“I am trying to just trust God to provide the right person. I need to take a step back from trying to control the timing” This is an example of feedback we receive on a recurring basis. I think a lot of us struggle with the line between pursuing marriage and waiting/trusting God to provide in his timing. Here are a few principles to help you consider whether your pursuit of marriage has gone too far (or not far enough).
“Be Fruitful and Multiply”
One of the greatest commands in all of Scripture is that we should be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28). This was the first commission that God gave to humanity, and it shows his original intent for us as his creatures. God wanted his two image bearers (Adam and Eve) to multiply until they fill the whole Earth. God values marriage, values children, values family. In the New Testament, we see that the same two words, fruitful and multiply, are used to describe early disciple-making. This shows how disciple-making is also a means of fulfillment of God’s original commission.
We are never wrong to pursue something God has commanded. In fact, we are likely wrong not to pursue it. If God commands us to be fruitful and multiply, then the pursuit of a spouse should be an act of obedience. Multiplying, in the original sense of the command, requires a suitable spouse, and so we obey when we seek a godly spouse, except that…
“Have No Idols Before Me.”
The problem is that we have deceptive, wayward human hearts. Our motives in seeking a spouse should be our desire to faithfully live life in every aspect as God has designed it, full of grateful joy to him. But that is often not the case. Our hearts easily idolize all the good things God made. Two of the very best things God made are 1) marriage and 2) the sexual union that rightfully takes place within it. Our hearts are easily tempted to seek these good gifts before God, the Giver.
But here is the key: We should not repent of desiring and seeking a spouse—these are good things. Rather, we should repent of our idolatry when we find ourselves seeking with wrong motives, desiring created things over the Creator. We must continually realign our motives. We should seek a spouse so that we can honor God, not so that we can be fulfilled. Being fulfilled is good, but a pursuit of fulfillment for its own sake places us at the center. God rightfully demands the center. He is worthy to be the foundation of our lives. We will find true fulfillment when we trust him to lead us.
“Be my Stewards. Be my Hands and Feet.”
God calls us to pursue marriage. He calls us away from idolatry. Further, He calls us to take an active role in obeying his commissions and commands. It is good to trust God to provide, and He truly does provide, but that is never an excuse for inaction. God has invited us to actively walk with him, to be stewards of his grace. He invites us to be his hands and feet in the world.
The Bible doesn’t tell us to just wait around and trust that God will make all things new. Instead, we are told to be agents of reconciliation. We aren’t asked to just wait around and trust God to heal the sick. Instead, we are told to pray for the sick, anoint them, pursue healing, and God (through Paul) even instructed Timothy to “take a little wine” to help his stomach (showing that active pursuit of remedy does not go against a heart that trusts God to heal). We aren’t asked to wait around and trust God to build his church. We are sent as disciples to make disciples.
In the same way, we should not sit around and wait for a spouse. God will sometimes provide a spouse to those who are not seeking one, but that does not commend inaction in general. Being God’s hands and feet means that we are right to work towards the ends that He desires. If we really believe that he has designed marriage to be a good gift, those who pursue marriage out of a desire to obey do well.
There are some, of course, who God calls to fulfill his commissions exclusively through disciple-making. We see that celebrated in Roman’s 7. For those who have been so called, it is good thing not to pursue marriage. But for most of us, we may walk in a clean conscience as we pursue obedience to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. He who finds a spouse finds a good thing. Watch your motives and repent when you stray into idolatry.
God, help us be what you designed us to be. Help us to obediently follow your commission to be fruitful and multiply, whether that is through growing a family or making disciples of others who are family with us by faith. Help us to honor you through our obedience so that the world can see that you are a good, kind, and faithful King. You are worthy of a world full of image bearers who worship you. May it be so, and thank you that you have called us to be a part of it.