By Allison Antram, Staff Writer
When I first came to Asbury, I thought “Ring by Spring” was a joke. And now I’m finding, in my junior year, that it is a very startling reality. From Thanksgiving on, I’ve seen too many engagements to count, and quite honestly the mass quantity occasionally spurs an eye-roll reaction. I am not bitter – I consider myself to be a romantic, in fact. But I’m a little concerned as our attitude towards marriage and relationships doesn’t seem to be accurate.
Here’s the thing – marriage is a great, beautiful thing. However, I have not once heard someone say that marriage is easy. And I also don’t see anywhere in the Bible that implies marriage or romantic relationships as the ultimate form of holiness. So why do we act in such a way? Our view on marriage has become flawed and unrealistic, and statistics evidence it. According to an article in USA Today (“Christians question divorce rates of the faithful”), the divorce rate of Christians is 42%, barely behind the rest of America, which is 50%. Something’s not right here.
Our culture tends to seek fulfillment for emotional inadequacies in less than moral habits – drinking, partying, sex, drugs – it’s a long list. As Christians, we are called above these things to find our identities and wholeness in our Savior. And while we tend to not serve these more obvious wrongs, we frequently find ourselves temporarily appeased with more subtle idolatry. We strive to earn faith freely given, seek our approval from other people, and search for love in all the wrong places.
So what are our actual motives as we enter relationships, or even more daunting, marriage? I see a lot of Christians seeking relationships to fulfill a need for intimacy, and make their significant other their idol – the source of their joy, identity and purpose. We tend to treat relationships as the ultimate goal.
While I have never dated anyone, I can sadly attest that I’ve been guilty of this mindset. Especially when I first came to college, I found myself becoming easily consumed with the idea of a relationship, and heard a constant flow of encouragements in the form of “God has someone for you,” “He will bring him into your life when you’re ready,” and “wait for the right person.” Well, when is “ready” exactly? What does “waiting” look like? And somehow it becomes a game of striving after God until you get to this obscure place of “ready,” so that you can ultimately find the “one.” Your life becomes a waiting game.
Friends, please hear me when I say – stop waiting. God has plans for your life here and now, regardless of your relationship status. His will for the rest of your life has very little to do with what you end up doing or even who you end up with – it’s about your heart and his mission. Stop putting relationships and individuals on pedestals that they cannot fulfill and stop sugar-coating the idea of sex and marriage. It’s not always pretty. It all takes work. We are fundamentally broken people. There is only one way to satisfy our thirst for intimacy, and it certainly isn’t a relationship.