Why do so many Christians believe that passionately pursuing a marriage somehow threatens God, undermines His providence and is tantamount to idolatry?
The same women who say, “God will bring the right person at the right time; I’m just going to sit around and wait” rarely display that attitude when it comes to finding a wedding dress. They pore over magazines and catalogues, they shop many stores and they spend days and even weeks finding the perfect dress.
Why is it idolatrous to pursue a good man, but it’s not idolatrous to pursue a beautiful dress? If you don’t wait for God to bring you a dress, why wait for God to bring you a man?
And when it comes to men finding women, the Bible uses the most explosive, enticing language possible to urge men to take the pursuit more seriously. It not only assumes a search, “A noble wife, who can find?” (Prov. 31:10) but then makes it sound even more urgent by adding, “she is worth far more than jewels.”
Jewels in ancient Near Eastern culture provided you with your standard of living, much like a job does today. It was the currency of wealth. A modern translation might say, “A good wife is better than a good job.”
Think about how much effort so many people put into educational and vocational training, mostly to get a good job. Yet the Bible says a good wife is better than a good job. I’m not suggesting we don’t want to work hard to get into a good, fulfilling vocational situation, but I can say that the quality of your marriage will likely create far more life satisfaction for you than the particular job or jobs that you hold.
Of course, it’s possible to make a wise marital choice and train to get a great job so we don’t have to pit one against the other. However, I have seen a lot of miserable people in prime jobs who can’t bear the thought of going home at night. The state of their marriage is undermining the joy they might have from their labor. They wish they would have put a little more thought and effort into their choice of who they married.
Yet men and women who go to college or attend a large church hoping to also land a good spouse while they study are often ridiculed. Intentionally planning to find the best spouse possible seems calculating to many people today in a way that intentionally starting a franchise, or making a business investment, or getting into a college, isn’t. But which lasts longer, on average — your first job or your marriage? Which will affect you more over the course of your life?
If you’re looking at life satisfaction, your marital status will affect you far more than your material status, which is why I think spending just as much time and effort choosing a wife or husband as you do looking and / or preparing for a vocation is a recipe for happiness.
If all of this is true, why not take God at His word and, with His blessing, more earnestly pursue a wise marital match, without embarrassment? Many people are willing to relocate to get a job or education; if you have to relocate to find a good mate because you happen to be in a place where there aren’t any, what’s wrong with that?
High schoolers do community work and get involved in certain activities to look more attractive to colleges; why not do certain things to become more attractive to a future spouse? You research a company to make sure it’s a good place to invest your time in; why not put that research into getting to know and finding a potential life mate? Why not, indeed, use the powers of the internet and services such as Christian Mingle to draw from the widest possible pool of candidates?
If God is telling us that a good wife is better than a good job, let’s put marital status above material status and act accordingly.
Gary Thomas is author of The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not About Who You Marry, but Why?You can follow his blog at www.garythomas.com/blog, or contact him via Twitter (@garyLthomas) or Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorgarythomas.