You Never Marry the Right Person

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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
I was going to say "he copied that from Keller's new book." But I see it is Keller.

I haven't read the book yet, but given what Keller has done in the past on this topic I expect it to be helpful to a lot of people.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
I am not a huge Keller fan, but this looks good. It's something that I've been saying for a while. Good to see him agreeing with me. :D

That so many Christians are in thrall to the "soul mate" idea demonstrates how much the church is captive to Hollywood and Romance novel driven notions. One can only wonder at how many divorces have been the result of this kind of thinking.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
*What I originally wrote was meant to be facetious but, upon review, wasn't very if at all.*

Thank you for the link Jonathan.
 
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Christopher88

Puritan Board Sophomore
So, as a single male of age 23 I will ask this question.
Should I not be attracted to my "mate"?
Should we have anything in common outside of Christ and Reformed Theology?
This article to me sounds like this; Get married and make it work through Christ, don't worry about all that romance stuff. Now yes I am of course here being more devils advocate on my post.

I look at this article and find truth, yet I find truth to the opposing side of you need to find the one. I was in a 1.5 month relationship to a wonderful Christian woman, she loved Jesus, had an education, etc; we did not last as we had very little in common other than Christ. Now I cared about her, still do. But should I have forced love where there was no love outside of Agape love?

Does love matter pre marriage, or does Christ create the love in marriage?
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
So, as a single male of age 23 I will ask this question.
Should I not be attracted to my "mate"?
Should we have anything in common outside of Christ and Reformed Theology?
This article to me sounds like this; Get married and make it work through Christ, don't worry about all that romance stuff. Now yes I am of course here being more devils advocate on my post.

I look at this article and find truth, yet I find truth to the opposing side of you need to find the one. I was in a 1.5 month relationship to a wonderful Christian woman, she loved Jesus, had an education, etc; we did not last as we had very little in common other than Christ. Now I cared about her, still do. But should I have forced love where there was no love outside of Agape love?

Does love matter pre marriage, or does Christ create the love in marriage?
I don't think he is saying that you shouldn't pray about a mate or make sure that you see eye to eye on theological issues, etc. What he is saying is that so often people get married thinking that they have found the perfect match only to discover that the person is not the perfect match for whatever reason.

Personally, when I got married, I prayed, I committed the relationship to God, we did all the things we thought we should do to make sure we were doing the right thing. About 15 years into the marriage, we had changed a lot, and it got very difficult. We wondered if we could even tolerate each other any more. Thankfully, friends and the elders in our church reminded us of the vows we'd made, and they encouraged us to stick with our vows. During that time, I wondered if I'd made a mistake and married the wrong person. I finally came to the conclusion that I did not marry the perfect person, but I married the person God in His sovereign plan wanted me to marry. I needed to be married to my husband, because I am a selfish, difficult person to live with, and he is a great chisel. I love him dearly, and I'm thankful to God my husband isn't perfect, because I'm not either.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
So, as a single male of age 23 I will ask this question.
Should I not be attracted to my "mate"?
Should we have anything in common outside of Christ and Reformed Theology?
This article to me sounds like this; Get married and make it work through Christ, don't worry about all that romance stuff. Now yes I am of course here being more devils advocate on my post.

I look at this article and find truth, yet I find truth to the opposing side of you need to find the one. I was in a 1.5 month relationship to a wonderful Christian woman, she loved Jesus, had an education, etc; we did not last as we had very little in common other than Christ. Now I cared about her, still do. But should I have forced love where there was no love outside of Agape love?

Does love matter pre marriage, or does Christ create the love in marriage?
I reacted to the article as you did, Chris. I am also single.

I think what Keller is doing is using that modern style of rhetoric (which I find incredibly annoying) that makes claims that sound quite extreme when first read. And then people need to say to each other, "look, he of course doesn't mean it in that way...." I wish Keller had used better examples that might indicate some pitfalls into which thoughtful Christians might fall, rather than using examples of people who just didn't get it ("dirty elbows" in the article...).

When Keller writes, "Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered", he seems to forget that if these people are Christian, they are definitively sanctified and are moving down the road of progressive sanctification. In other words, there really does exist a true desire to be loving and focused upon the other. However difficult this might be because of lingering effects of the old man, this new nature really is there, bearing fruit. Accordingly, from a theological perspective, I believe this excerpt is quite out of balance. I hope the book, when taken in its entirety does not also fail in this regard.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
If I recall correctly, Keller advises people to marry someone who makes a good lifelong friend and spiritual partner. Fit does matter to him. And friendship in marriage is a big theme for him. But looking for and expecting a perfect fit without difficulties is a mistake.
 

Christopher88

Puritan Board Sophomore
Does Keller address this in his book on Marriage?
I have no desire to every marriage book out there, but would like one solid book to answer questions for single men thinking of marriage or who want to know what marriage is.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
So, as a single male of age 23 I will ask this question.
Should I not be attracted to my "mate"?
Should we have anything in common outside of Christ and Reformed Theology?
This article to me sounds like this; Get married and make it work through Christ, don't worry about all that romance stuff. Now yes I am of course here being more devils advocate on my post.

