I recently came across a video where John Piper, Don Carson and Tim Keller discuss marriage. It really spoke to me and corresponded with many of my own views on the subject.
I love the Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote: “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” As in, once you are committed to somebody, you are committed to love whoever they become, as we all change over time. Of course, both partners in the marriage have to have that level of commitment, but then again, that’s pretty much what the marriage vows express. Feelings fluctuate, it’s true, but the covenant (promise, agreement) that two people must be worked through daily.
This is, of course, incredibly challenging; I’d hope I’d never judge anybody for getting divorced or having problems. After all, I’ve been single now for a full year after my relationship with my girlfriend came to an end, which I think is what got me thinking on this topic.
I believe that in the same way as God put heaven in the human heart (as King Solomon put it, and I take that to mean desire for Him and a sense that we are meant to be eternal), so He put in the desire for the companionship of a counterpart. My mind fights this:
“Gav, you wouldn’t be able to play in bands any more”
“Gav, you couldn’t see your mates so much”
“Gav, you’d have no time to write games”
and so on and so forth, trying to rationalise what is essentially a particular sliver of loneliness that friendship, faith and family cannot quite address.
The Bible talks about singleness and marriage both as gifts. I understand that singleness presents its own challenges. I hear that the theologian John Stott came to accept it over time; it gave him lots of time for the great work of his life, and I am indeed desperate for my life to count for good in this world. On the other hand, that inbuilt desire for a partner is something I can’t deny. if I were ever to find somebody, then the kind of lady I’d want would need to sound a little like this:
“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ
that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.” Maya Angelou
Because, for all my sin, failure, damage and the mess in my head, it’s Jesus I wish to seek and serve above all so I would need to be with someone of the same mind. It’s hard to explain; I could give “chapter and verse” on this and quote scripture, but for now I’ll just say that a relationship with somebody who is not on the same page in that regard simply cannot work.
So, if I am to remain single, I choose, with my free will, to see it as a gift and thank God for the opportunities it presents, and He will help me to deal with that form of loneliness.
And, if I do meet somebody, somebody wonderful who loves Jesus more than she could ever love me and who is willing to partner with me to face this world together, then I will thank God for her and ask Him to help us to be stronger together than we could apart.
Win/Win. Either way, God loves me, He has good plans for me, and He can use me to make this world a better place. I put my trust in Him, and I am at peace about this – even though it’s not going to be easy, either way!