Love for God and a Desire for Marriage: Are They at Odds?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Re-posted from The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (
By Brittany Lind

Love For God and a Desire For Marriage: Are They at Odds?

Every day I saw it. Pinned to my purple, polka dotted bulletin board in my freshmen dorm room was the quote:

 “Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone. To have a deep soul relationship with another, to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But God to the Christian says, “No, not until you’re satisfied and fulfilled and content with living loved by Me alone and giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me. Not until you have an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.”

Something about this quote resonated deeply with my heart. I was nineteen years old and I knew I wanted to be married one day. I longed for that “deep soul relationship with another” but I also wanted to love God with all of my heart. I wanted to be completely satisfied in his love for me in Christ. But according to this quote, these two things were at odds. I had to choose.

Either I want a husband or I want God, so I thought. Therefore, I became determined to rid myself of any marriage wishes. I tried to give myself “totally and unreservedly” to God, like the quote prescribes. After all, it’s only when I do this that God would give me a husband. It became a daunting formula: achieve contentment in the Lord while I am single and God will reward me with marriage. 

A Hopeless Pursuit

There were times when it felt like I was getting the hang of it. I could muster up enough will-power to make it days and weeks — sometimes a whole month — without thinking about my dreams to be a wife and mother. Petrified that it would become an idol in my heart, I kept myself from admitting to anyone my hopes of being married. If Jesus was my everything, of course I didn’t need marriage. But inevitably I began to crumble into despair. My desire to marry only persisted, and the more it persisted, the more it felt as though I was losing ground in my relationship with God.

It was a hopeless pursuit, one that I was sure to lose — until I began to realize that this way of seeing marriage was flawed. What if my desire to be married was from God? What if marriage was His design? What if it was a blessing aimed at making me more like Jesus?

In her book Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, Candice Watters offers aid to women wrestling with this very thing. She wrote: “The ‘marriage as idol’ warning prevents many young women from gratefully sharing in what God created as good. And the harder it is to marry well, the more likely it is women will accept the cultural counterfeits - premarital sex, endless youth, self-centered singleness - falling into true idolatry of the heart.” She goes on to explain that if marriage is viewed biblically, the sacrifice and commitment required puts God and His ways above all and it is unlikely that a godly woman’s desire for a biblical marriage would become an idol.

In no way is this condoning idolatry or worshipping marriage as god; but often women spend much of their time and emotional energy beating down their desire for marriage, afraid that it may become an idol. Instead, if the desire to marry was embraced and submitted to the Lord in trust, that energy could be channeled towards growing in an understanding of what a God-glorifying marriage looks like and asking in faith that the Lord would provide the good gift in His wise and perfect timing.

God’s Good Design

God designed marriage before the fall …before sin entered the world, Adam would have been in the perfect position for fulfillment in God alone. Before God created Eve, it was just Adam with the triune God in an unbroken world. To go by the logic of my dorm room quote, everything would have been set in place for him to give himself “totally and unreservedly” to God. But that is not how the story goes. Man solo, reflecting the image of God as he does, still doesn’t reflect the gospel picture like man and woman do together. In Genesis 2:18, for the first time God declared that something was not good - for man to be alone.

The problem is solved in verse 22 when God creates Eve and brings her to the man in the first “wedding” of the Bible. God created man and woman to be together as husband and wife. We are not creatures of isolation, but of community. Even for those who have been given the gift of singleness and do not burn with passion like Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 7:9, it is not good for them to be alone. The communal God of Father, Son, and Spirit created us as relational beings that need one another, we are a body with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Together, as a body, we more fully display the Triune God who made us and it is uniquely within the union of marriage that God’s image-bearers display the glorious picture of Christ and the church.

Is it okay to desire marriage?

I repeat, it is okay to desire marriage. It does not mean that you are less godly than those who seemingly do not and it also does not mean that you need to obtain a certain level of holiness before that desire is allowed or granted. Marriage is always a gift. God doesn’t do works-righteousness, not in salvation and not in matrimony.

If you are not yet married but desire to be, place your desire in the hands of the Father who, because of Jesus, delights to give good gifts to his children. Marriage can become an idol, so as Watters suggests, ask God to give you a vision for the sacrifice and commitment required and run to God who gives grace and forgiveness. Even still, although it feels risky, ask him for that gift. When your heart aches from not yet having received the good gift that you desire, go to him and take hold of his promises. Marriage is a good desire and God is a good God who is worthy of our trust.


Brittany Lind is newly married and lives with her husband, Joel, in Louisville, Kentucky. They are members of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, deeply desire to become parents and plan to go overseas longterm.

Should Christian Girls Desire Marriage?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Socks Without Partners cartoon

Disclaimer:  This is a long post… the start of a big topic. :)
When I was a little girl, my favorite free-time activity was playing with babydolls. I would spend hours setting up my imaginary house, feeding my many children, changing countless diapers, and cooking imaginary dinners to have ready on the table when my wonderful man got home from work. Other women looking on at my playtime – like that of a thousand other little girls just like me – would smile and speak encouraging words of approval. It’s natural for girls to play with dolls and imagine our futures as wives and mothers. 
But little girls grow up. When I hit the teen years, I began getting an entirely new message from the Christian community: “stop thinking so much about marriage!” and “you don’t need a man in your life to make you happy” and “singleness is a gift.”

