Marriage: There Are No Ideals

My Christian subculture tells me that the best marriage is one where the husband and wife lead ministry together. Anything else is somehow sub-par.

Following this, I always wanted to marry a pastor. I thought it would be the ideal life—we’d minister together and God would be glorified.

Then I dated a pastor, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. We break up.

And still, those who minister together are held up as ideal; if someone’s spouse has another type of job, it’s a pity. Not only are single pastors often thought of as “less,” the married who minister alone often face their own stigma.

Why can’t we just let people be who they are?

Why can't we just let people be who they are? Click To Tweet

Why does a potential spouse’s vocation often trump their character when choosing whom to date? Now, certainly, some vocations are immoral, but that’s character, right? I suppose if I’m called to live internationally, I need someone else who wants to do so as well, but most of us are simply called to relatively normal domestic life.

In my teen years, I’m told that I should have a list of what I want in a husband. Then, if I pray, God will give me what I want. Early in my twenties I burn that list—who’s to say that I know what I need in a husband? Top of the list was pastor, worship leader, etc. There was less about character than about role fulfillment.

Perhaps it’s better to be faithful to God and follow what seem to be God’s dreams for me, not my own. God’s dreams—whether single or married. I can’t help but think that we make paltry plans for God, our prayers telling God what to do. They are human-sized plans. Perhaps it would be better to ask God for mercy and let God plan and work in that miraculous way.

We make paltry, human-sized plans for God and ask for fulfillment. Click To Tweet

It’s not ideal to marry a pastor. If every Christian married a pastor, who would be living normal lives in the world? Who would be shining the light of Christ simply by their presence in all areas of society? Talk to any pastoral couple, and they’ll tell you about their marital struggles—everyone has them!

It’s okay if you and your spouse don’t minister together. Don’t try to get him or her to do something they don’t want to do simply in order to fulfill an ideal in your head. Don’t feel “less” because you simply try to be a good neighbor and don’t enroll in what others call “ministry.” Doesn’t Jesus call us to be good neighbors (Luke 10:25-37)? Doesn’t Jesus say we’ll be judged on how we treat the “least of these” (Matt 25:31-46)?

It's okay if you and your spouse don't minister together. Click To Tweet

Jesus didn’t have a spouse who ministered with him, and we think of Jesus as the ideal human.

But for those who are married and minister together, that is ideal for them. It’s high time we quit comparing our lives to others’ and simply love the life we have and live it well. I think those who minister together as couples are great!

And for those who are married and do not minister together, that is ideal for them. I know no CEOs who think their spouse should be working alongside him or her. Why should that be different in the church? If a married couple want to run a business together—great! But if they want to have different vocations, that’s great too!

I truly believe there is no real “ideal” for marriage; God has made us all individuals, so the individual differences in our marriages should be embraced rather than feared. Your marriage is the ideal for you; embrace it and live in it fully!*

* A brief disclaimer, this is advised when the partners are healthy persons and treat each other in a kind and considerate manner. If one or both partners are unhealthy, unkind, or inconsiderate, other avenues should be considered.

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