Kill The Marriage Idol

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?

13 thoughts on “Kill The Marriage Idol

  1. AMEN!!! That’s pretty much all I can conjure up as a comment because you said everything so well!! 🙂

    For me, one thing that’s helped keep my desire for marriage from becoming an idol is realizing that God has given me that desire. If it’s really from Him then it’ll pan out in His perfect timing. And if my desire for marriage isn’t from Him then the more and more He transforms me and renews my mind, the less and less I will desire marriage. It’s about trust…trusting Him…and surrendering everything to Him; choosing to believe God and just take Him at His word. He’s faithful. He’s good. He loves us. He has a plan. He’s in control. We can trust Him. :]

    Some more practical things that I’ve done would include: avoiding certain types of movies/music/books/etc. I’m not saying that chick-flicks or Nicholas Sparks books are bad or whatever, but, for me, they tend to stir up discontentment and make me feel impatient and almost doubtful of whether or not God is going to write me a love story. This doesn’t apply to everyone. For me, it’s helped. Oh and I would also rec’ reading some good books on love/marriage/singless such as “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy or maybe “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris. These books had a huge impact on how the way I thought about relationships/romance/marriage/etc.

    Thanks for such a great post!!! :]

    • I’ve actually never been on a date, much less a serious relationship and at 26, I think it can start to be difficult, but I know I still have things to work through.

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  5. Is praying for an unsaved loved ones salvation an “idol” too? Just sayin’….Marriage was created by God, God calls it “good”. Marriage keeps us from sexual immorality and other evil deeds that take place the God (i.e., idols). I think this article/posting does not reflect what God’s Word has to say on the issue. Sorry. Just disagree. Praying for a Godly mate is not an idol, as is praying for any other God-willed/approved thing.

    • Al I appreciate your comment but did you read the whole post? I said marriage is good, instituted by God. What is not good is when the search for it dominates our life. Marriage is great! Praying for it can be great. Praying only for it – not so great. Marriage as an idol (the thing we are counting on to fill us up) is bad. And yes even ministry can be an idol.

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  7. Hmmm…I think I know what you’re getting at. However I turn to the example of someone in the Bible who prayed constantly for sonething – Hannah. Why wasn’t she accused of idolatry? I would argue that it”s more the tone of your prayers than the prayers themselves. If you are begging and pleading then it’s a lack of trust in God. If however we start to realise God is in control and yes, even to thank Him in advance then by all means do so.

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  9. Wow!!! Thank you for posting this. This article speaks volume. I know that God has been dealing with my heart about the fact that marriage has become an idol in my life. This really helped me to understand what it means.

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