Admidst the plethora and pendulum of relationship articles circulating the christian corner of the world wide web, there is little left to be said that hasn’t been, and even fewer ways left to say it. And yet, as is often the case, I am bubbling over with thoughts too long repressed that have been left to simmer on the back burner of my overactive mind. I don’t claim any special knowledge, wisdom, or understanding superior to those who have written before me. Neither do I aspire to refute their viewpoints. Rather, I simply hope to capture some of my roiling thoughts in some controllable, understandable fashion, almost more for my own sanity than others’ benefit.
My goal is not to endorse any relationship ‘system,’ be it courtship, dating, dating with a purpose, prearranged marriage, or betrothal. Honestly, the more I think about it, the less any of those defining terms matter to me. Kind of like walking with Jesus, romantic relationships transcend legalistic terms, rules, and conditions. Yes, rules and guidelines are important, just as they are when following Christ, but they should be symptoms of an end (a state of heart) rather than a means to that end. Basically, all I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter what ‘system’ you use to pursue a deeper relationship with someone of the opposite gender. What matters is the motivation behind that pursuit and the hearts of those involved.
Okay, that was my rabbit trail for the day, but the main issue I want to address is one that has been making its rounds through my head, but now demands to be let out. Recently, I’ve noticed a large rebellion forming in response to both the rampant hollywood ideal of ‘soul-mates’ and the more conservative belief that God has ‘the one’ picked out for each of His followers. This fledgeling movement of God-seekers quickly attracted my attention with its counter-cultural stand and bold message of biblical love. It declared independence from the bondage of believing in a single soul-mate roaming the planet somewhere, eternally seeking their other half, and leaving behind a trail of shattered homes and broken hearts. Instead, this movement promised the freedom that Christians may marry whoever they please, whenever they please, so long as the other person is a spiritual equal.
Frankly, this sounded groundbreaking and insanely liberating! No more long, agonizing hours spent storming God’s throne, begging Him to show me whether or not each guy who came along was right for me. No more thoughts wasted poring over what His will was in my romantic life. Best of all, no more worries that I might marry someone who wasn’t ‘right’ for me! Basically, as long as they were a Christian pursuing God, I was set! The bottom line in this recent revolution was that there was no ‘one’ person picked out for me, but whoever I married would become the right one. Love is a choice, and should be approached as such. I loved this refreshingly committed way of thinking and saw much biblical basis for most of it.
But, somehow the thought as a whole just didn’t sit right with me. I tried to make it settle in my heart and head, I really did. But it just wouldn’t. I began to seek God about it, asking Him to show me biblically how all of this related to my life and my walk with Him.
Suddenly, as I read through scripture each day, verses began to pop out to me about God’s individual will and purpose for each man’s life. Verses about Him guiding our footsteps and directing our paths. How could God, who has a purpose for my life, directs my path, and leads me step by step, cut me loose on one of my biggest life decisions? Would He really just wish me luck in finding a life partner and leave me to my own, sinful, finite devices? Whew! I sure hoped not. And the more I prayed and searched the Bible, the more convinced I became that He would not.
So how did this compute with the movement which was so quickly growing and held such appeal to me in a world of love ‘em and leave ‘ems? Could the two patterns of thought be unified into one, balanced approach? My optimistic side said ‘yes!’ And so, after sorting it through in my own heart, I have come to these basic conclusions: yes, love is a choice, no, there is not one ‘soul-mate’ wandering around out there for me, and yes, whoever I marry will become ‘the one’ by God’s grace, because divorce will not ever be an option. BUT, that does not mean that God has cut me loose and has no opinion or say in the matter. He may not have *one* person picked out for me, but I firmly believe He has a ‘best option’ for me for where I’m at in my life and the path I am walking. No, I’m not doomed to life of celibacy or wedded tragedy if I miss God’s call to California and stay here in Florida. Nowhere in the Bible does God say that He has one soul-mate roaming the earth, waiting to bump into me. However, doesn’t it make sense that, if God is all-wise, all-powerful, and all-knowing, we should seek His will before making the biggest decision of our lives? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that, if our lives are not our own, we should consult Him before joining them to another person?
So how does this affect the way we should pursue romantic (or any) relationships? By reminding us that we aren’t solo agents, set loose by a distant God who doesn’t care what we do. That instead, we are following a Shepherd who LEADS us, who guides us, and who, by knowing our futures and hearts better than we ever could, has a plan for us. This doesn’t mean His plan is easy. I’m pretty sure no one in the Bible ever had a fairytale life, but those who committed their lives to God found fulfillment in Him. Every time. Will we face His wrath or be doomed to a terrible, ineffective life if we don’t listen to His guidance in seeking a spouse? No. But is it a good, even logical, biblical, idea? You betcha.