is not authoritative. When it comes to affairs of the heart, in my opinion, wisdom and common sense trump so-called prophecy every day. There is massive potential for major damage and destruction on this. Even genuine prophecy can often be misinterpreted. It is a good idea to find out exactly what this person shared (preferably first-hand) and try to establish exactly what it was they felt God said, and how much of what they said to the girlfriend was actually their interpretation of what they thought they heard or saw.
It is just possible that the “word” itself may have been right, but the interpretation wrong. Is it possible, for example, that your friend was being too casual about the relationship? This word may have actually been intended as a wake-up call to him to be more intentional—that he should decide in his mind whether he could ever see himself marrying this girl. If the answer is a definite “no,” he should finish it, but if it is a distinct possibility, he should commit himself to intentionally pursuing a relationship with her in such a way that the goal of that relationship is to determine whether or not they will be married (even if that takes a few months or even years to decide), rather than to merely be in it for fun.
This kind of prophecy, however, is a “match” prophecy and one that I strongly discourage in almost every case. In this instance, the word was shared by someone very close to the girl, which would immediately further add to my suspicion that this might be wishful thinking rather than a true word. There are dangers in people who know each other too well prophesying for each other. The heart is very deceitful, and too often we hear what we would want God to say to our friend rather than what he is actually saying. You may want to think about having a conversation with the person who shared this “word.”
So, starting from a position of caution, let’s go through the checklist I shared in my sermon:
- I wonder how this prophecy has left the girlfriend and your friend feeling? If they are feeling anxious, stressed, and not encouraged, then I would immediately tell them this word can’t be from God as it is not fulfilling the purposes of New Testament prophecy listed in the Bible.
- How does this word make them feel about Jesus? Is the Jesus we see in the Bible impatient? I don’t think so! Jesus says that to him one day is like a thousand years. So the way this prophecy portrays Jesus is not glorifying to him at all!
- I have already said that this prophecy is not really consistent with the Bible. The only possible link to biblical commands would be when Paul said we should marry rather than burn with lust. But, Paul was speaking about people who were already engaged, and surely your friends can exercise some self-control for a bit longer. I would take this opportunity to speak with them about keeping pure, however.
- What about other ways God speaks to people? Firstly, would YOU, as their spiritual counselor, advise these people to marry just yet? I think not. The fact they have come to you is a good opportunity for you to show them that wise advice from a spiritual leader is far more valuable to us than any prophetic direction. What about their circumstances? Are they in a position financially to marry?
- Wisdom speaks to us very clearly about marriage. It is not for nothing that the old words of the marriage service said that it should not be entered into hastily or carelessly. The string of divorces, even among Christians, warn us to be slow to jump into this life-long serious commitment. To vow to marry when you haven’t already at least gone through all four seasons together is usually very unwise.
- The fact that this word has not left your friend with a clear sense of direction and desire to act in a certain way again makes me feel this is unlikely to have come from God.
- Even if your friend’s girlfriend is full of faith for this, your friend is fully within his rights to simply tell her he is not ready to make that step. He should do that gently and kindly, and this whole process, which is perhaps difficult, can be used to help strengthen their still young relationship, and certainly teach them to trust in God and the fullness of all the different the ways in which he can speak to us today.