I didn’t realize that God won’t control who I marry as I searched for the woman God had for me. In all my teenage thoughts of romance and marriage, nothing seemed better. Spending a lifetime pursuing God with the woman He wanted me to be with for life? Nothing seemed better. I firmly believed that the best romance and marriage is the one that God builds, not me.
You’ve probably heard Christians talk about how you should “wait for the spouse God has for you” or “seek God’s will” in your love life. The idea of letting God choose who you marry and guide you to that person is popular among Christians.
This is often because (1) Christians want to obey God’s will in their lives or (2) believe that God knows the best possible match for them.
However, 1 Corinthians 7 paints a different picture. Instead of teaching us to expect God to control our love lives, the chapter reveals that God gives us freedom to choose if we marry and, thus, whom we marry. It might seem odd to us that God would want us to make such big decisions rather than yield them to Him. Understanding why God gives us the choice becomes easier when we look through the lens of the following three reasons:
#1 – God Won’t Control Our Choice Because Love Must Be Free.
When I say “free,” I don’t mean “without cost.” I mean “not enslaved.” Love, by its nature, must be free or it’s not love. Maybe you’ve heard the saying that you shouldn’t take a robot to the prom because she doesn’t really love you. It means that anyone who’s forced to love you doesn’t really love you. You can’t really know if a person loves you unless he or she has the option not to.
If it were God’s will for us to marry a particular person, refusing would be disobedience. We would have to marry that person in order to obey God. We would be accepting the person because we were required to, because we had no other option. That would eliminate the opportunity to love freely and genuinely. But God wants us to love freely and genuinely. That’s why God gives us freedom to choose if we marry and whom we marry. That freedom gives us space in which to love.
#2 – God Won’t Control Our Choice Because Love Is Better Than Matching.
Finding the right match is a popular idea in modern America. Many people think a successful marriage is made by finding the right match and that a failing marriage means the match was bad. But this is a backward way of thinking. Even the best of matches will experience conflict eventually, and even the best of matches can be ruined if conflict isn’t handled well.
Even we Christians fall into the trap of thinking too much of matching. Even worse, we bring God into it. Some Christians want God to pick their spouse because they think He, with His infinite knowledge, knows who the absolute best match is. It’s as though we want God to be our supernatural matching algorithm.
But God wants us to love rather than put our stock in matching. Matching is certainly important, but a more poorly matched couple that loves will do better than a well-matched couple that doesn’t love. God wants us to choose to love the person we commit to in marriage rather than worry about how well we’re matched. Regardless of how good a match we marry, God is present, teaching encouraging us to love selflessly.
#3 – God Won’t Control Our Choice Because to Love Is to Be Like God.
God didn’t have to choose us. He didn’t have to love us. He was free to reject us. He loved us anyway, because God is love. When God invites us to love others, He’s inviting us to live that highest virtue that is essential to His nature. He’s inviting us to become more like Him, loving our spouse with the same constant selflessness with which He loves us.
When we imagine marrying someone God has picked for us, we often imagine a divinely blissful marriage marked by much joy and little trouble. While that seems appealing, it’s really not what God wants us to live out. He calls us to live out the limitless love that is constant even when everything is falling apart. It’s the love that says, “I love you. I’ve chosen you. I’m never leaving you, come hell or high water.” God is calling us to love our spouse the way He loves us.
Often, we want God to choose our spouse for us because that seems safer or easier than choosing to love someone without knowing how difficult or painful that will be. But God hasn’t called us choose what’s safe or easy. He’s called us to love Him and love others. One big way that happens is in freely choosing to commit to someone in marriage. This doesn’t mean God abandons us to make our own choice without any help from Him. Like any good father, God will always give us guidance and counsel in making a wise choice of a spouse. But God doesn’t want to control our love lives. Instead, He wants to invite us to take love’s adventure in committing to love someone for a lifetime. In doing so, we take the same adventure of love that He took when He chose to commit to loving us.