I look at this article and find truth, yet I find truth to the opposing side of you need to find the one. I was in a 1.5 month relationship to a wonderful Christian woman, she loved Jesus, had an education, etc; we did not last as we had very little in common other than Christ. Now I cared about her, still do. But should I have forced love where there was no love outside of Agape love?

Does love matter pre marriage, or does Christ create the love in marriage?
I reacted to the article as you did, Chris. I am also single.

I think what Keller is doing is using that modern style of rhetoric (which I find incredibly annoying) that makes claims that sound quite extreme when first read. And then people need to say to each other, "look, he of course doesn't mean it in that way...." I wish Keller had used better examples that might indicate some pitfalls into which thoughtful Christians might fall, rather than using examples of people who just didn't get it ("dirty elbows" in the article...).

When Keller writes, "Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered", he seems to forget that if these people are Christian, they are definitively sanctified and are moving down the road of progressive sanctification. In other words, there really does exist a true desire to be loving and focused upon the other. However difficult this might be because of lingering effects of the old man, this new nature really is there, bearing fruit. Accordingly, from a theological perspective, I believe this excerpt is quite out of balance. I hope the book, when taken in its entirety does not also fail in this regard.
The sad reality is the majority of young people looking to get married these days are idealistic when it comes to a partner, and this is as common in the church as it is anywhere else.
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Freshman
The sad reality is the majority of young people looking to get married these days are idealistic when it comes to a partner, and this is as common in the church as it is anywhere else.
I would agree with this statement, but I would also say there would be a balance as well. You want somebody who you connect with, and are compatible with not the first person you meet in Church. I am looking for somebody that I am attracted to but I am fully aware that nobody is perfect. I also want somebody that shares the same interests as me. I don't think that would be outside of God's will. Anybody see this in a different light?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
Well, I for one greatly appreciate the words of wisdom from Keller in this article. Too often I encounter people whose approach to marriage partner selection is "who will complete me" or "who will make me happy" and as such they operate from an inherently "me-centered" perspective. As soon as the couple finds out that the other person doesn't complete them, or make them happy, they're in my office for counseling.

So thank you pastor Keller for saying what needs to be said, as counter-cultural as it may be!
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The sad reality is the majority of young people looking to get married these days are idealistic when it comes to a partner, and this is as common in the church as it is anywhere else.
I would agree with this statement, but I would also say there would be a balance as well. You want somebody who you connect with, and are compatible with not the first person you meet in Church. I am looking for somebody that I am attracted to but I am fully aware that nobody is perfect. I also want somebody that shares the same interests as me. I don't think that would be outside of God's will. Anybody see this in a different light?
I agree, and if I understand Keller correctly, that is the point is getting at. Even after you've done all that you think is right, you never going to marry the perfect person.
 

Pilgrim Standard

Puritan Board Sophomore
The sad reality is the majority of young people looking to get married these days are idealistic when it comes to a partner, and this is as common in the church as it is anywhere else.
Reformation in Marriage will never happen until the Covenant of Marriage takes Joyful Precidence over the Self as an act of obedience to the Lord. What we need to be idealistic about is the covenant we with our spouces make with the Lord.

Also I highly question the theory that others have made that places the Marriage Covenant as a Civil institution. Don't get me wrong, I make no claim as to place marriage in the Romish seat of Sacrament, but it is far from simply a civil institution.
 

KingofBashan

Puritan Board Freshman
So, as a single male of age 23 I will ask this question.
Should I not be attracted to my "mate"?
Should we have anything in common outside of Christ and Reformed Theology?
This article to me sounds like this; Get married and make it work through Christ, don't worry about all that romance stuff. Now yes I am of course here being more devils advocate on my post.

I look at this article and find truth, yet I find truth to the opposing side of you need to find the one. I was in a 1.5 month relationship to a wonderful Christian woman, she loved Jesus, had an education, etc; we did not last as we had very little in common other than Christ. Now I cared about her, still do. But should I have forced love where there was no love outside of Agape love?

Does love matter pre marriage, or does Christ create the love in marriage?
There have been a lot of good responses to this.

The logic of Christian marriage goes a little like this:
1. Christ gave himself up for a body of sinners.
2. As a member of this body, are you in a position where marriage is a legitimate option to serve Christ?
3. If so, has God providentially provided a mate?
4. If so, the man should start thinking "how can I give myself up for this person?" and the woman should think "how can I yield to this man like the church does to Christ?"
5. Get married. Seek to obey Christ, not in your own power, but in his power, resting on his provision of righteousness.

The logic against "the one" goes like this:
Assume there is some truth to the idea of "the one".
1. Has there been a time when one of Christ's people has been forced into marriage?
2. Has there been a time when one of Christ's people lost a spouse due to death and was allowed to remarry?
If the answer is yes to either of these questions the assumption implies Christ's word is not sufficient.
Therefore the assumption is false.

