Sacred Search (review)

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But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt 6:33, ESV)

What if we based our search for a spouse on seeking first the kingdom of God? What if our criteria for entering into a dating or courting relationship was not based on how we felt, but on our compatibility for serving the Lord and seeking Him together? In Sacred Search, Gary Thomas asks these questions and more.

Thomas takes an approach in Sacred Search that is both balanced and thought-provoking. The book is BC_SacredSearch_1very practical and hands-on without being legalistic. Sacred Search isn’t as much of a ‘how -to’ relationship book, as it is a foundational relationship book.  It is about the importance of answering the question “why” you should get married, not just the “who” you should marry.

If you look at the question of why you want to marry before you choose who to marry, you’re more likely to make a wiser choice about the who. It’s not a choice between either why or who. It’s that asking the why question first helps you choose the best who. (Thomas, p. 250).

A good section of the book is filled with timeless wisdom and practical advice on basic compatibility in relationships. Thomas addresses a lot of factors that most couples don’t think about until engagement or after marriage. Why wait to think about things until you are in premarital counseling? Sacred Search will help singles and couples develop a firm foundation from the beginning.

Personally, I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read while still being deep, and it offered tangible advice without doing all the thinking for me. It was a book that challenged me to think and evaluate relationships in my own life, and a book that makes you think is the very best kind of book!

The only thing I didn’t completely agree with in Sacred Search was the extent that Thomas talked about the concept of “there is only one right person for you”. He maintains that more than one person can be a right and compatible match for you to seek first the Lord’s Kingdom with.  I personally fall somewhere between the two view points, believing that the Lord will be involved and will guide us in the processes to the extent that we allow Him too. However – this is not a book on theology, nor is this post. Whatever point of view you hold in regards to relationships and how the come about, this book is still extremely helpful and valuable.  If I could, I would give this book to just about every single person or young couple I know!

What if we treated our search for a spouse as sacred? What if we looked at the importance of finding a sole mate (someone to walk with), not just a soul mate?


If you would like to win a copy of Sacred Search to read for yourself, please enter by leaving a comment below and answering the question, “What do you think is the most important characteristic for both people in a relationship to have? And why?”

One winner will be drawn on March 15th.


  1. Righteous humility and self-sacrifice are the two things I believe should be foundational in a covenential relationship such as marriage. Without humility or sacrifice, the relationship would very much be centered around self-pursuing goals and ideals. Not much thought to serve or love unconditionally the other person would be on anyone’s radar. Without these things a lot would be missing. Manhood/womanhood roles being perfected. Forgiveness. True and pure intimacy. A beautiful reflection of Christ and His relationship to the church. All of these things wouldn’t be the chief pursuit with the foundation of Godly humility and self-sacrifice.

  2. “What do you think is the most important characteristic for both people in a relationship to have? And why?”

    The most important characteristic for a relationship is satisfaction. Satisfaction in the fact that both people are utterly and totally in love with the Lord Jesus Christ. If they are not totally satisfied with Him and all that He is they will never be able to fully love their spouse. They will be looking for fulfillment outside of where they were supposed to be looking.

  3. The characteristic that I believe is most vital in any relationship is love. A sincere love for God first, and then for the person with whom you are in a relationship. Sound too simple?

    “The greatest of these is love.” It is this foundation that is inevitably characterized by that which is good. For God is love, and God is good. Not mushy gushy romantic “love” (though that isn’t necessarily bad)–but selfless, sacrificial love.

    “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

    Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

  4. The desire to to serve, submit, and work heartily for the Lord. To love Him more than I, the same going for me.

    The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him. We are given the Great Commission; to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to every living Creature. As His children we are to obey His commandments and His Word. The only way to LIVE is to live for HIM, not for ourselves selfishly.

    Only through our Lord Jesus Christ can we obtain happiness. So what other way to have a relationship but as a Christ Centered one?

    This is the way we are to live individually, and it carries over into our relationships with other people.

  5. There are a couple things that I would say… One that came to mind was faithfulness. Both to God and to each other. If they are faithful to God, then they are probably going to end up being faithful to each other. The Bible says, “A friend loves at all times.” That doesn’t mean that you are there for them one minute, and not the next. If you are a true friend, you will love the other person at all times, regardless of what they do… whether they love you or are a true friend to you or not. Another one that I thought of that kind of goes along with the first one is loving God above all else.. even before the other person. It’s so important that we let Him have preeminence in our lives (Colossians 1:18), and that we do not forsake our first love for anything (1 John 4:19). There are more things that I could say, but those are just a couple that came to mind. 🙂

  6. I think the most important characteristic to share as a couple is being grounded in the Word of God. Then everything can be resolved on that foundation.

  7. I agree with those saying “heart after God” and “good communication skills.” I think the first is kind of a default and obvious piece of the puzzle, but you have to be committed to knowing and understanding and sharing life with your partner…knowing what matters to them and why, coming to agreement in important areas, and speaking up when there are issues. It’s important not just to be able to talk or listen, but to truly get across ideas well, and to understand and change based on what you hear from the other person.

