God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things,from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge,and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy. Westminster Confession of Faith 5.1
Recently, I read an article, My Husband is Not My Soul Mate, written by a young woman celebrating her first anniversary. On the whole, I appreciated what she had to say. All too often, we (women) tend to elevate our husbands to a level of expectation that no mere man could hope to achieve. In short, we expect them to be what only Christ can be, and that’s neither right nor fair.
Let me tell you a little secret, ladies. Our husbands, those dear sweet men, are just men. And that’s not a slight. Our husbands are men: human, fallible, sinful. We should not expect them to be otherwise. My dad likes to say, “He’s just a guy.” That’s his way of reminding me that I need to readjust my expectations of my husband. (Not that I have much to complain about, I married a truly wonderful man.)
However, I think the author of the article, Hannah, takes her point too far. She says:
There is no biblical basis to indicate that God has one soul mate for you to find and marry. You could have a great marriage with any number of compatible people. There is no ONE PERSON for you. But once you marry someone, that person becomes your one person.
I think she’s absolutely and utterly wrong. What she says here is completely at odds with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. While it’s true that many have abused passages like Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 37:4, there is actually a biblical basis for believing in God’s providence for your life, even in who you marry.
Let’s start with the beginning, when God institutes marriage:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:18-25, ESV)
God made Eve for Adam, to be a helper fit for him. Adam looked at Eve and recognized that she was “bone of his bone” and “flesh of his flesh.” While it might be pushing the analogy a bit far, God didn’t create a bunch of women that Adam then choose from. And while the creation of Adam and Eve is a very unique event, the Scripture shows that God cared about Adam’s need for a wife and made one suitable for him. So, from the beginning, God provided for man’s needs in marriage.
But what about now? Is there a biblical basis to say that God still works in the details of our lives?
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30, ESV)
These verses are specifically about how God works providentially in the salvation of His people. However, it does illustrate that God is at work in our lives. What about the more mundane aspects of our lives?
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me. …
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:1-5,13-16, ESV)
I love this Psalm! God knows our words before we speak, He hems us in, He formed us in the womb, and in His book all of our days were written before we were even born. That is amazing and wonderful! God cares even about the smallest details of our lives. The Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way:
What is your only comfort in life and death?
That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him. (Heidelberg Catechism Q1)
“Not a hair can fall from my head” outside of His providence. If that’s the case, how can we say that God’s providence doesn’t include who we marry?
Part of Hannah’s point is that because she alone is responsible for her choice of husband, then she will be more active in upholding her marriage vows. I understand her point, but I disagree. Because I believe that God’s providence includes who I married, I recognize the importance of my marriage vows. There isn’t anyone else that I could just have easily married. And I also realize that I will need God working in me to be able to honor my vows. On my own, I will fail miserably.
In short, my husband is not Christ. He’s not my savior. He’s not perfect. He’s not even what I need to be fulfilled. But he is pretty special. And he is most certainly part of God’s providence for my life.
9 thoughts on “God’s Providence and Marriage”
Not having read the article, I am guessing that what she is saying isn’t the same thing as how you know whether you are making a wise choice in a spouse? It is easy for the single Christian to feel that if there is only one ‘true’ soul mate, they might miss them or make a mistake. Sometimes knowing it’s ‘The One’ simply involves going over the basics of wise decision making from a Biblical standpoint, prayer, counsel and trusting God. A good Christian counselor once said what might sound much the same thing as the author- that you could have more than one ‘right’ option for a marriage partner, Biblically speaking, but his meaning was different. You must make the choice based on your understanding of honoring Christ. Is God sovereign over this process? Yes. If you had made another choice, would it have been His will? Yes, if you were seeking to honor Him in your decision. That’s our human perspective of how to ‘know’ if it is ‘the right person’ for us, isn’t it? Her point seems to be that God doesn’t concern Himself so much with the match-making.
It struck me, as I read her article, that she’s very young. She simply traded a fairy tale belief for her father’s belief. There is no such thing as “happily ever after,” but there is divine guidance in a Christian’s life. A person can be a skeptic all he wants, yet even a skeptic does not replace the voice of God. I wouldn’t dare to believe I could nix God’s design or plan or fated outcome simply because I’m skeptical of whether he intervenes in the life choices of his people. For what my own experience is worth (about nothing, really), I believe God told me who I would marry back in high school. We’ve now been married twenty years. We have four children. I still believe it was God’s choice.
Ah, the narcissism of youth in this age of technology. In their rush to share the depths of their vast learning and experience, our 20-something brothers and sisters stumble over the reality that there is nothing new under the sun, including whatever they are so eager for us to hear from them about their private worlds.
So reluctant to be quiet and learn, yet so eager to preach and teach, they are. sigh.
Disagree. Then choices are not real. People do not make real decisions. It’s all mirage. The fatalism that so many Reformed fall into. I did, too, at one time in my life.
Read the follow up post. I do not believe in any form of fatalism.
And neither do most of us “reformed types”. That’s a canard foisted upon us by the intellectually lazy and invincibly ignorant. Don’t bother responding, Rachel, there is never an adequate response to that old trope.
Thank you for your response to “My Husband is not my Soul Mate.” God is sovereign, and yes, he plans who we shall marry. One Biblical example is, Isaac and Rebekah whose story clearly shows God’s guiding hand in their match. When Christians have an unhappy marriage, or a divorce, they may be tempted to believe that a mistake has been made, on their part. Since God is perfect, this glitch that has come into their life shows that God really didn’t have much invested in it. So it may seem reasonable to believe that, “you could have a good or bad marriage with any number of people, God doesn’t direct us to any one, single, person.” But the Bible is clear, that in God’s sovereignty many tests and trials befall us in this life. They are all meant for our growth in godliness. Because we live in a fallen world, and experience grief, does not mean that God is not sovereign. Accepting failure, dashed dreams, or repenting of our own sin, is part of our spiritual growth that will steadily confirm that God is the only source of comfort, hope, joy, forgiveness and salvation. I’d like to add that after 30 years of marriage to a wise Christian husband, I do say endearingly that he is my ‘soul mate.’ I could not have said that when we were first married, as we had only known each other for 6 months! But we had a strong attraction in many areas, the most fun being that he makes me laugh like no one else can! I can be an intense person who needs to ‘lighten up’ daily! I am looking forward to the next several decades as a time that will be full of surprises! When I look back at some of the men I dated, even though they were Christians, I firmly realize that I could not have been happy being married to them. God knew what I needed. He provided just that one special person. That is my testimony to His faithfulness!