You know the quote, “When you’re single, all you see are happy couples. And when you’re taken, all you see are happy singles?” I had never been familiar with this quote until recently. I must admit, I cannot relate much to this quote simply because in the past I never paid much attention to anyone else other than myself. However, now I hear this quote all too often from close friends and associates, all who find each relationship more complicated than the last. God has been dealing with me regarding the topic of righteous relationships and marriage. I would like to share the insight I have gained.
I will be honest; in the past I never put much thought into marriage. I guess you could say that I had given up hope before I had any. My perception was that marriage was something that people did only to reassure that they would always have company and a home to crash at by the end of the night. My perspective concerning marriage had been skewed by the many adulterous and “roommate” marriages I had witnessed. When someone brought up the idea of marriage I immediately said, ” I don’t have to get married to be cheated on” or “How can I love and be with someone for the rest of my life? (Notice I was even too foolish to recognize that my life is not my own) or even the infamous, “No one will ever love me enough to want to marry me and be with me for forever.” As I reflect on my old perspective on marriage all I see is negativity. I think my own inability to recognize, give, and receive love played a role in 50% of this. Even if a married couple had been righteously made one, I am unsure if back then I would have been able to identify it. But even if I had been able to distinguish the truest and purest love, I know for a fact that I would have believed that I was undeserving of such love.
After sharing my old mindset on love and marriage I am sure it isn’t a surprise to mention the role I used to play when I talked to guys. I never allowed a guy to get too close because of the fear of feeling vulnerable but I somehow allowed them to get close enough so that I felt that I was in control. Being controlling made me feel secure and almost as if I didn’t have the ability to be hurt. With new eyes I now see that I was more than hurt, I was bruised and I was the bruiser! I was helping a layer of lies about relationships and intimacy to build. Intimacy isn’t all about sexual relations. True intimacy is when one can talk about the most private and personal things, like the love and zeal one experiences in their relationship with Christ. I cannot speak for everyone, but talking about my walk in Christ is one of the most personal and intimate conversations I can have. Conversation is intimate. Time spent can be intimate. There is an umbrella of things that fall under intimacy but I just wanted to demonstrate how intimacy extends well beyond just sexual contact.
Like mentioned in the paragraph above, I wanted to be the person in control at all times. My goal was to be smooth enough to catch a guy off guard and even to have him eager to see what slick statement I would have to say next. Once I got saved I still had pieces of this in my heart. In the past I wasn’t aware that although I didn’t want to be in a relationship someone, I still didn’t want to see them in a relationship with some else. Yea, I was pretty selfish in that sense. I had a conversation with someone once and she pointed out that everything I did with a guy was inspired by selfish thinking. Even when I decided to give all of myself to God, I was still operating with the old mind subconsciously. I started to make this a focus in prayer, that I may think and act righteously. I began to pray that I take on the role God had given me even if it meant that I would one day have to be submissive, vulnerable, and sensitive. God is stripping me of the old flirtatious nature and replacing it with innocence and integrity. Some things are only meant to be experienced in marriage so even if I never have the chance to be emotionally attached to a man God has set aside for me, I am content with recognizing all things that are good in His eyes. In Christ, being submissive doesn’t make a path to be walked all over, but to remove room for pride. In Christ, being vulnerable shouldn’t cause heartbreak, it should remove walls of fear and barriers that don’t trust the love of God. In Christ, being sensitive doesn’t make one a punk (a big one for me) but instead allows one to first be sensitive to the Spirit of God. God honors marriage (Hebrews 13:4), why should I frown upon it?
Proverbs 31 (NIV):
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 in her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
It feels just like yesterday that I prayed that specific prayer to God. I was praying it not because I wanted to be in a relationship but because I knew that my actions and thinking was not in agreement with His word. I shouldn’t have been shocked (although I was) when God began showing me how a righteous relationship should be. At one point I began to feel like I was “over” guys because they appeared to sing the same song only in a different tune. I completely overlooked that I was a work in progress too. God started off by refreshing my memory of what an unrighteous relationship is like. The type of relationship that is filled with unrighteous touching and groping, founded on lies, and sealed with materialism. I wasn’t over guys but I was certainly over that.
On a lighter note, I greatly appreciate the night God allowed me to experience last week. The night was filled with laughter, conversations about school, childhood experiences, and ended with prayer/Bible study. It felt so good to spend time not feeling obligated to do something unrighteous afterward. Not even a, “Hey want to come to my room and watch a movie” when it is 12 am and both individuals know that no one will be watching anything. ( I mean that for both males and females). Don’t get me wrong, God deals with everyone differently. I am not saying that anything is wrong with spending time in each other’s room but notice that if you struggle with lust, God won’t put you in a position where saying no to sin seems more difficult than not. This gentleman and I went to prayer not because it appeared to be the religious thing to do but rather because as we are seeking God, we desperately yearn to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Someone who genuinely loves and desires to serve God won’t get bored about talking about God. It won’t even appear to be boring. Not saying that conversations cannot be about other things but keep in mind the loyalty. If someone isn’t loyal and passionate for Christ, once they have committed adultery in their relationship with Christ, you aren’t far behind.
