Saturday, July 21, 2012

"You Never Marry the Right Person" article

I was so happy to find this post over on Relevant Magazine. The author says the modern idea of "finding the ideal soul-mate" is totally wrong. The Christian view on this is that no one is perfect- whoever you marry is going to be a flawed, sinful human being. A lot of people are surprised when they have problems in their marriages because they thought if they were compatible, it would be easy to love each other. The author challenges this- why should it be EASY? It's not easy for a baseball player to learn to hit fastballs, or for an author to write some quality literature- why would it be EASY to live with another imperfect person? But through all the struggles, marriage illustrates some of the love of God, so it's a good thing.

Wow! I totally agree with this guy! And I'm so surprised, because I thought it was just me who was thinking "umm... this whole there's-one-person-perfect-for-you thing just makes no sense..." Seriously, I've NEVER heard anyone else say anything like this, unless I brought it up first.

Image source.

And actually, this is very good news! If there's exactly 1 perfect person, or if "being compatible" is binary (you two either are or you're not) then that's so much more pressure. If you marry the "wrong" person, you're screwed. But if every couple is somewhere on a spectrum of compatibility, and you can learn to live together as long as you are pretty compatible and you both selflessly love each other- well, then, yay! Marriage is not as impossible as I thought.

But I disagree with him on one little bit. He frames it as "oh our culture is obsessed with finding the ideal partner- but here is the Christian perspective on it." I have heard the exact same thing from the Christian side, except it was GOD destining you for that one perfect partner. This isn't just an idea that Christians happen to believe because we live in a culture that believes it- no, Christian culture has AFFIRMED and EMBELLISHED it by adding God.

And I think the Christian version is an entirely different beast. Much stronger. Because come on, finding your one true love? Life isn't a fairy-tale. But then you throw God into it, and ya know, God can do anything, and God has a plan for your life. Now it's suddenly believable.

"Find God's match for you"? Wow... wow where do I even start... Image source.

And because God has a plan for my life, if I like some boy but notice a little thing I don't like about him, then the answer has to be no. If I dated him, that would be "not trusting God." That would be trying to satisfy my own desires- because hey, I like boys- and God is highly suspicious of anyone having fun.

I'm supposed to deny my fleshly desires and "wait" for what God has that's better. Because of course God's intention is to set me up with a PERFECT guy- that's what they taught me in church. Wouldn't want to "settle" for less than "God's best."

"God has hand-crafted ONE person JUST for you, and you won't experience real love till you find that one person. So when the guy in 3rd period breaks your heart, just think of how perfect it will be when you find The Right One <3." Umm... citation needed? Image source.

(The text in the above image is SO WRONG. So wrong. Gold medal in the Olympics of Being Wrong.)

So... God wants to set you up with a perfect person. Better reject anyone who has a flaw.

Doesn't it seem weird that dating is about judging the other person, ditching them at the first sign of incompatibility, and marriage is about working together, loving unconditionally, and sticking together no matter what? Or at least, that's the story they told me.

And doesn't it seem weird that this hypothetical guy that God is manufacturing JUST FOR ME is an actual person? And our relationship will happen in the real world? There's no way he's "perfect." (Have you ever noticed that REAL PEOPLE get married all the time?) So I've hit a contradiction here. Help me find the error in my logic.

This whole methodology is so screwed up, and I don't know what parts are right and wrong. I don't know where to start, or what dating is supposed to look like for Christians.

This bear is sad because she doesn't understand dating. Image source.

4 comments:

  1. I agree with you, 99%! Well, I don't know the exact percentage to which I agree, but I know that I don't believe in the idea of "one perfect person for you", the idea that we should break up for our own subjective and probably overly broad definition of "incompatibility", and the idea that we should "hold out for God's best."

    I've heard something along the lines of "Marriage is not so much about finding the right person, but about becoming the right person." To me, it's a helpful mantra - not because I only care about my own behavior, but because I realize my behavior and attitude toward Joe has a great effect on his toward me. (Y'know, love your neighbor as yourself-ish) But the best way I can love Joe is being following God well, because He can do much more through me than I could ever muster up on my own strength.

    Anyway, where I might disagree is the idea of "God's match for you". I do believe God has a hand in putting people together, and I believe "God's match for you" doesn't equate to "God's perfect, easy, and compatible match for you". To me, "God's match for you" simply means the person God put in your life to stretch you, to challenge you to be more like Him, and to support you along the way. And of course, your spouse isn't always 'stretching' you through their Godly behavior - many times it's just the opposite. I guess I do believe in "God's perfect match for you" - it's just that what makes it 'perfect' is that God is helping us in the 'perfecting' our faith through another particular person. Dunno if that's along the lines of what you were thinking or what.. just some thoughts :) Great post!

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    1. Wow this is a really helpful comment- I have never heard anyone say they don't believe in "the idea that we should 'hold out for God's best.'" I've spent so much time analyzing this concept, all the way to its logical conclusion, which is "you have to reject every guy who wants to date you unless it appears that he's completely perfect" ... so, in other words, you're never allowed to date unless you can fool yourself into thinking an actual real person in your life is "perfect"... and that's just all kinds of messed-up. But I could never find where my error in logic was.

      Also that stuff about "God puts this person in your life to challenge you and help you grow"- that makes a lot of sense. And actually sounds like a thing that actually happens in reality.

      Also thanks for explaining the part where you disagreed with me- like I said, I'm confused about this stuff and trying to figure it out, so I want that kind of feedback.

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  2. Once again really good points! This was honestly something that kind of drove me crazy when I was in IV - especially when that "I kissed dating goodbye" book got passed around. Like, how am I suppose to find someone I'm somewhat compatible with if I don't spend time with them? Though I do admit I might have more negative feelings about it just because of my situation. I'm curious though about what you think of this article: http://www.lds.org/ensign/2006/06/dating-versus-hanging-out?lang=eng&query=dating+hanging
    It's aimed at LDS 18-20 year olds, but I'm curious what you think about what he says about dating.

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    1. Oh man- "how am I supposed to find someone I'm somewhat compatible with if I don't spend time with them?" Yes, that's EXACTLY my concern- that's exactly what I'm confused about.

      Thanks for the link- so, here's what he seems to be saying: A lot of young people are "hanging out" in groups instead of going on one-on-one "dates"- maybe because they feel like a "date" has to be expensive and a big deal and it means a very serious relationship. And this isn't good because how are people going to get married if they just hang out as friends? So, go ahead and start going on dates- spending time one-on-one, with lots of different people, because it's not that serious at the beginning.

      My default reaction is to be really freaked out by the idea that a "date" doesn't have to be serious. Because if I go on a "date" then it's public information that I like that guy, and then if it doesn't end up going anywhere... then it's like all awkward, right...? Fear of rejection. So my gut reaction is "NO! It HAS to be serious" but like... not sure if that makes sense. Maybe he's right. I'll have to think about it.

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