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On finding 'the one:' Another correction on Christian teaching concerning romance

Holding hands
[PHOTO:UNSPLASH/JOEYATES]

Immediately, someone will say “Wait, why not marital romance?” for the title. Well, I’m a Christian, and even with that, I don’t like to traffic in redundancies. Christian romance for the unmarried is intended to lead towards marriage, and Christian romance for the married remains only within their marriage. That’s all, folks.

Now that that’s out of the way:

There is a disturbing tendency among Christian pastors to overcompensate for an error among Christians with transgressive and erroneous teaching. This is true particularly for men who pride themselves in saying “deep” statements on issues that they know greatly about, or think that they know greatly about. Allow me to dispense with one teaching that is trending today. And that is in response to the horrendous modern “dating” culture (which is really just “playing the field” and not actually dating, which Christians have adopted due to the lack of sound teaching in this area).

By the way, if you are one of those pesky Christians who are “playing the field,” or if you are tempted to do so, or browse persons on any of the modern dating websites (including the Christian ones), please check out this video resource (by a popular “conservative” social commentator) first before you do and also this one (by Pastor Voddie Baucham). If you’re really brave about your choice of decision, after watching those videos read their comments.

Also, if you live within a responsible Christian community, such as a Church congregation, and are dating someone (especially within said community), please, for the love of God and Christian fellowship, live it out openly so that they may respect your boundaries and so you may respect theirs — especially if there are other eligible Christian singles around. Don’t be a hypocrite in the fellowship of God for the sake of your romantic comforts or whatever else you think that you are convincing yourself of doing. I suppose there I am speaking more to my fellow Baptists. If your community needs to grow up and mature to handle that, then by all means, be the first to cast off the diaper. The Church cannot claim to be the bastion for marriage and then leave its people hanging out to dry for learning and living out how to get there. 

It is definitely horrendous hogwash that you should flee from if you ever hear any pastor or teacher tell you — should you desire to marry — that God does not have a very particular person that He has already chosen for you. You can use this article as just one example of this erroneous thought being dispensed in the airwaves (which, of all people, unironically referenced Andy Stanley as an authority on this). This is why this teaching is dangerous for the Christian:

1. It is horrendous that Christians, even in this holiday season, will try to dispel such garbage as if the very genealogies that exist in relationship to the Incarnation event are either non-existent, unimportant, or serve as the ancient pastime equivalent of the People magazine relationship profiles.

2. There are entire books dedicated to the sovereignty of God in choosing spouses for particular people where the center of the very Biblical narrative itself is that God had particular people in mind to marry and brought it about by Himself. Was not Eve destined for Adam? Could there have been a Lilith? Did not Ruth marry Boaz, and how did that happen? How ever did Esther find a husband, and why at such a time as that? Did it really matter that Joseph married Mary?

3. What pastors actually ought to attack, which is the principal concern, is the inaction and faithlessness of Christian singles that flow from their own transgressive attitude — in mirror to their pastor’s own erroneous posturing. God only gives us limited and feeble humans the commandment to develop within ourselves and to seek out in the opposite sex the godly qualities He mandates to be in our desired partner.

That is all.

If you notice the above trend from Scripture, which these teachers of the law neglect, the providential bringing together of two particular people is a realm that God has cordoned off to Himself and for Himself. Period. It is simply foolish for any Christian to believe to have the right or ability to transgress this. There is no magic 8 ball for you. Young man, pursue good women. Young women, attract good men. God Himself is faithful to bring about what He wants for you both, which will be for your good, even though you both won’t understand everything.

So then, do not concern yourself with pairing yourself to “the one.” Trust God to do His duty by you doing yours, which is inculcating in your own nature and seeking out in theirs the qualities that God has told you to seek for marriage, and no more and no less. Worry about your own self first, then seek out a good, attractive Christian neighbor of the opposite sex who does the same.

That’s literally in Scripture. And if you’re diligent enough to obey this teaching, you will be diligent enough, easily, to pursue the Scripture for it.

It is shameful that even Reformed men who preach about God’s sovereignty have let this nonsense slide from their tongues, and all for the sake of petty convenience — and these are oft married men with children, at that. How such men say such things without feeling immediate, crippling shame at seeing the sovereignly designed faces of their young ones, or even their own wives, is beyond even me. But hey, there has been enough of this going around lately, this forsaking of uncomfortable truths for petty conveniences. This idea does not come from Plato nor from Socrates. It comes from the commandment of God when He made humanity by forming two particular people, brought them together, and gave them a job to do.

A friend of mine once sardonically asked me whether I believed that all humans needed to be married. I replied that in this life the norm is “yes,” and that the same was true of prelapsarian Adam in Genesis 2. He then retorted with a question for what Biblical support I would find to agree with me. Well, for one, there’s God. It’s right there in the text, and God legitimately/literally spells it out for us in His revealed thoughts. And then for another, given the realities of human nature, all people who have ever been married or ever been born should be on my side.

Another friend asked me once if marriage is even necessary for human life to flourish. Guys, really, I feel like we have hit a certain peak of surrealism when a fellow human being, conceived and born just as I was, is asking me in the spirit of Christian wisdom whether or not marriage is necessary for human flourishing. I mean, if wisdom is the objective, then we are somehow a long ways off. 

All of this thinking surrounding romance/dating/marriage/childbearing and the like, all comes from the heretical tendency of Christians to see physical reality as “other than” the kingdom of God. Guys, it is the month of December when we remember the Incarnation of our Lord and God who was raised from the dead bodily and appointed as Messiah by the One who endorsed Him as Father — the Ruler of all the world. We need to destroy this functional gnosticism that has plagued the Church for far too long and reject Dualism, which pits the physical world against the spiritual world, or physical realities against spiritual realities. God is the Maker of both and He participates in both. He made us from both and for both, even as He became like us in that destiny. Even the Christ has His Bride.

Stop settling for convenient lies. Stop transgressing on God’s power. And stop using the world’s tactics for the pursuit of love. Is the Living God not also the God of Eros? Yes, yes He is. So stay in your own lane, but be brave enough to put the car into gear and obey His road signs.

Trust God for a change and be surprised at what happens.


Originally published at The Reasoner's Corner. 

Kerwin Holmes, Jr. is a doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia studying Patristics with a particular focus on Syriac-speaking Christians. He firmly believes that Christians need to rediscover God's beauty as manifested in humanity and the physical realm, using the Incarnation as the starting point. 

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