by Eric Demeter
In the classic 1972 novel The Stepford Wives, a town of lucky husbands land their perfect wives and live in a veritable utopia. The women are submissive, trustworthy, beautiful and servant-like. They are also superb cooks, attentive moms, and outstanding sexual partners. The only problem is that they are actually robots.
That’s too bad.
But seriously, who hasn’t pondered what their perfect spouse would be like? Mine would be a cross between Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the latest winner of the Miss Universe Pageant. She’d be Mother Teresa in the sense that she would be an exemplar in faith, a model of servant-heartedness, and display an ever-compassionate spirit. Then, if this saint could merge her gorgeous inside with the physical exquisiteness from that of a beauty queen, she’d be one, remarkable amalgamation in my book.
Her name, by the way, would be Teresa Universe.
If you’re a Christian and value perfectionism, you’re on the right track, because God certainly does as well; in fact, He commands it. Jesus, during His famous Sermon on the Mount, charges to the crowd, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
But Jesus isn’t describing a superficial or carnal perfection. The Greek word for “perfect” in this verse is “telioi,” and its true meaning is that of moral “maturity” or “wholeness.” In fact, James 1:4 uses the same root word: “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (emphasis added).
God’s idea of perfectionism, therefore, is in stark contrast with how it is portrayed in mainstream media or in popular Christian culture. With this in mind, there are three foundational truths we can extract from Jesus’ command to “be perfect.”
Truth No. 1: A biblical perspective on perfectionism has everything to do with developing a solid character and has nothing to do with finding someone with a superhero or Barbie-doll body.
Truth No. 2: As Jesus states in Matthew 7, the challenge of maturity begins with us, not anyone else. Jesus unapologetically commands His followers to “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (vv. 3-5).
Truth No. 3: This new idea of perfectionism should compel us to modify our criteria for a potential wife or husband. If that means writing a new list of salient characteristics, let it begin with the “fruit of the Spirit” found in Galatians 5:22-23.
What Do I Do Now?
Reading Psalm 139:23-24 is the place we need to start if we are serious about exchanging the world’s values for God’s.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
As God reveals insights to us, we will have the privilege of repenting and renewing our minds as stated in Romans 12: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Fortunately, when we engage in this process of sanctification, it will not only free ourselves, but will also free others from meeting our own unrealistic expectations.
Yet, continuing to “cut and paste” a selfish wish-list of attributes for a future mate will only lead to despondence. Indeed, this theoretical person will never be real outside of our minds. Men: Teresa Universe just doesn’t exist. Moreover, we are all fallen people who will marry someone just as flawed, needy and as unfinished as we are. And they will depend on God’s grace to fill in the flaws in their life just as much as we will need to.
Speaking to ladies, in particular: If your idea of the perfect man would be sewing together the face of Brad Pitt, the allure of George Clooney, the faith of Billy Graham, and the adventurous spirit of John Eldredge, you won’t get the perfect husband. Instead, your patchwork will be Frankenstein. Please don’t marry Frankenstein. He ravaged German villages, and people were scared of him.
The point is that true perfection, as defined by God, has the goal of exemplary Christian virtue as defined by Christ’s life. It will take more than a lifetime to attain. And if we are fortunate to find someone else who is going after the same goal, it will create solid foundation for a godly relationship.
Eric Demeter is a small business owner and has a passion to change hearts toward Christ through Bible-centric teaching and to create opportunities for the marginalized around the world.
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 Blomberg, C. (1992). Vol. 22: Matthew. The New American Commentary (115). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.