Monday, February 9, 2009

Beware of playing "matchmaker"

Recently at my church we have been discussing the topic of marriage and singleness. Few areas are more near and dear to people’s hearts than their “love interests.” Being single in today’s world is not easy. For some it may be a “spiritual gift” ( 1 Cor. 7:7), for others it may be a matter of not yet finding the right mate, and for some it may be a matter of making school or a career a priority for this season of life. Singleness may be by choice, or not by choice. Everybody is different.

The pressure that singles often feel from our social culture, whether by family or friends, can often times be overwhelming. Some have felt opinions of others who may wonder if there is something “wrong with them. They can’t seem to find love.” The expectations that are placed are often unfair. “Maybe someday they will grow up and settle down,” some may say. Even parents and grandparents have hopes for grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s not bad to want those things, but when those expectations and judgments hover over someone’s head who is single, it can be devastating.

Yet being single is not anything to be “ashamed” about. In fact, in God’s sight it is honorable, right, and good (1 Cor. 7:1). The freedom one has to serve the Lord (1 Cor. 7:32), the unbridled devotion to give of themselves to Kingdom priorities, being spared from some of the unique challenges and encumbrances that married life can bring (1 Cor. 7:28), are just but a few of the advantages of remaining single if God so wills it.

Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is a gift of God. It is a unique way to portray the relationship that Christ has with his church (Eph. 5:22-33). It is a blessing in numerous ways. But marriage is not the end all. It is not to be elevated and idolized above all else. Our primary satisfaction should not come from an earthly relationship, but from a heavenly one. A relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we should be careful what we say and how we approach friends and family who for whatever reasons are single. It may not be God’s will for them to get married, or at least not just yet. And if they do desire to get married, but haven’t found the right person yet, we should still do everything we can to encourage them to be content with where they are right now until God chooses to bring the right person along. Because if they are not content when they’re single, it’s not likely that they will be content once they are married. Contentment is not merely achieved by a change of circumstances. No, it runs deeper than that. Contentment is a spiritual issue.

For example, Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks…will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” (John 4:13-14) Our goal then should find our delight and satisfaction not in the temporal, but in the eternal. That’s contentment. So true contentment comes from knowing Christ, not from things of this world, no matter how good the love or the relationship may be at the human level.

Why do I say all of this? Well, I think it’s important to remember all this when it comes to our attempt at “matchmaking.” It may be all in good fun, and maybe on occasion it might actually work. But beware of once again putting unwarranted pressure on someone and feeding into an attitude of discontentment by always coming up with someone to solve their “problem” of being single. Like I said, singleness may be no problem at all, but God’s will. But we may make it harder for someone to find that contentment if we are always suggesting somebody new that they could go out with.

A word of advice. If you want to set someone up with someone else, ask permission first. Ask your friend whether he or she even wants you to offer to do that for them. Don’t assume they need your help, unless, of course they ask for it. Remember, our deepest desire for them is that they are happy and content, and they have to find that part in their relationship with Christ first. “The best way to find the right spouse is to be the right spouse.” And that’s what you want to aid them in the most, preparing them spiritually to be satisfied in Christ (and thus the "right spouse" for someone else) so that if they do enter into a relationship it is on solid footing right from the start. That’s the best thing you will ever do for them, whether they get married or not.

So have fun, but be careful, and mindful of what people really need more than anything. They need Jesus. As do we all.


Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog. What a treasure trove of spiritual goodies. I've made a decision to read the majority of the books on your favorite books list, though I don't think I'll read Grudem's Systematic Theology cover-to-cover. Keep up the good work!

Trevbot said...

Though your post is mostly directed to matchmaking for someone else, I think the application may be (cautiously) extended to matchmaking even for one's self. Our main mission should not be to set ourselves up with someone, but to pursue God and let him bring people in our lives. If we pursue his leading, we will be followers of Christ first, and not worried about matchmaking; knowing that Matt 6:33 says that God will provide for all our needs.

I think this is also one application of Christ's teaching in Matt 19 and Paul's in 1 Cor 7