Ready for love? Today I’ve brought in an experienced marriage counselor to bring his thoughts on the matter. This week we’ll be focusing on the topic of singleness. In the future, we are looking to discuss dating and then another week for marriage. Below is an interview I’ve done with Reverend Dr. Daniel Wong. If there are any questions you’d like us to talk about, please leave them in the comments section.
D: This is Pastor Derek from ChristianLeak.com. With me I have Reverend Dr. Daniel Wong from Tyndale University College and Seminary. Dr. Wong, can you please share a bit about yourself and your experience in marriage counselling?
Dr Wong: I was born in San Francisco in a 3rd/4th generation Chinese-American family. After Christian ministry training in Chicago and Dallas, I came to Toronto in 1982 to pastor in a church . I was ordained in 1986 and from that time I was able to officiate wedding ceremonies. For the last 15 years I have been teaching full-time at Tyndale in Christian Ministries. I am still active in church ministry.
D: The question I want to ask “is there the one?” Because the media portrays to us that there’s someone special out there for us, like a “soulmate”. Let me ask you then, is there such thing as, “the one”?
Dr Wong: I used to think that there was “the one.” However, as I studied the Bible I discovered a verse that speaks to this subject directly. 1 Corinthians 9:39 reads:
A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.
This passage is speaking or marriage. Of course there is a specific case here. But the principle is that a person is free to marry anyone, as long as that person belongs to the Lord or is a Christian. Reading the book, Decision-Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen and Robin Maxson explains this process in making decisions. That book points out that we need God-given wisdom to choose from a number of possibilities. So there can be a better choice for a marriage partner. Could I say there is a process of elimination when you will ultimately come to one person? In that sense, there is “the one.”
D: It sounds to me like you’re saying that there’s an “ideal one” in the certain sense that God has a pool of candidates that you can choose from. But “soulmate”, a person who you’ll have an immediate, deep, an intimate connection is not a biblical concept. Is that the idea?
Dr Wong: Yes, there are better choices for us. The bottom line according to that Scripture is that the person needs to be a Christian. Of course, it is better that the person be a mature Christian who is growing in relationship with Christ. That person is also making choices with God-given wisdom. Remember, that person needs to choose you too! Take note that the “pool” does not include everyone, but only those people we contact or meet or know. I believe that we may be infatuated with the idea of finding a “soulmate” without being the person God wants us to be. I believe each couple needs to grow into a “soul” relationship as both grow in Christ and in relationship with each other.
D: So how do you go about finding this “one”? I think about all the different ways one goes about doing it. Likely, they’d start in their own church. But they also might try going to another church, within their social network, workplace, or even Christian online dating, especially if all possibilities are exhausted. Is there a biblical way of handling this?
Dr Wong: Instead of finding the “one”, you need to BE the right person. Focus on being a Christ-follower who is carrying out the revealed desires of God. Yes, your own church is the place to start. Build healthy relationships. One of these may blossom into a more serious one. But often we only consider other church members as “brothers and sisters” and not potential mates. People may find a person at church conferences or even at Tyndale! On-line dating has become more popular with various results. One does need to be in circulation. No matter which way, we have to develop our own good character
D: When we read Bible passages like Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24). We see, how Isaac found “the one” and notice how those practices are very different from today’s. How can we understand this back then and apply it practically today?
Dr Wong: In the ancient world, marriages were arranged. We do see some specific cases of marriages arranged by God where God speaks to people but most people would agree that God doesn’t work in the same way today. In many culture arranged marriages are still practiced. Dating is only a 20th century invention and not found in the Bible at all. When you talk with couples, you will find each story unique. Individuals need to look to God in faith, seeking God’s wisdom and guidance, and also paying attention to the perspective of others as family members and friends.
D: Is it possible if I’m not walking with God to choose the ‘wrong’ one?
Dr Wong: A person’s choice might be wrong. He/she might be infatuated by looks or personality without looking deeper, especially into the person’s Christian commitment. Marrying a person who is not a Christian is definitely a wrong choice.
D: What are some things that you’ve seen in your own experience that makes good Christian couples, and some bad things?
Dr Wong: For sure the same faith that they have. They both need a strong Christian commitment to God and to each other. We note that in the Bible that love is commanded, even to your spouse. Couples that have a good self-esteem, a positive outlook, flexibility and supportive family and friends are all helpful qualities. Some bad things would be selfishness (what you can get out of the relationship) and the opposite of the things I mentioned.
D: I’m sure there are many single earnest Christians reading this and have the experienced the heartache of looking for a mate only to experience rejection despite trying to honor the Lord. Do you have any final words of advice?
Dr Wong: Be patient. Singleness is important time of life to grow in character and in Christ. Enjoy friendships. Marriage is not the solution to people’s loneliness and fulfillment. These must be found in Christ – living for him and serving others. Sad to say, some people make an idol out of finding or being in relationships. Continue to trust the Lord in this area of life as well as every area.
I have been married for 36 years. My spouse has encouraged my growth and service in all ways. She is definitely the one for me.
Dr. Daniel L. Wong
Dr. Wong has taught at Tyndale University College since 2000. He taught preaching at Tyndale Seminary from 1997 to 2005. He had extensive pastoral experience at the Toronto Chinese Baptist Church in English ministry since 1982, and when the church expanded to two locations in 1986, he pastored at the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church before assuming his current ministry at Tyndale. In 1986, he was ordained with the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec. Dr. Wong has spoken at many churches and conferences in Canada and the United States.