I want to give food for thought for those who are seeking God and are currently in a relationship. Even to those who have been in relationships in the past, which left them feeling hurt and damaged. First examine your relationship from every spectrum. What type of fruit is your relationship producing? Are you two doing anything that can get both of you sent to hell? I had a conversation with someone about two months ago. This gentleman mentioned how he was so distraught over the way his last relationship ended. He said he was truly in love with his ex-girlfriend but that she no longer loved him. Throughout the conversation he also kept mentioning how the plan was for them to get married but now he is confused because she couldn’t even stand to be around him. I first thought about a conversation the gentleman and I had over the summer about him and his ex-girlfriend fornication and engaging in other activities that we both know the Lord was not giving them the desire to pursue. The best advice I could give was to consult the Lord. You won’t be madly in love with someone and they not be madly in love with you too, if God has ordained for you two to be together. God will put the desire in the heart of both individuals to want to be married. A person who loves with a pure heart won’t do something that will send both of you to hell. Are they pressuring you to fornicate? Use drugs? Be deceitful? Or are YOU doing any of these things? Ask these questions to yourself. Remember, He doesn’t do anything by half.
SOME OF US HAVE BEEN FOOLED!
Having sex? Has to be one of the most beautiful things in the Lord. How about just cuddling? Can’t be much without the Lord. Saying I love you and meaning it? Impossible if we are outside of the Lord. Being loyal? Unheard of if we have no loyalty to the Lord. Being changed from the old cheater/liar? Insane if we hadn’t been made new in the Lord. One of our main goals while seeking a relationship is to not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). The Bible doesn’t mention a whole bunch of dating, boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. Courting is sometimes necessary but the intent is for things to end in marriage. God won’t lead us to live with someone for years as if we are married if we aren’t. Again, He does things decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). Additionally, everyone who is saved and knows the Lord won’t be the person you are supposed to marry. Some individuals may simply have been put in your life to be friends and/or siblings in Christ. The same way we had friends in the world, we need to be equipped with new friends in Christ.
I would never want my kids to grow up like I did, sometimes feeling like a nomad because I had to pack up to go travel back and forth to my mother’s and father’s house. My parents did the best they could, working and sacrificing so that I may have the best of everything. The issue wasn’t what I had or lacked. The issue was that my parents had a strong disliking for each other and I was in the middle, not wanting to decide which parent was my favorite but constantly questioned about whom would I rather live with. You cannot measure the love of a father nor the love of a mother so the questioning game was pointless. I could only come up with, ” I want to live with both of you.” My personal experience is clearly not identical to the experiences of others but it is personal and relevant to me and has played a huge role in me deciding how I would like my household to be set up. There is something truly special about a child seeing both their father and mother together, married and held together by the third strand–God (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Not to say that my marriage (If I ever get married) will be perfect but I pray that it is Holy. My future children (If I have children) will at least know how to identify a righteous and upright marriage for the time when they have to cross that road. Some believe that we should have control over who we marry. Why would we pray to God about guidance over temporary financial situations and not want Him to shape and mold the person we will spend our lives with? We have to be logical.
Fortunately, to help my view and perspective on marriage develop, God has allowed me to witness seeing a God-fearing marriage firsthand. I mentioned in an earlier article about a woman who I identified as being similar to a mother-in-Christ. It may sound cliché but the marriage shared between her and her husband is beautiful to say the least and I don’t mean beautiful in a worldly sense. I mean beautiful in a sense that they recognize their mission in life, to be an instrument of Christ. The real magnificence in it all is that Christ gave them to each other to be instruments individually and collectively. It is exciting to think that I wouldn’t have to be alone in my daily battle. In addition to God and His army, I may have a husband, willing to lay down his life for me (Ephesians 5:25).
Genesis 2:22-24(NIV): “22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
Proverbs 18:22 (NIV): ” He who finds a wife finds what is good and received favor from the Lord.”
Matthew 19: 4-6 (NIV): “ 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
1 Corinthians 7:1-16 (NIV): ” 1 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”
First and foremost, before I even get close to marriage (I mention being married and having children only if it has been ordained by God), I must first be the bride of the Groom. My commitment to Christ is a reflection of every other relationship I am or will be involved in. Perhaps Maya Angelou best captures my sentiments with her quote, “A woman should be so hidden in God that he has to go through Him to get to her.” In conclusion, if God has ordained for me to be married, I pray that he is being patient also, because God isn’t finished with me yet.