Thursday, April 30, 2015
A lot has been said over time about finding your soul mate or the “one”. Movies have been made about it. Songs have been sung about it. Stories have been written about it. Leading many to believe that there is one perfect person for you out there somewhere—someone who will complete you. Someone who will give you butterflies. Someone who will make you feel so happy. We are told from a young age that we should expect a fairytale love story. We are told that if we aren’t with someone who makes our heart burst with fireworks we should just keep looking until we find the one who does. But what if this is not only unwise thinking, but almost completely contrary to what scripture teaches us about relationships and marriage? What if we are setting ourselves up for disappointment believing in this perfect fairytale?
Marriage is More Than Butterflies and Fluttering Hearts
We know from scripture that marriage is to be a picture of the gospel. When Paul speaks about marriage in Ephesians 6, he calls it a great mystery that refers to Christ and the church. When two Christians come together in marriage, they are pointing to the relationship between Christ and his church. It is meant to be an unselfish, willing surrender of oneself in order to show the gospel and reveal God’s glory. In fact, every passage on marriage in the New Testament is very clear that it is about sacrifice for another. Nowhere do we read that marriage is about completing us or making us happy. Ingrained in us is the idea that we are meant to end up with someone who makes our heart go pitter-patter, or all our dreams come true. But this comes from our culture, not from scripture. For Christians, marriage should be grounded on so much more than sparks and fireworks. Of course, happiness and strong feelings are a by-product, but not the main point. They won’t sustain a marriage over the long haul. Marriage should be the means by which we are able to do hard, kingdom work for the sake of the gospel and for the display of God’s glory. God sustains a marriage and uses it to display his glory to the world.
Fireworks and Physical Attraction
So what about fireworks and physical attraction? Aren’t they important and necessary? In a lot of ways, yes they are. But I do not think they are primary, or even initially necessary, at least when it comes to relationships. I did not always feel this way, though. I used to place a great deal of importance on physical attraction and butterflies in my stomach. In the past, I wouldn’t even give a guy a chance unless I was immediately attracted to him. I always felt it was a deal breaker if there was not a spark from the very beginning. Last year, however, the Lord convicted me in this. I realized I was waiting around for Thor to come pounding on my door with his hammer, and when a guy didn’t measure up I didn’t give him a second glance. I was placing way too much stock in physical attraction and not nearly enough on godly character.
Physical attraction and sparks are not constant or lasting. Sometimes they jumpstart a relationship, but over time these things can fizzle and fade, and often times do. No one looks the same over the course of their life, and emotions are fickle. When I look back on my relationships and interests of the past, I realize that all of them began with an initial spark or attraction, which ultimately didn’t last. In fact, some instances where I felt the most drawn to guys, they weren’t even believers. The Lord showed me the great danger of placing too much importance on attraction and sparks. They can be extremely misleading. There are more important and necessary factors that should be considered before I feel the fireworks. For example:
All of these questions should come before we consider physical attraction and fireworks. Most godly, growing marriages I see now began with relationships where the physical attraction and sparks gradually grew over time because these other things were in place first. Lasting, Christ-centered marriages do not occur, nor are sustained, when physical attraction is the leading and primary force. Now, I’m not saying we should force a relationship with someone we are not in the least bit physically attracted to simply because they really love Jesus. But I am saying that we shouldn’t discount a godly prospect simply because strong attraction and fireworks aren’t immediately present.
A Brief Word about Sex
I know there are many people who think marriage is all about the hot sex, even going so far as to say that engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage helps them know if the fireworks are there and will last. I think a careful reading of scripture, though, shows us that this is hardly the case. First, if you are currently engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage, you are living in sin. You need to repent and turn from it. “But, Katie, we need to know if we are sexually compatible!” Just stop there. Scripture is perfectly and adamantly clear that sexual activity is to be between a husband and a wife only. There is no argument to be made outside of that. We don’t have to see if we are sexually compatible with someone before marrying them. News flash: marriage is not about sex alone. Yes, sex is part of marriage and it is a gift. But it is not what marriage is all about. Like the relational aspect of marriage, the sexual aspect of marriage also develops and grows over time. Even sex is not the fairytale that Hollywood portrays it to be. It is vital for relationships to be grounded in something much greater than sexual attraction. It takes more than that for a marriage to flourish and grow. Don’t base all of your hopes and dreams on sex and physical attraction. You are setting yourself up for utter disaster and disappointment.
Gospel Work for All
Singles, we have such a unique and amazing opportunity right now to be wise with how we approach relationships and marriage. We should use this time to glean from godly marriages. We should seek to grow in our understanding of the gospel and the relationship between Christ and the church. Also, while we desire marriage and wait for it, we need to be careful not to waste this time we have for great gospel work. Marriage is not when we are able to really start showing God’s glory to the world. We can do that now! Pray for the Lord to reveal ways in which you can do hard, kingdom work in your singleness. When he does, get up and do it! Let’s not waste this time simply waiting around for marriage. Instead, let’s use it for his glory and the furthering of his kingdom. And when a godly man or woman comes around, let us look first at the heart before we judge them only based on the outward appearance.
Katie Van Dyke currently lives in Houston where she works for an energy company downtown. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and watching movies. She is a member of Northeast Houston Baptist Church where she is involved in single women’s ministry. Her main passions in life are teaching and speaking to other women about biblical truths and eating bacon. You can follow Katie on twitter, @KatieJoVanDyke.
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