If you’ve ever asked for dating advice on how to find a spouse from well-intentioned Christians and pastors, there’s a high probability you’ve received some version of this common Christian dating advice, “If you really want to be married, you have to put God first. If you truly love God, he will take care of the rest.”
So are you actually single because you don’t love God enough? If you loved God more, would you be married by now? Is your love for God actually the root reason for your prolonged season of unwanted singleness?
- The Common Dating Advice to “Just Love God If You Want to Be Married” Is Well Intentioned But Is Very Damaging
I believe this common dating advice to “just love God if you want him to give you a marriage one day” is coming from a good place. I don’t believe the people who say this are intentionally trying to mislead anyone. I don’t even think they understand the conclusions one must draw if this advice was true.
When people encourage Christians who want to be married to love God more, I think most people are trying to help Christians not idolize marriage. I think they are trying to encourage obedience to God and to help ease anxiety. With that said, their intentions might be good, this advice is very bad.
If loving God is the key requirement to receive blessings from God like marriage, the rational conclusion is that the only reasons people do not have the blessings they want from God is because they do not love him enough. If this advice is true, we must say that everyone who is married loves God more than everyone who is single but wishes they were married.
Obviously this is unbiblical and totally untrue.
- The Act of Meeting, Dating, and Marrying Someone Requires Skills and Events that Do Not Require a Love for God
One common type of comment I receive on my YouTube channel rather often is something like this, “I’ve been serving in the church and trying to love God for most of my life, and yet I’m still single. But all the people who are living sinful seem to be getting married? This isn’t fair!”
Let’s set the record straight. Meeting, dating, and marrying someone is a process that is more likely to happen for those people who follow certain steps and have developed certain social skills. I don’t care if you are the person at your church who prays the most, reads your Bible the most, and serves the most, if you never talk to someone of the opposite sex, you will never get married.
The reason some really mature Christians who wish they were married stay single while some very immature Christians get married sooner is because of their social skills and lifestyles. It’s like praying and reading your Bible and then expecting God to make a new car appear in your drive way. Certainly, God has the ability to give some gifts to some people (like a new car) and refuse those gifts to others regardless of what actions steps they take. But more often than not, the reason more spiritually immature people have a new car and you don’t is because they followed the God-ordained steps to receiving new material possession. They went to work, saved their money, shopped for a car, and then purchased it. To equate your devotional time to the reason you do or do not have a car is crazy. In some ways, the same logic can be applied to those who remain single compared to those who get married.
Obviously I am simplifying the process of marriage to make a general point about how marriages develop normally. There are always exceptions to the norm. Sometimes no matter what steps you take or social skills you develop, marriage just doesn’t happen.
My point here is to say that the normal process of actually getting married requires taking practical steps which people who love God and people who do not love God can both take. This is one of the reasons why people all over of the spiritual maturity spectrum are getting married or staying single.
If loving God was the formula for marriage, all Christians would be married and all non-Christians would not be married. Obviously this is not what is happening. While I do believe God is ultimately in control of who you marry, meeting, dating, and marrying is also about social skills and connecting with someone.
- Loving God Will Cause You to Meet, Date, and Marry Someone in a Way that Is Glorifying to God
So does the single Christian who loves God have any advantage when it comes to dating and marriage? Yes, absolutely!
Your love for God will not cause God to reward you with a marriage, but your love for God will cause you to date and seek marriage in a way that God designed. When we do things God’s way, we will reap what we sow. I’m not talking about staying single or married. I’m talking about living unholy or holy.
Marriage is not the blessing you receive for loving God. But if you want a blessed marriage, both the husband and wife must love God. Loving God will bless the way you interact with the your significant other because a love for God is ultimately the underlying motivation required to love or fellow humans. Meeting, dating, and marrying someone can be done by anyone who has good social skills and is willing to interact with the opposite sex.
