I have a question that I've been mulling over for a while now, and really continued to come to my mind during the most recent boundless podcast, part two of the single women discussion. Like many other young women who listen to Boundless, a huge desire on my heart is to be married. And I am so thankful that Boundless is helping remind people that marriage is a healthy desire, and taking steps to prepare for marriage, and praying boldly for a spouse, these are good things! But in the podcast, another side was presented that I've heard a lot, that the desire to marry can be an idol in a young woman's life.
So here's my dilemma. I greatly desire to be married, to be a helper to my husband, share my love with him, get a taste of the intimacy we will one day have with Jesus, and enjoy the gift of relationship. But I believe that I am complete in Christ, and he alone is the one who fills and sustains me, and my relationship with Him cannot be surpassed by my relationship with my future husband or any human relationship for that matter.
How do I reconcile my heart's desire to marry with the understanding that I am complete and full in Christ? Because even though I know in my mind that I have everything I need in my relationship with God (Psalm 23:1 always comes to mind), my heart still longs for a husband. Is this wrong? My number one desire is to please God and glorify Him with my life, but if that is really true and I believe completely that Jesus is my everything, is it still possible that my heart would still have such a deep desire to marry?
Having the right heart as I look forward to marriage is so important to me.
You say "I greatly desire to be married, to be a helper to my husband, share my love with him, get a taste of the intimacy we will one day have with Jesus, and enjoy the gift of relationship." You proclaim that your primary desire is "to please God and glorify him with my life." Is it possible for these desires to co-exist? Can you long for God and marriage and still be faithful to the Christian confession that says "man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever"?
I'll answer your question with a question of my own. Was Adam completely satisfied living in paradise, in perfect relationship with his creator? Most of us would probably quickly reply, "Yes, of course." (How could he not be?) But look at what God said,
It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.
That's the only time during the span of creation that God said something was not good. Everything else was good or very good. Why? Because as beings made in the image of God our creator, we are designed for relationship. God is relational: three in one. And so a man, alone, is not what God designed him to be.
You are not wrong to desire marriage. Far from it. If what you long for is a marriage that functions the way God had in mind when He made it, your longings bring Him glory. When men and women who wholeheartedly follow Christ marry, their marriage becomes a picture for our broken, dying world:
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
I believe it's precisely your love for Jesus and your passion to serve Him faithfully that will make it possible for you to marry for His glory.
In my book Get Married, I ask,
What then is the proper channel for our desire for marriage? David advised,
"Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." (Psalm 37:3-6)
A genuine posture of delighting in the Lord actually helps us grow in our understanding of what He created marriage to be, replacing our perceptions with His design. It sanctifies our natural desires for it. As Romans 8:5 says,
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who lie in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
With the sacrifice, commitment, and obedience God built into biblical marriage (see Ephesians 5 for details), it continually puts God and His ways above all. A woman who is delighting herself in the Lord, daily committing her ways to Him in prayer, and doing everything unto the glory of God, can trust that her desire for marriage is good and that God is able to grant her desire for the thing He created. She can join the psalmist and say with confidence,
Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's....
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him
May God Himself refine and satisfy your desires.
Copyright 2009 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.