For the first decade out of seminary, I was a campus minister with Reformed University Fellowship. College students are a vibrant group, but you could always count on the Christian students believing a subtle lie – that God has the ideal spouse for me, and that if I find them, my life will be largely ideal. They believed that if they could find the ideal spouse, then they would not have the marriage struggles their parents had, never feel isolated and lonely again, and/or be content for the rest of their lives.
The naiveté of inexperience.
My eyes have run across two articles on the Christian and marriage in the past week. The first on CNN is titled “Is God going to hook me up online? Assessing Christian Single and ‘soul mates’“. The second on RelevantMagazine.com is titled, “You Never Marry the Right Person.”
Here’s a great insight from the first article:
Many young adults, she says, make this mistake: They think if they marry their “soul mate” then the marriage will be easy and wonderful. Then if the marriage turns rocky, game over; they suddenly decide they’ve picked the wrong mate. The marriage ends and they return to square one, searching for someone else to fill the soul mate role.
On the other hand, searching for a soul mate can be tragically intimidating, to the point of indecision.
“We’re seeing young adults – X-ers and millennials – absolutely paralyzed and unable to get to marriage because they want to do it right,” says Anderson. “They don’t want to be their parents’ generation … the largest divorce generation in history.”
From the second article, Tim Keller quotes Stanley Hauerwas, a professor of ethics at Duke:
Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
No matter how hard we may try, none of our relationships will ever be a substitute for Jesus. In our relationships, we find out how deeply we need Jesus. As parents raise their children, they just find out how much they need Jesus. As employers deal with their employees, they find out how much they need Jesus. And, as a woman marries a man, she will soon find out how much she needs Jesus (usually at some point during the honeymoon).