We live in a world today where the pressure is on for the 20-something years old ladies and gents who are single by choice and/or circumstance. Worse, if you are not in/pursuing any romantic relationship, the world will make you feel that you are of lesser worth.
I have heard and overheard them, too.
- “Why don’t you have a boyfriend yet?”
- “You should at least start dating.”
- “16 and virgin? Woman up!”
- “If you can’t find a potential husband now, at least have a baby.”
- “Get a boyfriend. You should at least be married by 25, right?”
- “You’re almost 30?! Rush it! It’s hard to get pregnant at that age already!”
- “It is trial-and-error. Just keep dating until you find the one.”
- “Find someone who can make you feel happy and complete.”
This is how the world thinks. The world operates, calculates and manipulates based on romanticism and the cravings of flesh. The world is always concerned of the temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18).
But this is not how God thinks.
Marriage is not wrong. In fact, marriage is so special because “God designed it to meet our need for companionship and to provide an illustration of our relationship with Him” (Bible.org’s ‘God’s Design for Marriage’). I recently learnt this upon reading the passage on Ephesians 5:22-23. After Paul specifically teaches the Ephesians about how to be a godly wife and husband, he says in verse 32, “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” What a beautiful illustration.
But “While God commands us to value marriage, He also is clear that we must not over-value it. After all, we are on a mission during our brief time on earth.” (Francis Chan’s ‘Marriage on the Edge of Eternity’).
1. MARRIAGE WILL NEVER EVER SATISFY YOU.
“If I get married then I will be complete.”
Gary Thomas, in his book ‘Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?’, said: “The problem with looking to another human to complete us is that, spiritually speaking, it’s idolatry. We are to find our fulfilment and purpose in God . . . and if we expect our spouse to be ‘God’ to us, he or she will fail every day. No person can live up to such expectations.”
Further, Kristina Shiddell (in ‘Single Woman, Marriage is not the Goal’) says, “So to desire to be married, as it is subordinate to our desire for Jesus and His will and all that implies, is a good thing. But to set the goal of marriage, to see it as the ultimate prize and pinnacle of life, is destructive to (anyone’s) heart.”
John 6:35 and Psalms 107:9 affirms us all the more that it is only God who can complete us.
Truth be told: If you have Jesus in your life as your personal Lord and Savior, you are already complete — not for who you are but for who He is.
And if you have Jesus in your life as your personal Lord and Savior, you will not see marriage as the end-goal but as a God-willed partnership for the Great Commission (in other words, for the mission shared by Jesus to those who truly believe).
And so I continue to the next point…
2. MARRIAGE IS PARTNERSHIP FOR THE GOSPEL.
It is crystal clear in Matthew 28:16-20 that you cannot claim or call yourself a Christian (a believer and follower of Jesus) if you are not, out of the overflow of your heart, making disciples like Jesus. Remember Matthew 7:16-20?
“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
Truth be told: If one can’t go and make disciples while single, he or she can’t go and make disciples while married with someone as half-baked and lukewarm as he or she is. Marriage is partnership for the Good News — that is, Jesus Christ! Therefore, the “I will fulfil God’s mission in my life when I get married” statement is a dangerous lie.
Christ’s Great Commission is to “go and make disciples”, not “go and get married”. But if marriage can actually help one achieve that ultimate goal of Christ in us, then well and good! As encouraged in Philippians 1:27, “…with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel”.
Marriage is beautiful. Therefore, it should never be a hindrance, instead it should be a partnership, to what God has called us to do — “baptizing (disciples) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
3. MARRIAGE SHOULD BE ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL AND GOD’S TIME.
I know people who got married out of pressure, urgency, feelings and desperate circumstances. And I also know people who got married out of faith and God’s confirmation of His will and timing. Each personally taught me some things about marriage:
- Marrying the wrong person at the wrong time is wrong.
- Marrying the right person at the wrong time is still wrong.
- Marrying the right person at the right time but with the wrong motives is self-centered.
- Marrying the right person at the right time and with the right motives is God-ordained.
I have two favourite husband-wife stories in the Bible. The story of Sarah and Abraham and the story of Jacob and Rachel. The first serves as a personal reminder for me to wait and depend on God’s promises while the latter serves as a reminder that true love waits.
God had given Abraham the vision of becoming a father of nations on several occasions which would have made Sarah the mother of nations by default. However, the vision had still not come to pass. Sarah’s heart had therefore become “sick” with impatience, doubt and insecurity, which caused her faith in the vision to decrease almost to the point of non-existence.
The issue was not that she no longer believed in God’s ability to bring the vision to pass; neither was it that she no longer believed that her husband would be the conduit through which it would come forth. The issue was that the disease of her heart had distorted her view of herself and her purpose in the grand scheme of things, especially since her personal circumstances did not match the vision that God had given.
This is why in Genesis 16:2, Sarah told Abraham that “the Lord [had] restrained [her] form having children” and asked him to sleep with Hagar — a manipulative and scheming fleshly decision which resulted to many physical, emotional and even generational consequences.
– Excerpt from ‘Lessons from Sarah on Patience’
“So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.”
– Genesis 29:20