The Bible's only premarital instruction for Christians is to flee fornication and to marry within the faith. Very frankly, Christ's command does not focus very much on how one "gets married" but on how to act once married.

The world's view of "the one" is a complete fraud. It is a lie. There is no prince charming, and there is no sleeping beauty. It will make you discontent, selfish and unholy to think so. Christ's way is the truth. If you submit to him in faith, and you work to obey him standing on the firm foundation of his unmerited love, seeking to claim his righeousness and not your own, you will find the strength to be content, the opportunity to serve, and, as the Spirit blesses, true fruits of holiness.

For a young man: Did Christ find his sleeping beauty? No. He found a dead corpse. He found the church ugly and unfaithful. But he has promised to make his church beautiful: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." The biblical gospel isn't of Christ finding "the one". It is of Christ giving of himself for what was most emphatically not "the one".

For a young woman: Does submission mean getting whisked off her feet and being told she is the most beautiful wonderful thing that has ever come along and being given the freedom to buy as much jewelry/shoes/handbags as she could possibly dream of? Or does submission mean that Christ obeyed his Father perfectly, which lead to his disgrace and his death on the behalf of an arranged bride who was literally "ugly as sin"? Doesn't the church's submission mean martyrdom, persecution, difficulties and the constant work of reformation?

I can give my own testimony. Finding "the one" has no place in a Christian concept of marriage. Marriage is an opportunity for a redeemed sinner to serve Christ. I never "counted the cost" of this decision. But I have discovered this is no fault of my elders. I had a number of more mature men constantly tell me "love is not what you think it is". But I was smitten (and I confess it was completely selfish - I wanted to get married. I was not thinking "How can I serve my Savior? One way is to marry in the Lord. Am I in a position where marriage is a wise option?" And only then start to look for a bride, if the Lord would provide her, with thoughts of "How can I give myself up for this person?") and so their advice went in one unsanctified ear and out the other.

Does this mean that Christian marriage lacks romance and wonder? Absolutely not. In fact, it is the only way to find any kind of true romance and wonder. "Disney's Lie", like any other form of worldly deception, is to trick you down the wrong path by holding out the right carrot, and then make you feel like you are missing something if you don't get the carrot. God's truth stands opposed to this. You are complete in Christ. Whatever "carrots" you may have missed in this passing life are nothing compared to the eternal weight of glory found only in Christ. Everyone one of us has missed many of God's blessings because of sin. But that is why our hope is not in this life. Our ultimate joy doesn't come from finding some "soul mate", but is rooted in the anticipation that when we look our Savior in the face, we will become like him. What greater joy is there than to know that God the Father has destined us to Christ's image? The passing blessings of this life, even the legitimate and good ones, are nothing compared to the heavenly blessings stored up for us, eternally.

Equip yourself with that hope, brother. Then if you find yourself in the most flesh-pleasing marriage you can imagine, or if you find yourself with an apostate hag who sticks around just to make your life miserable - neither is what is important, but your faithfulness to Christ is what is important, standing on the firm foundation of his unmerited love.
 
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a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
A phrase in this article is very beautiful: 'They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it.'

We are indeed appallingly selfish sinners (to such an extent that we aren't even aware when we enter into it, how marriage will show this to us), and marriage is hard and sometimes even agonising work, and if we are in it only for self fulfillment, we will never marry the right person.

But marriage is for 'mutual consolation' -- if one falls, the other can hold us up. There is something very beautiful and tender about the suitableness of the institution of marriage for two sinful people in a fallen world, when they are trying to hold each other up. And I think that ability to walk together and help each other through the falls does imply a tender suitability that even broken people can have with each other -- God often puts us with people who are strong where we are weak, and vice versa. Looking back over the last eleven years of my own falls, I know I married the right person. I pray I can be so for my husband. There is something more than words could ever express in this kind of memory of mutual frailty between two people: it is deeper and more dear than any other aspect of romantic love (many aspects of which as Lewis points out, are really a sort of 'on again, off again' experience of a number of factors). I find that ironic because our very sinfulness, which is so destructive if people are merely out for themselves, constitutes so much of this: you learn to cherish the stumbling way you came to where you are with each other. I think ultimately the depth of it is a picture of our relationship with our Lord (though He is never the one Who stumbles along the way He takes us to Himself). In this regard, it is an experience of something our Mediator, the husband of His church, is for each of us, married or not. The record of our falls will all be the record of His love -- how He was strong enough to help us up again.

We are right to challenge the selfish lie which poses as 'idealism' about romantic love, how wonderful it is, and how we can find the right one. But I think it would be like admitting defeat, and giving in to all that is wrong in the world, not to emphasise that there is something even more beautiful than that false idealism, in the consolation of grace, to strive for and hold onto -- a true and beautiful ideal of patient, kind, love and tenderness between two sinners who know the hidden lines of each others faults; and which stands as something sweet and strong and wholesome in an often crushing world.
 
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