We celebrate Valentine's Day because on February 14th around the year 270 A.D. Emperor Claudius II sentenced Valentine, a Roman priest, to be beaten to death and beheaded.
His crime? Performing marriages. Claudius [the Cruel] needed to maintain a strong army, but was having a hard time getting soldiers to join because they were strongly attached to their wives and families. His solution? Ban marriage and engagements in Rome.
Valentine realized this injustice, and kept marrying young lovers in secret. He was busted, and ultimately, martyred.
Today, marriage is under attack yet again -- but for different reasons. Today the attack is cultural. We've given into the words of the world. As a Christian who wants to have a God-centered marriage, this is problematic!
When we look at marriage statistics in the U.S. they are declining rapidly. In 1984, 48% of adults age 18-34 were married. In 2018, that number was just 28%. The average age of a woman to get married is now 28, and the average age of a man is 30.
I always wanted to be married and have a family, although I didn't really start to prioritize this until my late 20's. I had adventures to go on, money to make, properties to buy... And I once dated a guy who told me I wasn't going to be a good wife, not once, but on several occasions. Ouch.
But my desire to be a wife is strong (although when this picture for a bridal photoshoot was taken, I was nowhere near ready ). I have a huge heart. I love hard. I want to do life with my best friend, serve together, pray together, minister together... and yet I keep coming up empty-handed.
I've wondered why that is, and I really think it boils down to selfishness. We live in a society that focuses on me, me, and more me. But marriage, in fact, is the opposite of selfishness. It's pure selflessness. I took some time to talk to various married folks, and listened to hours of different sermons. Here are my takeaways:
As a Christian, I've seen myself buy into the lies that the world has told us. One of the biggest culprits is, "I need to find myself before I find my spouse." This isn't a Biblical idea. It's not rooted in selflessness at all -- that's a purely selfish motive.
1. From a Spiritual Standpoint, You'll Find Yourself in God
But from a marriage standpoint, you'll find yourself through your spouse. They will be a mirror for you, they will show you your blindspots, and they will help you uncover parts of yourself that you didn't know existed.
2. Marriage Wasn't Designed to Make You Happy
It was designed to make you holy. While it's good to know who you are, and there are multiple tools to help you find out more about yourself (Love Language, Attachment Style, StrenghtsFinder, etc.), you will never know yourself 100% and you'll never be 100% ready for marriage. It's a commitment that you have to make with discernment and faith.
3. No One is Truly Compatible
It's good to know what you bring to the table. It's good to vet the people you date, know your dealbreakers, etc. But "compatibility" and "incompatibility" are thrown around very heavily in our society, yet the only real thing the Bible has said about compatibility is not to be unequally yoked.
We are all unique people, with our own values, desires, quirks, etc. Most people give up on marriages and relationships in general because once the cracks in your "compatibility" start to show, they're convinced they are with the wrong person. So they start over with someone new, only to end up in the same predicament.
4. Our Views on Relationships are Unrealistic
When you can just keep swiping right, why on earth would you actually commit? But Genesis 2:18 reminds us that, "It is not good for man to be alone." We were meant for marriage.
In fact, In Ephesians 5 we're told that wives should submit themselves to their own husbands as they do to the Lord. And for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up to the church -- and to love their wives as their own bodies because he who loves his wife loves himself.
If you're selfish in dating, you'll be selfish in marriage, and selfishness is not Godliness. The goal is to be selfless to your partner.
So, to my prayer warriors out there, my married friends, dating friends, single friends -- today I ask that you would pray for me. I pray that God would continue to work on me and mold me into a wife (and to forgive that guy for telling me I wouldn't be a good wife! Ugh.) I've got my "list" of what I'm looking for in my future spouse, so I can send that to you if you want to pray over that, too.
My prayer is that by next Valentine's Day, I will have found my forever person, but even if that doesn't work out, I still am trusting God's timing and plan for my life.