I want to continue today to respond to a message from Al Mohler. I’m using several posts for this because I believe that a lot of what Mohler is saying is representative of the kind of things that church leaders believe and teach. It’s not a Mohler problem. It’s our problem. To his credit – at least he flat out says it.
We’ve talked previously of the idea that our walk with Jesus is seen through the lens of marriage mainly and how that makes the nuclear family an idol as well as how using young men as the scapegoat of our society is not right and obviously not working.
Today I want to address a smaller part of Mohler’s statement that leads to total confusion and frustration in the Church’s singles.
Here it is,
“Young men and women should not delay marriage until it is convenient for them to take a spouse but should actively seek the mate God has chosen for them”
Now to be honest, I agree with part of this. Although I would back up several steps. The first question needs to be, do I feel like God is calling me to serve him from a context of celibacy or from one of marriage. I’m not going to say a lot here as this is not a post about celibacy. But there are those who for various reasons and callings end up following Jesus in a lifetime of being unmarried. This is a part of the Kingdom and one that should be pursued by those called and honored by the Church at large.
If one is not called to that, then I do agree that sooner rather than later, we should look for a spouse. This only makes sense. But here is the problem with the above statement. The idea that you have to find the one God has for you.
Nowhere in scripture does it say that we have a Christian Soulmate as it were. In fact the scripture says the opposite. Jesus says that we will not be married in heaven. You and I will spend eternity unmarried. Beyond that, no where does the scripture say to go and find this exact one person that God has for you.
Paul does not say, “Go and find your wife.” He says “Go get married.” This idea of “The One God Has For You” is bad on many levels.
First it can be an excuse on our end and a part of the problem of delayed marriage that Molher is complaining about. “I went out with her for a year but she just wasn’t the one”. “No one has asked me out, so I guess God just hasn’t sent me the one yet.” In other words it can lead to inaction. I don’t have to do anything, after all God has the one for me.
Secondly it’s used as a spiritual platitude to “comfort” people. “Don’t worry, He wasn’t the one.” “God is preparing someone just for you.” “God is in charge. He’ll show you the right one at the exact right time.” Essentially we take what I would call bad Calvinism combined with Oprah/”help you sleep at night” theology to explain why you aren’t married yet.
Third and maybe worst of all, it puts an inordinate amount of pressure on everyone. There are some who would basically say don’t go on a date with someone unless you think they could be “the one”. It can lead to not giving someone a chance. It can lead to staying in relationships we shouldn’t because we are convinced they are the one, or bailing too early because we can’t be sure that they are. The idea of the one also creates a sense of the perfect person or at least the perfect one for me. After all God would want the best for me right? And He would surely bring the perfect for me person.
The most frustrating thing about this message is that I have to go out and search and work to find this one. So it’s not enough to go find someone that is godly that I can marry, I’m looking for this Christian Romance Novel person who God has for me.
No where in scripture are we promised The One. As I’ve said here many times this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t bring people into our lives. I believe that He does. I believe that as we walk with Him, He can lead us to someone to marry. But marriage is a choice. “The one” is the one that you choose to marry. We are searching for a one not “the one”. It’s not just semantics. How we see this affects how we go about it.
Telling people called to marriage to go and seek a spouse is good. Telling people who are called to marriage to go and find THE ONE™ is counterproductive and confusing at best, and unbiblical and paralyzing at worst.