“How can I know this is the one God has chosen for me?”
I’d say this is one of the most frequently asked questions I get, especially when speaking at churches.
My answer begins with two points:
*I really don’t believe God chooses our spouse for us.
*I also don’t believe it’s realistic to think there’s only one person in the entire world you are meant/allowed to marry.
In other words, I think the question is a bit misguided. Maybe I’ve surprised you, but hear me out.
I know many Christians believe God will choose a spouse for us. But I believe this way of overspiritualized thinking wreaks havoc on the lives of Christian singles:
1. It causes them to be far too passive in looking for a spouse. No need to search or do anything if God has already decided this for you.
2. It gives them unrealistic expectations about romance and marriage. Relationships should be easy, after all, if you find the one God created just for you.
3. It causes Christian singles to live in fear of marrying “the wrong one,” even when they are clearly making good decisions.
Some of you may be ready to close this blog and never read it again. But before you do, hear me out. I’m basing my statements on a careful study of the Scriptures.
Let’s look at 1st Corinthians 7:
“But if a man thinks that he’s treating his fiance improperly and will inevitably give in to his passion, let him marry her as he wishes. It is not a sin. But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry.” -1st Corinthians 7:36-37
“A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord” -1st Corinthians 7:39
Notice something here: the decision of whether or not to marry and the decision of who to marry are left up to the reader. Paul never instruct the readers to “ask if it’s God’s will for you to marry.” He never tells the widows to “pray and ask if he’s the one” (or the next “one,” or whatever). He simply compares married life to single life and leaves the choice to them.
Yet I often here church people saying things like, “I’ll marry if it’s God’s will,” or “I’m waiting for the one God has chosen for me.” Are we trying to be more spiritual than the Bible?
Am I saying God doesn’t care who you marry? Of course not! But I do think there is a more Scriptural, common sense way to approach this issue. Keep these things in mind:
God will not choose for you, but He will guide you in finding a good match. He’s already given some clear guidelines in the Scriptures:
*Christians should avoid premarital sex (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1st Thessalonians 4:3-8)
*A Christian should look for another devoted follower of Jesus (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 7:39)
*Ladies should look for someone they respect enough to follow, and men should find someone they are willing to love sacrificially (Ephesians 5:22)
Believers should feel a great deal of freedom to search/date within these boundaries without being terrified of dating “the wrong one.”
There are practical things we can do once we are in a serious relationship to help us in our decision:
*Pray and keep a close walk with God. Ask Him to help you choose wisely.
*Ask for advice. Sometimes we have “blind spots,” so friends, family members, and spiritual leaders can help us make good decisions (Proverbs 15:22).
*Make sure you really know him/her and build the friendship. It seems the best marriages are built on friendships. I’m not saying you have to start off as “just friends,” but you definitely need to end up as best friends.
*Keep an eye out for any major warning signs (dishonesty, abusive tendencies, etc.).
*Make sure you have some kind of realistic timeline. Don’t spend months (or years) in a relationship that has no clear direction.
I believe you can find a good match if you stay within these boundaries and follow these basic principles. Here’s a helpful quote:
“It is our conviction, based on experience in ministry and on God’s Word, that two Christians who share an attraction, who are committed in faith to God through Christ, and who are determined to obey the Bible’s teachings will be able to love each other in marriage.”
–Holding Hands, Holding Hearts: Recovering a Biblical View of Christian Dating
Are you saying I should consider any single, devoted Christian of the opposite sex as a potential spouse?
Not exactly. I’m saying you are allowed to, and you don’t need some kind of special permission/revelation from God to date another single believer.
Are you saying any two Christians will automatically make a good match?
Definitely not. Attraction, personality types, and a multitude of factors come into play.
Sometimes the dating process itself reveals that two people just don’t get along well. Even this means the process “worked”—it helped you make a good decision about the guy/girl you were considering.
Kevin, I know of people who God specifically told who they were going to marry. Are you saying these testimonies aren’t true?
I would never question another believer’s sincere testimony on this matter. But I think the danger is believing God will do this for everyone. I believe in the entire book of Jonah, but I don’t expect to get swallowed by a whale.
I think God is telling me not to pursue a relationship any further. What should I do?
Listen to Him! I do believe God will steer us away from disasters and towards a godly spouse if we depend on Him for guidance.
I know of people who did all the things you’ve mentioned but still ended up divorced/separated. What would you say about that?
I know of people like that, too. I even know of the opposite–people who made terrible decisions and somehow ended up happily married.
Any relationship is going to involve some risks. But we are talking about here is probabilities–doing everything we can to give ourselves the best chance for a happy marriage.
I still believe God has chosen just one person for every Christian. Why don’t you believe this?
As I’ve already said I just don’t see it in the Bible. But it doesn’t make much sense to me from a practical standpoint, either. Let’s say a woman’s husband dies, then she re-marries (which she is free to do, as stated in 1st Corinthians 7:39). Does that mean God has chosen two “the one’s” for her?
To summarize, my advice to singles is pretty simple: Stop worrying about “the one God has chosen.” Stay within the Biblical guidelines, ask God to guide your search, and take practical steps to make sure you are making a wise decision.
More from my site