By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
It seems that every young single Christian I know in their twenties and thirties has signed on to at least one dating app, myself included.
One of the most natural ways to do so is by marriage. When God places a spouse in our lives, we can help each other to grow closer in relationship with him, and continually pour the love God has given to us into each other.
But what about Christian singles? Or Christians who have divorced and want to remarry? Or Christians who have lost their spouse and would love to get married again?
Although we often feel a natural inclination to get married, with exceptions of those who feel called to be single and don’t feel spurred on by the idea of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-16), is it wrong to want to get married? Does it make us desperate or weak? Should we focus our attentions elsewhere, or did God, too, give us this inclination as a gift to point ourselves to him?
This article will tackle all these questions and more.
Why Does God Place This Desire in Our Hearts?
For the single person, this desire may seem cruel if we see no prospects of getting with a spouse any time soon. But does God really place the desire to marry within our hearts? And if so, for what purpose?
Although he may not have placed the desire in our hearts to the enormity it has grown--we may be idolizing the idea of marriage far more than we should--the desire in itself is not evil.
After all, God created marriage for a number of reasons:
- Marriage shows us the nature of the Trinity. Each part of the Godhead submits to one another (Philippians 2:8, Ephesians 5). In doing so, each part also lifts up the other parts. Marriage operates in the same way. When husbands and wives submit to each other, they, in the same way, exalt each other. Through marriage, we learn more deeply about the nature of God.
- Marriage allows us to procreate (Genesis 1:28) and lead future generations in the way of the Lord (Psalm 34:11). We can rear children in loving households, so they, too, can go into marriage with an idea of how to love their spouse well and spread the Gospel throughout their families and allow several lives to be touched.
- Marriage teaches us patience, compassion, and how to love a person throughout their different seasons of life (Ecclesiastes 3). Marriage allows us to build our partners up when the world tears them down and be a light when all others have been snuffed out. Most importantly, marriage can help each partner strengthen and sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17). We can spur each other on to grow closer to Christ. It is far more difficult to do so on your own (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Naturally, we have an inclination to want a marriage because we want to grow closer to God, and to have a partner who will encourage us and build us up when life unveils nothing but disasters and sorrow.
But with a dating-app-frenzy culture, certainly we must not be going about things the right way. Or we must not have the right mindset.
In some ways, we seem fueled by desperation to get together with a significant other, that we may not realize this person may fail to build us up, fail to bring us closer to God, and fail to remain loyal.
Or, we may do the same to them.
So, where do we draw the line between valuing this gift God has given to man and stumbling into idolatry?
What Is the Difference Between Using This Gift to Glorify God and Idolatry?
The line may look different for different people, just like the line looked differently for eating meat sacrificed to idols back in Paul’s day (1 Corinthians 8).
Some Christians believed the meat contained evil spirits and refrained from eating it. Others didn’t believe spirits haunted the meat and ate away.
Paul advised the Christians who ate anyway not to do so when the Christians who feared spirits came to their houses. Although the meat was not inherently evil, he didn’t want the presence of it to create a stumbling block, a temptation, for the other believers.
In the same way, the prospect of marriage can be a stumbling block for some Christians. They may value the idea of marriage too much and may take their focus away from God.
How can we tell if we’re idolizing?
Considering using the following criteria.
1. Are you willing to settle with someone who will not draw you closer to Christ (2 Corinthians 6:14)?
Although the verse linked above mentions getting married to an unbeliever, sometimes believers will try to get together with other believers and stumble into marriage far before they are mature and ready to do so.
They may get together with someone who shares the same Christian values as them, but that person may not necessarily build them or spur them on in the way God intended a future marital partner to do so.
2. Are you purposely not reading red flags?
Love can often make us blind to the faults of our partner. Although we do all sin (Romans 3:23), Christians may ignore toxic red flags in a partner in order to progress the relationship faster/farther than it should go.
Although we can spend a great deal of time listing red flags that should stop a relationship short, we often, as believers, can feel conviction when we know something feels off in a relationship.
If we ignore the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can wind up far more hurt than when we had started.
3. Are you using ultimatums to try and convince God to set you up?
Christians may say, “I’ll quit this sin if you find me a wife,” or “I’ll drop this habit once I’m married.”
God doesn’t do ultimatums (Matthew 4:7). We cannot rush his plan simply by saying we’ll dispose of a toxic habit if he would only grant our wishes and desires.
If we find ourselves doing so, we may be idolizing marriage rather than pursuing a marriage that pursues God.
Why Does This Matter?
Writing this article does pain me in more ways than one, because I personally have struggled with the above three criteria. Although I never ended up married, in past relationships I did settle, I did ignore red flags, and I did try to win God over to my side of the argument.
Although God has created marriage as a gift, that isn’t the only gift he has given us (Ephesians 1:18).
If he doesn’t give the gift of marriage, we can rest assured that he has plenty of other blessings in store for our lives.
He’ll give us ample opportunities to pour into others the love he has poured into us, yes, even if he doesn’t give us a marital partner to pour into.
And it’s ok to want a marriage. Just make sure that no matter what, we should want God’s plan for our lives even more.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Kristopher Roller
Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,100 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy released its first two installments with IlluminateYA, and the final one, Vision, releases in August of 2021. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.