By Brittany Lind
(Editor’s Note: It’s wedding season and we know brides and newly engaged women have tons of questions. We want to give you some thoughts on weddings from anything from planning to sex. Enjoy our newest series “Preparing for Your Wedding Day.”)
Everyday I saw it. Pinned to my purple, polka dotted bulletin board in my freshmen dorm room was the quote:
“Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone. To have a deep soul relationship with another, to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But God to the Christian says, “No, not until you’re satisfied and fulfilled and content with living loved by Me alone and giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me. Not until you have an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.”
Something about this quote resonated deeply with my heart. I was nineteen years old and I knew I wanted to be married one day. I longed for that “deep soul relationship with another” but I also wanted to love God with all of my heart. I wanted to be completely satisfied in his love for me in Christ. But according to this quote, these two things were at odds. I had to choose.
Either I want a husband or I want God, so I thought. Therefore, I became determined to rid myself of any marriage wishes. I tried to give myself “totally and unreservedly” to God, like the quote prescribes. After all, it’s only when I do this that God would give me a husband. It became a daunting formula: achieve contentment in the Lord while I am single and God will reward me with marriage.
A Hopeless Pursuit
There were times when it felt like I was getting the hang of it. I could muster up enough will-power to make it days and weeks — sometimes a whole month — without thinking about my dreams to be a wife and mother. Petrified that it would become an idol in my heart, I kept myself from admitting to anyone my hopes of being married. If Jesus was my everything, of course I didn’t need marriage. But inevitably I began to crumble into despair. My desire to marry only persisted, and the more it persisted, the more it felt as though I was losing ground in my relationship with God.
It was a hopeless pursuit, one that I was sure to lose — until I began to realize that this way of seeing marriage was flawed. What if my desire to be married was from God? What if marriage was his design? What if it was a blessing aimed at making me more like Jesus?
In her book Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, Candice Watters offers aid to women wrestling with this very thing. She wrote: “The ‘marriage as idol’ warning prevents many young women from gratefully sharing in what God created as good. And the harder it is to marry well, the more likely it is women will accept the cultural counterfeits-premarital sex, endless youth, self-centered singleness-falling into true idolatry of the heart.” She goes on to explain that if marriage is viewed biblically, the sacrifice and commitment required puts God and His ways above all and it is unlikely that a godly woman’s desire for a biblical marriage would become an idol.
In no way is this condoning idolatry or worshipping marriage as god; but often women spend much of their time and emotional energy beating down their desire for marriage, afraid that it may become an idol. Instead, if the desire to marry was embraced and submitted to the Lord in trust, that energy could be channeled towards growing in an understanding of what a God-glorifying marriage looks like and asking in faith that the Lord would provide the good gift in His wise and perfect timing.
God’s Good Design
God designed marriage before the fall. In the opening chapter of her book, Candice draws attention to this and discusses how before sin entered the world, Adam would have been in the perfect position for fulfillment in God alone. Before God created Eve, it was just Adam with the triune God in an unbroken world. To go by the logic of my dorm room quote, everything would have been set in place for him to give himself “totally and unreservedly” to God. But that is not how the story goes. Man solo, reflecting the image of God as he does, still doesn’t reflect the gospel picture like man and woman do together. In Genesis 2:18, for the first time God declared that something was not good-for man to be alone.
The problem is solved in verse 22 when God creates Eve and brings her to the man in the first “wedding” of the Bible. God created man and woman to be together as husband and wife. We are not creatures of isolation, but of community. Even for those who have been given the gift of singleness and do not burn with passion like Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 7:9, it is not good for them to be alone. The communal God of Father, Son, and Spirit created us as relational beings that need one another, we are a body with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Together, as a body, we more fully display the Triune God who made us and it is uniquely within the union of marriage that God’s image-bearers display the glorious picture of Christ and the church.
Is it okay to desire marriage?
I repeat, it is okay to desire marriage. It does not mean that you are less godly than those who seemingly do not and it also does not mean that you need to obtain a certain level of holiness before that desire is allowed or granted. Marriage is always a gift. God doesn’t do works-righteousness, not in salvation and not in matrimony.
If you are not yet married but desire to be, place your desire in the hands of the Father who, because of Jesus, delights to give good gifts to his children. Marriage can become an idol, so as Watters suggests, ask God to give you a vision for the sacrifice and commitment required and run to God who gives grace and forgiveness. Even still, although it feels risky, ask him for that gift. When your heart aches from not yet having received the good gift that you desire, go to him and take hold of his promises. Marriage is a good desire and God is a good God who is worthy of our trust.
Brittany Lind is newly married and lives with her husband, Joel, in Louisville, Kentucky. She was born and raised in a small town in Upper Michigan and went to Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. After graduating in 2009 with a degree in Kinesiology, she worked in Campus Ministries at Northwestern overseeing Missions and discipling women. Brittany worked at Southern Seminary but currently assists CBMW administratively while her husband finishes his masters in Christian Ministry. They are members of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, deeply desire to become parents and plan to go overseas longterm.