Should You Pray For A Spouse?

One of the things I did a lot as a single person is pray for a spouse.  That took a lot of different forms.  Sometimes it was simple and relaxed.  Other times it took the form of crying out (read begging) for God to bring me The One.  Often when I really thought someone could be the one it was praying for God to “make it happen”, sometimes before I’d even been on a date (that hurts a little to type – Ha!).

But over and over again for years, it never happened.  God didn’t “answer” my prayer.

This really begs two different types of questions.  First, should we, and if so how should we, pray about gaining a spouse.  Second, why is it that God doesn’t seem to answer this prayer or as I like to say, why doesn’t God just “poof” us a spouse.

Before I give my feeble attempt to answer those two questions (the first one in this post and the latter in an upcoming post), let me remind us of a few things that we need to clear out of the way.  Platitudes that we know aren’t true and that I’ve debunked here before.  Those include but are not limited to: There is not a Christian Soulmate; God does not owe you a spouse; God is not holding out on you; God Has Not Changed His plan for marriage; It might not be God’s fault; and You don’t earn a spouse.

Ok, now let’s get to it.

First of all, I think it is absolutely a great thing to pray for a spouse.  Why would you not take your desire to God.  You don’t need to try to kill that desire (ignore the whole “it’s when you don’t want it it will happen thing” – that is sort of good advice if it means, don’t be desperate, but pretending you don’t want something is called avoidance, not dealing with it).

We need to take our heart to God.  But I think how we pray can really help us here.  Let’s get very practical.  Here are some things I’d encourage in prayer about a spouse.

  • Avoid praying for THE ONE as there isn’t the one.  This also decreases the pressure when you do meet someone and makes hearing God less pressurized as well.  Maybe pray of A One or something like that.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment.  “God show me what to do and who to pursue further.  God show me what you want me to do.  Do you like this relationship?” etc.
  • Submit to God.  This was huge for me.  I finally quit praying for a spouse.  I took a step back and said, “God, I’ll do whatever you want (You’ll probably need to at least mostly mean that), Just tell me what to do”.
  • Understand that there are different forces at work.  So pray for protection.  Both in searching for a spouse and also for protection of your heart, mind and will from spiritual attack.
  • Pray for God to show you (through others, directly, or in any way) the things that you are doing wrong in this process. “God show me my sin,”or maybe “God show me where you are working on me right now.”
  • Also ask God to show you lies you are believing.  Lies about Him, yourself, the opposite sex, marriage, singleness – you name it.  Ask Him to help you not believe them.
  • Ask Him to heal wounds that you have in this area.

This seems like a lot of prayer.  But I think too often we get wrapped up in the wrong prayers.  We pray for The One because we’ve made marriage an idol.  Or we pray for a particular One because we’ve made that person an idol.  We might pray for a spouse and not pray for anything else – therefore essentially basing our whole prayer life with God on finding another person.  I’ve done all of those things.

Finally as we pray we need to be willing to hear anything.  We need to be willing to hear yes or no.  I think a big part of what makes listening to God hard is that we are afraid of what He will say.  What if God wants me to marry a person I’m not attracted to?  What if He wants to me to remain celibate for life?  What if He calls me out on a sin?  What if He tells me not to marry this person I really want to?  It’s the old, “What if God calls me to move to Africa” fear.

But here’s the thing; If we aren’t fully submitted to Him, it will  be hard first to hear and secondly to trust what we hear as coming from Him.  This is of course true of all prayer not just prayer in this area of our lives.  But it can be especially true in areas of prayer, including this one, where we have a high emotional involvement.  It can border on anguish sometimes, and I want to acknowledge that if that’s where you are at, but we can’t stay there.

In summary, we should absolutely pray about this area of our life.  We should do it in submission to God, while at the same time avoiding false submission sounding platitudes and being open and honest with God.  Heck maybe the starting point could be, “God, right now I want what I want.  Help me to step back and be submitted to you.  That’s what I want, to do what you want.  Help me do that.” Then go from there.

