“Your future hubby is out there.”
“One day you’ll find your man.”
“Someday your prince will come.”
So many variations of this saying exist.
But is it true?
If there was a verse in the Bible that God has a special someone for each individual, I bet you I would have found it by now. In fact, I would have found it by the time I was in middle school. However, that verse doesn’t exist. God created marriage as a good thing, but He never promised it to each individual. And I don’t blame the people that say the above phrases. They may just be misinformed by a culture pushing the message that everyone has a soul mate, and falling in love is what life is all about. But that’s not what life is about. Life is more than planning a wedding, more than having that significant other
– life is about sharing the love of God.
Hollywood has done a fantastic job of shifting the culture’s focus from the sovereignty of God to the importance of a love story. Just to clarify, I have absolutely nothing against love stories, I just happen to think God writes the best ones. So many people want to take their love story into their own hands, and they want the plot to start now.
Let’s go into this love “story” analogy a little more. In literary plots the exposition (the background information) is necessary in order to understand the conflict, the characters, and the rising action. An author must prepare his reader with this background information before he begins the “exciting” part of his tale. For example, I started reading The Scarlet Letter a couple weeks ago; the prefatory chapter, called “The Custom House,” was so boring… until I cheated and did a little research on Sparknotes. (Sparknotes is super helpful to read after confusing chapters in a book because it summarizes it nicely.) Once I read an overview of the seemingly unrelated chapter, it all made so much more sense! I caught a glimpse of the big picture, and it gave me the patience I needed to make it through the rest of the chapter and on to the story.
We, as a culture to obsessed with romance, miss the point of the preface, preferring to just dive into the story. But God wants us to be prepared for what we encounter in the future. Each stage of life is preparation for the upcoming stage. God doesn’t want us to be propelled into life as clueless people, but as wise and gentle decision-makers (Matthew 10:16). We face a big culture problem of impatience, especially when it comes to romance. But if we just waited a little longer and finished the preface, we would be much better prepared for what God has in store for us. (To teens: yes, school takes a lot of time, but right now, without a relationship, you could pursue God so much more freely. God wants your undistracted devotion.)
Now back to what I started with. I know, without a doubt, that God is preparing me. For a husband? I don’t know. I don’t have an overwhelming desire to get married now or in the near future. One day – that would be great. But right now, God is drawing me closer to Himself, and I don’t want to be distracted by a premature relationship. I have found my satisfaction in Christ, and I think I could live without getting married. The funny thing is, some people take my saying this as dogmatically viewing marriage as a bad thing because it’s not God. They encourage me that one day I will find my future husband, and he’ll be the most amazing guy ever. But what if I don’t? (If you could talk to me, you wouldn’t hear this question in a depressing tone.) I know God doesn’t promise marriage. So why do some people act as if He does? Here are three amazing examples of people – single people – who served God, and didn’t seem to miss out.
Amy Carmichael – A single Irish woman who freed temple prostitutes in India. A human-trafficking abolitionist of her day.
Paul – The guy wrote half of the New Testament. And did he ever get married? No.
Corrie ten Boom – Her and her older sister Betsie (who was also single), hid Jews from the Nazis during WW2 before being sent to multiple concentration camps. These two women sought the Lord first, and they encountered trial, but God provided for them.
Did these three people miss out on life because they were single? Is being single really that bad? (I think the answer is “no” to both questions.)
Check out some of the words of Paul:
“I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that… I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 7:26-28, 32-35
Proper marriage is ordained and blessed by God; it is a great thing. The above passage isn’t saying that you should never get married if you aren’t already. But while you are single (especially as a teenager), you don’t need to worry about romantic relationships. Rather be “anxious about the things of the Lord,” pursuing holiness and sanctification (Matthew 5:6).
I am concerned with the things of the Lord; I am content where I am. God wants each individual to pursue a meaningful relationship with Him. Right now, I am contently reading through the preface of my story, not worried about all the details that I don’t have to take care of. (That doesn’t mean I’m clueless, expecting life to be handed to me on a silver platter.) I am not rushing to my future because I know God wants to teach me here and now. I am not worried about when or if I will get married because I see the pointlessness of worrying about that area of my future.
So instead of comforting myself with clichés, here’s what I learned this Valentine’s Day (yes, this post is a wee bit late):
“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquirein his temple.”