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Christian Living

singlepurpose 03/12/09

The Pursuit of Marriage

I just finished reading a book called Getting Serious About Getting Married by Debbie Maken. Her book challenged me greatly. I’m not going to get into the entire message of the book here—partially because I’m still processing the message and partially because it would be too much information to share in one blog post. Instead, I want to hone in on one idea she tackles because it is pertinent to our ongoing discussion in the comment section (keep the questions and comments coming!) about what it means to wait on the Lord for a spouse. 

Before I go any further, I should admit this up front—even though I am a 42-year-old, never married male, I don’t think that singleness is the biblical norm. I haven’t always believed that. In fact, I’ve only arrived at this conclusion in the past few years, but Maken’s book crystallized it for me. Certainly, I believe that God has granted some the gift of celibacy for his service (1 Cor. 7 and Matt. 19), but short of receiving this gift, I believe we are called to actively seek marriage rather than passively waiting for it.

Can we be confident in such a calling and if so, what should it look like? And what about the notion of waiting on the Lord for his provision?

All good questions. Let’s start with the calling.

God makes it clear in Genesis 2:24 that the norm for a man is to “leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The Bible also uses the phrase “wife of your youth” (Prov. 5:18, Isa. 54:6, Mal 2:14-15) which signifies that the norm is to leave our parents and cleave to a spouse early in life.

Then we have the many biblical examples of active searches for a spouse. Abraham was active in his search for a wife for Isaac. He sent his servant back to his home country (Genesis 24:1-4) and he found Rebekah. Isaac was active in his search for a wife for Jacob. He sent Jacob back to their home country where he found Rachel (Genesis 28:1-2). Ruth actively attempted to catch the eye of her kinsman redeemer (Ruth 3:1-3) and it worked.

Finally, we have Proverbs 18:22 that says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” As Maken points out, notice the verb “finds” that clearly supposes action.

In all of the cases above, when the person of God became active in searching for a spouse, God stepped in and provided one. They weren’t passive and they didn’t hold to the notion that they weren’t supposed to long for a spouse.

Here’s how Maken puts it:

“God created us to need food to satisfy hunger, clothing to keep us warm, and shelter to keep us dry. He could satisfy those needs with himself but instead created us to pursue their fulfillment. There is a not a shred of evidence in Scripture that God is willing to fill the spouse-shaped void with himself . . . If God had designed man to be solely content in God alone, there would have been no reason to create Eve to be Adam’s wife.”

If you haven’t rejected all of this as folly by now, then you are probably saying one of two things, either “I’m with you, and I have believed this teaching for while, but I have been active in my search for a spouse and I still don’t have one. What should I do?” or “I’ve had the wrong view about obtaining a spouse. I’ve been passive and now I find myself in my 30s or 40s and still single, so now what?”

I’m right there with you in asking the questions, and I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t think there is a formula you can use in your search for a spouse that will guarantee success. And I certainly do not know God’s plan for your future. But, as we’ve seen in the Scripture verses above, God honors activity done within the framework of his calling. Our job is to be obedient and purposeful in pursuit of his calling and then leave the results to him. That’s the topic (purposeful pursuit) I want to explore next time, if you are open to the idea.

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