True Love Doesn’t Wait
A friend passed me on a link to an incredibly popular post on marriage… knowing that I write on such things. And I read it, and wanted to cry (It’s Ok. I didn’t actually cry. And it was written by a girl so I’m allowed to be a bit emotional about it, all right? Calm down there in the back!). It was incredibly poignant.
It’s a graveyard of hearts, this place where single church girls crash into their late 20s and early 30s. Churches see the symptoms. They scramble to reach out to the ever-growing young adult singles crowd who feels alienated by family-oriented services.
It was a post by an unmarried older woman. An ‘old maid’. A woman who had taken the ‘purity pledge’ and believed for years that ‘true love waits’. And had waited. And been disappointed.
There are a lot of girls out there who don’t know who God is anymore – the God of their youth group years just isn’t working out. Back then, that God said to wait for sex until they are married, until He brings the right man along for a husband. They signed a card and put it on the altar and pledged to wait.
And wait they did.
These young ladies breathed in the false fumes of the dating and courtship movement. ‘Just wait’ they were told, ‘and the perfect husband will come along.’ But he never did. Their knight in shining armor never arrived.
Some of them have prayed their whole lives for a husband, and he hasn’t shown up. They’ve heard the advice to “be the woman God made you to be, focus on that, and then the husband will come.” They’ve read “Lady in Waiting,” gotten super involved in church and honed their domestic skills.
And still they wait.
I’m sure that most of them are under the impression that the church’s view on this has been the same down all of the generations. That the church has always taught ‘True Love Waits’, even back in the days when it was written in Latin on purity rings: “Verus Amor Manet”.
But it wasn’t. They didn’t. Far from saying ‘True Love Waits’, the church fathers (the protestant ones. Catholicism is another issue.) told the young people to, ummm, marry. And the church and their fathers were supposed to make sure this happened.
“To sum the matter up: whoever finds himself unsuited to the celibate life should see to it right away that he has something to do and to work at; then let him strike out in God’s name and get married. A young man should marry at the age of twenty at the latest, a young woman at fifteen to eighteen; that’s when they are still in good health and best suited for marriage. Let God worry about how they and their children are to be fed. God makes children; he will surely also feed them. Should he fail to exalt you and them here on earth, then take satisfaction in the fact that he has granted you a Christian marriage, and know that he will exalt you there; and be thankful to him for his gifts and favours.”
~ Martin Luther
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that True Love doesn’t wait. True Love can only come from Christ, and can only be exercised in obedience to Christ. And Christ, via Paul, commands True Love to marry. That is, unless it has the gift of celibacy (Hint: If you are writing blog posts about your frustration in not being married, you don’t have the gift of celibacy).
True Love does not wait, it marries. But unfortunately the Church isn’t teaching that. And not only that but it is teaching a very particular kind of ‘waiting’. It is teaching that waiting, in and of itself, is a ‘good thing’. That it is a ‘waiting on the Lord’. And they teach that the waiting serves the purpose of helping the young man or woman grow in Godliness enough so that they qualify to get married. If you aren’t married, they teach, it is because you aren’t Godly enough. If you would only become more Godly, then God would grant you a husband (or wife). 
This leads many women, especially, to begin to follow the path of seeking Godliness, not for its own sake, not for God’s sake, not out of love for Christ… but in order to ‘win’ themselves a husband. They pray, write, and work to make themselves ‘good enough’ for the glorious gift of the perfect husband. The one designed just for them, the one that will meet all of their needs.
(But, of course, one of the most important ways in which they teach each other that they need to be Godly is in ‘learning’ that a husband will not meet all of one’s needs. Indeed that is one of the triggers proposed for a woman becoming good enough for a husband: learning that he will not meet all of her needs. So in order to get the husband which will meet all of her needs she needs to learn that a husband will not meet all of her needs. The pathos in some of these blog posts is just incredible.)
Scripture teaches something which is near to being the opposite of this. While the modern church is teaching our young (wo)men to become perfect in order to get married, Scripture teaches them to get married in order to become perfect. Perfect as in growing in Sanctification. Perfect as in being obedient to God’s commands.
God shows us that an elder of the church learns to be an elder, is proved in his qualification, through the furnace of family life. “If a man know not how to rule his own house,” Paul asks, seemingly sarcastically, “how shall he take care of the church of God?”
Paul desires that the young women, “marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. “ Saying that because of disobedience to this precept, “some are already turned aside after Satan.”
Paul states that the older women are to teach the younger women to, “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands,” giving as a reason, “that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
This list could go on and on. We have dealt in other posts with the issues raised in I Cor 7:2, Proverbs 5, and the Song of Solomon.
I feel for the woman who wrote this post. She was sold the false doctrine that ‘True Love Waits’, and she waited. She took a vow, and she waited… and waited. Until, finally, one day, she was done waiting. Not, unfortunately, because her waiting had provided her with a husband, but because she had given up waiting. Not because she (or her father, or her church) had started doing something about her state, but because they didn’t, and wouldn’t.
True love doesn’t wait. It marries.
Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee.
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
Marriage is the primordial institution. Before the formation of any civil government, before anyone had darkened the door of any church, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” and created a family. He gave a woman, the first woman, to the man, the first man.
And God said, “Be fruitful and multiply”. The family: a man and a woman, multiplying. A man and a woman and the children that God blesses them with: “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.”
We look at the titles of God and we see God claiming preeminence in all Earthly jurisdictions. He calls himself lord, master, prophet, priest, king… and above all the highest title: the great I Am. But look at how many of His titles reflect the family jurisdiction: Father, Son, Husband, even lover. Christ most dramatically emphasizes the two titles: Father and Son. Son of God, Son of man, and the father of all.
Beginning in the Major Prophets we read of God as symbolizing himself as a husband. He finds a poor, naked, abandoned infant wallowing in the blood of its birth, and He takes it and begins tenderly caring for her. And then, eventually, he marries her, providing her with His love and every material blessing. And she rebels, leaving to wallow in prostitution, and leaving him to seek after her and discipline her.
Then in Ephesians 5 we read the NT ‘sequel’. We read that Christ has taken a bride… the church. That even while she was dead in her sins, He came and died to pay the price, the redemption price, to take her as His own wife.
And we read that he expects our marriages to reflect that eternal relationship. For husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. For wives to submit to their husbands as the church should submit to Christ. That the one flesh relationship between Christ and the church is the reason that husbands are commanded to leave their parents and cleave to their wives.
True love doesn’t wait. It marries.
If we as believers make that our message, things could be drastically different for a lot of girls wondering why the God they think they learned to follow doesn’t compute.
It doesn’t necessarily stop the desire for a husband or end all feelings of loneliness, but it does show a God who provides, loves and gives infinite purpose even to our singleness rather than a God who categorically denies some who pray for husbands while seemingly giving freely to others.
Our culture, our church, our fathers, have placed our young women, especially, in the position of blaming God for a fault of the church. They were taught to wait, to pray. And then, when the husband they were praying for didn’t come, they were taught, and taught each other, to be content… to find contentment in Christ instead of a husband.
That’s good stuff. Or, rather, it would be good if it were true. If getting married was really supposed to be a thing of waiting and praying instead of a going and doing. I don’t blame these young ladies, I don’t blame this young lady. But I do blame those that failed her. I blame us. We taught her, we taught them, that true love waits.
But true love doesn’t wait. It marries.
Ironically one of the ways this Godliness is supposed to be expressed is in ceasing to long for a wife or husband!
I Timothy 3
 I Timothy 5
 Titus 2
 Malachi 2:15