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dna-perfect matchHow compatible do you need to be for a successful relationship?

One popular dating website suggests there are 29 different dimensions of compatibility. Whoa! That’s a lot of compatibility (or a lot of places where you could fail to be compatible).

As I’ve stated in a past Date Night Advice (DNA) post, “I wish every wise individual could understand how they measured up in 29 different areas of their personality. And then could see how their profile would fit (or not fit) with potential dating partners. That would be invaluable!”

However, here’s the hard truth: if you find someone with whom you match up in 29 different dimensions, it’s the 30th dimension that’s going to kill you.

Why would I say such a thing?

I mean, besides the fact that I’m a realist. (My wife actually accuses me of being a pessimist, but that’s another argument for another post. Not that my wife and I argue, because we’re just so perfectly matched, but now you’ve got me monologuing.)

The Good & the Bad of Being Different

Firstly, at the end of the day we’re all different. Indeed, we are each so astonishingly distinct from each other, you might even suppose God made it that way. And doesn’t it make all the sense in the world: that mankind, made in God’s image, must reflect a dumbfounding diversity to even come close to displaying His infinitely remarkable nature? This is why heaven will be filled with people from every nation, tribe, people and language. Diversity was God’s invention. Not ours.

So at some point, the desire for perfect compatibility has to face off with the reality of the God-designed, mind-blowing uniqueness of each individual image bearer. Therefore, if you’re going to get married, you need to learn how to embrace a few “incompatibilities.”

The second concern I have with the quest for compatibility has to do with why it is sought. Compatibility is supposed to make relationships easy. After all, if you’re such a perfect match, can you really expect things like conflict, misunderstanding and hurt feelings?

That’s what makes it dangerous. It’s intensely unrealistic to expect a marriage free of conflict, misunderstanding, and hurt feelings, because despite whatever compatibility you might share with your significant other, you’re also going to share a sin nature that’s going to want your way, in your timing, for your reasons. And they are too.

God’s design and our fallen nature; those are two pretty big challenges for compatibility to overcome.

Much Bigger than Compatibility

So am I saying, ditch the whole idea?

Of course not! For goodness sakes, look for someone with whom you share common interests, core identity (hopefully in Christ), values and convictions. You’d be a fool to ignore such things in your dating life. And, surely, many a fool has fallen in love with someone with whom they were not remotely compatible.

However, there’s something more wonderful to share with your future spouse than compatibility. Do you know what it is?

It’s what gets me and my wife, Julie, up every morning, compels us to pray together, work together, create and recreate together, worship and serve together, cry and laugh together, sweat and celebrate together. It empowers us to make peace with our past, hold hope for our future and find joy in the present (even if we don’t like where we are in the present).

Reread that last paragraph. Could you imagine compatibility doing that for your marriage?

It won’t, but this will: calling.

Forget about a Match and Look for a Fire

Julie and I believe we were called by God to something far greater than living a little white-picket-fence life with little well-dressed kids we can brag about with a “I’m proud of my Honor’s Student” bumper sticker on the back of our car. Julie and I don’t imagine we’re married so that we can merely make each other happy with all of our 29 dimensions of compatibility.

As Gary Thomas, so eloquently states, marriage is less about making us happy and more about making us holy! That means, “incompatibilities” can become the catalyst that inspires us to appreciate the wonder of a Creator far beyond our individual understanding and leads us to put to death our sin nature which seeks to remake His world into our own image.

Marriage is a calling; an awesome calling, wise individual! It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the person looking for someone who meets their needs or completes them or finishes all their sentences (or sandwiches), or checks all the boxes on their list.

Marriage is for two people who want to become one, in every sense of the word, not because they’re so much alike already, but because they’re called; called to show the world what oneness looks like (not sameness); called to display the relationship of God the Father with His beloved Son, Jesus, and at the same time the relationship of the Son with His beloved bride, the church.

Doesn’t dating with that vision in mind give you a greater understanding of why sharing interests, identity, values, convictions, (and, yes, compatibility) would be important? Those things aren’t the ends unto themselves. Instead, they are intended to empower you to answer your call!

Maybe God uses your marriage to change the world. Maybe He just wants to have you touch the neighbors down the street.

He’s certain to call the two of you to serve as one in your local church, where committed, grace-filled marriages are becoming an endangered species. He’ll call you to stand for the truth in love, in the midst of a culture which wants to deny the former and dilute the latter. And, odds are, His heartbeat is for the two of you to sacrifice everything together, to raise, disciple and send out children who will live to glorify and magnify His name.

And that, my dear friend, would be quite a call indeed.

So stop looking for your perfect match and pray for someone with whom you can share a fire in your soul.

Speaking of fire, next week we’ll talk about chemistry!

This post is one in a series on Purpose-Driven Dating which we define as follows: Intentional time invested in one other person for the purpose of growing in intimacy that might lead to a life-giving, life-long marriage. Our current focus: …for the purpose of growing in intimacy… The series begins with this post.

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better?  And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!