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I have touched on this issue before in prior posts (see the section, “Pray For The Right Car, but Not the Right Spouse?” on (Link): this blog page), and it’s somewhat related to the idea of one having faith in God to provide one with a spouse.
While there are plenty of Christians, both pastors and lay persons, who will reaffirm the belief that one should pray and depend on God to provide her with a spouse, there seems to be an equally large and vocal group of people who insist, no, a Christian should use her own abilities and reasoning to obtain marriage.
What I find rather bizarre is that both groups will tell a Christian to pray earnestly and passionately about any other need or desire.
“Wanting Marriage Is Idolatry” Advocates View Point Is Too Arbitrary, Inconsistent, And Not Altogether Biblical
The W.M.I.I. (“wanting marriage is idolatry”) group have no problem with a Christian who prays and expects God to fulfill any other need and desire in life, whether it be financial, job related, or for a healing, but for some reason, they draw the line at marriage.
The Bible makes it clear that placing anything or anyone above or before God is idolatry. The Bible often speaks of money and wealth in this regard.
The Bible, contrary to WMIIers, though, does not place an unhealthy and bizarre fixation on viewing the desire for marriage as being idolatrous.
When it comes to idolatry, only WMIIers focus on marriage obsessively or exclusively.
These are the same people who probably desire a promotion at work in addition to a nice, 2,000 square foot home in the suburbs. May I suggest to such WMIIers that perhaps their lust after a job promotion and a nice house in the ‘burbs (or whatever their desire is) is idolatrous?
The Bible does not mention that wanting a spouse is akin to idolatry.
The Bible does, though, spend a great deal of time pointing out that following false gods (such as statues made of wood or stone), lusting after political power, placing faith in astrology, and desiring wealth more than desiring God is idolatry.
It is rather hypocritical that advocates of the view that praying for, seeking, or desiring marriage is akin to idolatry (yes, sadly and amazingly, (Link): such lunacy does exist) would be perfectly fine with a Christian woman who passionately prays to God to heal her of cancer, to guide her on a career path, or to open the heart of her atheist uncle to accept Christ, but the moment the object of prayer (or desire) is marriage, all the sudden, the Christian woman is told to cease and desist because such a desire is idolatry.
There is no good reason for such a false distinction.
The Bible does not teach that one should pray fervently for all issues except for marriage.
Scriptures Do Not Fully Place Limits On What We Can Petition God For
I see no good reason, no compelling reason, no biblical reason, to draw the line at marriage when petitioning God for something.
When the Bible instructs us to pray for whatever we want, it does not put limitations on the object of that desire (with maybe the exception of not praying for something that is clearly outside of God’s will; wanting marriage is not outside of God’s will, as God, being the creator of marriage, desires that most of us marry.)
The Bible no where forbids a Christian from praying for assistance in obtaining a spouse or from wanting one, nor does the Bible even hint that doing so is a sin of any sort.
There is even an example in the Old Testament of God helping guide a servant to His choice of a spouse for the servant’s master’s son, Isaac (see Genesis 24:10-26).
If God were against people wanting marriage or asking for His help in this area, I doubt He would have aided this servant in finding a suitable spouse for Isaac, who was Abraham’s son.
Having A Desire For Something Is Not Necessarily Idolatry
Why do so many WMIIers automatically assume that one who wants marriage is guilty of wanting marriage more than wanting God?
If you cannot see into someone else’s mind, motives, or heart, you should keep such condescending, insensitive assumptions to yourself.
Simply wanting something is not a sin in and of itself.
While on the cross, Jesus remarked, “I thirst.”
To be consistent, your WMII advocate would have to say Jesus was guilty of idolatry at that point, because He presumably desired water or wine more than God.
Married Christians Can Pray About Marriage, But Single Christians Are Told They Cannot
Even more hypocritical, the WMII folks would no doubt encourage a struggling married couple to pray and ask God to heal their marriage.
However, I’ve no doubt they would insist it is wrong or sinful for a never-married individual to pray about marriage.
In other words, it’s fine with WMII for already married people to pray about marriage, but, hypocritically, it’s not acceptable, in their view, for a single person to pray about marriage.
If a married couple is on the brink of divorce, isn’t their seeking counseling and prayer for the stability of their marriage proof of their placing their marriage above and before God, and they are therefore guilty of idolatry?
Isn’t such a couple guilty of wanting their marital relationship more than they are wanting God?
Shouldn’t the struggling married couple be “content” with the lousy state of their marriage and its possible dissolution?
If you answer “No, of course not!,” then how is it any more idolatrous for a single Christian to pray to ask God to send her a marriage to start with?
Self Defeating Views of WMIIers
I also find it rather idiotic and contradictory that WMIIers want single women to stop praying for the Lord’s assistance concerning marriage, when in the next moment, some of them will complain about
- ◆ the high rate of divorce among Christians,
- ◆ the prolonged singleness of Christian adults, and
- ◆ the fact that the institution of marriage is not as cherished and respected as it once was.
If you are a WMII advocate, did you ever stop to consider that Christians not praying about marriage and not depending on God for a spouse was the precise reason, the very reason (or one very large reason of several), we have such a high divorce rate, the protracted singleness of Christian adults, and so forth?
