Friday, February 14, 2020

God's Valentine

Valentine’s Day is that special day when those of us who are single feel miserable because we are alone while those who are not single are all mad at their significant other for not being romantic enough. At this point in my life, I’ve spent a significant amount of time considering the question of why I’m not married. And I’ve had plenty of people give me their own thoughts on the subject. I used to have people tell me that “God has someone for you.” I believed them. And I heard of people who spoke of what they believed was God putting them together with their perfect match. While it made for a great story, I couldn’t reconcile the logic of it. For one thing, there were far too many divorces. If God were picking and choosing the people to place together in marriage then why would there be divorce? Either there were people who married when they should have waited for the right person to come along, or they were rejecting the one God had chosen. The second might have been true, but they were getting remarried. God hates divorce. Though it’s not the unforgiveable sin, I couldn’t get my head around how God could say he hated divorce and then use that as the means by which to bring the right two people together. And if he didn’t want to split people up then that might mean that the woman God intended for me married the wrong person.
Granted, it’s exactly my kind of response. If someone were to ask me, “Why aren’t you married?” I could see myself saying, “The woman God had for me married someone else.” While it would get plenty of strange looks, that is consistent with what many people believe about marriage. There is, however, another way to understand marriage that doesn’t run into the same logical problems. What if—as a general rule—God doesn’t pick who or if we will marry. That’s not to say that he never does, nor that he won’t give us advice on the subject, but what if that is something he leaves up to us and if we choose to marry a terrible person and we’re miserable, well, that’s on us. That gets us away from thinking that God caused us to marry the wrong person. That gets us away from thinking that maybe we should consider marrying someone who isn’t right because God hasn’t seen fit to bless us with the right person. It gets us away from thinking that two people who are married maybe aren’t right for each other.
Some may object that if God leaves the choice up to us then he doesn’t have foreknowledge of who we will marry. This objection is a logical fallacy. Knowledge of an event doesn’t equal causation. We might have knowledge, for example, that a train is traveling from Fort Worth to Dallas. We might even be able to describe each bend it will make along the way. We might even be able to say when it will travel through each railroad crossing, but we didn’t cause any of it. Given that God’s knowledge far exceeds our own, there is no reason for us to think that he must control every detail of future events in order to know what those events are.
Another objection that people might have is that it makes it seem like God doesn’t care who you marry. I don’t think anything could be farther from the truth, but what it might be is that there is a certain type of person that he would want you to marry. Instead of thinking there is one person that would give you the best possible marriage if you were to marry them (but they might mess that up by marrying the wrong person), think about it in terms that God is going to bless or curse certain aspects of your marriage and if you marry the type of person that God would have you marry and live according to how he would have you live that you are putting your marriage in a position to blessed. But if you choose to marry a prostitute, you’re putting yourself in a position to live out the life of Hosea. You aren’t going to miss out on the best marriage because “the one for you” chose to marry someone else and you aren’t necessarily going to have the best possible marriage because you asked God to lead you to the person you should marry.
What does this mean for Valentine’s Day? For one thing, if you are married, you have a responsibility to nurture the relationship you are in because it’s not going to last just because God picked the right person for you. You picked ‘em. As for those of us who are sitting at home and once again bemoaning the fact that we have no one who is expecting us to buy them roses, chocolate, and white teddy bears made in China, we have no reason to question God on the subject. He gave us the ability to go out in search of such a person, and he might have given us sense enough to make good choices, so that we got here, not because God likes us less than he does other people, but because we are better off than if we made bad choices. Or maybe we’re in this situation because we made bad choices. Either way, if you are sitting around asking why God hasn’t given you the Valentine that you wanted this year, you should find a better use of your time.

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