On Marital “Joint Callings”
I recently had a discussion with some people from my church that proved quite enlightening (and the food was good). The topic of conversation was finding someone who had the “same” calling as you in choosing a mate. It’s something that I’ve certainly thought a lot about, and it wasn’t until recently that I realized that my theology of this was incorrect.
I thought that I should only marry someone who was called to the mission field as I was. Anything less than that would be frustrating and unfulfilling. Well, I realized that that is not what I should be looking for. I should instead be looking for someone that loves and trusts me enough to follow me wherever God is calling me. That seems to be the true measure of a biblical, God-ordained marriage.
The Greatest Love Story
Well, I should caveat that the “greatest” love story is that that God has for us in sending his son (John 3:16), but in terms of a model relationship I want to examine that of Jacob and Rachel.
Isaac sent Jacob to find a wife (Gen 28:1), and it was this endeavor that shows the depths of love a man should have for a woman. It is obvious in the next chapter that Jacob falls in love with Rachel instantly: “Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept” (Gen 29:11). In fact, he loved her so he promised her father Laban that he would serve him for seven years for his daughter, but this didn’t phase Jacob because the years “seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her” (Gen 29:20).
After the seven years he asked for Rachel, but instead Laban tricked him to having sex with Leah after a feast (Gen 29: 23). Laban then tells Jacob that traditionally you marry the firstborn and therefore he needed to take the hand of Leah first (Gen 29:24). So Jacob took Leah and Leah even bore six children to Jacob before God gave a son to Rachel named Joseph. It is no coincidence that Jacob had a greater love for Joseph then the others. This jealousy led to the great story through the rest of Genesis.
Jacob didn’t ask Rachel if she shared the same calling. The unconditional and deep love they had for each other received the blessing of God and did fulfill the calling on both of their lives. Rachel loved Jacob enough to follow him wherever she needed to, and God blessed that commitment. It is a great picture of how Christ pursues his church!
A Careful Caveat
I understand that sharing a similar passion is important and fruitful, but I fear that to many Christians put that above the greater concern that God has for his institution of marriage. We can learn much from the example set forth by Jacob and Rachel.
Matt Martin, my dear friend and brother, once told me to find a woman that was running after Jesus as hard as you and that was the most important thing. Sure enough, he met his beautiful wife Ashley shortly after that, and they exemplify this lesson. It is a great thing to pursue Christ together and somehow God manages to work out the details!