He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD. (Proverbs 18:22—NKJV)

One of the favorite discussions that consumes late night hours in dorms of Christian colleges centers on the question of whether God has one person in mind for a person to marry within the very center of His will. Of course, you also have to address how you know who that person is, if indeed this is true. There really is no Bible verse which states as much and so there are worthy arguments on both sides of the question.

Some of the great Bible stories have within them a grand love story. There is the story of Joseph and Mary where Joseph displays his integrity and obedience. There is the story of Boaz and Ruth where he displays a punctilious character and great loyalty. There is the story of the servant seeking a wife for Isaac who depends upon God alone for leading in his search. There is the story of Adam and Eve where, having known real perfection, he weathers the troublesome storms of life with the wife of his youth for almost one thousand years. Another untold story is that of Aquila and Priscilla who used their home to strengthen the saints.

The origin of the question is founded in a biblical understanding of the sovereignty of God. God is undeniably sovereign and is not confined by the limits of time. Instead, time is under His control as well as all the rest of His creation. Therefore He already knows all that will be—including if you will have a spouse and who she will be. Because of His sovereign right as the Creator He has the right to define and to manage the institution of marriage. In fact, He instituted marriage before He instituted government, indicating that even the State does not have the ability to define the boundaries of marriage in any way distinct from His boundaries. Genesis 2:22 and 24: “Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man…. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined [welded, cling, bond together] to his wife, and they shall be one [multiplicity of unity—like ‘one family’] flesh.” God is the author of real marriage and we must abide by His dictates if we want a successful marriage.

In Adam’s case there was just one for him. How about the rest of us? In theological principle God has established whether we will be single or married, and if married, the one we will marry. These things are known to Him alone. In practice, we must act based upon what wisdom we find within the Word of God, which is all the certain revelation from Him we have in this age. God will lead as we follow Him in obedience. As an illustration of this, consider the servant who was sent to find a bride for Isaac. The servant was given a commission, dutifully obeyed his orders, prayed in dependence upon God, and asked that God would be gracious to his master. Genesis 24:27 reads, “And he said, ‘Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.” Rebekah was the one for Isaac, discerned by the faithful servant who depended only upon God for His leading.

His experience was not unique. Ruth was led, as she chose the people of God for her people, to glean in the field of her kinsman redeemer! Proverbs 19:14 states, “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent [to cause to act wisely, understand] wife is from the LORD.” Undoubtedly faithful obedience on the behalf of your spouse will lead to tremendous blessings in your life because God will grant greater wisdom through greater devotion. Proverbs 12:4 reminds us, “An excellent [virtuous, force, strength of mind and body] wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

Since we do not dwell within the holy halls of heaven but do dwell in the light of God’s redemptive mercy, we need not argue whether God has only one person for us and did we miss her. Rather, we ought to be focused on the search for the seeds of godly virtue in the prospects that come across our path. Since God is the One who knows His plan, do not be afraid to apply His tests. For the Christian guy or girl, “All is fair in love and war” means that you need to apply tests that will cause you to disqualify the ones He would deny and approve the ones who display godly virtue. A firm reliance upon God will lead you in your discernment. (Remember that a “physical” relationship will cloud your judgment so be honorable with the utmost integrity.) If you follow His Word, then once your lifetime commitment is sealed together, you will not be tempted to bail out, but will find that each test and trial weathered in marriage will lead to a deeper love just as God intended (Proverbs 31:10–12). Trust and obey.