The Bible makes a distinction between what is required and what is desired for a Christian considering marriage. Of course, it is desirable for a couple to be financially stable before they marry, but is financial stability a biblical requirement?
There are many biblical passages that speak of the importance of financial responsibility. A man should plan for the provision of his household (1 Timothy 5:8), and his financial stability prior to marriage could be an indication of his ability to provide after marriage. It is wise for a man to maintain a fair amount of financial stability prior to marriage, and it is wise for a woman to look for a pattern of financial stability in a man, and, of course, vice versa.
A person should not marry for money, but money is an important part of life and should be a point of discussion prior to the wedding. Financial stability is helpful in any marriage. The mishandling of money is often cited as a reason for marital problems. Money woes can limit a couple’s giving and their opportunities to serve in ministry. If a person has a history of financial instability, the potential future spouse has a right to know the cause of the instability.
In discussing money prior to marriage, it is important to learn how money is currently earned and spent. It would be harmful for two people to marry without this knowledge only later to find out the combined income is insufficient to provide for the couple’s basic needs. In addition, how a person spends money reveals important information about that person’s character. Is the prospective husband’s or wife’s financial stability the result of a large inheritance or hard work (or both)? Is money spent wisely or selfishly? Is a lack of financial stability due to unforeseen tragedies, or is it a sign of laziness, foolishness, or disorganization?
A couple’s financial stability prior to marriage can also be affected by the timing of the wedding. For example, if a man and woman are both in college and not earning an income, then neither of them is likely to be financially stable. In most cases, it would be better to wait until at least one of them is able to work. “Living on love” is a romantic notion but impractical. Also, if one or both of them carry significant debt, it may be wise to delay marriage to allow time to focus on improving the financial situation beforehand.
Of course, financial stability is not the most important consideration in marriage, and a stable financial life is not always possible for a couple. In places where poverty is widespread, limiting marriage to those who are financially stable would mean only a small number of people would ever be married. More important than financial stability are stability of character, moral stability, and spiritual stability.