Is Getting Married In God’s Hands?

I recently received an email from a reader asking some questions about a particular situation.  I won’t go into the details but one of the things she said was that she was trying to leave the situation in God’s hands.  This is similar to some things I’ve talked about before but I want to revisit this idea.

This message of waiting for God to bring me the one or that God will bring the right one at the right time is super problematic if not wrong entirely.  And yet it comes from everywhere.  I remember once sitting in church and hearing the pastor in a marriage sermon say that he knew there were frustrated singles because God had not brought them the person yet.

It’s used often as a spiritual platitude spoken to singles as well as by singles themselves.  Especially women.

It’s extremely shaky.

How do people get there?  Well there are some good and bad internal motivations.

A few good motivations

  • Some people are trying to honor God as sovereign over everything.  They don’t want to take false credit or assume they know the answers.  Fair enough.
  • Some are trying to have a submissive attitude towards God.  “God I want this or that, but Your will first, not mine”.  A great starting point for any endeavor.
  • Some have been so over focussed and have had marriage as an idol that they are trying to avoid that by giving it up.
  • A lot of pastors and married folks are trying to be encouraging.  Truly.  They don’t see how they really got married other than a gift and they just know that God wants to gift their friends in the right time.
  • An effort to defeat the myth that you earn a spouse from God – which is important because you don’t.

Here are a few bad motivations

  • We don’t like dealing with rejection so if it’s all on God then it’s not on me
  • We don’t like dealing with our insecurities so again it’s not on me
  • We don’t like dealing with our sin and shortcomings.  It’s not me God it’s You
  • We are scared crapless and this way I don’t have to face the fear of acting
  • We have completely over spiritualized the whole thing to the point that any action seems like it would be to take matters into our own hands and not allow for God to move..

These are just a few examples of how we arrive at the “When God wills it then I’ll get married” sayings.

None of this is actually helpful if you are over 25 and single.

We don’t do this with anything else we do.  Not anything that we really care about anyway.

We shouldn’t do it with ministry.   God will bring the people He wants to our church.  We don’t have to ask anybody or market ourselves or serve the community.  We’ll just build a building and hope some people show up.  We don’t have to talk to them when they do.  If they are meant to be here, then they’ll come back.  No church planter I’ve ever known goes at it that way. (I’m sure some do – and the planting is short lived).

We don’t do this when we seek employment.  I see a job opening at this great company I want to work for.  I think I’m qualified.  But I won’t apply or send them a resume.  I won’t work to get an interview.  I’ll just pray and if I’m supposed to have that job, I’m sure they’ll offer it to me.

We know this won’t work in any other area of our personal life.  I need to lose 10 pounds.  No need to work out or eat better.  Just pray about it.  After all if God wants me to be 10 pounds lighter He will make it happen.

I could do this all day.  Literally.  All. Day.

But for some reason, including the ones above, we’ve turned singleness and marriage into something that is basically akin to who gets in to heaven in terms of spiritual consequence.

Look, God has given us some guidelines.  We should have qualifiers for sure.  I’m not saying just go get married to whomever.  But we have to act.  Just like any other part of life.

In fact, and catch this (let those that have ears. . . ); It is in the acting that our faith is proven.  Whatever you believe theologically about God’s sovereignty, that sovereignty should be a launching pad not a hiding place.  It’s exactly because He is over everything that we can act in faith.  So by all means – act.

In fact, God’s will is mostly done by God’s people. So we need to do it with God.  But we need to do it.  That’s the whole point!  He wants us to do it all with Him.  But He wants us to do it.

Over and over we need to submit our desires, heck our whole being, to God.  We place ourselves in His hands and then we act out of that.  He grows us along the way.  Again that is His whole plan.

Now the question becomes what does that action look like?  That’s a great question.  I’ve written a lot about that for the guys here but in the coming weeks I’ll have a post for guys and one for the gals on what I think it means to act.

The bottom line for today: We should put ourselves in God’s hands. While there we should face our fears, insecurities, weaknesses and sins, as we act boldly to help advance the Kingdom that we know bringing – singleness, dating and marriage included.

