Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Is It OK to Search for Love?

question-mark-heartI was planning to take a break from the “love” topic for a while, but I decided to write about this question. I was recently asked this by a young man at one of my seminars. This is an excellent question and I want to spend some time answering it.

First and foremost, I want to say that this article is for those who are ready for a serious relationship (please see my article on the right age for a relationship). If you are not ready for marriage, this article is not really for you. If you have a few years of study left, then the answer is “no, you shouldn’t search.”

Are you at a point in your life where you are ready to consider a serious relationship that will lead to marriage? Read on . . .

I’ve heard some interesting clichés about love. For example, have you ever heard this one: “love will come when you least expect it.” Here’s another good one: “you’ll find love when you stop looking.” Maybe these clichés are true some of the time, but they should not be taken as Biblical truth (I actually find them to be quite silly).

Some Christians seem to think it is not Biblical to look for a husband or wife. Searching, they would argue, means that you do not trust God. I disagree. I can give you a biblical example of a father who searched for a wife for his son:

Abraham was now a very old man, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, “Take an oath by putting your hand under my thigh. Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.”
-Genesis 24:1-4

Abraham wanted to find a godly wife for his son. In Abraham’s time, this was often the father’s responsibility (we now live in a time when it is our responsibility). He prayerfully made a plan to search. Does this mean Abraham did not trust God to fulfill His promise (Genesis 15:5)? Of course not! This story in the Bible is full of divine intervention—God guiding and blessing them as they searched. Abraham trusted God, but he knew that some practical steps should be taken. The “local” women were simply not suitable because they worshipped the pagan Canaanite gods. If he was to find a wife for his son, he would need to search in the right place.

I do have friends that met Mr/Ms Right without putting much effort into their search (or perhaps no effort). These are inspiring testimonies to hear, but we should not take them as the rule for everyone.

I also have a great friend here in Manila, for example, that has never once applied for a job—job offers have just come to him. Does that mean we should all stop applying for jobs and just ask God to send them? I think you know the answer. If someone told you they are praying for a job, you would naturally ask them where they have applied or distributed their resume. Why do we think we are supposed to be 100% passive in our search for a soul mate?

God has already done a lot to help you get a spouse. He’s put the desire for marriage in your heart. He’s filled the earth with millions of single people. We live in a time in which it is easier than ever to network with other people (due to the automobile, internet, etc). It is up to you to put some effort into making new friends.

Let’s say you are in you are a young adult and you want to be in a relationship. You have prayed and God has affirmed that the timing is right. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

*How many new, eligible singles do you meet in a month/week?
*Are you making time to have a social life or do you just bury yourself in your work?
*Do you see the same people over and over, or do you frequently meet new people?

If you are already meeting new eligible singles on a regular basis, then you probably don’t need to change anything. Just keep praying for the opportunity to meet the right person. I suspect that some of my readers, however, have sad answers for the above three questions. The older we get, the easier it is to get into a monotonous routine—a “rut,” as we often call it. I think this is also true in Filipino culture, where the social life revolves around the barkada.* It’s easy to spend all of your time with one group of friends, get comfortable, and never expand your social network.

Abraham realized that his son Isaac was not getting any younger. There were no “prospects” in sight. Any changes in this situation would require them to step outside their “comfort zone” and do some searching. He prayerfully took some practical steps to find a suitable wife for his son—nothing wrong with taking practical steps.

Let me give you a recent example from my own life. I skipped a ministry meeting on February 14th to attend a Valentine’s Day banquet. They scheduled the meeting after I had already bought my ticket, and I knew it could go on just fine without me. Keep in mind that I also did six seminars that week, including one on Valentine’s Day itself (before attending the banquet). In other words, I was already investing plenty of time to ministry–I needed to make it a priority to invest some time in my social life. Did I meet “Ms Right?” No, at least I don’t think so. Did I have a good time and make new friends? Absolutely! It is great to meet new friends, and all of these friends have single friends, family members, etc.

That’s the beauty of expanding up your social network–you make new friends and increase your chances of meeting a potential spouse. It is not a failure if you do not immediately find a girlfriend/boyfriend. Failure is expecting changes without making any changes (some have defined insanity as doing the same thing and expecting different results).

Is it OK to search? Sure! Trust God, pray, be patient, and expand your social network in the right places. Even if you don’t immediately meet “Mr/Ms Right,” you’ll still meet many friends along the way.

*For my non-Filipino readers, barkada is a Tagalog word. The best translation is “group of friends,” although there is no exact English equivalent. Fully explaining the whole concept would require more time than I have right now.

This is one of the many articles that you’ll find in my book: Basta Lovelife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions.

