God’s Plan For Marriage

Several months ago. while talking about my upcoming marriage, an encouraging friend said, “It’s amazing.  You’ve had to wait all this time.  And this whole time God had this plan and person for you.”  I just kind of grinned.  After 20 years of singleness in the Church, I’ve heard it all.

You know he might be right, but if he is then we’ve got a God who has changed his mind about marriage.

Here’s what I mean.  If we play out that there is one person for you from the beginning and that God has a plan to bring you a perfect Christian soulmate, then God has changed His mind about how to deliver it.

It seems that early on God wanted us to grow up and get married at about 14.  Now this makes some sense.  I mean we hit puberty in our early teens (or earlier) so let’s do this deal.  Besides, you might only live to 40 so all the more reason.

But it gets better.  God also decided that for centuries he would deliver this soulmate through arranged marriages.  Now before you get in your head the perfect scenario for this where all parents are believers and they only hook you up with the hot chick, think again and ask yourself if you’d like your parents to pick your spouse for you when you were about 10.  As the song goes, “At 3 I started Hebrew school, at 10 I learned a trade.  I hear they’ve picked a bride for me, I hope, she’s pretty. . . Tradition.”

Not only that, but this was only done within your caste.  God didn’t want anyone to marry up or down economically or socially.  He just wanted the deal done.

But then God decided that in the “New World” things would be different.  Each person should now go and find their own spouse and everyone would have full right of refusal. (Unless you were a woman who kind of had to say yes to someone because you couldn’t get a job).

But God wasn’t done.  Not by a long shot.  He decided that even though he had this perfect person “planned” for you, that he wouldn’t be revealing that right away.  Now early on, he only made you wait until you were 18-23 (after all, He had already pushed back adulthood by 4 years – he was just getting started).

God enjoyed holding out on us so much that He decided to keep pushing the limit. In fact over the last 40 years He has been dropping the amount of people to receive the “great reveal” before the age of 29 by about a percentage point per year so that now in 2013 only 20% of those people currently receive this revelation.

To sum up God’s “plan”, if you were born 500 years ago He revealed your “one” to your parents when you were a kid.  If you were born 100 years ago He revealed to you by 20. And now, He’ll reveal it to 1 in 5 of us by 29.

Is that the message we want to send single people?  Because essentially when we drop the “God has someone for you, just wait on it”, that is what we are saying.

Here’s the truth, this whole idea is way more about western culture affecting theology than the other way around.  But worse, when we combine it with our culture, it sets up to fail, both in finding a spouse and in staying married.

I believe that marriage was meant to be a calling and a choice.  So is staying married.  Like any other calling you can of course walk away from it.

But this idea of having to find God’s one person that is perfect for me is a crazy way to go about singleness, even if it were to be true.

Among a myriad of other problems, it helps turn us into consumer daters.  We end up looking for this person that fits whatever we think God would have for us.  Right away we are in trouble.  I mean find the person who says, “God has this person planned for me who doesn’t meet all my needs and has all these personal issues”.  At the very least, if you are going to believe that God has one person for you to marry, flip the script.  In other words ask who you are perfect for instead of who is perfect for you.  That will get you a step closer to truth – Heck, that’d I’d maybe buy.

Look, I’m not suggesting that we go back to having our parents marry us off at 14.  We don’t live in that culture.  We live in this one.  I’m also not saying God doesn’t bring people into our lives because I know for sure that He does.  What I am saying is that we need to quit treating our singleness as if God is the Great Witholder and I just need to be good, and wait out this person He currently refuses to reveal to me.

God’s main plan is for us to know and walk with Him.  That is our first calling and vow.  After that we need to ask, are we called to celibacy or marriage? Then we need to pursue that calling with God, figuring out stuff that gets in the way.  We in the Church to stop giving out sleep at night theology and help people do those three things.

Don’t Just Wait On God

There was a man whose town was about to be flooded.  He decided not to evacuate before the water came, hoping that it wouldn’t rise near his home.  But in fact it began to rise quickly.  This man believed in God and had such great faith that when he prayed that God would save him he knew for sure that God would.

He went up on his roof and waited.  A man in a canoe came by and asked if he wanted a ride.  The man said, “No thanks.  I’m waiting on God rescue me.”  The water rose.  A man came by in a motor boat and offered assistance.  The man answered, “I appreciate it, but I’ve prayed to God, and He is going to come and get me.”  The water rose.  The man was forced to the very top of his house.  The coast guard flew over his house in a helicopter. They dropped a ladder and said this was the last time they were coming.  The man waved them off and said, “Go and rescue others.  I’m counting on God to rescue me.”

The water rose and the man was swept away and drowned.  When he got to heaven and met with God he asked, “I prayed to you,  believed in you, showed great faith, and yet you did not rescue me.  Why?”  God answered, “You came to me which was great.  I sent you warnings to evacuate, I then sent one of my people on a canoe followed by another in a motor boat.  Finally I even sent a helicopter.  And yet you refused all my help.”

You may have read a parable like this before.  I think it’s so often exactly how we live our lives.  We take our prayer list before God (which is good) but then we kind of pray and forget about it.  We don’t actually pay attention for how God would answer that prayer.  I sometimes think God must just shake his head and think, “Justin, for the love – I’m trying to help you out here kid – pay attention.” Haha.

Now obviously we have to use discernment.  Just because we pray and something happens doesn’t make it from God.  “God, I need a new car,” followed by a Porsche sighting is most likely not God telling you that’s what you need – although that would be sweet.  But we go the other way.  We pray and then go about our day.

We either think we know exactly how God will answer it (our way – arrogance) or we pray unexpectantly (not believing anything will happen – resignation).  Both can be killers as a single person looking to get married.

I’ve heard way to many people say stuff like, “God just hasn’t brought me anyone yet”, “I’ll just do what I do and if God wants to send me someone He will”, “When God is ready for me to be married He will send me someone.”  Really?!

Now if you’ve sought God and you feel like He’s told you that then great.  I don’t mean to discount those as answers that God wouldn’t give you.  But just assuming them is kind of a bad idea.  It’s a way to hide from two things.  First it’s a way to hide from disappointment with God.  He hasn’t delivered me a spouse but it’s all good, He must have a different “plan”.  Second it keeps us from dealing with our own stuff.  Waiting on God often seems to mean, “I’m not doing anything wrong – it’s just that God hasn’t sent someone yet.”  Yeah it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with me. Yikes!

Whatever the case this mostly leads to inaction on our part.  In other words, I don’t have to actually do anything – and I certainly don’t have to risk.  God will bring me the person in “HIs Time”.

Now I want to be very clear here.  I think God absolutely sends us people.  But I wonder if often we miss the message because we are either waiting for the perfect scenario that doesn’t exist, or we aren’t doing the obvious things we know to do.

We get caught swinging the pendulum back and forth reacting to our own sin on both ends.  We either try to control everything and don’t involve God or we react the other way and “leave it up to Him” without taking any action at all.  I don’t think either is very effective. Neither involves acting while interacting with God.  Which is what I think He really wants us to do – to actually walk with Him, not just wait on Him or do it without Him.  He wants us to engage.

Have you ever used “waiting on God” as a way to hide from hard stuff?  How about as a way to avoid actually dealing with Him?  Are you paying attention to who God might send to help?