by C Michael PattonNovember 7th, 2010 166 Comments
While I was a singles’ pastor for six years, I often dealt with issues from those whom I had married. I had these issue in both premarital counseling and post-marital counseling. In post-marital counseling things got interesting. I would often sit in the presence of a discouraged wife or husband whose marriage was less than happy. For some, things just weren’t clicking. For others, the problems were more serious. Much of the time people would suggest that they had made a mistake. In their mind, they simply married the wrong person and their “soul-mate” was still out there waiting.
These type of things quickly become a matter of theology—very practical theology. The question is this: Is it possible to have married the wrong person?
No matter how difficult things were I would always discourage such a direction in thinking. I don’t think that it is ever possible to have married the “wrong” person. I know that this sounds strange to some, but it is simply a natural outcome of my belief in God’s sovereignty. Just as the election and the government is ultimately in God’s hands (Rom. 13), even if and when people make selfish and evil choices, God’s will is ultimately being accomplished.
Getting personal: My wife and I met in a bar. Yes, that is right. Seventeen years ago, I was out, drunk and picking up on women. In a drunken stupor, I stopped my wife (my waitress at the time) and said “Before I get drunk, I want to say ‘I love you’” (sweet pick-up line, huh?) We hit it off, and to make a long story short, we got hitched. As I grew in the Lord, I questioned my motivations for marrying her. If you have seen her, you know she is very beautiful. This is not to brag, but to give you a sense of conflict that I have had (and, I am sure, Kristie has had as well). We have had our share of difficulties. I would like to say that things have been great with me and Kristie, but we have some very serious personality conflicts. Sometimes these are so severe, so discouraging, so long-lasting, so unforgiving, that the terrible question pop’s in my head, “Did I marry the wrong person?” It is in these times that my theology begins to lock certain doors.
Are you supposed to meet your wife in a bar? No, not ideal. Are you supposed to fall in love with her primarily because of looks? No, not ideal. Can you make wrong decisions that lead to an important decision such as marriage? Absolutely. So, was it God’s will that I marry Kristie. You bet.
You see, I believe that God works with us in our sin. Come on folks, does he have any other choice? If he did not work through our sin, 1) what does the world “grace” mean and, frankly, 2) when would he work? If God works, he works through fallen people who make selfish and ungodly decisions. If his will is going to be accomplished, he uses these to do so. He uses sin. This does not mean he brings about the sinful disposition that leads to our choices nor does it justify sin, it just means that they become his instruments to bring about his plan.
God brought Kristie and I together and our togetherness has been hard. Yes, I am sure it could have been easier had we married someone else. We could have smiled more. We could have been more relaxed. Things could have more “click” to them. We could be setting an example of a “Christian marriage” for all to see. Simply put, we could have a “better” marriage according to another standard. Although I hate to say this, the grass sometimes really is greener on the other side.
But my shade of green is not necessarily God’s. My standard is not God’s.
Is it God’s will for Kristie and I to be together? You bet. And we are committed to this. Could there have been better choices made? “Better” is rather relative and can get you into trouble. From a human perspective which does not see all ends and is foolishly self-serving, yes. From a divine perspective, no.
God has a purpose for Kristie and I to be together. Neither of us married the wrong person. Sometimes we cannot see what is really going on and our passions are clouded by the pain, but we must keep our eyes on the sovereignty of God and find a much deeper level of satisfaction in each other knowing that God—the all-knowing God—has put us together for a reason. In this we discard our thoughts of mistake and we let go of the humanistic “soul-mate” theory. Once this is done, we find a new fairy-tale marriage that is better than any we could have chosen. Why? Because God knows best. Because God works through sin. Settled, satisfied, and in constant delight describes my marriage when I take this perspective.
Did you marry the wrong person? No. What if you are divorced, does that mean you married the wrong person? No. What if you are remarried, does this mean that you remarried the wrong person. No. It does not sanctify our decisions and attitudes that led up to these decisions, but we have to remember that God, in grace and his relentless pursuit of his own will, works out his will in all things, even sin (Eph. 1:11).
Before you react to this post in a very critical matter, believing I have lost my bearing, heading toward some sort of radical Calvinism, please answer this: If you were talking to someone whose birth was the result of a rape/incest union and they asked you, “Was it God’s will for me to be conceived?” What would you say?
- Where Should You Search for a Spouse? or “I Am Ashamed About Where Kristie and I Met”
- "God Comes Before My Wife" . . . And Other Stupid Statements
- Is the Threat of Divorce Ever Justified?
- What Makes Two People Married or Divorced?
- Is Limiting Marriage to Unions of a Man and a Woman Discrimination?