By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
"You haven't found a spouse because you're too picky." Every single Christian who wants to pursue a relationship has heard this. In the picture-perfect world that Hollywood presents, we may wonder if we've glamorized our future spouses too much that we've turned down wonderful options.
But we also have to exercise wariness when it comes to the advice of lowering our standards. Too many Christians have already lowered their standards too much and have settled for abusive or unbelieving boyfriends or girlfriends, in an effort to appease family members and friends (or, really, to get them off their backs). So how do we discern if we've become too picky or are just waiting for a godly man or woman?
Let's dive into some common discerning factors.
Attraction Vs. Pickiness about Looks
The Bible tells us about the deception of charm and the fleeting nature of beauty (Proverbs 31:30). But something I wish someone had told me earlier on in my dating life was about the importance of attraction.
Saving face for the identities of some of my previous boyfriends, I did not have an attraction to many of them. I thought that I would simply grow attracted to them over time if I fell in love with their godly character. I did not.
So some level of attraction does need to exist in a relationship. Our bodies will morph and change over time, but we shouldn't downplay the importance of attraction, especially when fulfilling the biblical duty to leave and cleave to one's spouse.
But what about the opposite end? The Christians who seem to want to date and marry a supermodel or Crossfit athlete?
Everyone has a different "type." Some of us have some level of pickiness when it comes to looks. But the following are some areas to consider if you care too much about looks:
Do you refuse to date someone of a certain ethnicity?
Do you require your date to be under or over a certain weight?
Do you refuse to date someone with a height difference from you?
Do you require your date to have a certain hair color, facial hair, eye color, or skin color?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may need to pray about possible pickiness. God may have a spouse in mind for you who doesn't fit your exact type.
Saving Relationship with Jesus Vs. Must Basically Be a Pastor
Obviously, I've used an extreme example above, but sometimes Christians can get picky about how much Bible knowledge someone has. Whether they have the same eschatological views as you do. Whether they've had a Christian education, attended seminary, etc.
We do not want to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. So I do want to make that clear. We do want to seek after godly spouses. Many people claim to have a saving relationship and their fruit does not have the evidence of a life enriched by the Gospel. So we should exercise discernment.
On the other hand, how MUCH pressure do we put on our future spouse to know everything about the Bible?
I've also seen men get intimidated if a woman knows more about the Bible than they do. They sometimes will drop a relationship with a woman if they feel she has intellectual superiority.
The goal of a marriage should be to find someone who can spur you on in the faith. Some of us have different giftings where we can help someone with blind spots in their spiritual walk. Someone may have strength in the knowledge of Scripture, while another has a stronger gifting in faith and prayer. We shouldn't discount someone because they don't have the breadth of intellectual knowledge we do about the Bible.
But we should expect them to be regularly in the Word and growing in their faith.
Must-Haves Vs. Negotiables
We all have items under the must-have section. Items we won't bend on.
- We must have children, whether biological or adopted
- She must be in the Word regularly and growing
- He must be okay with the fact that I do missionary work
But sometimes Christians can get overly picky with must-haves. In addition to pickiness about looks, Christians may expect someone to have a certain salary to support their dreams or must have the exact same passions that they do. For instance, I've seen so many bios that say, "Must love exercise." "Must love healthy food." "Must love movies." Etc.
And I totally get it. We do want someone to share our passion. If I ran into someone who vehemently hated books, I might have a difficult time having a conversation with them, since writing books is a big part of what I do. But if I run into someone who doesn't read books, but gets excited when I talk about my passions and supports me, then I may have found a wonderful potential spouse.
I cannot properly diagnose in an article, on an individual basis, if someone needs to exercise more or less pickiness. I leave that up to the Holy Spirit to impress upon the hearts of readers. But I will leave readers with some questions to ponder when deciding if we've gotten too picky or if we just simply need to wait on God's timing for the right man or woman to come along.
Have you refused to back down from wanting a godly spouse?
If so, wonderful. You are not being picky—no matter what Aunt Lilah tells you. God encourages us to not cleave to an unequally yoked spouse.
Have your preferences weeded out many wonderful, potential spouses?
Did you dump her because she was a redhead? Did you drop him because he didn't speak the same love language as you? We have to remember that when we marry someone, their physique will change. Gentlemen, that especially goes for your future wife if you want her to have plenty of children (i.e. stop asking women to be less than 120 pounds if you want her to also get pregnant down the road). Age has a way of making us not look the same as we did on our wedding day. So we need to often think of the future rather than what we see before us right now.
Have you left it in the Lord's hands?
Have you allowed for the possibility for God to bring someone into your life who doesn't fit the mold you've crafted in your mind? If so, congratulations, you're probably not being picky. If not, surrender yourself to God. He may bring a wonderful person into your life you would've otherwise overlooked.
Photo credit: GettyImages/Artem Peretiatko
Hope Bolinger is a multi-published novelist and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,200 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy is out with IlluminateYA. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her on her website.