Marriage is a wonderful thing. And of course, we need to have a sense of mental, emotional, and spiritual readiness before we enter into a permanent covenant relationship. However, I notice that young single women are being sent too many incorrect messages about marriage and how we should be preparing for it. Culture teaches us to obsess and fixate over it. There are more books, articles, songs, movies, and TV shows around the idea of marriage than we can imagine. While most of these resources were created with good intentions, if we aren’t careful, they can do more harm than good. The idea of marriage can easily become an idol, distracting us from God and his purpose for our lives. Here is why I think we should stop worrying about being “ready” for marriage and what we should do instead.
What is marriage and what is its purpose?
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25
Marriage is a spiritual covenant between a man and a woman that symbolizes God’s everlasting covenant with the church. John Piper explains it well: “Marriage is meant by God to put that Gospel reality on display in the world.” When the world sees Godly marriage, they see a reflection of God’s covenant with those who choose to accept the gospel and follow him.
While marriage is also about love between a man and a woman, it’s more about God and his love for us. Before we ever get married to anyone else, God wants us to first be “married” to him. Marriage is not a substitute for our relationship with God.
If God wants us to be “married” to him and if the purpose of marriage is to put the gospel on display, then we should be pursuing the heart of God instead of focusing all our efforts on marriage.
Why you should stop worrying about being ready for marriage
If we place marriage over God, we inevitably distort its purpose. Instead of glorifying God, it ends up dishonoring him. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God wants us to put him first. He has no intention of denying us good gifts. But, he knows that even good gifts can be used for evil outside of their rightful context.
I’m not saying to drop everything and throw out all your favorite books about marriage and relationships. But, I am saying to examine your heart and make sure that the desire for marriage isn’t becoming an idol.
It’s okay to want to be ready for marriage. But, there’s a thin line between healthy preparation and obsession. It’s a dangerous line to straddle. I strongly believe that if we seek God with our whole hearts, we won’t have to stress over being “ready” for marriage. He makes us ready.
It can turn into idolatry
Believe it or not, it’s dangerous to become too focused on marriage. Anything we give too much attention can easily become an idol. We risk losing satisfaction in Christ and may potentially go out of our way to get what we think will satisfy us. The idea of marriage can begin to consume our thoughts and when we should be thinking about God, we’ll be distracted.
Idolatry can be pretty subtle. It doesn’t come for us all at once. It tells us that it’s okay to spend extra time thinking about marriage because it’s a good thing. Then, it turns our thoughts into insatiable desire and all of a sudden, we’re willing to do anything for marriage. Now, we’re willing to ignore God’s voice when he says, “wait” and instead, plunge forward into what we think is good for us. The thing about idolatry is that even while going to church, praying, and reading our Bible, it can have a grip on our hearts if we don’t allow ourselves to be transformed daily by the renewing of our minds.
Marriage is really important but it’s not our end goal
Marriage is a really important gift God wants to give us but it’s not our end goal. It’s good to be married to a man you love, but it’s more important to be married to Christ. We don’t want to become so focused on preparing ourselves to be the bride of a man here on earth that we neglect to prepare ourselves to become the bride of Christ.
The past couple of years have been a season of pruning and growth for me. God has opened my eyes and shown me ways in which my heart needs to become more like his. I still wrestle with so much, and while I am grateful for growth, I see that so much work needs to be done. Quite honestly, I don’t have time to fixate on marriage when I still need to become more like Christ. However, I know God is faithful and as I focus on him, he’ll send the right person in his timing. I won’t have to worry about being “ready” because as the Holy Spirit works in my heart to make me more like Jesus, he simultaneously prepares me for marriage.
No amount of preparation will change God’s timing
Even if you’re completely prepared for marriage, God’s timing will remain the same. Preparing for marriage isn’t going to force God’s hand and make him do something outside of his timing. God will let it happen when it needs to. Don’t rush his timing.
Besides, even if you’re completely prepared, some things will still go wrong. That’s okay.
It’s impossible to go into marriage perfect
Since marriage involves two flawed people, no marriage will be perfect regardless of how much you prepare. Many of us over prepare for marriage because we have good intentions and want it to be successful. But, we have to understand that there will be problems. You can’t avoid problems. Marriage is supposed to involve work. God will help you to work through any potential problems as they come up.
What should we do instead of worrying about being ready for marriage?
Instead of worrying about marriage, we should focus on becoming the bride of Christ. We should prioritize our relationship with God before marriage or anything else. We should live for Jesus, examine our hearts, and make sure our motives and intentions are pure. Let’s spend time praying, reading God’s word, and learning how to be self-sacrificing by serving others, being generous, and loving genuinely.
Still read the marriage books and articles, but just make sure they are second and growing in Christ is first.
I know I still have a long way to go and I don’t do all of the above perfectly. So I need to be at Jesus’ feet continuously, asking him to help me.
There’s nothing wrong with preparing and even hoping for marriage, but it shouldn’t be our focus. Remember, marriage is more about God and his love for us than it is about a relationship between a man and a woman. If you focus on a relationship and you don’t get to know God and grow in Christ, there’s no point. Marriage is meant to glorify God, not the other way around. Focus on God. He’ll bring you everything you need in his timing.