Do you remember the first time someone gave you counsel about marriage?
Well, the first advice I received was from my grandpa. I remember sitting on his front porch with him often. One day, we’re sitting there and a woman walks by. “You see that woman? That’s the kind of woman you want to marry.”
“Grandpa, I’m nine!”
“Now, listen, I’m trying to teach you here, son. You want to marry that kind of woman because she has good birthing hips.”
I wasn’t sure what a hip was, and certainly not a birthing hip.
Why would my grandpa say something like that to a prepubescent boy? Well, like much of the WWII generation, his paradigm for marriage was built on legacy. It was not absent of romance, but children were the goal. Hence, the whole “birthing hips” line he dropped on me.
I imagine you got advice that goes something like this: “You better marry a woman who’s independent.” “You better marry a man who has money.” “You better make sure he’s handy.” “You better make sure she likes kids.”
Most advice given about finding the “right person” to marry is about identifying a certain skill-set. Whether it’s a lasting legacy or a ticket to a comfortable lifestyle, the search becomes a matter of discovering what will be useful to achieve that goal.
Regardless of the exact content or situation, this type of advice boils down to one question:
Is this person helpful to me as I achieve my goals?
And this type of thinking is contrary to the gospel. The Bible uses marriage as a metaphor of the relationship between God and his people (i.e., the church). At no point does God look down and think to Himself, “Man, she is really popular. She’s energetic. She’s well-educated and successful. Just think of how my kingdom might expand if I had her in my life!”
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 tells us that God pursues those that are not well educated and connected according to the world’s standards. He pursues a bride that was not born on the right side of the tracks, with a loving family, and a sizeable inheritance. God pursues people that have absolutely nothing to offer Him.
Jesus, God in flesh, says “I love you because I love you.”
So here’s my marriage advice to you: Will you make loving this person your goal?