  8. An external motivation and purpose in life and our actions because if one or the other is driven by self, sooner or later, the attraction won’t be there and the unity found in seeking God’s way will be destroyed.

  9. Both parties need to be actively pursuing the Lord and seeking to do whatever He says/directs each of them to do. Also, one party could be called to the mission field, and KNOWS that is what God has called him or/her to do. It does them no good to date/marry someone who does not share that same ambition/desire. Because both parties lose out in the end. One is miserable because they didn’t follow the call of God because they chose a spouse who was not surrendered to the possibility of missions, and the other spouse may get angry/frustrated because they chose a spouse clearly called to missions, and they had no desire to do that at all. It happens and it’s sad. A marriage that is clearly “a match made in heaven” is one where God is First Place in both parties’ lives even before they meet each other.

  10. This is something that the Lord has been speaking to my heart recently! If my purpose as a child of God is to love the Lord, to know Him more, and to be as productive for His kingdom as I possibly can be, then I should be desiring a husband who will help me in these aspects, rather than hinder me. It’s not just about a man who will verbally encourage me in this, but will encourage me by the example of his life and his own personal, intimate walk with Jesus. This is the kind of husband I desire, and I desire to be a godly wife who, through my example, will encourage him to love, know, and serve the Lord more deeply and fully. It’s all about bringing glory to the Lord!

    1. That’s the type of guy that I desire too! I want his entire life to be an example to me- of honesty, purity, and character that can only come from the Lord. And I pray that my life will somehow encourage and be an example to him too. I want him to see Jesus when he sees me- I want him to see how I saved myself for him and how he was worth the waiting.

  11. Aside from the obvious (mutual faith in and love for Jesus Christ), I think the meekness to yield your own rights for the good of the other is perhaps the most vital trait for both partners to carry into a marriage.

  12. Of course the first thing would be faith in Christ. Next most important to me is the desire to live a life that is pleasing to God no matter what the cost.

  13. As far as I remember from first becoming a born-again Christian, I’ve had the conviction that the MOST important thing for 2 people to be in a relationship for marriage is to BE SURE they are guided and chosen to be in that relationship by God.

    Yes, I know people in courtship stories that thought they had this certainty, but failed and divorced ultimately.

    Yes, there are a lot of character matters and relational skills that are so important – selflessness, balance, patience, service, strength, joy, communication, understanding etc etc etc etc.

    Still, I am certain that for 2 genuinely dedicated Christians who are familiar with the walk of surrender to God on a daily basis, the most important + basic foundation for the unconditional covenant of marriage they can make is the CERTITUDE that God has been personally involved in their relationship from the beginning, that He, in His wisdom and love, has chosen one for the other and that He, in all His power and love, will embrace and help each other to hold and grow into this covenant of marriage until death does them part.

    1. Amen to this; I agree with you 100%. Wanting to be together and having God actually lead two people together can be entirely two different things. I believe that if God wants two people to be together for the purpose of marriage; He will make that 100% clear to not only them but also to their Christian families/friends.
      I also think that it would help to look far into the future and not just a year or two; it might help prevent divorce.

  14. “The most important” is quite narrow. The most important would have to be mutual faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, faith that is lived out in daily circumstances.

  15. I would love to read this book!
    Looking through all these comments, I think all of us have landed in the same “Phil:2′ corner! But there is one thing to add; 1st priority a seeking growing relationship with Christ in both parties, 2nd an unselfish, humble, and {servant-hearted}attitude of love, 3rd: PATIENCE with others/situations etc. and I’M SORRY. Remember Jas:1 the building block/foundation to all the others is, first, “let patience”. We girls have got to realize that if we want others to bear with us in love, we have to do the same for them!

  16. Generally speaking I think a common love for the Lord and His word is absolutely essential. However, on a more specific level, humility is one quality that I think a couple seeking marriage needs to possess. Humility as they seek parental wisdom…humility as they seek the Lord’s will…and humility as they seek to serve one another.

  17. I think the most important characteristic is a desire to seek and love God more than anything else. Forgiveness and grace are both incredibly important as well–sinners living together have many opportunities to practice forgiveness 🙂

  18. Probably one of the most important characteristics for both would be faithfulness to God. If they are both remaining faithful to do His work, then in His timing He will bring someone into your life… if that is HIS will for you! But they need to keep in mind that they are created to serve the Lord no matter what relationship status they are in! =)

  19. I think that there are so many important aspects that both persons should bring to the marriage, as I’ve been able to agree with as I read through all the posted comments. The first aspect that came to my mind though (assuming that both him and her already love the Lord and are walking in His ways) is humility.

  20. A seeking to love God before all else. Pretty much a no brainier because when you seek God first other things fall into place easier. And also the understanding that you will marry a sinner:)

  21. The most important characteristic would be humility that comes from desiring, searching out, and spending time with Christ. This is so important. The willingness to forgive, admit wrong, love, serve, etc. come from genuine humility.