Look For A One, Not The One

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.

A Good God And Singleness

In my last post I shared some thoughts in response to what Scott Sauls wrote at Relevant’s site about why we in the Church focus so much on the nuclear family.  The focus of that post was to point out that we need to focus on God’s family not the nuclear family.  Simply saying that the nuclear family is not the savior or necessary for salvation is not a good enough starting point.

Today, I want to talk about the idea that God is running every aspect of our dating lives.

I want to again say that I’m not trying to go after Scott but simply saying that what he writes, while better than what a lot of Church leaders are doing, is frankly not enough.  I believe he represents what many people in leadership are thinking.  There are assumptions here that I believe are at best short sighted.

He writes:

When the nuclear family is treated as the end-all-be-all in churches, it tempts single men and women to believe that they will never be complete until they find that “special someone” to spend their lives with.

But this is a lie. As my friend Paige Brown once said—as a single Christian woman with no marriage prospects who wanted very much to be married—it is not our marital status that defines us and makes us special; it is our redemptive status. According to Paige (and Scripture), it is impossible for God to shortchange any of His children: If she meets the man of her dreams and lives happily ever after, it will be because God is so good to her. If she never marries, it will be because God is so good to her.

Do we believe this in our churches? What’s more, do we act like we believe it?

 

The first paragraph here could not be more right.  He knocks it out of the park.  The idea that a person is not complete as a person in Christ unless or until they are married is completely false and frankly borderline heresy.  It goes against all that Jesus teaches us about our identity in Christ, not to mention our salvation.

Marriage doesn’t save anybody.  This idea that I’m promised a spouse or that God has someone out there for me are not only false spiritual platitudes, they also set us up to think that unless I have these things I’m not a whole person in Christ.  God’s family is all inclusive and based on relationship with Him and His family, not on which earthly relationships I’m blessed with, or not blessed with, here and now.

It is indeed our redemptive status that makes us special and complete.

It’s the rest of this section that seems totally incomplete.  That is the idea that God is the Great Withholder and we need to just sit back and let it happen.

First of all, the idea that if God brings us someone, then He is good to us, and if he doesn’t He is good to us gets too easily turned into God either does or does not have a “soulmate” for us.  In other words if it happens then God wants it.  If it doesn’t then God doesn’t want it.  This is not the same as whether or not God is good.  It sounds deep and theological.  But it leaves out a whole lot of factors.

It absolves us of any responsibility.  It also turns God into the great withholder.  I’ve beat this to death on this blog, but the bottom line, using Calvinism to explain the rapid increase in singleness is just bad and lazy.

Even on it’s premise it’s just ridiculous.  God has now decided to make people wait longer to get married?  In other words, if He is controlling all of this and is waiting to bring everyone their “one” then all this extra singleness going on is obviously His fault.  We can for sure now stop all of the “man up” sermons.  Sit back and play a video game.  Why not?  God will bring you the one when He’s ready to.  God used to do that when you were 16-22 years old but now He in His wisdom has decided to test us further by letting us all wait an extra ten years.  Come on folks.

Secondly the idea that whatever is happening in my life is God’s best for me is super shaky.  I get the desire to honor God’s sovereignty and I’m for it.  But we don’t get to leave out our own sin (including but not limited to our pride, insecurity, lust and gluttony) or the sin of others. If I’m being abused is that God’s best for me?  Should I stay in that situation?  If I’m jobless should I just stay in that situation and wait for God to deliver me a job?  Should I send out some resumes or no?

Look, God does bring people into our lives.  I’m not saying that God can’t lead you to someone.  But this idea of the perfect one delivered from God at exactly the right time is just completely counterproductive.  It is not helping.  It sounds good.  It might help some women sleep at night.  But that is about it and it needs to stop.

