I originally published this blog post on January 30, 2016.
The Lord, for reasons known only to Him, kept me single until a month before my 49th birthday. His decision troubled me greatly, to say the least.
During those anguished years of singleness, “Christian psychology” made its way into the church I’d joined. Consequently, I felt compelled to analyze my desire to marry, much as my friends tried to analyze their same sex attractions. Borrowing from that church’s use of psychological models, I reasoned that uncovering the underlying cause of my longing for a husband would unlock ways that Jesus could directly provide me with romantic fulfillment.
You may have guessed that my quest never yielded the answers I sought. I struggled with enormous self-condemnation because Jesus didn’t satisfy me. So of course I then searched for explanations regarding my apparent resistance to Him. I read countless “Christian” books on co-dependency, emotional dependency, inner healing, and all sorts of other psychological blocks to “receiving God’s love.” But my desire for marriage stubbornly remained.
Looking back, I easily see that romantic fulfillment was an idol. Mercifully, the Lord did eventually bless me with a marriage far beyond my expectations, for which I praise Him. But what if He hadn’t?
Scripture says that God created us for His pleasure and purposes, not so that He could cater to our “felt needs.”
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.” ~~Revelation 4:11 (ESV)
The King James Version says “and for thy pleasure they are created.” So, while my marriage extends happiness as a wonderful by-product, the Lord actually brought it about to glorify Himself. If He had chosen to keep me single, He would have also done that for His glory. My emotional gratification really matters little in comparison to how He chooses to glorify Himself through me.
As post-modern evangelicals shift increasingly toward a gospel that requires the Lord to meet our emotional needs, we lose sight of the true Gospel that revolves around Him. The Lord primarily cares about making us holy. He died in order to take the wrath of God that rightly belongs to each of us so that we, as a corporate Church, might be His eternal Bride. Thus, His purpose in redeeming us goes far beyond our temporal happiness.
When we then shift the emphasis from His eternal joy to what we can get out of Him in this life, we cheapen the Gospel. In fact, dear sisters in Christ, we cheapen Christ. The hours we waste in psychological counseling could be used in studying and applying Scripture as we seek to live in holiness before Him.
“Christian” psychology, by offering non-existent answers to questions we have no business asking in the first place, subtly shifts God into the role of our Servant. Even though He does graciously bless us, we must break out of our insidious attitude that He has an obligation to fulfill us emotionally. We exist to please Him, and we can rejoice that He takes pleasure in us.