By: Thomas F. Booher
I am working on another book, which will tentatively bear the title of this post. Anyone interested in reading the whole book in advance and is willing to endorse it can do so. It would be much appreciated. That goes for anyone who is reformed, famous or not, married or single. Below is an excerpt from the book, containing part of chapter 1:
The hope I want to offer you, dear young and single Calvinist, is that God sets us free from having to compete with others in order to win the girl or catch the guy’s eye. Yes, the liberating truth of real Christian marriage is that in Christ you have been accepted as His bride, and because of that, you can be acceptable to any likeminded believer.
What am I saying? Am I saying that we can cut through all the red tape of having to find the person with the perfect personality, gorgeous eyes, financial stability, similar sense of humor, and same career goals?
In a word, yes. Yes. Because Christ did not accept you because of your personality, eyes, money, charm, or career aspirations. He did not accept you on account of your theological prowess, how passionately you preach the gospel, or how often you feed the hungry. He chose you for His own name’s sake, for His own glory. He chose you in order to reveal His glory to you, and in so doing He cleans you up from your sins and imperfections. Indeed, cleaning you up and loving you even though you are filthy is what makes Christ so loving and glorious to us. And He says the best earthly picture of His love for you is your love for your spouse.
Therefore the great hope, if you are willing to believe it, is that all the things mentioned above, from the superficial exteriors and lofty ambitions to even the gospel preaching and charitable giving, are counted as meaningless without love (1 Cor. 13). The real substance and joy of marriage (and thus the great hope) is found in the midst of marital love itself, with someone who boldly believes that real joy in marriage is found in the righteous experiences of meeting, dating, engagement, and consummately in marriage itself, from the moment you say “I do” until you breathe your last. It is the commitment to someone despite their imperfections and shortcomings, rather than a commitment to someone grounded upon your own selfish and petty lists of necessary qualities, that defines true marital love, because this is what defines Christ's marital love for His bride, the church. This is great hope because, let's face us, not many of us are rich, wise, beautiful, charming, or funny. But it's okay, because Christ has said His love for you, and thus your love for a spouse and their love for you, shouldn't be based on these things. If it is based on these things, it's selfishness, and it misses the point of Christian marriage, which is to clean each other up, to be fruitful and multiply, to reflect the glorious and sacrificial love of Christ for His church.
Marriage itself then is the delight of marriage, because the root of all Christian love, and especially marital love, goes beneath the things that you do and materializes in the decision to love only that person in this special way. Again, marriage is a mirror of Christ's electing love for us. Entering with another into a marriage covenant which was predestined from before the foundation of the world to be a representation of Christ’s love for the Church and the Church’s love for Christ, a love which itself was predestined from before the foundation of the world, is the delight of marriage. It's a particular, exclusive love that loves despite our imperfections, both internally and externally. And this is the great hope, the freedom of marital love. We can be laid bare before our spouse, and despite our weaknesses and wickedness, we are still loved, and we still give love. It's beautiful. And it all begins with a decision to love in this way, no matter what, till death do you part. It is a picture of the cross.
So it’s this decision to love that makes marriage so lovely, in the same way that it is the love you share with Christ that makes being a Christian so lovely. In marriage, you have freedom to love within the structure of God’s covenant. So the key my single friends is to find a spouse that is pursuing this freedom of loving within the marriage covenant, and is doing so according to Scripture. The basis of this love will not be self-seeking, will not demand high standards regarding secondary and tertiary things, but will make the one important thing all-important: that you are willing to love someone as Christ has loved us, with no strings attached.
What a hard love to give and rare love to receive, but if you can obtain it, it is the sweetest love you will ever know.