Q #4 – God’s will in marriage
Psalm 143:10 (NIV)
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Q – Does God have a specific significant other for each person? And if so, how do you know he or she is the one God intended when you meet: Where does dating fall into this? How should Christians approach dating? What happens if that specific person dies or you divorce, is there a second person God intends?
The problem with a simple yes or no here is that it often leads us down the wrong path – in fact, I think this question moves in that direction (at least to some extent). The confusion here is not because the Bible isn’t clear – it’s because we’re messed-up. So I’m going to give you my answer and then try to explain.
Some would say, “No, God does not have a specific significant other for each person.” They might say that God has given us the ability and responsibility to make that decision. Does that mean that God isn’t deeply involved? I’m not going to say that God doesn’t have someone picked out for you as your spouse. The Bible tells us that God is sovereign over everything – all events. God is providentially involved in our lives.
Proverbs 16:9, 33 (NIV)
vs 9 – In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
vs 33 – The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…
So, does God does have someone in mind for you? Yes. Now here’s the reality for Christians – if you’re married, it’s the one you’re married to. If your going to get married, it’s the one you will marry. If god is actively sovereign in our lives you cannot say that he does not have a specific person for each person that will marry or that his providential hand is not active.
Now before you draw conclusions from what you THINK you heard – let me explain. I AM NOT saying that it doesn’t matter who you marry – it does matter – it’s HUGE. Marriage is a profound, God-endorsed, life-altering, life-making, commitment. Pretty much everyone “slows down” and becomes at least somewhat thoughtful when it comes to making this decision – as we should. Many people turn to God for wisdom and guidance in this – as we should.
Many people want God to tell them what to do here – they want God to speak his will to them. And in our desperation we often develop self-serving methods:
- Maybe you’re a “sign” person. God give me a sign that he or she is the one for me. Most often we will find a sign that confirms what we, in our heart, want to do.
- Maybe you’re a “still, small voice” person. Waiting for the God-sent impression that filters into your thoughts. I’ve found that most of the time the still small voice is actually what I’ve wanted to do all along.
- Maybe you’re a “fleece” person.
- Maybe you’re a “open the Bible and read the first verse you see person”. Hopefully, guys, you won’t point to Isaiah 55:12 where it says, “You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace…”. Now you must find someone named joy.
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So, let me say something about decision-making. With the sin-barrier being cancelled by Jesus on the cross, God now lives with his children, God now indwells his children. He has become our intimate friend who is changing us and moving us to be the people we were created to be. The goal – his thoughts become our thoughts, his vision becomes our vision, his passions become our passions, his desires become our desires. He wants us to be God-honoring people who make God-honoring decisions. So, as we saturate ourselves with Scripture and pray and listen to the wise counsel of mature believers, he walks with us through life; through joy and sorrow, through prosperity and recession, through our God-honoring and wise decisions and through our God-rejecting and stupid decisions. And at every turn he would teach us, and show us his ways and his beauty and his purposes SO THAT his thoughts become our thoughts, his vision becomes our vision, his passions our passions, his desires our desires.
John 15:7 (NIV)
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The truth is that often WE are the point of emphasis when making these big decisions – not God. We live our own lives most of the time – we are not Scripture-saturated, praying constantly, and supported by the wise counsel of mature believers. But now when it comes to decisions that will impact US in a profound way – now we want God to tell us what to do – and then we may or may not listen. One of the things that happens OFTEN is that a guy or a gal emotionally attaches themselves to someone and then after months of dating and intimacy, when the issue of marriage is getting close, they want to know God’s will.
Often we approach marriage the way we would approach buying a very expensive car – a car that’s really neat but very expensive. “The cost of this car will be painful – but it will make me feel great (she completes me).” Or, “I’ve always dreamed of driving a car like this – somehow the money thing will work out.”
God walks with us and works with us as we walk with him.
Acts 21:12-14 (NIV)
12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”
Ephesians 1:11 (NIV)
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…
Just to be clear – I am not talking about making decisions in an independent way. Quite the opposite. Our decisions should flow out of Christ-saturated, God-dependent, “for the glory of God” lives.
Where does dating fall into this? How should Christians approach dating?
Dating is largely NOT a biblical concept. As I said a few weeks ago, dating today is the title we have for test-driving a possible spouse. We’ve created this concept so that we can act like we’re married without being married. We’ve created this concept so that we can become intimate with someone we’re not married too.
This does not mean we shouldn’t be wise in our decisions.
Proverbs 31 says a good wife will be a woman of noble character, working tirelessly for her family, caring for the poor and needy, speaking wisdom and faithful instruction, –
Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
What does a good husband look like? Ephesians 5 says that a good husband will love his wife like Jesus loved the church when he died for her.
Proverbs 31; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Ephesians 5:22-33
Will this relationship hinder your Christ-centered development? Do you have a united vision as to how God might reign in your marriage.