I've been reading Richard Baxter's The Godly Home. In the first chapter, he talks about the reasons for and against getting married. Clearly, the Puritans thought a lot about the pros and cons of marriage. Today, I wonder if some of us don't assume we'll get married, and so don't think a lot about the up side and down side. Either that, or our reasons for marriage have more to do with serving ourselves, and again, we don't think of the down side.
Baxter devotes a lot of words to why one should not get married. He's not trying to be a killjoy; he was, after all, married himself at some point. However, he cautions people to be prepared for the very difficult work ahead. My mother used to say that the issue wasn't the ease of divorce; it was the ease with which people make the commitment to marry in the first place.
Baxter comments about not making outward appearance, and what he calls "fancy and lust" a reason for marriage. In finding a spouse, men are cautioned to think about their future spouse. I liked this part:
... do not overvalue vanity, or think highly of a silken coat, the great names of ancestors, money, lands or painted or spotted face or that natural comeliness called "beauty." Do not judge of things as children but as men, and do not be fools in magnifying trifles and overlooking inward, real worth. Would you thus fall in love with a flower or a picture? Bear in mind what work the pox or any other withering sickness will make with that silly beauty you so admire. Think of what a spectacle death will make it and how many thousands once beautiful are turned now to common earth!
I don't think Baxter was against beauty, but he was pretty clear that young men ought to look beyond beauty. No, we don't have "the pox" today, but we do have other illnesses that are no respecter of persons. Just because a woman is a beautiful 25 year old doesn't mean she won't have cancer, a chronic disease, or an accident that leaves permanent damage. Have you ever seen the physical toll treatment for cancer takes on a person? I have.
No, it's not wrong to have our attention gained by someone's pretty face, but if we make that the basis of our marriage, then we may be in trouble some day.