You Don’t Earn A Spouse

About ten years ago I was having lunch with a friend who was 24 and had been married about two years.  We were meeting for work but we ended up talking about life.  At one point my young friend (who I was supposed to be mentoring but who was about to mentor me) asked, “Justin why do you think you are still single?”

I sat for a minute trying to come up with something wise to say.  Then I said something like, “I don’t know exactly.  Maybe God still has stuff for me to learn first.”  I sat back satisfied with my “Godly” answer.

He responded, “How come I didn’t have to learn any of that stuff first?”

Bam!  I was in trouble.  In one sentence he had just taken out my religious answer.  I mean he was right.  He was a mature 24 year old but did he know more than me at 22 when he got married?  What was it exactly that I needed to master first before I was “studied up enough” for God to go ahead and grant me a spouse?  Yikes.

This is one of the subtle things that can sneak into our minds.  This idea that if God is waiting for us to get something so that we are now “ready” to be married.  Even typing that seems ridiculous now but in the back of my mind I’ve spent a lot of time there.  Especially in my 20’s.  This is dangerous on so many levels.  It can lead to earning God’s favor which takes out grace.  It can lead to bitterness towards others, “How come God gave that heathen a spouse when I’ve been over here trying to stay pure and do it right?”  It can lead to following God’s plan in an effort to earn a gift from him instead of simply to follow Him.  And, because of that, when we get tired of trying to earn it, it can lead to sin, especially sexually, because obviously God is not delivering on my hard work of staying pure.

No where does God say that a spouse is earned.  In fact all through history, including in scripture (e.g. just about everyone in the Old Testament) you could make the case that horrible people get married all the time.  A spouse is a gift, not a prize.  If your motivation to please God is so He will give you a spouse you’re in trouble.

Now it is sure fair to ask God, “Are you teaching me something here?” or, “Is there something I’m doing that is preventing me from having a spouse?” But the idea that I’m going to earn one is bad news.  Any married guy can tell you, they don’t deserve their spouse.

Where has this idea of earning a spouse crept into your thought process?

Where are you bargaining with God by following certain rules with the hope of a payoff?

19 thoughts on “You Don’t Earn A Spouse

  1. Very vulnerable – down to earth – the way this guy shut down your rationale at the time and the way you allowed that to lead you towards truth. Even if this helps just one person – it is worth it. And the truths in this post extend way beyond the surface issue of marriage.

  2. First of all, I love questions that make you think. The ones you ended with, I’ll admit, made me stop and take internal stock. I’m 35, single, involved in full-time ministry, and while this topic comes up quite a bit (especially as most of my best friends and colleagues are married), it seems as though there are more questions than answers – not unlike the rest of life! But, I digress, my original point was, as I was reflecting on the questions you posed, I honestly couldn’t think of something I’m doing to try and “earn a spouse”. If I’m honest, I think my deep questions are, “Am I worthy of a spouse?” (aka “enough” – loveable/pretty/witty/etc enough) or the even deeper one, “Does God really love me enough to grant me this desire?” or in other words “Why not me?” Now, I know the “right” answers to these questions – of course God loves me, but these are just the questions that surface in the dark parts of my heart. I asked a friend about it, and she agreed that these were more of the questions she struggled with, rather than the idea of “earning”. I began to wonder if maybe that is more how females are wired, and men are more wired to feel as though it is something they must earn? I’m just theorizing, as of course, I can only speak to the female perspective, and maybe it could even be argued that questions of worth and being enough are simply a different way of trying to earn a gift. Maybe it’s the subtle difference between figuring out how to BE pursued and how to DO the pursuing. Bottom line: I’m really glad you are taking the initiative to write about this topic with boldness and vulnerability! 🙂

    • Thanks for the thoughts. The “Does God love me enough” question is huge. I think it is a little different (or at least a different approach to the core questions) for women and men in general. I’ll be thinking more about that. Thanks for thinking and posting.

    • I think you’re right, I run into the same thinking: “Am I attractive enough to find a guy?” LoL.. It’s not about whether we’re attractive enough, we’re who we are, we smile, we love, we don’t have to do or be anymore than that to get a spouse, we just need to get to know the single guy around us.

  3. I really love the topics you are tackling. THANK YOU for your godly leadership in addressing these critical issues in the church!
    I probably SHOULD have learned a lot more before I got married. Thankfully, God has allowed me to learn since then.

  4. Pingback: Are You Disqualified From Marriage? | More Than Don't Have Sex

  5. Thank you so much for challenging us singles on both the lies and truths of why we might not have a spouse. I’m currently a part of a small rural church where to be godly woman seems to be equated with being a wife and a mother. I am constantly talking myself out of being to sensitive to comments that are said and at the same time trying to think how to explain singleness to others so they can better understand how to interact with me, the many other singles at my church and 49% of America. I sat down at my computer to start a letter (or maybe an article… or a book!) on singleness but was having trouble finding the words so did a search and found your site. Guess I’ll scrap my book idea and just send people your way! Thanks again!

  6. Pingback: Are You Disqualified From Marriage? « Peaceful Single Girl

  7. Pingback: Don’t Date Jesus | More Than Don't Have Sex

  8. Pingback: You Aren’t Entitled To A Spouse | More Than Don't Have Sex

  9. Pingback: Don’t Date Jesus | Peaceful Single Girl

  10. Pingback: God The Great WIthholder | More Than Don't Have Sex

  11. very helpful. my motivation was wrong bc ive been celibate for 20years my obedience has NOT earned me a spouse. I stopped attending my singles accountability group bc it was obvious to me God wasnt giving me a spouse. so I quit. now I just try to maintain out of obedience. bc whether im super holy or not if God doesn’t qant me to be married guess what I will not be.

  12. Pingback: Is Getting Married In God’s Hands? | More Than Don't Have Sex

  13. Pingback: Should You Pray For A Spouse? | More Than Don't Have Sex

  14. Pingback: You Can’t Serve Your Way To Attraction | More Than Don't Have Sex

  15. Pingback: Are You Good Enough For Marriage | More Than Don't Have Sex

  16. I like your post. It’s opened doors to communicate what many of us shy away to the back of our minds, only to surface when we’re alone.
    I never felt like I had to earn a husband or wonder if I was good enough per se. For me, it was, have I cleaned up my life enough, is God first in my life to the point where I’d keep Him first even if my husband backed away. I
    later began to wonder if my husband was preparing for me while I was preparing for him. What else did each of us need to do to be the right couple for the other, how much growth and God likeness was left to mature…
    The older I get though, the less I desire marriage, I don’t want anything or anyone to interfere with my salvation.

  17. Pingback: Lies Single Christians Believe | More Than Don't Have Sex

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s