Relationship Idolatry

Are you more devoted to God than to your desire for a soul mate?

What does the word “idol” mean to you? A certain reality show featuring aspiring singers? Aspirations to achieve the status of a favorite athlete, actress or writer? Exotic trinkets that supposedly bring either good or “taboo” to their bearers, depending on the whims of the “god” or “gods” they represent?

For Christians and non-Christians alike, it’s easy to restrict the perception of an “idol” to a blatant act of sin, such as the one found in Exodus 32. True, we may not hoist an actual golden calf aloft in worship before the God of the universe. In 2011, the sin of idolatry tends to be far more insidious, creeping bit by bit into our lives and replacing our relationship with Christ with a worldly “Savior.” As Christians, what should we guard ourselves against when it comes to “modern day” idols? What do they even look like?

For single believers in particular, the idol can be something that, in and of itself, is holy and ordained by God himself: The desire for marriage and a soul mate. Of course, there is nothing wrong with seeking a godly spouse to love, honor and cherish until death do you part. Nor is there anything inherently sinful about picturing a dream wedding, or the (seemingly) perfect spouse to take home at the end of that celebratory night. None of these things are a sin in and of themselves, of course; a marriage that honors Christ is both holy and good. After all, God himself stated in Genesis that is “not good” for man to be alone, and created Eve. But at what point do we cross the line and become engaged (pardon the pun) in the all-consuming sin of idolatry?

The key words here are “all-consuming.” In Exodus 20:3-5, God stated very plainly: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” In the most simplistic terms, an idol represents any object that knocks the real God off the throne in favor of a false one. How much of your mind, your time and your heart is consumed with worshiping the search for a soul mate?

If your honest evaluation leads you to believe you might Anyone who believes they may be tipping the scales toward idolatry, you will need to put things back into the proper Biblical perspective. First, repent and restore God to His proper place in your life. Pray that God would help you to resist the temptation to focus too much of your time and energy on the search for a spouse. Ask Him to help fill you with a desire for things that are honoring to Him, including serving Him and reading Scripture. It may be helpful to study Romans 12:1-2, and make (or renew) a dedication of your body to the Lord.

Second, we need to remember that as Christians, we are God’s vessels—created to manifest His goodness in all we do, whether married or single. How are we honoring God if we spend our days worshipping at the altar of self – the root of idolatry? Is your desire for marriage and quest for a soul mate quenching the Holy Spirit’s work in your life? Remember that mates are a gift and God is the Giver.

Lastly, as single people, we must also remember that before we become engaged to an earthly mate, we are already betrothed to a bridegroom, who is Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27). Imagine how disrespectful it would be for a bride or groom to walk down the church aisle with their eyes darting around at the flowers or the stained glass windows, admiring everything but their future spouse. Yet such a tragedy becomes reality when we focus more on our quest for a mate than a relationship with our Beloved and His people.

As Christians, the deep hole of loneliness we may feel within while we are single is God-shaped, not ring-shaped, and can only be filled by Him, not a spouse. A marriage partner can never fill the place of God in our lives. Walking down the aisle, taking sacred vows and sailing off into the sunset with another imperfect, sinful being can never truly fulfill us the way a relationship with a perfect and holy God can.

Recommended Reading:

The Satisfied Heart by Ruth Myers

Spend 31 days in God’s loving arms and you’ll discover the secret to contentment in life. Deep within, many of us sense a longing for fulfillment – a hunger that cries out to be satisfied. Wonderfully, God in His infinite love can satisfy this passionately felt need. Better still, He will – as we let Him. For when we seek to pursue Him first of all, writes author Ruth Myers, our satisfaction with life, ourselves, and our Creator truly is guaranteed. Drawing upon her own deeply personal experience with a God who desires to be intimately acquainted with every area of His children’s lives, Ruth Myers paints a dramatic picture of a loving Father who gives us all we need to be satisfied – no matter how severe our struggles, failings, and disappointments. Myers explains, “The heart that has tasted of God’s love will always turn back to Him with longing and say, ‘Only Your love can meet my deepest needs.'” In The Satisfied Heart, readers will learn how to enter into a deeper, more complete, and thoroughly fulfilling contentment with God – as well as a true delight in all that life brings.

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