God The Great Withholder

I want to revisit one of the beliefs that I think can really hurt us as singles and even as marrieds.  It’s the idea that God has one person for me that he is going to provide but just hasn’t done it yet.

This idea is everywhere.  It is in books on dating.  It’s said from the pulpit.  It’s encouraged in small groups.  “You just need to be patient – God will bring you the one”.  “God will in His perfect timing, bring you the perfect person for you.”  “Just live your life and don’t worry about it, because God will provide.”  “Rejection is God’s Protection – she just wasn’t right for you.”  The list goes on and on.

People try to use scripture to back this idea up.  They use situations like Isaac and Rebekah and say see God will provide.  Yeah I’ll just send my servant to a well. You have to make some major leaps to make this idea scriptural.

The heart of this usually comes in one of two places.  Most people are mainly trying to be comforting.  It’s a quick, painless way out of a the “why are you single” conversation. It’s what I call help you sleep at night theology.  While it might help you sleep, it probably won’t help you find a wife.

The other place it comes from is the good hearted place of wanting to recognize that God is our provider for all things.  Well He is, but the problem is that we don’t treat that the same way in any other place.

If I came to you and said, I’m broke and I need a job, would you tell me to sit tight – that God will provide the perfect job that is just for me at the right time?  I should wait for the perfect job, and for sure not settle right?  Obviously this would be a bad idea.  You’d tell me to go look for a job.  Or maybe you’d say I need to go back to school to train for a different job.  What you wouldn’t likely do is blame God for my joblessness.

I think this whole idea is dangerous to us personally on a lot of levels.

First of all it perpetuates the idea of the Christian Soulmate.  This idea that there is this one person that God has for you.  This to me is not scriptural and frankly more a mix of bad Calvinism, Oprah theology and romance novels.  Nowhere in Scripture are you promised a wife, let alone a soulmate.  You do not have a soulmate.  In fact Jesus specifically says that there won’t be marriage in heaven.  The other funny thing about the soulmate is that the focus is typically on how they will be perfect for me, not so much the other way around.

Second is that many end up in fear of choosing wrong.  What if I marry someone that is not the one perfect person that God has for me.  This can also become an excuse where every person I date just “isn’t the one“.  Not to mention it’s a great excuse after marriage for leaving the marriage.  I mean if I meet someone who seems more like the perfect one, well then I must not have been right the first time right?

It can keep us from working on the things that get in the way of us getting married.  Our (and other people’s) sin, insecurities and/or lack of ability to communicate with the opposite sex.  It’s not anything that I’m doing, or the choices that I or others around me make.  It’s God’s fault.

But perhaps the worst thing about it is that it turns God into the Great Withholder.  God loves you and has someone for you, He just isn’t bringing them to you.  Really?!  This always get’s explained as you’re not ready or they’re not ready or something to that affect. But people get married all the time.  God thought they were ready but you aren’t?  All this does is create unnecessary anger and frustration with God.

It would also mean, as I’ve mentioned before, that God has changed His mind about marriage.  Now I know logic is dead in our culture but hang with me here.  For thousands of years, people got married young.  As recently as 40 years ago if you were 18-29 there was a 60% chance you were married.  Now there is only a 20% chance that you are.  So God used to think it was good to “provide the one” in your early 20s or teens, but now He waits to do it until you are 30.  Really?!

Now here’s the thing.  God is the Great Provider.  But His provision looks a little different than this.  First of all we need to get in our heads that He is not as much our provider as He is literally our provision.  Read that again.  God has given us all we need regardless of our context because He has given us Himself.  We need to start here or all else is foolishness.  The beauty of living in this is that I can live life to the full in any context including single or married.  If I get this, then I am free to search for a wife, instead of The One. If I get married, I’m more free to actually love my wife.

If we walk with God, He will provide opportunities.  But we have a role to play in that and we live in a fallen world where we and everyone we interact with (including someone we could marry) make mistakes and bad decisions.  I believe that God indeed brought my wife and I together.  I fully believe that He was in that.  But I also believe that we both chose to do something about it.

Here’s what we really want.  We want a system where either we don’t have to do anything or where we control everything.  But neither of those are right.  Neither require actually walking with God.

11 thoughts on “God The Great Withholder

  1. Oh wow, thank you for this post. I just had a conversation about this with a girl friend, and we thought we should rethink everything for 2014. And well, there we have it! =D

  2. Agreed Justin. Not everyone is called to being single, and too many who are not called to celibacy (men and women) usually do have to settle for the answer of “God has a plan”

    or “you’re not ready yet” and when I was struggling with my singleness and the gift of celibacy that I was running from…….

    this really, really hurt hearing people say this.

    Excellent post

  3. Nicely worded. It is a little of both — trusting and working. Even then it takes two people and you don’t make the choices for the other person. Many married people cannot relate at all to singleness. But I believe everyone has something he or she prays about that does not have the answer you want from God. It is just that single people have that issue openly visible to those around them. Being faithful is commendable even when not receiving the answer to prayer you want.

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