Arranging the One
By Jonathan Lumbard
November 30, 1999
My dad has always jokingly told me that if our culture participated in the practice of arranged marriages he would do a good job picking out a wife for me.
Our American culture is one of few cultures where falling in love is a prerequisite for picking a life mate. Even in Bible times, a majority of marriages were the result of some prearranged contract or agreement in which one or both of the individuals had no say.
I am very glad that our culture doesn’t embrace prearranged marriages. I’d kind of like to have some say in the matter, and I don’t know if I trust my dad to pick out the girl of my dreams. (I’ve met some of the girls he would have chosen.)
Let’s just say that when you have to preface the introduction with, “she has a nice heart and a great personality,” there may be a problem. Since when have you ever been minding your own business and out of nowhere a member of the opposite sex crosses your line of sight and you say, “Wow, I bet they have a great personality”?
So do I get any choice in who ‘the one’ will be? I guess that’s always been my question. Does God have some girl for me that He has planned and predestined to be my wife since before the creation of the world, or are there nine different options and I get to pick one?
What happened to the days where the guy looks across the way, sees the girl of his dreams, sends someone to fetch her, and marries her right away? It just seems like that would be a whole lot easier.
In my short existence on earth, I have found there are many views on this subject, but there are two extremes that help give us parameters for our thought processes. The first extreme is the idea that God operates in total sovereignty.
In this idea, we are almost like robots or puppets. Every step we make and every breath we take is predetermined by Him. If we believe this, we really don’t have anything to worry about because nothing you do can alter the direction that we were predestined to walk.
The other extreme would be that man operates with total free choice or free will. With this view, every step we make is determined by us, and God is more of an advisor and friend rather than a sovereign dictator.This thought process emphasizes lifestyle and character as opposed to a detailed map or blueprint we’re supposed to follow step-by-step. After all, God cares more about who we are than what we do or who we end up with, right?
I’m of the opinion that truth lies somewhere in between these two views. The extreme of total sovereignty shows God to be an insecure God who makes His creation love Him. The total free choice extreme puts God in a box or on a leash and doesn’t let Him be God.
We may never have a clear answer on this until we get to heaven, especially given the fact that theologians have been debating over this subject for years.
However, in my limited knowledge, I believe that in God’s total sovereignty He gives us free will to choose Him or not choose Him.
Understanding that, then we have the choice to allow Him to operate in our everyday lives. He wants control, but He won’t demand it or force it on us. As we get closer to God, we find that there is freedom in His dictatorship.
So are there nine wives to choose from or one perfect one? I think that may be the wrong question.
The question comes down to a control issue. We want to know how much say we get to have in the decision. This is no surprise since people have struggled for centuries to give God control of their lives.
So sure, I can choose anyone I want to marry, thank God for His grace, since “He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
But what about taking a step towards radical Christianity and letting God have complete control of every area and aspect of my life? He surely does everything a whole lot better than I do.
And as for arranged marriage, I’m still not for it, especially if my Dad chooses. But maybe there is some truth in this concept that our Western culture hasn’t yet tapped into. I think maybe it would be smart of me to allow God to arrange my marriage.
After all, statistics say that arranged marriages have a better chance of lasting over the long haul.