With the divorce rate in the church matching the world's, I thought I would offer this fresh reminder to single women considering serious relationships. I've seen a lot of heartache from women who didn't listen to leaders who advised them not to marry. From the pattern of divorces, these are the five red flags I've seen women ignore when marrying the wrong guy.
#1: He has no interest in God.
I've been amazed at how many women ignore this basic warning sign. But I think this sign is ignored because they are desperate for male attention or looking for a father they never had. Don't get me wrong—he may seem like he is interested in God for a season ... until he gets you down the aisle. Then prepare for Sunday-morning battles when he would rather go to a sports activity than go to church.
Marriage is not an opportunity to evangelize, nor is it an outreach activity. God takes marriage so seriously that He states that you can't be unequally yoked: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:14, NIV).
Besides making the decision to follow Christ, getting married is the most important decision you'll ever make in your life.
#2: Your leaders or pastors think marrying him is a bad idea.
I've seen marriages take place despite warnings from leaders. In most cases, the marriages ended in divorce or they are hanging by a thread. When my husband, Jerome, asked me to marry him, I asked several leaders for their advice. I also asked about his character. Every leader gave my future fiancé a rave review and spoke highly of his integrity, faithfulness and loyalty. Their review was a sign that he was "the one" for me.
#3: Your parents don't like him.
My mom use to tell me how much her parents hated my dad. Well, he was a 29-year-old man who enticed a 15-year-old girl into marrying him against her parents' wishes! Of course they were going to hate his guts. She wished many years later she would have listened to her parents.
My grandparents were not Christians, but I believe God gives parents a radar for men who don't have the best motives for their daughters. When my mom met Jerome, she instantly liked him. Jerome won my parents' hearts and approval for marrying me. That was the second sign that Jerome was "the one" for me.
#4: He doesn't have a job or can't hold one down.
I had a guy pay for my dinner with food stamps. Although he was a Christian, this was a sign from God he was not a candidate for a serious relationship. If you have to pay your own way in the relationship or help him out financially because he can't hold down a job, he is not a candidate for marriage. He may speak in tongues and read the Bible, but if he can't hold down a job, this is a red flag about his character.
One of my friends met a guy in the unemployment office. I told her I didn't think the unemployment office was the best place to meet a guy. She dated him but ended the relationship because he wasn't employed.
The Bible says if you don't work, you don't eat. Having a work ethic is a must for someone you're considering for marriage: "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat'" (2 Thess. 3:10).
#5: He has an addiction.
A friend of mine married someone who struggled with online pornography. She didn't know he struggled with this until they were years into their marriage with several children. He wouldn't go for counseling, and they eventually divorced.
A man who is addicted to pornography, drugs or liquor is not a candidate for marriage. He may tell you he plans to get counseling or wants God to set him free—because that's what you want to hear. But until he is free from that addiction, he is not "the one."
I plead with you to not compromise on these standards. I've seen so much heartache in families with women marrying against the counsel of wise leaders or marrying someone with an addiction. Listen to your leaders and parents. And above all, don't pay his way. He is not "the one."
Leilani Haywood is a Kansas City, Mo.-based award-winning writer and columnist. Her work has been published in the Kansas City Star, Metro Voice and other publications. When she's not updating her status on Facebook or Twitter, she's driving her three kids to school or their next rehearsal. Follow her on Twitter @leilanihaywood.