Question: Is marriage caused by God OR is it just something we choose that can be blessed BY God.
I had an interesting discussion with a good friend this evening who challenged me with this question. When I say challenged, I mean challenged. He had me pacing the room. There were also many hand gestures, an extremely excited demeanour and a very close call to bringing out a whiteboard.
Our conversation arose from my comment that most people now go to church to find a spouse. It’s like the best kind of dating service you can imagine- you both have something in common so have a conversation starter, but are so often in search of the “perfect one” that you move through the congregation faster than the plague. I was then told, “you can never find the perfect person”, in which it took me less than a millisecond to respond with “Yes you can. You can’t find the perfect person but you find the person who is perfect for you”.
So, our conversation, which started around the foundations of dating within the church and then the search for the perfect mate, landed softly upon the above question. And seriously, it was a quest and a half.
So here’s my take on it… with slightly fewer hand gestures:
1) is marriage caused by God?
If we are saying that marriage is caused by God, we are saying that it’s intrinsic to our humanity. We are saying that God created us to marry. Now, we can go all Thomas Aquinas and say, yes, we abide by Gods commands to reproduce, and as we cannot “lie” with anyone other than our husbands or wives, then yes, indeed, we were created to be married.
Where does free will come into that?
2) Is marriage something that we choose for ourselves that God can bless?
Personally, I go with this one. With this, we are saying that we may choose to marry someone and we may think it is right, and God may bless it, but there may come a time when the marriage becomes… something other than it was supposed to be. The only problem with this is that it then almost promotes divorce. Ironically, I was asked by my best friend the other day if because of being a Christian, I do not believe in divorce and I answered as I always do, “Gosh no, my parents divorced when I was younger and i’m glad they did, my Mum ended up remarrying and finally being happy”. So this was a pretty interesting question to test that comment. And I still stand by it. I know that the blessing from the marriage of my parents was me, and I know that we are all better off with the distance. I have no doubt in my mind that God blessed their marriage. But I also am starting to come around to the fact that perhaps even though the marriage was blessed for a time, they simply chose wrong. They were incompatible and both found other spouses that made them happy and made them better people for it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that when things get tricky for a season, you throw in the towel without even trying to make it work, but I do think you are not condemned and cast out from eternal life JUST because you made a wrong choice. My Mum and Dad (Stepfather) waited a long time to finally find each other, and nobody has ever doubted that they were meant to be together, even though this was my Mum’s second marriage and by Biblical standards– if we are to go by them and them only– she would be an adulterer and she would be condemned.
I choose wrong all the time, I choose to eat an entire bag of Jelly Beans rather than a stick of celery, but I am not condemned for my wrong choice, I am given a second chance, or a third… or a 300th. Now, I know that marriage and Celery are NOT the same things. But go with me on this one.
I have often wondered how God can bless marriages that are second, even third times-round for some people, my family situation being one of those, if divorce is as terrible as it seems in the Bible. Why are these marriages not condemned, but are instead blessed? Why do these marriages work out? God is not a mean God, He is not there to enforce rules and create regulations that we must follow strictly that will make us unhappy. It would make sense then, that marriage falls under the Free Will category. We are free to choose who we love and who we marry and God will bless it as we ask. I mean, isn’t that what a wedding is for? You enter into a covenant with God, yes, but I like to believe that the ceremony of a wedding is that of a couple asking for Gods blessing upon their marriage.
Look at it this way even, if we like to believe there is a “perfect person” out there for us, we have to get through a bank of not-so-perfect people first. If there is one person that God has “reserved” for us, then why doesn’t He just give them, right there, on a silver platter? Why do we go through pain and happiness of various relationships? It must therefore be a choice. We must be created with a personality that fits certain pieces of a puzzle–which may fit the bigger picture or sometimes may not– of which we can choose from.
Ever see the film The Adjustment Bureau? Yes? Good, it’s an incredible film. No? Switch on Netflix and gets ta watchin’… and pass over the next line until you have seen it God is omnipotent, He has the ability to change His script, to change our plans, if we ask Him, then He will give it to us (Matthew 7:7).
God does not make a mistake– if He did, we would be able to blame every failed marriage on Him– and He does not expect us to be perfect, we are flawed, we are Human. We make wrong choices, its in our nature. But, by saying that we were made to be married and to reproduce is like saying that we have no nature to choose our soul mate. We may find the perfect person the first time round, the second, or the however-many. The important thing we all agree on is that whatever your number, as long as your relationship with God is upheld, or made even better in the process, then you know you made the right choice.