Marriage is worth the wait: Our story

As working professionals in our late 20s, we had pretty much put our individual hopes for marriage on the backburner. It wasn’t that we had given up the thought of being married but that it seemed to be a remote possibility. Failed relationships and a disappointing dating landscape had caused both of us to put more time into our careers, our friendships and focus on our faith. Little did we know that the Lord was aligning individual things at exactly the same time to prepare us come alongside one another in matrimony.

That’s not to say our initial meeting involved some glorious revelation and we knew instantly we were destined to walk down the aisle. Instead, it began with a rather awkward blind date (are there blind dates that aren’t?) that featured a swimming pool and a setup by our pastor and his wife.

From these inauspicious beginnings, our relationship would find its footing, and within nine months, we were married. We both knew that we didn’t want a long engagement. We were beyond ready to be married. The bigger takeaway is that we found one another when we both had individually made the choice to de-emphasize our romantic wishes and start focusing on our relationship with God. It’s a theme that continues five years later in our marriage.

A case for the joy of marriage

In a culture that has countless individuals thirsting for meaningful relationships, we see a need for married couples to proclaim the incredible greatness of marriage. We believe it is joy-filled partnership, not the ball-and-chain partnership that is portrayed by culture. Perhaps, most important of all, it’s a covenant that isn’t about your own happiness—it’s about bringing you closer to the One who created everything—including the very institution of marriage. Are you willing to chase after God’s heart with someone else by your side? If so, you might be ready for marriage.

There’s a convincing case to be made about the inherent joy, both for the couple and for God, that can be found within marriage. We know that God “rejoices over us with gladness” (Zep. 3:17). Psalm 28:7 tells us our hearts should “leap for joy” because of our relationship with him. And we know that marriage mirrors the relationship Christ has with his bride, the church (Eph. 5:32). So, we’re not venturing very far out on a limb in saying that marriage can lead to great joy.

Think about it: Once you’re married, the competition of the dating scene is traded for committed companionship. No longer are we reduced to measuring up to peers or the anxiety of courtship. Instead, you experience life alongside a partner who has made a covenant with you and with God. That’s where joy comes in. There’s a measure of settled assurance that’s created by a stable marriage. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Yes, it takes work actually loving someone for better or worse. Yes, it means you have to put self-centeredness on the shelf. And, yes, it will take some re-orienting about what’s important in life. But doesn’t today’s culture need more examples of people who are persisting for a cause greater than themselves? Don’t we need to see individuals serving and thriving in a context that’s beyond selfish ambition? Aren’t we aching for examples of individuals valuing love over everything else? The answer to all of these is an emphatic, "Yes!"   

Holiness that leads to happiness

At the end of the day, marriage between a committed man and woman creates a space for flourishing of the two, a support system for them to navigate the vagaries of life and means to express your love and pursue healthy desires. Most importantly, marriage is a vehicle, though not the only one, for pursuing a better relationship with God. In fact, we would submit that last point is the essential element in a healthy marriage that allows for all the other aspects of marriage to unfurl.

Shortly after we said our vows, we discovered Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage. It posits a simple, yet profound, question: “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Culture will do all it can to convince and brainwash you that marriage is ultimately about a shallow, selfish happiness (which, if you play that out, means once you’re unhappy, the marriage can be discarded). But the holiness that God requires leads to a deep and lasting happiness.

Since reading Thomas’ book, we have tried to do the best we can to live out our marriage through that prism. It has been the single-most rewarding aspect of our lives together; knowing that as we’re pursuing Christ, he will not only draw us closer together, but make us more holy.  It’s hard not to be utterly captivated by a spouse who seeks and values the things you do. That is exactly why God created marriage and created the majority of us to be married. He delights in our marriages, he wants us to seek after him in our marriages, and he wants to fill us with joy in that pursuit.

For those who want to be married, but the opportunity hasn’t presented itself, wait and pray patiently. Pray for God to make your heart desire him more than you desire anything else. This will not only serve you well while you are waiting, but it will lay the foundation for a healthy marriage. God has to be the one who fills, completes and satisfies you. Marital companionship is wonderful, but God is the only one who should be the object of our greatest affections. From two people who had to wait patiently and pray very hard for the right mate, we can tell you first hand, it’s worth the wait.

F. Brent Leatherwood

Brent Leatherwood was elected as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in 2022, after a year of leading the organization as acting president. Previously, he served as chief of staff at the ERLC, as well as the entity’s director of strategic partnerships. He brings an expertise in public … Read More

Meredith Leatherwood

Meredith is the wife of Brent Leatherwood who is the ERLC president. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24