When talking in church about marriage, I’ve heard all sorts of things. I’ve heard that the other person should be really attractive, they should be debt free, from a stable home, mentally and physically stable, and an innocent virgin (precluding the possibility of a previous marriage or children), among other things.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting those things in a mate. However, most people are lucky to have only one or two of those qualities. A lot of those things exist on a spectrum. Even one’s status as a virgin. Have you watched porn, masturbated? Maybe you’ve had sex but it wasn’t consensual? Or are you completely innocent regarding all things sexual?

What do we set ourselves up for when we make a list of what we want in a mate? A friend of mine said it’s the same objectification that arises from the culture of pornography. Pornography is so powerful because you’re given the perfect partner. He/she is always ready and willing. He/she is always attractive. He/she has your same kinks or fantasies. He/she responds the way you like. It’s a fantasy.

But what happens when people make a list? They also get a fantasy mate. A mate with no previous commitments (such as old debts or children from a previous spouse or partner). They are perfectly sane and rational. They are perfectly loving and know your love language inside and out. They are perfectly sexually compatible. They are attractive. They come from a loving family. They have no physical handicaps.

I don’t think this person exists. And if they did, why would they choose you?  That’s not supposed to be a condemnation. It’s just a fact of life. Who would this perfect person be seeing out? But it sure feels condemning when you’re the one being passed over because you lack one or more of these qualities.

A lot of people get so tied up in a list and have a picture in their head of what their mate will look like that they miss the treasure God has put before them. And God’s treasures are not always easy to see. They are usually hidden in some undesirable exterior.


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