31 Comments

  1. I like the topic but is it also applicable to women kuya? Is there any situation in the bible where women searched for a husband?
    Kasi it is Abraham who searched wife for his son , and it was not written whether Rebekah also searched :-)…

  2. Well, I think the story of Ruth and Boaz is an example of a woman taking an active role in finding a spouse (especially Ruth Chapter 3:1-9).

    Keep in mind that by “searching” I primarily mean expanding your social network–trying to meet new people. I think women absolutely should do this.

    Men, of course, usually make the first “move” (especially in Filipino culture). By improving your social life, however, you make it possibile for him to find you and “make his move.”

  3. Definitely agree… and thus the burden is still on the guys!!! Although it helps if the ladies will give us hints… 😀

    On a side note, don’t expand your social network for the sole purpose of finding your future spouse. I think that expanding your social network is a vital part of evangelism and fellowship 😀 And thus you get the idea behind “while doing God’s will” part of the whole schema of finding your spouse..

    I think ideally is that you know what you’re looking for and by expanding your network you should eventually find..

    Anyway my comment is getting lengthy. So i’l end it there.

  4. I agree with you there. We should enjoy making new friends and not get discouraged if we don’t meet “mr/ms right” immediately.

    Thanks so much for the t-shirt! They brought it to me tonight from the office. I think I managed to lose the paper with your cell number 🙁 Kind of got lost in the laundry shuffle.

  5. Hi Kevs,
    Nice topic. Excellent answer. 🙂
    Let me supplant the idea with an extended metaphor. In a ship, the rudder controls the direction of the ship’s journey. The ship is you and the rudder is God. However, unless the ship moves, the rudder cannot do its function of ‘guiding’ the ship where it should go. Same is true with a person. God cannot ‘guide’ a stationary you. When you start moving, then God starts guiding.

  6. Good opinion.
    But you’d better go to see a good Christian counselor in your church otherwise you may spend rest of your life for searching “Ms right?”. Good luck!!!

  7. Thanks Mhac!

    Mr/Ms Anonymous:
    Ummm. Ok.

  8. If I search for a husband and I saw a guy whom I think has all the qualities I would like my husband to have, is it ok to make the first move? Or should I wait for him to approach me? What if he doesn’t even know I exist?

  9. Depends on what you mean by “first move.” I don’t think that it is very wise for girls to ask guys out on a date–especially not in the Filipino context.

    On the other hand, it may be OK to take a little initiative in getting to know him–especially if he “doesn’t know you exist.” Maybe there’s some way to spend a little bit more time around him. Hard to give you a specific answer, but I think being subtle is wise.

    Hope this helps, if it doesn’t just write back 🙂 Maybe I can give you a better answer if I know more specifics.

  10. Hmmm.. I’ve actually never tried asking a guy out and I don’t think I will ever have the guts to do that..

    The guy I like is actually quite popular, he is probably surrounded with beautiful girls and he seems a bit picky..

    I dunno how I can get close to him, he doesn’t even know me. What I meant by “first move” is to get introduced with him.

    Dunno whether it’s right to ask friends for help to introduce me to this guy.. The thought alone of asking friends’ help is making me melt down as I’ve never done that before. They would definitely be surprised, there are also a couple of guys around me but no one seems to meet my standards. Please don’t get me wrong on this, you might be thinking I’m too mayabang, but I just needed help..

    They keep on telling me to lower the standards, I rarely get attracted but the guy is very different.

    Do you think I should ask my friends or try a way to be introduced to him?

  11. Well, keep in mind I’m not an expert on Filipino courtship, but I think it’s ok–especially if your friends will be tactful and discreet.

  12. is hoping different from expecting?whats the difference..?

  13. The words have similar meaning. Expect means you think something will happen. Hope means that you want something to happen.

  14. Not all would be like CS Lewis, but I read that he did not search for love, it came to him. Just my thoughts here. Why did I even write it here? Hmmm.

  15. though there is nothing wrong to search for love, extremist it may sound, it all boils down to worship, making sure its God that fills our hearts above all.

    I hope it doesnt sound too preachy for a layperson to quote here,
    ” seek ye first the kingdom of God”
    AND
    “all these things shall be added unto you.”

  16. Not all would be like CS Lewis, but I read that he did not search for love, it came to him. Just my thoughts here. Why did I even write it here? Hmmm.

    Well, for every one person who found love “without looking,” there are about ten single people still expecting God to do all the work for them because of the one who found love without looking.

    though there is nothing wrong to search for love, extremist it may sound, it all boils down to worship, making sure its God that fills our hearts above all.

    Agreed, but I think too many people equate the desire for marriage with idolatry.

