My junior year in college, I dated a great girl. We were good for each other if only for that season. The truth is I didn’t make her enough of a priority (not unusual for a 21 year old guy). I just wasn’t at the “get married” stage yet and she was.
It still hurt to break up and it made me realize that I really did want this marriage thing. I remember sitting on the side of a mountain in Colorado, telling God that I was ready and asking Him to send me someone.
That didn’t happen but something else did. This idea of meeting THE ONE and getting married began to dominate my prayer and thought life. In my mid twenties I dated some but only really had one person who I thought could be it. When that didn’t work out, I was in a tailspin. I just kept praying and really begging God to send me someone.
This would be what I call the Marriage Idol. It is the idea that if I can get married to THE ONE that everything will be right. How do you know if marriage is an idol? Here are some signs.
- Your prayer life is wrapped up in it.
- Whenever anyone asks you what they can pray for – your answer is a spouse
- You’re pretend life involves marriage or hurt from relationships you thought would lead there.
- Your identity is wrapped up in being single
All of this can dominate us. For many years it did me. It has different effects. It leads some people to constantly be in dating relationships and trying to make even the worst relationship work. For others it means they can never have a dating relationship because they have to figure out if they could marry them first before they go on a date. Haha – I’ve done both!
Some people want to say that the decrease in marriages means that people are idolizing marriage less or holding it with less value. While I think on one level that might be true, I would submit that actually marriage as an idol can delay marriage because it has to be just right. I mean if this is the ultimate thing in my life then I have to be absolutely sure that you’re THE ONE. Having it as an idol puts incredible pressure on dating. Being scared of marriage is just another version of the same marriage idol.
Marriage is good. It was instituted by God. But when it becomes the thing that drives us or dominates our thoughts and prayers we are in trouble. Even if we get married. Actually getting married might be the number one way to kill the marriage idol. However that leads to hard stuff in marriage. If however we can kill the marriage idol while we are single – we are set – whether we get married or not.
So how do we kill the marriage idol. It’s not easy for many of us but here are some thoughts.
- Fight to have your identity in Christ not in marital status.
- Don’t lead with your desire to be married in every prayer request situation. Have some other things to pray for.
- Kill the Pretend – I keep saying this but we HAVE TO do it.
- Have deep friendships with married people. This is so huge. You need to have an inside view of actual marriages.
- Get a right theological view of marriage. This is why we need to actually listen to the sermon on marriage and read the books. We need to have a realistic view instead of a romantic one. We need to have a biblical view of marriage instead of a secular one.
- If you never go on a date because you have to figure out if you’re going to marry them first – go on some dates – seriously.
- If you have never not been dating – take a break from it – seriously.
Look here’s why the marriage idol is so powerful. It’s the idea the if I just had the right relationship with the right person in perfect union then all would be alright. Read that last sentence again. Do you see it? That’s God’s spot. What makes the marriage idol so dangerous is that a relationship with another person is the next closest thing to a relationship with God. We are created in God’s image. If I’m looking for fulfillment in my life then another person will be the next best thing. It’s a trap – and it’s one that not only kills us in singleness but also in marriage. If I’m married and looking for fulfillment in that person, my marriage will suffer.
Only if I get my fulfillment in God can I be really free to love anyone, let alone someone I would marry.
So how about you? Have you ever had marriage as an idol? Has anything helped you kill it?