How do I know if the person I’m with is the one I’m supposed to marry? Or, to Christianize it, how do I know if this person is God’s pick for me? What if I make a mistake? What happens if I miss the person that God is preparing for me? How do I know?
In a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, Raj struggles with this same question. He has been dating Emily for a while, but another girl walks into his life that he is drawn and attracted to. Should he break up with his girlfriend and pursue a new relationship?
How do I know whom God intends for me to marry? In Genesis 24, God seems to miraculously introduce Rebekah to Abraham’s servant as God’s choice to marry Isaac. Can I expect the same thing? Should I pray for a specific sign?
There’s one big problem with all of these questions: they assume that God has set one specific person out for me to marry, as if there’s only one person that I can make marriage work with. 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 to marry a certain person, but when we start asking, “Is he (or she) the ONE,” it becomes an issue of worship. God never intends for our spouse to complete us. That job is reserved for Jesus.
There are two big problems that follow this question. The first is doubt. We usually begin to ask if a person is ‘right for us’ when there are difficulties in the relationship. 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 what I thought was a better option. Unless there were some major concerns (like abuse or lying), I would work on it until it became clear it wasn’t healthy or was clearly against God’s will.
The reason this is so important now is because our behaviour in dating sets our patterns for marriage. When married, 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 you both 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 that what God wants to do in my life. Maybe God wants to show me the shallowness of my requirements for a spouse. Maybe Jesus wants to grow my character through difficulty. Perhaps God knows a little better than I do what I need. 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 more about my own selfishness and sin by persevering through doubt. And 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 daily communing 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, not 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.
Photo credit: Katelyn Debus Photography