Now that I’ve exposed myself a bit shockingly, let me soften the blow. I do pray occasionally that my girls be blessed by a happy marriage with a man who is Christ-centered and Bible-loving to the core.
But not very often.
The simple answer why not is two-part: because I have no idea if they will have husbands and because having a husband isn’t the most important thing for them.
I also don’t pray for my daughter’s future children, because I don’t know if she’ll have them.
You may wonder if I’m saying that having a husband is a bad thing? No. Obviously. I’m happily married and grateful to be.
Am I saying I don’t want my girls to get married? No. I would be very pleased if they got married. Do I want them to have children if they’re married? Yes. But, just because marriage and family are the common way God does things doesn’t mean that it will happen for my kids.
What I’m saying is, is that praying for marriage and a spouse isn’t the highest thing I can pray for my girls. What do I communicate about my priorities for them by praying that? That I’m happily married and want the same blessing for them? Hopefully. That marriage and families are a good design of God to pass the faith onto the next generation? Hopefully. But I also may subtly give them the message that singleness is second best. Or unthinkable, at worst.
I’ve never heard a mother say that she’s praying that her daughter will have a life of happy singleness and single-minded devotion to the Lord. Yet, Paul desires us to be single and says it’s a good thing. Nor have I heard a mother pray that for her son. If I heard a woman doing that, I would think, “I sure hope she’s not disappointed if she ends up as a mother-in-law to some poor girl.”
The Bible is clear that both marriage and singleness are good. Gen 2:18 “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” Eccl. 4:9 “Two are better than one..” 1 Cor. 7:8 “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” 1 Cor. 7:38 “So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.”
I like this as a summary from Paul on singleness: “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” 1 Corinthians 7:7
So, what would Paul make of us praying for our children’s future spouses or for them to be married and mothers? Much more than that, how do those prayers fall on the ears of our Lord? Are they the pleasing aroma of moms who love their God so much that all other loves look like hate in comparison? Or, does God hear a perversion of a created order? Has an idol been erected in place of a good gift? Are we asking God for married daughters and godly future spouses because we secretly believe that this is the ULTIMATE thing for them to have. Not Jesus.
Praying for future marriage and motherhood seems so far down the line, when I think of the high things I can pray for my kids, things that are undoubtedly part of God’s revealed moral will. I want them to know GOD! I want them to look on Jesus and see Him clearly, as the Savior, not as a fool or a figment of imaginations! I want them to be KEPT until the final day! I want their lives to be hidden with Christ in God! Marriage and mothering, while good and usual, have no bearing on these things.
Our culture has told us that Love is the great pursuit. Romantic love without boundaries; marriage is unnecessary. Find your Soul Mate and you’ll have found the One True Thing. Christians have tweaked this to make Love in Marriage the idol. And in conservative circles we may tack mothering on as an extension of that. Marriage and mothering become the main goal. They’re not. They flow out of the main goal, which I already have: I belong to Christ, everything else about me is just details. Details that matter practically for my life, but details none the less.
Now, I’ll start with my disclaimers. I’m not saying that marriage is not meaningful. It is a picture of the Gospel. I’m not saying that motherhood isn’t a high calling. Is it ever! And for those who have been blessed with marriage and mothering, we will, for all practical purposes, spend ourselves on these two things for most or all of our life. That’s good and right and we don’t take it lightly. He put us in the role, after all.
I love the mom blogs. I love the inspiration from wives and mothers who are sacrificing themselves for the sake of others. The “others” in a wife and mom’s life is often her family. There is eternal weight and significance in this. We sacrifice for our families because of who we are in Christ, not the other way around.
And singles also pour out themselves for the sake of others. It just isn’t for their husband or kids. It might be their parents, their siblings, their nieces, nephews, their neighbors, or the nations. Both matter. They overlap. They may look practically different, but at the core, if you’re a believer, you’ll be poured out for other people. And filled up. And poured out. And filled up.
We cannot assume that marriage and motherhood are God’s choice for our daughter–even though both will necessarily be more common as ordinances of creation. I will not presume to train them (only) for a career as a stay-home mom. They may not be moms at all. And if singleness is what God has for them I want to be able to look them in the eye without flinching and say, “Praise God. He has dealt kindly with you and I’m so happy you’re single.” And to do the same thing if they marry.
Growing up and attending weddings I heard young women say that their parents had prayed every night for their future husband. The point was: “Look, it worked! Praise God for this happy ending.” Now, I’m not saying that’s wrong. It may even be right. It depends on how the parent’s prayed it and whether the getting of the godly husband was the penultimate or a hope in subject to God’s will.
If you’re going to pray for your girls’ future husband, there should be a lot of “if’s” in there. “Lord, if it’s your will for my daughter to be married, won’t you give her a husband who loves You and is a man of the Book?! And if she’s to be single, won’t You satisfy her with more and more of Yourself for her joy and Your namesake?!”
I’ll end by encouraging myself and you to pray bigger, more immediate things for your girls’ than mainly for the unknown possibility of a future spouse. We have a faithful God. If our children end up married (and many will) and we didn’t spend their preschool years praying for their husband, we can start once they actually have a beau. He will hear those johnny-come-lately prayers. And I think He’ll be honored by the heart that prized Him as greater than all His gifts and ordinances. He is the Great Reward.
Wouldn’t mind some feedback or pushback on this. What do you think?