Kissing dating goodbye, Jesus is my boyfriend, true love waits, and a whole string of other well-meaning teachings, phrases, and sentiments kinda messed up my thinking for awhile. Now before y’all start on the defense, I do think it’s a good idea to teach & encourage purity and faithfulness… when the focus is right.
I have grown tired of people, mostly married people, telling single adults, college students, teens, and even children that God knows who He has chosen for you to marry. While I agree that God knows all, they are issuing promises that God Himself hasn’t given or guaranteed. The truth is, you may or may not marry at all or marry again. That’s the truth. Nowhere in scripture does God promise you a spouse. Nowhere. Sure, there are verses about marriage, but none that guarantee you’ll get it. In fact, I believe there are more verses discouraging marriage or warning against certain things in marriage than there are verses for the positive.
But I think this kind of “God has a spouse for you” teaching leads a person to put their focus on a future spouse that may never come, while pretending the focus is God and that He is why we are waiting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “God has someone for you, you just have to wait.” Do they have some insight from God about my future that I’ve not been privy to, or what? If so, then I wish they’d clue me in! Give me his name, number, occupation, something!!
The problem with putting all that hope into a supposed future spouse is when that misguided faith and hope doesn’t pan out – either they don’t marry or marry someone terrible or it ends tragically in death or divorce – what happens to their faith? Their faith is then often completely shattered, because their faith wasn’t in the person of Jesus, it was in the person of a human spouse. A human that falters and fails. Daily. The same problem goes for the emphasis that many churches and church people place on having children. That just isn’t a reality for some, but that’s another subject for another day.
In many ways, I feel this “pretend faith” happened to me. I started going to church right when the True Love Waits movement started making its way into churches and youth groups everywhere, and I felt the goal was to acquire a husband rather than Jesus. I’m not faulting the teachers or the writers, but this was how I felt it was presented to me as a young girl. I was keeping myself pure, not for Jesus, but for a husband. The expectation was that if I kept myself pure then God would bring along the perfect, pure husband for me and all would be perfect, and I’d get my happily ever after fairy tale. Well, that didn’t happen. The person I married took my virginity and later took my hope and faith and fairy tale ending because he didn’t stay faithful. I was grasping at threads of faith, and thankfully there were enough there to carry me through it for awhile.
Instead of promising people that if they wait then they will find a spouse, we need to promise people that if they seek Jesus then they will find Jesus… and we need to do a better job at teaching them how. The church puts a lot of importance on personal bible study and prayer and other church disciplines, but if you’ve not grown up seeing those things then I think the practice of it can be very difficult and many will feel they aren’t “doing it right”. Here’s a tip: There is no “right” way. But as a church, we need to lead young people better in this way. We need to lead new Christians better, regardless of their age, and we need to remember that not everyone has a church upbringing, and even those who do may not have very good examples at home. We are commanded to make disciples, teach people how to follow Jesus. Older men should be teaching the younger men, and the older women should be teaching the younger women. How many Christians are actually doing this?
Jesus needs to be our end goal. Not a person. Not a spouse. Not children. Not a job. Not prosperity. Not anything else. Just Jesus. I wholeheartedly believe that when we make Jesus our goal and our number one desire then it won’t matter if we get any of those other things, because we know that He is all we need and all we will ever need. Our focus is heavenward. Our focus is Him.