By Denver Cheddie
Someone once asked me, ďDo you believe that God has a spouse for each person?Ē My response was a resounding NO. Absolutely not! Yet there are many Christians who believe that God has a spouse for each person. Romance novels and songs like ďI wonder what God was thinking when He created youĒ all contribute to this notion. Personally I am disinclined to accept this view primarily because there is not a shred of evidence for it from scripture. In fact, there is much evidence from scripture for the opposing view, that we must go out and find ourselves a spouse.
Now this is by no means false doctrine. No oneís going to burn in hell for believing that God has a perfect spouse for them. But it may keep them single all their life. Iíve seen it. A young lady keeps turning down potential husbands because she has not ďheard from GodĒ or someone told her ďhe is not Godís will for youĒ. Years go by and sheís not so young anymore, and still waiting for God to ďbring someone into her lifeĒ. Of course, there is nothing wrong with remaining single Ė if that is what one wants. However, if one is interested in being married, I would like to dispel the myth that God has a spouse prepared for each person.
Adam was the only person who ever just woke up and saw the perfect woman next to him. God has not done that for anyone else. The bible uses language like ďAbraham took a wifeĒ, ďJudah took a wifeĒ. There is no record in the bible, New or Old Testament, of anyone sitting on their butt expecting God to send that perfect person in their life. The precedent that the bible sets is that of men going out and finding their wives.
There are only two exceptions Ė Hosea and Joseph. God told Hosea to marry Gomer, and Joseph to marry Mary. The first was because He wanted to get a point across to Israel, the second to facilitate his plan of redemption. These are exceptional cases, not the norm. This is NOT how God normally works concerning marriage.
God does not have an ordained spouse
There are other reasons why I donít believe God has a spouse prepared for each of us. For one, it makes no logical sense. Think about it. Suppose God predestined that person A will marry person B, and suppose person A marries someone else or never gets saved. Then what is person B supposed to do? Marry outside of ďGodís willĒ?
Secondly, suppose things did in fact work out for persons A and B, and they got married, lived happily ever after. Then person B dies. Is person A allowed to remarry? According to the bible, yes. But according to the view that God has a spouse prepared for each one, no. Who is person A going to remarry? Godís perfect spouse for her already died. Does God have two spouses prepared for her?
Thirdly, why didnít Paul get married? He said that he could have if he wanted to, but chose not to (1 Cor 9:5). Now itís either God had a wife prepared for Paul, and Paul was not co-operating by choosing to remain single. Or it was Godís will for Paul to remain single, in which case Paul had no right, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to say that he could have taken a wife if he wanted to. Which is it? But there is a third option. God had no wife prepared for Paul, but instead gave Paul the liberty and the wisdom to choose whether or not he wanted to marry. Paul decided that given his ministry Ė traveling all the time and the possibility of being killed at any moment Ė it was better to remain single.
Fourthly, Paul seems to teach that whether someone marries is a matter of circumstance rather than design. In 1 Cor. 7, he discourages young people from marrying because of the ďpresent distressĒ. In 1 Tim. 5, on the other hand, he encourages the young widows to remarry, again because of individual circumstances. Never in his discussion, was there any hint that God may have a fore-ordained plan concerning marriage and we need to get in tune with it.
God has given us the choice
God has left it entirely up to us to choose our spouse. He gives us wisdom and liberty to make that choice. He has only set one condition for us Ė that believers marry fellow believers (2 Cor 6:14; 1 Cor 7:39). Thatís it. As far as God is concerned, it does not matter whether you marry someone who is fat or thin, short or tall, brown eyed or blue eyed. It doesnít matter to God. God also does not care one bit about ministry. It is OK if a preacher gets married to a caterer. Thatís fine with God. There is nothing in the bible that says your ministries have to ďcomplement each otherĒ. There are some people who believe that (I used to). The bible clearly teaches that although we have a diversity of ministries, itís all one Spirit (1 Cor 12:4-6). In other words, any forms of Christian ministry will automatically complement each other, you donít have to fret over that.
Any condition beyond the one God stipulated is really a personal and individual matter. For example, one man may decide he wants to marry someone who doesnít work. Thatís entirely up to his discretion. Neither the bible nor God requires this. The idea that we need God to decide who we marry is absurd. Yes God brings people in and out of our lives, but ultimately it is we who decide, not God. If I may be so bold, God does not care who you marry (providing itís a fellow Christian) or whether you marry. As far as God is concerned, life is short and those with spouses are just as those without (1 Cor 7:29). And as far as God is concerned, marriage is solely for our earthly enjoyment and has no eternal significance (Matt 22:30). If you want to get married, then YOU have to find a spouse.
Godís will concerning marriage is what I call post-determined as opposed to pre-determined. God does not decide in advance who gets married to whom. Of course He knows what will happen, but letís not confuse ourselves trying to figure out what God knows. Letís go solely on what He reveals / has revealed to us. It is after two people get married that God puts his stamp of approval on it and says ďThis is now my will. You are now one flesh, and whatever I join, let no one separate.Ē Thatís how God works. Whoever you choose to marry becomes Godís will after you get married. Note that this is true even if a believer marries an unbeliever. It still becomes Godís will. I know persons who got married then later decided, ďYou know what? This was never Godís will, Iím getting out.Ē This is grossly unscriptural. Itís a product of this misguided view that God predetermines people for marriage.