    1. Amy!
      I am right there with you – I think Humility is one of the most important characteristics to have because out of humility will flow selfless, a servants heart, a right relationship with God, the ability to laugh at ones self, etc.

  22. Gary Thomas is a good author. I would love to have the opportunity to read this book.

    As for what characteristic is most important for a couple to have…wow. Assuming both are committed to the Lord, then honesty – with oneself and with the other. Being willing to communicate and work through the stuff that isn’t all “feel good.”

  23. A servants heart. You’ll have a happier marriage if you’re always trying to out do your spouse in doing something nice for them.

  24. I think the most important factor in a relationship is the desire to put God first in everything. That way He will be the centre of your relationship and marriage.

  25. With a well grounded faith in Christ as a prerequisite, I would say they should both possess the ability to see the humor in all situations. Laughter is the best medicine! I have seen my parents get through stressful or tight situations through the years because they can laugh together.

    1. Good thing to note! The Bible does talk about laughter, oh, about 40 times that I know of. 🙂 And can definitely help through those stressful times.

  26. The most important characteristic for two people to have in a relationship is a mutual dedication to God and to living out His Word.

    Why is that so important?

    Because two people who are completely sold out to Christ will be putting Him first in everything they do, say , and think. No, they will not be perfect, but they will be striving to be like Christ each day. As each pursues Christ, the two will continue to grow closer to each other as they grow closer to their Savior! Their marriage will be a testimony and an encouragement to those around them, and glorify their Father in Heaven. 🙂

  27. The most important characteristic for two people to have in a relationship is a mutual dedication to God and to living out His Word.

    Why is that so important?

    Because two people who are completely sold out to Christ will be putting Him first in everything they do, say , and think. No, they will not be perfect, but they will be striving to be like Christ each day. As each pursues Christ, the two will continue to grow closer to each other as they grow closer to their Savior! Their marriage will be a testimony and an encouragement to those around them, and glorify their Father in Heaven.

  28. Lauralea, you said it well…..why don’t we focus more on being “lovable”?

    I think that one of the most important characteristics to have in a relationship is that each spurs the other one towards having a closer and more fruitful relationship with Christ.
    Why marry but to serve Him better than you could as a single person? And that your marriage would be the example to the world as Christ loves His bride? I believe that godly marriage can have great influence, through thick and thin, if they show unconditional love for each other.

  29. The most important thing outside the “matter of course” of loving the Lord above all else (and all the givens that come along with that like following His will), is being lovable. Both sexes forget this.
    We all focus so much on purity, finding the right kind of person, and waiting, we overlook taking a survey of our own love-liness and maturity. We just like looking at other people and putting them on the “possibility” and the “not an option” list. Are WE ourselves humble? Are we gracious? Are we understandable? Are we open enough? Think about it. What do others see when you’re in a room? Would we even attract the type of person we wish we could have? A silent, unfriendly girl isn’t going to attract a gallant man. A guy with rough edges and no manners will repel a polished girl any day. We may be quieter or more wild by nature, but we can at least be gracious and understandable. Relationships are not about “being ready”- they are about relating! 😮
    I’m not saying flirt or change at your outward appearance to attract the person you want. We aren’t going to “attract” a mate at all if we’re too busy looking at all *their* qualities. “Prepared” women are a dime a dozen these days, lovable women are an art.
    All that to say, the ability to examine yourself first and live with realistic expectations of yourself and abilities is important. 🙂

  30. I think faith in God (also a similar, though not necessarily identical, backgrounds in doctrine/theology) is most important, but also a similar sense of humour–if you can laugh together, life will be easier and a lot more fun!

  31. That both would be drawing closer to God and would be encouraging the other to deepen their relationship with God. With God as the center of the relationship it would put both in the same position, a child of God saved, by grace, trying to honor Him with this part of their lives.

  32. If we love the Lord with all our hearts we will be drawn to those who also put God first. For me the most important thing is someone who wants to live the same kind of life I want to live. And someone who is willing to love others as Christ loved. I’ve seen so much of religion without love. And anything we do is worth nothing without love. It really all boils down to someone who is willing to live the greatest commandment. To love the Lord our God with all your heart…and thy neighbour as thyself.

  33. I would agree that faith in God is most important. Next to that, though, selflessness. Any relationship, romantic or not, is greatly benefited by selflessness. For me it is easy to get caught up in my own problems and, even when I’m listening to a good friend talk about what’s current in her life, I am only half-listening. But selflessness brings me back to reality, that I am not the center of the universe, and helps me to want to listen to and care about another human being.

    1. I agree- selflessness is a necessary ingredient in any relationship. Once I realized how selfish I was, it really helped me to see how my relationships weren’t going to get any better until I was dealt with that issue. It’s amazing how when we focus on serving others- whether it be my parents, my siblings or my friends,- our relationships improve dramatically. It’s not about me anymore; it’s about them! 🙂 God is so good to have shown me this a few years ago.

  34. I think the most important characteristic for both people to have is a dedication to seeking the Lord and staying in His will. This book sounds like it has a great fresh perspective!

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