My next installment was going to deal with God’s perspective on romance, but I’m going to hold off on that. From the comment section of my last blog, it’s evident people are interested in this issue of free will versus God’s sovereignty in relationships, which Scott Stanley talks about here.
Stanley seemed to play both sides in his discussion, but he concludes that whatever your view on God’s sovereignty versus man’s free will, you should be careful to avoid the potential relationship pitfalls that accompany each.
Stanley points out someone with a high sovereignty view may believe God will deliver “the one” to his or her doorstep. The resulting mistake might be passivity (e.g. He never asks her out; she never makes an effort to show herself friendly) and waiting for a “burning bush” moment that never arrives.
The freewill person, on the other hand, believes it is up to him to make the best possible choice. And considering there are approximately 1.5 billion women worldwide to evaluate, he will most likely be overwhelmed with choice and be tempted to spend exorbitant time and effort seeking out his soul mate while perhaps never deciding on one.
I resonated with what Stanley says about the freewill person:
If I’m the freewill guy, then the error that I might make is that not only should I search and search and search, but God isn’t even that invested in who I make the choice about. It doesn’t matter a lot who I make the choice about. Because, you know, He’s not really thinking at that level of detail about my life.
It’s unnerving to think about a God who doesn’t care about something I care about so deeply. Stanley suggests a more moderate perspective:
If I don’t want to believe in the one thing, the one woman, one mate idea, I at least should have a balanced view that it should take a fair amount of my effort and thought. I should be wise about this. There are things I should be paying attention to. And at the same time, I should believe a bit from the sovereignty perspective. This really matters to God not just because He’s hoping I really make the right choice, because it somehow fits into His big plan of what He’s trying to do.
Something I have found helpful is to look at relationships through the filter of the same biblical worldview that colors other areas of my life. For example, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Whether I lean toward total sovereignty or free will, this is a practical step. Trust God at a deep heart level. Don’t rely on my own wisdom. Invite God into every area of my life…relationships, singleness, ministry. And He will make my paths straight. That’s comforting. However the details are working out, if I’m acknowledging Him, He is making my path straight.
Stanley also employs the path analogy:
I want to end by talking to that reader who looks at the disappointing direction their life has taken in the area of relationships and wonders where God is in it all and how they are to face the future. It’s so important to realize that God will take whatever path we’re on and get the maximum mileage out of us learning on it.
If I am on a straight path where God can teach me and use me, that is the most important thing. As Stanley suggests, I need to be aware of actions or attitudes that may be leading me away from the marriage and family I desire, but there is no need for me to be panicked that I’m on the wrong path.