Selected Messages Book 2


Appendix 2—Important Factors in Choosing a Life Companion

(A statement by the trustees of the Ellen G. White Estate)

As the reader peruses the “Word to the Reader,” appearing in each of the two volumes of Selected Messages, he observes that the two books are comprised of lines of counsel, given through the years, which reached the field by way of pamphlets, periodical articles, and typewritten messages, but were not drawn into the nine volumes of testimony counsels published by Ellen White prior to her death. The publication in 1958 in this form provides the church with timely counsels in a manner and at a time to include reference to them in the three-volume comprehensive index to the writings of Ellen G. White. 2SM 481.1

A number of pages in these two volumes and many pages in the other Ellen G. White books, and also not a few of the personal testimonies directed to individuals, deal with the far-reaching question of the selection of a life partner in marriage. These counsels set forth factors important to a happy, successful marriage and to the happiness and welfare of the children born to that marriage. They also present factors that may impair the success of the union. Ellen White assures us that “Jesus wants to see happy marriages, happy firesides” (The Adventist Home, 99). “The Choice of a Life Companion,” she admonished, “should be such as best to secure physical, mental, and spiritual well-being for parents and for their children.”—The Ministry of Healing, 357. 2SM 481.2

In these writings the influence of the home is ever kept before the church. She called upon those looking toward marriage to consider well the influence of the particular union contemplated. To this end she urged that there should be no selfishness or covetousness or shortsighted decisions. (See footnote.) She called upon men and women who were planning to marry to “distinguish between what is pleasing and what is profitable” (Letter 4, 1901). She observed that “it is from the marriage hour that many men and women date their success or failure in this life, and their hopes of the future life.”—The Adventist Home, 43. 2SM 482.1

Compatibility, Ellen White held, was vitally essential to a happy marriage. She wrote of “lifelong wretchedness” which may result from a union of those “not adapted to each other” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 189). In a message to youth she declared: 2SM 482.2

“The world is full of misery and sin today in consequence of ill-assorted marriages. In many cases it takes only a few months for husband and wife to realize that their dispositions can never blend; and the result is that discord prevails in the home, where only the love and harmony of heaven should exist.”—The Youth's Instructor, August 10, 1899; Messages to Young People, 453; and The Adventist Home, 83. 2SM 482.3

She sounded a warning against “a great disparity in age” of those contemplating marriage, which could result in “impairing the health of the younger” partner and could rob the children “of physical and mental strength” (The Ministry of Healing, 358). 2SM 482.4

The state of health of the partners of a contemplated marriage Ellen White stressed as an important factor. “Sickly men have often won the affections of women apparently healthy, and because they loved each other, they felt themselves at perfect liberty to marry, neither considering that by their union the wife must be a sufferer, more or less, because of the diseased husband.”—Selected Messages 2:423. And then she carries the matter to its logical conclusion: “If those who thus enter the marriage relation were alone concerned, the sin would not be so great. Their offspring are compelled to be sufferers by disease transmitted to them.”— Ibid. 2SM 482.5

The ability of the partners in a marriage to sustain themselves financially also was presented by Ellen White as a requisite for a successful marriage. She pointed out that there are those “who have not acquired property” and do “not possess physical strength, or mental energy, to acquire property” “who have been in haste to marry, and who have taken upon themselves responsibilities of which they had no just sense.” But it is the children who often are the greatest sufferers, for “those who are seriously deficient in business tact, and who are the least qualified to get along in the world, generally fill their houses with children” which, she declares, may not be “suitably fed or clothed, and do not receive physical or mental training” (Selected Messages 2:420, 421). 2SM 482.6

Then there is another area where counsel was given. This is in bringing together in marriage men and women of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Four such presentations are a matter of manuscript and published record. Two of the four statements on this point appear in this volume, on pages 343 and 344. These were penned in 1896 and 1912, respectively, and were selected for publication in this volume because they presented the basic principles involved and thus reveal why such marriages should not be encouraged. Such unions, it is declared, could easily create “controversy and confusion.” Another reason she set forth for discouraging such marriages seems to be the “disadvantages” which they impose upon the offspring, and this could lead to “a feeling of bitterness toward the parents who have given them this lifelong inheritance.” [Note: of the other two statements, the first presentation of counsel on this point appears in the heart of a basic appeal made by Ellen White on March 21, 1891, to the leaders of the church to enter upon a work for the colored people in the United States. See the full statement in The Southern Work, 1966 edition, 9-18. In this she drew in bold, unmistakable lines, the brotherhood of mankind and made clear that in worship all stood in equality before God. At the same time she gave voice to words of caution. In this statement, read by her to church leaders, we find these lines: 2SM 483.1

“Sin rests upon us as a church because we have not made greater effort for the salvation of souls among the colored people.... You have no license from God to exclude the colored people from your places of worship. Treat them as Christ's property, which they are, just as much as yourselves. They should hold membership in the church with the white brethren. Every effort should be made to wipe out the terrible wrong which has been done them. At the same time we must not carry things to extremes and run into fanaticism on this question. Some would think it right to throw down every partition wall and intermarry with the colored people, but this is not the right thing to teach or to practice.”—The Southern Work, 15. 2SM 483.2

The other presentation on this point is a letter of counsel, written January 8, 1901, to a young man who entertained plans that would have resulted in marriage of one of the Caucasian race with one of the Negro race. Its counsels are those embodied in the similar communication of 1912 and recorded on page 344 of this volume. But Ellen White adds words that call for thoughtful contemplation: 2SM 483.3

“Do not unite yourself in marriage with a girl who will have cause to regret the step forever after.... 2SM 483.4

“O what covetous, selfish, short-sighted creatures human beings are. Distrust your own judgment, and depend on the judgment of God. Distinguish between what is pleasing and what is profitable. Do God's will submissively.... Following your own way and your own will, you will find thorns and thistles.”—Ellen G. White Letter 4, 1901.] 2SM 483.5

While these four messages of counsel were written at a particular time to meet situations in a particular geographical area, may they not serve to alert any contemplating marriage to circumstances and factors that could imperil the union and bequeath to the children an inheritance that some may resent? 2SM 484.1

These counsels are among those given the believer, dealing with a significant and far-reaching experience in life and presenting a course of action least fraught with factors that may lead to heartaches and could impair or destroy the union. As Ellen White says, “Jesus wants to see happy marriages, happy firesides.” 2SM 484.2

The repeated statements made by Ellen G. White orally and in her writings make clear that the issue is not that of inequality of race. She ever maintained that there is a close brotherhood of mankind, and that in the records of heaven the name of the individual of one race stands beside the name of one of another race. Read carefully the appendix which follows entitled, “The Brotherhood of Mankind.” 2SM 484.3

White Trustees.

Ellen G. White Estate,

Inc. Washington, D.C.,

D.C. August, 1967.