Written By Mark Stromenberg, Canada
In a recent episode of American sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Raj, one of the main characters, is drawn and attracted to a girl he meets. However, he has been dating his girlfriend for a while, and now wonders if he should break up with her and pursue a new relationship.
Don’t we sometimes struggle with the same question? How do I know if the person I’m with is the one I’m supposed to marry? Or, to “Christianise” it, how do I know if this person is God’s pick for me? What if I make a mistake? What if I miss the person God is preparing for me?
In Genesis 24:12-16, God seems to miraculously introduce Rebekah to Abraham’s servant as His marriage candidate for Isaac. Can I expect the same thing? Should I pray for a specific sign?
Here’s one big problem with all of these questions: they assume that God has chosen a specific person out there for me to marry, as if there’s only one person with whom I can make marriage work. However, the idea of marrying the person you love is one that is, for the most part, foreign to the Bible. Instead, the Bible repeatedly commands us to love the one we’re married to. It’s less about finding the right one, and more about being the right one.
There is wisdom in thoroughly questioning the choice of marrying a certain person, but when we start asking, “Is he (or she) the one?”, it can become an issue of worship, either of my partner, or of myself. God never intends for our spouse to complete us. That job is reserved for Jesus.
There are two big problems that follow this question, “Is he (or she) the one?” The first is doubt. When difficulties arise in a relationship, we will often ask if a person is “right for us”. Instead of working on the relationship and persevering, we begin to look around us and imagine life with another person. The Bible calls this coveting. I decided early in my relationship with my fiancée that our relationship would live or die on its own; I would not go looking for a “better” option. Unless there were some major concerns (like abuse or lying), I would work on the relationship until it became clear it wasn’t healthy or was clearly against God’s will.
This is important because our behavior in dating can determine our behavior in marriage. God commands us to love our spouse and persevere with them, because Jesus does the same with us. There will be difficulty and sin in every relationship, and that’s because both parties desperately need Jesus.
The second problem with looking for “the one” is that it’s selfish. It assumes that my needs and desires are more important than what God wants to do in my life. But God knows better than I do about what I need. Maybe He wants to show me the shallowness of my requirements for a spouse. Maybe Jesus wants to grow my character through difficulty. It could be that Jesus is calling me to be a servant and to grow in selflessness during a season of difficulty in my relationship.
God is not in the business of making me happy, but making me holy. In my own relationship, Jesus taught me about my own selfishness and sin as I learned to persevere through doubt. He also taught me to be more loving and faithful. Today, I am glad that I did not let my temporary dissatisfaction take away the beautiful thing that God was creating in my relationship.
Now, I am not saying that we should put up with and ignore abuse, deceit, and addiction. Dating, or courting, or any process by which you decide whom to marry, should disqualify some people. After all, you’re picking the other parent of your future children. I’m speaking of growing through the little things and becoming a person who perseveres. Fairy tale romances are forged, not found.
Don’t worry; at the end of the day, if you are following Jesus and communing daily with Him, He’ll make things clear enough. In Romans 12:2, Paul reminds us that as we grow in Christ, we “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”. The key to a godly marriage is Jesus, not you nor your partner.
So, pray. Question. Discern. Seek and trust godly counsel. But also persevere, grow, and be selfless. If you are faithful in little, then you will be faithful with much, and you will find great joy, regardless of whom you marry.
This article was originally published here. This version has been edited by YMI.
Read Mark’s article “She Completes Me (is a lie)” here.