God is indeed good whether I get married or not.  In fact He is good no matter what happens to me and even no matter what I do right or wrong.  He’s good period.  But we live in a fallen world that is not always good.  We have to apply both truths to singleness and dating.  Failure to walk both sides of that line leads to a colossal imbalance and confusion.  Worse, that leads to people being unnecessarily hurt. Which is about where sit in our Churches now.

Spouse or Robot?

This last weekend I was leading a discussion that centered around the idea of that we are not to be OF the world.  In the world yes, but not of it.  We were discussing 1 John 2:15-17 which tells us not to love the world.  But if we are not to love the world, then we have to know what the world or “Spirit of the Age” is.  If we don’t name it, then it is very easy to get lulled to sleep and passively get sucked into being a part of it.  We came up with three Spirits of the Age: Busyness, Tolerance (which really means accepting anything as truth) and Consumerism.

As I’m sure you can figure out, these worldly trends have a huge impact on us when it comes to singleness, dating and marriage.  Now I’ll spend some time on each of these in different ways in the following weeks but for today, I just want to mess with us a little in case you think these things aren’t impacting where we are going.

I’ve written before about the idea of consumer dating.  The idea of thinking of the next person as some sort of product to obtain, going with it until we get bored and then looking for the new one.  While on the one hand it’s good to know there will always be another person I could date so I don’t end up over pressuring a situation, I also need to recognize that I can get addicted to the search.

But more than just needing the next one, we are also often looking for the perfect one. The one that meets my needs does what I want, shares all my interests, will never let me down, will do things my way, and of course it would be bonus if they would always look hot.  I don’t want to commit unless I can find the perfect product right?

Now if you combine that with the fact that we have taken sex outside of marriage it begins to get really interesting.  Stay with me here.  If we have taken sex out of marriage, and then really even the orgasm out of sex, and we think all of this is sort of ok somehow, then why not change the game completely.  What we need is not another person with all of their flaws, idiosyncrasies, demands and desires.  What we need is some sort of perfect for us partner.

Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Driscoll a “leading authority on sex tech”.  I can’t believe I just typed that.  In this article she discusses that we are well on our way to this future. Why look for a person, when you can just buy what you want.

Yeah, it’s sounds sort of crazy but as she points out, “We tend to think about issues such as virtual reality and robotic sex within the context of current norms. But if we think back to the social norms about sex that existed just 100 years ago, it is obvious that they have changed rapidly and radically.”

She adds: “Currently the lack of human contact could be harmful. Humans are naturally sociable and a lack of human contact could lead to loneliness which is linked to various mental and physical health problems.But, in the long term, technology may overcome these problems.

“When eventually there are intelligent robots indistinguishable from humans – apart from their lack of bad habits, imperfections and need for investment – not only are we likely to choose them over ‘real’ humans but psychologically we will not suffer if we are not able to tell the difference.”

Now you may be thinking, but what about children?  Not a problem.  Way ahead of you.  Already in Denmark 50% of the women coming in to the sperm bank are single women. Most of them are highly educated and just haven’t met the one.  But of course they want to be moms.  So they just head on in to the bank and make it happen.

This doesn’t mean that they don’t ever want to have a husband or more importantly a father for their kids.  As Signe, a 41 year old therapist says,“I’d still love to meet someone and give my little girl a dad. For me, a father is so much more than a blob of sperm. A father is someone who makes the lunch boxes, says, ‘Good morning,’ and kisses good night. He’s the one who is always there for the child during its upbringing. I just haven’t met him yet.”

But a real actual man might be more trouble than it’s worth.  Maybe she could go the Sarah Connor route.  After quality Terminators may soon be easy enough to find.

You may at this point be wondering if I’ve gone off the deep end.  Fair question.  But let me ask you two questions.  Do you really believe that this can’t happen?  Or even that it isn’t happening?  And do you really believe that each of us isn’t in some way affected by it?

There is a flow, a current if you will, heading in a direction.  Its not a new problem, just a new context.  But we need to understand that we are in it if we are going to decide to swim against it.  Where are you just floating along?  Are you looking for the perfect person, the perfect sex, the perfect match, or the perfect companion?  What are you ok with that maybe you shouldn’t be?  Do you want your needs met or do you want something more?

