Recently, while talking about my wedding, a good friend remarked something to the effect of, “It’s a great story. You’re 40 and you’ve never settled. And now God has been faithful.” I kind of just smiled at this.
I get this sort of thing all the time. This idea that because I’ve “hung in there” or “not settled” that God is finally rewarding me. Or that from day one God has had this as His plan – that plan apparently being have me wait until 40 to get married.
While I appreciate the sentiment, I’m not sure I buy that exactly.
Here is what I do buy. God for sure brought me and my soon to be bride together. I believe that wholeheartedly. It’s a good fit on so many levels it’s not even really questionable. Another friend said to me recently about the way our lives fit together, “If you ever tell me there’s no God, I’m gonna hit you in the face! Because there is no way! It’s so right!” He’s right!
But, I would say, it is in spite of my sin, brokenness, and failures that God has done this. It’s His grace that has brought us together, not my “faithfulness.”
It’s not that I’ve been completely unfaithful or that I’ve thought about “settling” if “settling” means marrying someone who I shouldn’t. But this idea that somehow I’ve earned God’s favor and He has finally rewarded me just doesn’t wash.
One of the big problems in our culture is this idea of entitlement. The idea that I’m owed something. You see it in the sports, business, and yes even in ministry. But no where does it rear its head in Christian culture more than in the discussion of singleness and marriage. And it’s a problem.
God does not owe us a spouse.
Entitlement comes from a couple of places. One is self-righteousness. We see this in the person who has “saved themselves for marriage” and therefore can’t understand why they are not married. It’s the idea that if I’m moral enough then God should deliver. Usually we fall into this by accident – at least I did. At first I was doing right because of God, but then it kind of turned. I was being “good” so why wasn’t He holding up His end of the bargain. But we aren’t moral to get something from God. We are moral out of gratitude to God, and because we are following Him and He leads us to Godly Righteousness. We live a Chaste life for Him, not to earn something.
Entitlement also comes from arrogance. This is where the whole “don’t settle” thing comes into play. Now I’m not saying marry or date anyone that comes along. By no means! But there is the idea that because I’ve passed on so many people that now God has brought me “The One“. Ummmm. Yeah, I’m not real comfortable with that. I think sometimes I chose not to pursue and it was wise, other times it was stupid. Sometimes it was out of fear or rationalization. The point is, I can always find something wrong and not commit. It’s a fine line. But the biggest issue is that it assumes that no one would have to settle to be with me. Hahaha. I mean I’m pretty screwed up.
The thing about all of this entitlement is that it creates bitterness, frustration and resentment in our own hearts.
We end up resenting God. He becomes the Great Withholder. He isn’t giving us what we want, or what we feel we’ve earned. He isn’t coming through. He’s not bringing me anyone or at least not the perfect one. It’s all His fault that I’m not married. Has nothing to do with me or anybody else. It’s your fault God.
We end up resenting the opposite sex. This drives me crazy but I used to be there. Man I spent some time resenting women, or at least certain ones. They should like me. They always pick the guy who isn’t really as “Christian” as me. Man, I want to throw up writing that. And the female version where there are no mature guys. There just aren’t any guys who love Jesus and have a job etc. Really!? Again, it couldn’t possibly be me. All of this is bad for us (it also makes us way less attractive).
Finally we can end up resenting our friends that get married. “I hope they make it” – read – because they sure aren’t as spiritual as me. They lived a crazy life and now they get “what they want” and I don’t. How is that fair?
We have to flush this stuff out. We are not entitled to a spouse. No one has to choose us. God does not owe us. But more importantly, it’s not about that anyway. We can’t let it become our identity.
Do you feel entitled to a spouse? Who do resent? What helps you fight those two things?
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I think it’s a lot closer to the truth to say that we owe it to God to take a spouse and be fruitful and multiply than that God owes us to provide. It’s God’s active will that the earth be filled. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute, told the captives to take wives in Jeremiah 29, and the first command in Genesis to be fruitful and multiply is repeated several times.