We must always keep in mind that the real, actual, and prevailing function of the elders is to minister life, to feed people. Based upon this principle, I would like to pass on a very crucial and practical point to you. The elders should stay away from the saints’ practical life matters such as marriage. The saints may come to you, especially the young ones, to get your help concerning their marriage, their choice in marriage, and even concerning their dating. I do not mean that we older ones should not help them, but there is a great temptation in helping them in these kinds of things. Eventually, we could fall into directing them or even somewhat controlling them. This is very dangerous.
When young saints came to me forty-five years ago, I always had some principles and regulations to pass on to them. I always had the instructions ready, and I fully trusted that my principles were really right and prevailing. After a period of time, I learned not to do this. Today if anyone comes to me to talk about their marriage or about their choice in marriage, I have no burden and no interest. I have learned not to give the young saints advice concerning whom they will marry. I even told my closest relatives to just trust in the Lord concerning their marriage. Only the Lord knows who is a good match for another person. We do not know.
I saw many cases of wonderful brothers who all became “ugly” in their marriage. Also, some nice sisters became different persons immediately after their wedding. There have been a number of cases like this in the history of the church life. About fifty years ago, we had a marvelous, promising, young group of medical students in China. Nearly all these medical students were saved. A good number of them met with us in the church. We expected great things from them, but after their weddings most of them gradually became cold and did not go on in the Lord’s recovery quite well. This was mostly due to their marriage. Therefore, in the church life all we can do concerning the young people’s marriage is to minister life to them. We must help them to look to the Lord’s leading, to learn how to walk in the Spirit, and we should also help them not to indulge in lust or to have their own taste or choice. This is all we can do. We should not try to conduct them into a marriage or match them.
To invite a brother and sister together to dinner for the purpose of bringing them together should be done with adequate consideration. Do not do this in a loose or subjective way. There should not be any kind of controlling among us concerning the young saints’ marriage. I do not believe that there is anyone controlling, but there is a temptation that the older ones among us would think that they could help the young ones. This, however, is the human hand, not the Lord’s hand. We should not touch this matter. For example, a white shirt may be very clean but after this shirt is touched by us for five days it becomes dirty just because of our touching. Our hands are not absolutely clean.
The matter of marriage is very complicated and is most perplexing. We should try to be very objective and try to render life to the young ones. Never try to bring two people together without any caution. This is dangerous. Some of you may feel that you did this once and that you were very successful. You may have been successful in one marriage, but do not take that as an encouragement. There is no need for us to touch this matter in a natural way. We should leave this matter to the Lord and pray for the ones concerned. We should render as much life as we can to help them and never indicate who is their best match. We do not control, and even the more, we do not conduct or indicate what brother or sister might be best for them. If we leave this matter to the Lord, we will save the church much trouble. The more the leading ones touch people’s marriage, the more they get involved. This indicates that the church is sick in a certain point. Even in helping the saints in their jobs, we must be careful. I do not mean that we should not help the saints in these kinds of matters; we should help the saints in every way, but we must be careful.
On the other hand, when the elders realize that some young saints are dating in an improper way, they must render them some help. They should tell the ones concerned that it is altogether not safe for a young brother to be with a young sister in a loose way. Also, the elders should help them to consider their future. They should consider the matter of not getting engaged too quickly before marriage. They also must consider things regarding their family, their parents, their job, their financial situation, and other responsibilities. This is a real help in their human life. Sometimes young people are careless and are too much in their lust. We should help them to learn how to pray about their marriage and how to look to the Lord to restrict their indulgence and lust. We have to help them in morality, in human life, in spirituality, and in the Lord’s way. They are young in the Lord and need this kind of help. On the one hand, we should not interfere with them; on the other hand, we have to help them in morality, in life, in human living, in taking care of the future, concerning their parents, and even in praying and seeking the Lord concerning the one whom they marry not being their choice. They should be helped to leave this matter to the Lord. As elders, we should do this because we are shepherding the flock. However, we should not touch their marriage and we should not think that we have the ability to match them. To help the saints in the matter of their weddings is a “pure help.” There is nothing wrong with this. To help them sign the papers for their marriage does not mean that we are doing our best to bring them together. The Lord has already brought them together.
(Elders' Training, Book 04: Other Crucial Matters Concerning the Practice of the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)