The Big Decision

A little while back I was leading a small group discussion about sex and dating as it relates to working with adolescents.  Various ages of people were in the group.  Let’s call it 19-30. None of them were married (which makes sense because 80% of people in that age range aren’t).

It’s always interesting to me in these type of conversations to see what people talk about. Two things almost always rise to the surface.  First is that everyone knows that sex outside of marriage is wrong.  That message in the church is pretty clear.

But the second thing that always comes out is that people are lost on most everything else. No one knows what to do as far as dating and marriage and the messages are so mixed that confusion reigns.

The church’s message and the worlds message has become completely entangled.  The church thinks it’s being different, but really they are mostly being confusing – except of course for the sex part.

We are ok at telling people what to do in marriage.  Not great, but ok.  But my goodness our message to the unmarried is crazy.

We leave celibacy out completely which creates a giant vacuum in the conversation.  Most protestants don’t even know what it means.  We then assign the gift of singleness to all the unmarried people.  This of course screws over both those who have the gift and those who don’t.

But today I want to tackle and maybe cut through a different point of confusion.

This starts with the idea that we can avoid divorce or marriage disfunction by choosing the perfect person to marry, otherwise known as the “one” God has for us.  This of course creates the fear of choosing wrong.  So the goal is to get married – but only to the right person.

I can remember being taught (and teaching) that the second biggest decision you will ever make is who you marry.  The biggest decision of course was what you do with Jesus.

I get the point of this platitude.  You can add in all the other things we get told along this line as singles.  “Better to be alone than marry the wrong person”, “God will bring you the right one at the right time.”  I could go on, but you get the idea.

The idea here is seek marriage but be really careful.  There is truth in that.  But taken even a little to far it moves from caution to fear and/or unfair standards.

Here’s what I mean.  If we are waiting for THE ONE then we start getting into our heads what that ONE should be like and anyone who doesn’t match that we dismiss.  That leads to this weird sort of consumer dating where people are really good for us, but they just aren’t the right one.

But maybe worse, I think we have created a false fear.  We end up creating this huge pressure situation.  I mean if the second biggest decision ever, for all time, is the person you marry – how can you be sure you are making the right decision?

Let me offer a different view.

First, there is not THE ONE – or any of her cousins (the right one, God’s one, the one for me, my soulmate, the perfect match, the one God has for me, etc…)

Second, marriage is a choice – a decision.  But who you marry is only a part of that choice. Here’s what I mean.  You make a decision that you are called to be married.  In other words you are not called to celibacy. Then there is a decision to pursue that.  Then there are the qualifiers that you are looking for – the type of person.

Now when you stand in front at your wedding you get to make another choice. That is you make vows before God to this other person.  Now this actually is the big decision, regardless of who is standing there.  Marriage is not a contract. There is a legal contract but that really is irrelevant in some ways.  Marriage is meant to be a covenant and sacrament before God.

When you say these vows you are choosing to make a promise.  You are deciding that you will love, honor and cherish this person no matter what and in all circumstances.  Once you make that decision now you get to make a series of decisions over the rest of your life – the choice of whether or not to honor those vows – regardless of what else happens.  And you get to make that BIG decision over and over again.

Love is a choice – a decision.  Feeling love isn’t.  Attraction isn’t.  But love is. Otherwise God wouldn’t be able to command it.  No where in the bible does God command a feeling.

The funny thing is that until recently in history, a lot of times people didn’t really get to choose who they married.  Most of them were teenagers.  And yet everything in the scripture about marriage was true for them.  They were called to the biblical principles of marriage.  They had to choose whether or not to follow them.  Same deal today.

We get to choose who we marry.  It is a big deal and it is a powerful picture of both choosing someone and being chosen.  But it’s only part of an endless series of decisions. It isn’t the final decision and when we make it that we are setting ourselves up for failure, both as singles and as marrieds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paralyzed By Choices

Just over a year ago, I was driving home during a huge storm with wind, rain and some hail.  I remember thinking, “Man, I hope my car doesn’t get hail damage.”  Then as I turned onto my street and headed towards my house it happened.  I hit what I at first thought was just a huge puddle as I saw a huge splash.  But then all of a sudden I realized that instead I had driven directly into a flash flood.  It was up over my bumper and my engine stalled.

