You Aren’t Entitled To A Spouse

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?

You Don’t Earn A Spouse

About ten years ago I was having lunch with a friend who was 24 and had been married about two years.  We were meeting for work but we ended up talking about life.  At one point my young friend (who I was supposed to be mentoring but who was about to mentor me) asked, “Justin why do you think you are still single?”

I sat for a minute trying to come up with something wise to say.  Then I said something like, “I don’t know exactly.  Maybe God still has stuff for me to learn first.”  I sat back satisfied with my “Godly” answer.

He responded, “How come I didn’t have to learn any of that stuff first?”

Bam!  I was in trouble.  In one sentence he had just taken out my religious answer.  I mean he was right.  He was a mature 24 year old but did he know more than me at 22 when he got married?  What was it exactly that I needed to master first before I was “studied up enough” for God to go ahead and grant me a spouse?  Yikes.

This is one of the subtle things that can sneak into our minds.  This idea that if God is waiting for us to get something so that we are now “ready” to be married.  Even typing that seems ridiculous now but in the back of my mind I’ve spent a lot of time there.  Especially in my 20’s.  This is dangerous on so many levels.  It can lead to earning God’s favor which takes out grace.  It can lead to bitterness towards others, “How come God gave that heathen a spouse when I’ve been over here trying to stay pure and do it right?”  It can lead to following God’s plan in an effort to earn a gift from him instead of simply to follow Him.  And, because of that, when we get tired of trying to earn it, it can lead to sin, especially sexually, because obviously God is not delivering on my hard work of staying pure.

No where does God say that a spouse is earned.  In fact all through history, including in scripture (e.g. just about everyone in the Old Testament) you could make the case that horrible people get married all the time.  A spouse is a gift, not a prize.  If your motivation to please God is so He will give you a spouse you’re in trouble.

Now it is sure fair to ask God, “Are you teaching me something here?” or, “Is there something I’m doing that is preventing me from having a spouse?” But the idea that I’m going to earn one is bad news.  Any married guy can tell you, they don’t deserve their spouse.

Where has this idea of earning a spouse crept into your thought process?

Where are you bargaining with God by following certain rules with the hope of a payoff?