If one looks at the Bible, there are many examples of people getting God involved with their lives, and it helped them.
It was when those people turned from God, stopped seeking His face, that their lives fell apart.
Therefore, how could one praying for a spouse possibly make the marriage situation in American society worse?
It seems to me that prayer has at least a chance of improving things.
Perhaps if single Christians did pray about marriage more often and more strongly, they would start to take it more seriously, there would be more marriages, and maybe the divorce rate would go down.
If more marriages were based upon God’s will and timing rather than solely (or primarily) the individual’s own choices and efforts, perhaps marriages would be stronger and survive.
Luke 18: 1- 8, The Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge
Just the other day, I did a web search for commentary about the “Parable of the Persistent Widow,” which was taught by Jesus (you can find it in Luke 18: 1-8).
The same parable, by the way, is also known as “The Parable of the Unjust Judge.”
Most Christian biblical commentators agree that the parable is teaching the Christian to pray consistently for something that is desired, even if God delays the answer to the prayer.
Interestingly, none of the pages I visited that were dealing with Luke 18: 1- 8 mentioned that it was fine to pray for everything except for marriage.
All the pages I read assured the reader that the heart of Luke 18: 1-8 was telling us that if we continually seek God’s favor or help with something, that if we only hang in there, that God will eventually grant us whatever we are asking.
Not one of these pages I read about the Parable of the Persistent Widow added a caveat or exception clause along the lines of,
“Well, all this stuff about continually praying to God until He supplies your need or desire applies to you unless, of course, you’re a single person asking the Lord for a spouse.”
I’m not sure how to articulate this, but the fact that all of the commentators place no limits on the object of one’s persistent prayer in the parable of Luke 18 tells me that those who back the perspective that “wanting marriage is idolatry” are biased, and unbiblically so, in their responses to single women (or single men) wanting marriage.
In all the Christian Luke 18: 1-8 parable commentaries I viewed, none of the authors placed any restrictions as to the content of the Christian’s prayer.
One of the few times I see a restriction placed on marriage-related issues is when I am viewing a page specifically dealing with the topic of single people who want marriage.
Here’s an even more interesting example:
The same site, bible.org, that essentially told one woman that wanting marriage is akin to idolatry, affirms in a page about Luke 18: 1-8 (persistent prayer) that it is perfectly fine, acceptable, and biblical to beseech God on whatever one wants to.
Consider this response to the question on this bible.org page (the response is by Bob Deffinbaugh),
(1.) “I have a friend that has confessed she can not understand why has God put her here on earth. She is 33 years old and has not been able to find someone to marry. Can you help me minister to her?”, from bible.org
-compare the reply on that page, where the author essentially tells the woman reader that desiring and praying for marriage might be idolatry, to the same site’s commentary on Luke 18: 1-8, by Hampton Keathley IV:
The Unjust Judge and the Persistent Widow, from bible.org
Here are excerpts from bible.org’s page about Luke 18: 1-8:
The Point [of the Parable]
Persistent prayer is the demonstration of faith in God who, while at times may delay His answers, will always act decisively and justly with respect to His people.
It is important to understand that this parable is one of contrasts. If you don’t you will think God must be pestered, argued with and bribed in order to get your prayers answered.
The parable is not teaching that. God wants to answer the prayers of his children.
We lose heart because we don’t understand God’s timing or purpose.
We ask questions like, “When… or Why now…. or How could you….? We challenge the justice and goodness of God.
This parable deals with two issues: God’s character and God’s chronology.
Persistent prayer is the demonstration of faith in the character of God’s attributes and the chronology of his actions.
This parable teaches that the only legitimate reason to stop praying for something is the return of Christ. (vs. [number eight] ) It says, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” The demonstration of that faith is persistent prayer.
When you stop believing a prayer will be answered, you stop praying. You have given up hope. You have no faith.
What items have dropped off your prayer list that you need to put back on?
God is a loving father who wants His children to keep coming to Him. If you are a parent, you should be able to identify with that.
You’ll notice in this second page, the one by Keathley about Luke 18: 1-8, that he (or she?) no where tells the reader that none of this parable can or should apply to a single person who is praying and asking the Lord for a spouse.
Keathley tells you that the parable is teaching that whatever it is you are asking God for, to keep asking for it until God answers and provides. Keep praying and asking God for the thing you want until God grants whatever it is.
At no point did I see any warnings by this author, Keathley, that you should be careful that whatever it is you’re petitioning God for is not equivalent to idolatry.
No, Keathley simply says, whatever it is you are seeking, keep approaching God about it.
How would the author of the first bible.org piece, Bob Deffinbaugh, who is apparently a mild advocate for the “wanting marriage is idolatry” opinion reconcile his advice to the single woman to what the other bible.org author, Keathley, wrote?
Either passages that teach us about petitioning God, such as the “parable of the persistent widow,” includes single people who desire a spouse, or they do not.
And if the Bible does not explicitly, or even implicitly, prohibit praying for marriage in such passages (and it does not), who are Christians to tell fellow Christians that their desire for, or seeking of God’s help and guidance for marriage, are sinning or in error?
Here are other pages about the Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge:
Related posts this blog:
(Link): Desire for Marriage is Idolatry?