  17. do you believe that God will only send us or allow us to meet someone to share our lives with only when we are fully aware in heart, mind, body that its God first place above everything else?

  18. No, I don’t believe that. It implies that we have to reach a certain level of spiritual perfection before God will give us a spouse.

    See also: a really dumb poem about God’s plan

  19. By improving your social life, however, you make it possible for him to find you and “make his move.”

    -but sometimes, I feel “guilty” or uncomfortable going to church activities with this thought at the back of my mind that I will meet my special someone there. Is it wrong that I wrestle with God on these thoughts? I pray, Lord please search my motives. Its really distracting. Sometimes I wish altogether that I don’t have these desires. Still they are there. I even pray to God wanting to mean “Whom have I in heaven but Thee there is nothing on earth I desire besides Thee.” At first, I struggle until I reach a point that I pray coming from my heart not just with moving lips. Then it becomes real.

    Did I use scripture for the wrong reasons?

  20. We come to church to worship, but we also come for fellowship with other believers. And yes, this can include the possibility of meeting a spouse.

    I think you are over-analyzing this and over-spiritualizing. Asking God to remove the desire for a spouse is kind of like asking Him to remove the desire for food.

  21. Its funny the way you responded 🙂 but OK got your point

  22. hi again Kuya,

    the fact that so many commented on this just shows we’re all kinda clueless (or shall I say confused?) on what the bible really says about ‘finding’ the right one.

    Kasi naman marami pa rin nga ang nagtuturo po na kahiya-hiya pag babae ang hahanap (ever heard ‘ang palay ang humahabol sa manok?’).

    I tried to tell a guy (subtly) that I really liked that I wanted to have a deeper relationship with him, not just as friends. Response: cold feet and disappear in a blink.

    So I tried the Net, met a guy (solid for Jesus!). He actually called to get to know me more. BUT, I later on found out his belief is Apostolic Oneness. hmmm… you think he’s ok? But I already told him I can’t change my beliefs (evangelical) for a guy, no matter how attractive the prospect of having a suitor is.

    A guy in our office keeps giving hints (‘ligaw-hangin’, heard of that one?) but he has 3 kids already and am not sure about his relationship with Christ.

    So in short, yes kuya Kevs I’ve been trying to expand my social life but — NADA! i even told my dad siya na maghanap ng guy for me (Jewish style).

    I’m also very careful this time because the first boyfriend (and hindi na po ito nasundan) was a pastor and well…. let’s just say there were good times but mas mabigat at marami ang bad times. Our relationship ended with me feeling broken and insecure about myself.

    Hope my story will give you an idea why I can’t help but ask also, does God still want a husband for me?

    thanks for patiently reading this,

    Perlas

  23. Perlas,
    My book has a chapter entitled Do I Have a Soulmate? It may help answer some of these questions.

    Many of us (including yours truly) have had negative experiences in trying to meet the right person. My only advice is to never give up.

    Again, I don’t think God exactly decides if we get married. I think He gives us the wisdom to choose wisely. See also my article entitled Tightrope vs Playground . ..

  24. Good article. I had a similar conversation with one of my christian friends as to making the first move as a woman. To me that was quite revolutionary. However, it really does depend on the situation. From his perspective it was important to make your intentions clear (yes, it’s painful and you have to go out on a limb, but removes any chance of misinterpretation AND shows how serious you are) – and he did mention the example of Ruth, as well. It’s not the only model, but does offer some excellent tips – namely: being clear about your intentions.

  25. kuya kevin how did you know this is the right thing to do when you already tried all of these and you havent found your ms right yet?
    ms confused

  26. All I can tell you is you have to keep searching and don’t give up.

  27. Hi kuya kevin… I want to ask for your opinion about this.. my brother from California had sent us pictures and I happen to notice one of his housemates and learned from my brother that the guy is single, shy, very reserved and so unlike the typical aggressive american men (he is half Filipino half german). My brother actually gave me his email add and told me to email him to initiate friendship with him. I do not normally do that and if ever, this will be my first time. Do you think it is alright for me to do that? How will I start? Don’t you think he’ll find it cheap?….

  28. Anonymous,

    I don’t think emailing him would be a big deal.

    But maybe you can try something else first: tell your brother you’d like for this guy to email you. See if he will take the initiative.

  29. Thank you, Kevin for the post. It is very insightful 🙂 I’m one of the passive Christians who’s been waiting for God to bring my Mr Right into my life while doing nothing except praying, hehe… don’t take me wrong.. prayers are all good and important, but I see your point here about taking initiative to expand our network and to meet new friends. Thanks again!

  30. It is refreshing to see how grounded all your articles are! As well to read the perspectives of other like-minded, missions-minded, mature Christians 🙂

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