CBNNews.com -- ENUMCLAW, Wash. -- You go to college, you get a career going, then you find a mate.
That's pretty much the way the marriage game is played these days.
But is it the best way?
CBN News visited some people who say the Bible and thousands of years of experience and wisdom point to better ways.
There's a small church in rural Washington that when it preaches God should be Lord of your life -- they mean that all the way -- right down to letting God pick your spouse.
Romance Half-Way 'Round The World
If we told you a young man and woman had agreed to marry without even meeting each other first, what Old World country do you think they'd be from? Well, this is a story about a young man from here in Enumclaw, Washington, and a young lady from Scotland who agreed to do just that.
Even before he was a teenager, Joshua Williams told his preacher-parents he didn't want to date and he didn't want to play the field to find a wife -- he wanted what Isaac and Rebecca had in Genesis -- a God-arranged marriage.
His mother Carla Williams remembered, "We had always encouraged our boys to wait on the Lord for their bride, and I had been praying for their brides since they were really little, and when he said that to me he was only about 10 years old."
Joshua clung to I Corinthians 7:27: "I was not to be seeking a wife, and I was taught that from a young age."
On the other side of the world, in Scotland, Kerry was also believing God for an Isaac/Rebecca marriage. "When I read that story, I just knew that's what God was saying: 'this is my plan. This is the perfect way marriage is supposed to be.' I really had that desire, that I wanted God to pick my husband."
Back in Washington state, not dating was tough sometimes for the teenage Joshua, especially in this bold new age when girls often chase the boys. Carla said girls would come up to her when she'd be volunteering at Joshua's school and say, "'Tell Joshua to ask me to the dance.' And I'd say 'No. He's waiting on God. You know that's his decision and I'm praying for that person. If you're not that person, what can I do about it?'"
And Joshua never wanted to go against the Word when dealing with the girls around him. "Scripture talks about we're to treat younger women with absolute purity."
After Joshua graduated high school, he admits he did sometimes despair about how he'd ever find a wife. But then when he was 20, his parents went to Scotland to do some ministry. Carla said, "We didn't go out looking for a bride for Joshua. When I went to Scotland, that was the last thing on my mind."
But they ran into 19-year-old Kerry at one of their first ministry meetings. And Carla remembers God right then speaking to her as she saw Kerry. "I walked into this room and she was coming in from the outside, and it was like 'woah!' and God just whispered in my ear, 'Joshua's wife.'"
Carla kept her mouth shut about this and prayed fervently to make sure she'd really heard the Lord, finally asking her husband about it half-a-week later. "And I said, 'what about Kerry?' And he said, 'Joshua' ... just as strong and determined as could be."
When they came back to the States, Joshua's dad asked him, "'How would you feel if we had someone for you?'"
Joshua knew this was certainly unorthodox, but he had a great peace about it. So he said he was on-board. And then, "... My mom called up Kerry and we say that she proposed for me."
Then, Joshua started e-mailing Kerry, his first note saying something like, "'... Hello, I'm going to marry you."
Kerry soon emigrated to Washington, and moved in with Joshua's parents months before the marriage, absorbing Carla's wisdom gained through three decades of marriage, "Learning from a real godly wife how to be a wife, and just how to serve, how to love."
Joshua and Kerry married in 2002. Now young parents, they tell the whole tale in their book The Perfect Date. And they minister together, taking to churches and conferences and church camps the Williams family message: God wants to be the Lord of who, when and even if you marry.
The Gungor Philosophy
After we'd interviewed the Williams family, we heard about Pastor Mark Gungor, author of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, and one of America's most popular and successful speakers when it comes to love and marriage. He disagrees with the Williams' belief that people should hear a word from the Lord before marrying. In fact, he finds no biblical evidence to support such thinking.
But in other beliefs, he's just as radical as the Williams clan.
For instance, he believes we're trying to force young people to wait far, far too long before they marry. Gungor told CBN News, "The thing that turns boys into men is marriage, responsibilities, children. That's what jerks the slack out of you. So while we're saying 'no, they're too immature, they're too immature' and we push it and delay, delay it ... they stay immature. Ask any girl, 30 years of age and single trying to find a guy to marry, and she'll tell you: 'they're all so immature.'"
Gungor said it's unrealistic for the church to expect endless abstinence from young people who are also told to put off marriage for many years. "And I would argue that if you can wait that long, then don't get married! Good grief, what does Paul say in Corinthians: the overwhelming reason to get married is a sex drive. Okay?"
And Gungor said we need to consider: are we pushing young people towards family and love, or away from it?
"The biggest factor to successful marriage is the involvement of family. Without question. So what do we do? We threaten our kids 'if you get married too young, I'll disown you.' So that when they do get married, the family pulls away from them ... leaves them out there hanging. Then they fail and everyone comes running in and saying, 'I told you so!'"
Gungor stated young people and their parents shouldn't let college or lack of money get in the way of marriage. "Man, if you were helping your kid if they were single and 20 in college, why because they're married now are you not helping them? What sense does that make?"
If they marry, start working, and the money's tight, he said parents should help them.
If they want to marry and continue college, he said again parents should help them.
And he added, "Every study shows that married college students fare better than single ones."
Family Should Be Involved
He went even further, saying relatives should help young people find a mate. "Family should play a huge factor in even helping you decide who to marry in the first place."
And Gungor pointed out, "For thousands and thousands of years, men and women got married because their parents got together and helped them decide."
Joshua's mother Carla totally agrees parents need to have a say. "It's our responsibility as parents to be one hundred percent involved in that."
Joshua and Kerry told CBN News they're so glad Joshua's parents always made it a priority to hear from God about his future and be involved. Joshua said, "Years before they even met Kerry there was the wrestling in prayer: 'what is God's plan for Joshua?'"
And Carla pointed out, if parents and kids both keep their eyes on God first, He'll lead when it comes to marriage. "So if you wait on Him, and not seek that and get all worried up about that and keep your mind on God, then God's going to take care of all that."
In the end, who do you trust more to pick the perfect mate: you or God? It's such an important decision, you do want to get it right.
*Originally aired June 27, 2008.