It’s amazing what goes through your head.  At first I tried to restart my car – um that wasn’t happening.  Then I rolled down my window to survey the situation.  It was not good.  I shut the window because we wouldn’t want the leather to get wet.  Water started seeping in. (For free – if you’ve ever wondered how long you would have in your car if you drove into say a lake, before water filled up the inside of your car . . . answer. . . not very dang long.)

All this to say, my car was completely totaled.  Water got in everywhere.  I was sad as I really liked my car (which was paid for) and planned on driving it for about another 100,000 miles.

Fortunately Nationwide really was on my side and gave me a very fair amount for my car. But now, I needed to find a new car.  So I of course had to set up some qualifications for this car. I wanted a car similar to my old car with the same features (heated leather seats, v-6 engine, sporting looking, lots of leg and head room, moon roof, at least 30mpg, etc). But I had some restrictions.  I was committed to not having a car payment for example.

So I set out to find “The Car”.  Shopping for a car is sort of crazy these days.  Almost all dealers have multiple locations and websites.  You can go online and search cars, values, compare and contrast.  But of course you need to go test drive it.  This is a big decision.  I mean whatever I get, I’m planning on driving a long time.

I did it all.  I booked marked cars online.  I went to a ton of dealers.  I gave my number to dealers who would call me if something came in close to what I was looking for.  I test drove easily 15-20 cars.  I almost pulled the trigger a couple of times but decided no, or the car was sold.  Once I had one that I really liked but I couldn’t afford it.

Finally, at a dealer two hours away, I found a car that worked and a dealer who worked with me.  I had my car.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid choice.  I still like my car a year later.

Friends, that was searching for car.  Now find go and find a spouse.

We live in a world with a ridiculous amount of choice in all categories. Groceries, restaurants, items at restaurants, Cable TV, hundreds of channels.  Really there is a choice for everything.  We’ve bought into the idea that more choice is good. But with more choice comes more confusion, indecision, panic, regret, and anxiety*.  No where is this more true than our current dating culture.

When you go back in history, our choices for a spouse were much more limited.  For most of history you had basically no choice.  You married who you were arranged to marry.  But even in recent history, you married who you knew.  You grew up in one geographical area, met someone you were attracted to, and tried to make it happen.  You maybe had a few choices and comparisons.

Today because of travel, technology and urban explosion, we live in a world where there is always someone new to meet.  You could literally spend your life going on first dates.  And if there are all these choices, then there must be the right choice.  That one perfect choice.

Our Christian dating culture just exasperates this whole idea.  You are looking for the right one. Not only are looking for someone you are attracted to and get along with, but there are all these criteria.  Do they love Jesus?  Are you equally yoked?  Are they THE ONE God has for you.  Talk about pressure.

Throw in the fear of choosing wrong (this is for life after all) and we often end up paralyzing ourselves.  We have so much choice that many of us can’t choose.

The question becomes how the heck do you know?  How do you choose?

Am I suggesting we throw out our qualifiers and criteria?  Not exactly.  Am I saying attraction doesn’t count?  Heck no.  But what I am saying is that we can’t live in fear of choosing wrong.  We need to hold it loosely to be sure.  Its to our advantage to know that we can walk away, that we don’t have to choose a person.  But at the same time there is no perfect person and no perfect decision.

I want to talk more about how to choose and what I think a couple of qualifiers that I personally think everyone needs to consider.  But for today I want to leave you with a couple of questions.

How has this plethora of choices affected you?  Have you ever been paralyzed by the fear of choosing wrong?  Have you accidentally convinced yourself that there is the one perfect choice?

Do you want to know the craziest part?  Love itself is a choice.

 

* For a great article on choice in our culture read this from The Economist.