I thought marriage was what I was growing up to anticipate, and childhood and singleness were lovely stops along the way. I began to wonder at the mixed messages of today’s post-marriage Christian culture; is culture contradicting itself, giving message “A” when girls are young, and message “B” when girls are of marriageable age?  Is this God’s intention for me? Is it really okay for young women to say “I can’t wait to have babies!” but block out any longing for a husband and act like they couldn’t care less about marriage?

Perhaps our generation has been deluded by all the marvelous opportunities that single femininity now affords, so that it makes sense to focus on this wonderful “now” with its freedoms and fun and personal development (the independence of singleness promises education, career, music, sports, ministry, debate, writing, speaking, shopping, entertainment, endless coffees out with our girlfriends – none of these things are wrong, so why not enjoy them as long as we can?) Or have we simply lost our way from the old paths of Scripture? If there is really a “Creation Mandate” to marry and to multiply, have we allowed secular thinking to misguide us? A good marriage dispels the emptiness of self-focused activity, ends loneliness, and provides an exciting and understanding companion with whom to share life and love.

There was a time when even secular society recognized from Scripture the value of marriage, a time when it was not socially acceptable to prolong singleness except for those who felt a call to lifelong celibacy and service to God. What a huge difference in the percentage of Americans aged 25 to 34 who were married in 1960 (80%), to the percentage in the same age group who were married in 1990 (45%). In our grandparents’ generation, young women both in church and in society were intentional about making marriage their goal.  Young people who didn’t aim for marriage were seen as immature.  

As one pastor put it: “To willingly remain single was to invite questions, gossip, and even a measure of scorn – because society recognized marriage as God’s intention for most people…younger generations don’t pursue marriage with the intentionality of former generations. That relaxed attitude toward marriage rests on an individualistic view of marriage. Marriage and its pursuit (or avoidance) are seen as each person’s choice, period. If you want to get married…<shrug>. If you don’t…<shrug>.” 

Candice Watters writes: “Starting with the baby boomers, the emphasis shifted from ‘marriage equals adulthood’ to ‘marriage, nice if it happens’ to ‘marriage, one of many lifestyle options.’ No longer do we assume we’ll get married. And for many women, that life script is one they’re not happy to abandon. On the whole, women still want to marry. And though most eventually will, they’re doing so ‘later, less frequently, more hesitantly, and by and large, less successfully.’”

We are in error when we make singleness our idol, pitting our desire for individual fulfillment and creative pursuits or personal wealth or adventure against our pursuit of God-honouring marriage. We are equally in error when we think that finding that one right person will cure everything.  If we think a husband will meet our every need, fill our every character gap and give us every answer in life, we are misguided. Albert Mohler writes: “the man and the woman are made for each other and the institution of marriage is given to humanity as both opportunity and obligation…the responsibilities, duties, and joys of marriage are presented as matters of spiritual significance….”  He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

But isn’t it socially awkward to admit that you want to be married?  My brother’s friends at medical school ask me what I want to do with my life, and if I said I want to be married and raise a bunch of kids, it would not be the answer they expect.  In church, that answer would be even more awkward, often because church girls think you might want marriage too much or that you are sitting around eating bonbons while you pine away for a guy, and if a guy should appear, you might seem desperate and crazy-obsessed, driven to get married but without any income or decent skills to show for all your waiting.

Watters writes:

“I was 25 and still single, and I was embarrassed to admit that I wanted to get married.  It seemed like it was okay to pursue all of my other dreams but not the one that I wanted most. And I was worried that I would be one of the few people that God called to lifelong singleness.

Thankfully, He helped me to see that my desire for marriage was actually from him.  It was God-given.  Getting married was far more than a lifestyle option – something that’s nice ‘if it happens.’ To want to get married is natural.  And good. Not only is it good and natural to want to get married, it’s actually something that most of us are called to pursue.”

So what do we know for sure? 

1.      We know that God ordained marriage, that it is part of His blueprint for His creation, and therefore, we ought to honor marriage. (Hebrews 13:4)
       2.      We know that if God’s plan for the majority of us is marriage, we should anticipate it with joy, and look forward to it with a longing not unlike our longing for marital intimacy, our maternal desire for children, our craving of spiritual meat, and our earnest prayer for the salvation of the lost.
       3.      We know that even the church is seeking to comfort singles by telling them that singleness is a gift when the real gift of God is marriage. Debbie Maken writes: “We have been told over and over that singleness is a gift. But it’s the kind of gift that makes us cringe and smile politely while we desperately search for a gift receipt so we can return it”! The gift of marriage is long-lasting, providing deep friendship, warm embraces, and the wisdom of a man’s input in your life.
       4.      We know that our attitude is to be one of trusting God, and seeking what He says is good for us (thinking on whatsoever things are true, honest, pure). We ought not to pine away, nor hide behind singleness as a gift, nor cloister ourselves to meditate on our state with wishful-ness or envy or bitterness or desperation.
       5.      We know that God wants to hear us express to Him our desire and our sadness and any feeling that life isn’t fair, just as David did, or Hannah did when she wanted a child. It is healthy to acknowledge the longing of our hearts, especially to One who infinitely cares and who has thoughtfully designed us.
       6.      We know that we should not put off His gift, like one might put off the gift of salvation or put off the blessings of children, though we should also not rush into marriage unprepared.

So, all this is to say that it is Okay and Healthy to want to be married, and it is good time management to prepare now for a successful marriage. As Watters’ mentor would say, “Marriage is good. Be open about your desire to marry. Talk about it with your friends, just like you talk about all the other things you hope to do.” 

My answer to this post? I want to be married. What about you? 

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