Can you tell me where so many Christians get the idea that God chooses spouses for us? I’ve been saved for a number of years and it has always been generally accepted that we don’t really have a choice, but we are to wait on the Lord for “the” spouse He’s chosen. Where did that come from?
To answer this specific question, I will need to answer a broader question that I believe gives the underlying reasons for why many may believe that God “chooses” spouses for us and we do not have any choice in the matter. Let me broaden the question to include not only spouses, but also jobs, places to live, congregations to worship with and many other things.
In other words, I believe the broader question has to do with the idea people have about God’s guidance, “Does the Lord guide us in a direct way today by His Holy Spirit?” If so, does He exert influence upon us that affects how we choose in various areas of our life? This is the real question. I will try to answer it by first going to the passage that I believe is misunderstood by so many. Then, I will turn to How I believe the Scripture teaches that God guides us and cares for us while we are in the world. Then, I will make a few applications, including the example in your question.
First, I believe thinking that God almost makes decisions for us in life without our having any responsibility comes from a misunderstanding of how God guides us by His Spirit. This is often based on a misunderstanding of John 16:13,
JOH 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
Here, Jesus, the night before He died, speaks to His apostles about what is going to come after He is dead. Here, He mentions the coming of the Holy Spirit and the role He would play in revealing truth to the apostles. They, not us, would be directly guided by the Spirit in what they should teach and even where they should preach at various times. See Acts 2:14, 16:9-10.
Unfortunately, many have understood this to mean that they would receive “personal” guidance in every day life decisions from the Holy Spirit. However, this has not been promised to any of us. We are guided today by the written Word, revealed by the Spirit to the apostles, which contains principles that we should follow in making our life decisions. Romans 10:17, 2 Timothy 3:14-17. Even when the Holy Spirit was guiding the apostles to write God’s word, He did not prevent them from making mistakes in their daily lives. See Gal. 2:11-14.
In other words, God does not directly tell us who to marry, what job to take or where to live, but we do have principles given to us that help us make these important decisions. For example, Eph. 4:28 tells us to work with our hands what is good so we can provide for ourselves and for others. Therefore, we are free to choose whatever job we can do, except those jobs that would call on us to do things that are sinful.
Finally, just because the Spirit does not speak to us directly does not mean that we are without God looking out for us and caring for us. We can be assured that as we apply His principles to our lives that He does what is best for us on a daily basis. See Matt. 6:19-34, 7:7-12, Rom. 8:28-39.
By Gary Hunt