The right attitude in relationships
The belief that God has a perfect spouse out there results in a passive attitude toward finding a spouse, and even after you do get married it creates a passive attitude in handling marital issues. In this day of 50% divorce rates, a passive attitude is detrimental to the relationship. If deep down inside you believe that there is such a thing as a perfect spouse, youíre going to set your expectations so high, that everyone will disappoint you. You will always find some flaw in the other person that you donít like. Secondly, if you believe that God predestined both of you to be together, then you are likely to believe that the relationship will ďjust work outĒ. You donít have to do too much, God will work it out. Wrong! It is YOUR job to work it out. It is a coupleís job to handle the problems that come up in a relationship. A couple must decide that whatever comes their way, they are staying together. This requires an aggressive and pro-active attitude toward the relationship. Please rid your mind of this disease that it is Godís job to handle your marital business. Itís yours. 1 Tim 3 holds men responsible when their families go astray, not God.
Now is God totally detached from our choices? No. God is very much involved in our day to day lives, especially important decisions like who we marry. But we need to properly understand Godís role and our role. What exactly does it mean to trust God? Does it mean to sit on our butt on hope that Godís will falls into our laps? No, but thatís what so many people do. Faith is an active word. Just to illustrate, how do you trust God to supply your needs? Not by hoping money will grow on a tree in your front yard, but by trusting God to prosper your work. Similarly, marital faith is not trusting God to just give you a spouse Ė that one day a stranger will knock on your door with roses and a ring. Thatís not faith. Thatís romance novel drivel. Faith is trusting that as you go looking for a spouse, meeting new people etc, that God will guide you and help you make good decisions so you can find a good spouse.
Note that I didnít say RIGHT spouse. There is no right spouse. Every relationship will have problems and everyone will have qualities that drive you insane. But you can find a GOOD spouse. There are many people who can be good spouses. The more you meet, the better your chances of finding a good one. A good spouse is someone with whom you can have a happy relationship and with whom you can resolve many of the problems that arise. But brace yourself for a really bumpy road. Relationships are hard, especially for people who have known only singleness all their life. Relationships require A LOT of work. But the happiest marriages I know are between people whoíve decided that whatever comes their way, it will not separate them. These people donít wait for happiness to happen to them. They make it happen.
The Biblical model
Whenever you get a chance, read Genesis 24. It narrates the story of Isaac and Rebekah. In it youíll find the perfect model of how to find a mate.
1. Seek a mate. Abraham sent his servant to look for a mate for Isaac.
2. Know what you want. Abraham had a very precise list of things he was looking for. The problem with many folks is that they donít know what they want. Hereís a test. If it takes you longer than 3 months to know whether or not you would like to marry a particular person, then you donít know what you want. You need to discover yourself first.
3. Trust God to guide you. As the servant went, God led him straight to Rebekah who was everything Abraham wanted and more. God worked it out so beautifully that even her parents had to acknowledge that this was Godís will. The bible says that the steps of a righteous man are ordered by God (Ps 37:23). As he walks, God directs him. The steps of a man standing still cannot be directed. Know what you need to trust God for. Know whatís your role and whatís Godís role.
Finally, we should not only focus on what traits the other person should have, but we should also consider whether we are the kind of person that person would want. Everyone has flaws. Character development and self improvement should be a way of life. There are some things we can control and some things we canít. We canít control other people. But what is in our hands is our own personal development.
If youíre single and searching, I pray that what Iíve written has helped you in some way. Please donít trust God for something He did not promise. If youíre already married, I pray that God will give you the strength and endurance to work on your marriage, and build a rock solid family that will do wonders for the kingdom of God.
Isaac never went looking for a wife. He was busy doing God's work and God brought his wife to him. The servant (never named) is a type of the Holy Spirit. We do God's work, and the Holy Spirit brings our spouse to us.
That interpretation of the bible is completely wrong. The only reason Isaac did not go himself is because his father did not want him to get tempted to remain in the land from which God had called him out. But Abraham sending his servant as his proxy, was essentially the same as Isaac going himself. If you were to apply typology to that scripture, the correct typology is the Holy Spirit preparing the church (Christ's bride) for the Lord. That servant was a literal servant not the Holy Spirit. In fact you would be perfectly in order to use that scripture to teach that we can have our friends introduce us to other single people. But to use that scripture to teach that it's the Holy Spirit's job to bring our spouse to us is totally wrong.
Furthermore, in that story Isaac did not do anything, but what about Rebekah? She most certainly did something. She left her family and homeland just to meet her husband. So one of them had to do something. The idea that we can just sit on our butts and have faith in God is erroneous. Faith by definition is an active word. I was at a single's conference once where the minister, like many people, erroneously believed that it is God's job to choose our spouses. At the end of the service, a lady in her late 30s asked this question to the minister:
What advice do you have for people who are advanced in age and who have not as yet met Mr Right? Women have a biological clock therefore time is critical. There aren't many single Christian men in our churches and jobs. We don't attend nightclubs and bars. Time goes by and we are still single. What are we to do?
All the minister could tell her was "Trust in God. It is a test of your faith". I guess the minister forgot about all those single women who never do get married. In fact, the only advice that could possibly have been less helpful was "Be patient my sister, Sarah had a child when she was 90." Passive faith is not scriptural. You can't just wait and hope and expect God to do for you what you are supposed to do for yourself. My advice would have been to find yourself in places where single Christian men are. Visit other churches. Get your friends to introduce you to new people. Try online dating. Trust God that as you meet new people, he will guide you (just like he guided Abraham's servant as he went) and give you wisdom. Active faith.