So marriage will not be the result of loving God. What loving God does, however, is causes you to meet, date, and marry someone in a way that is honoring to God and honoring to the person you marry. Without loving God, you will not be able to truly love the person you date and then marry.
If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21)
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:5)
Your relationship will be blessed when you love God because your love for God will cause you to love others with the love of Christ. If you are unable to love others well, your relationship will not be good. If you really love God, this will cause you to truly be able to love others. If you truly love others, you will have good relationships and getting married (if this is something you want) will be very likely.
So loving God does affect the way you date and marry. It will affect the success or failure of you meeting and marrying a good Christian man or woman. It will affect if you have a good marriage or a bad marriage. But not because God is magically blessing Christians and cursing non-Christians. Rather, you will be blessed because you will be following God’s way.
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:25)
When you obey the word of God in the way you live your life (including in the way you date and seek to be married), you will be blessed because you will be submitting to the way God has created life to work. Sin is a rebellion against God’s created order of things. To have sex outside of marriage, to cheat, to marry a nonbeliever – you won’t be blessed when you do things like this because these are deviations from what God originally designed human relationships to be like.
It’s not only that God will grant his favor on obedient people and remove his favor on disobedient people. But those who sin are like those who jump off a bridge and hope they won’t slam into the ground. They are not respecting God’s law of gravity.
We have to respect the way God made things. For example, if you are sinfully disrespectful towards others, you will most likely remain single because God designed relationships to work best through mutual respect. When we obey the word of God, we will live our lives in a way that is in alignment with God’s design. Obviously things work much better for those who submit to the way things are designed.
It’s like someone pouring water into their car’s gas tank and then wondering why everyone else’s car is running fine. People who sin when they date and seek marriage will not be blessed because they are rebelling against God’s order. So yes, loving God will cause blessings to come on you because you will be submitting to God’s design for life and relationships.
- Marriage Is Not the Reward for Loving God. God Is the Ultimate Reward for Loving God
Some of you may be feeling like I am missing all the Bible verses about God’s pleasure with those who love him. Certainly God does grant his favor on those who love him and blesses them abundantly. But the main blessing God gives people is not marriage, money, or health. When God blesses us, he desires to give us the best gift of all, which is himself.
So saying that marriage will be the reward for loving God is just not consistent with the gifts promised in Scripture. For example, saying that a love for God will cause you to get married is as equally as flawed as the idea that a love for God would cause you to be single. We can see how the advice “If you love God he will allow you to be married” is flawed by twisting other passages of Scripture to form the idea that “If you love God he will allow you to be single.”
When you read through 1 Corinthians 7, for example, Paul bounces back and forth between the benefits of marriage for some and singleness for others. For example, at many points in this Bible passage it would be easy to make the claim that Paul is saying a love for God would actually result in a life of singleness rather than marriage:
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)
If this was the only section of 1 Corinthians 7 you read, the logical argument would not be that a love for God would result in marriage but that a love for God would result in a life of singleness. My point, however, is not that loving God will result in marriage or singleness. My point is simply that you can twist Scripture either way in regards to loving God resulting in marriage or singleness.
So what does the Bible really say? What the Bible really says is that God is the ultimate reward for loving God. In fact, as you read through the whole of 1 Corinthians 7, the argument Paul is making is that you should pursue marriage or singleness based upon which lifestyle will aid you in loving God more. Loving God should be the motive for our pursuit of singleness or marriage. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:7, “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” This means that some have the gift of singleness and some have the gift of being married. Either way, you must you each gift to love God and others:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6-8)
You don’t love God to receives the gifts he gives you. You must love God with the gifts he gives you. Therefore marriage or singleness will not be the result of loving God. Rather, God will bless you with marriage or singleness based upon what needs you have so you can love God to the best of your ability.
Ultimately, God is the main focus of everything, not marriage or singleness. Marriage and singleness are meant to serve our desire to love God. Loving God is not meant to serve our desire for marriage or singleness. God must always be the main goal of the Christian, not marriage or singleness.