Singers croon these words. Novels portray them as if they were a proverb. Whole movies are produced with this one piece of bad advice as their theme. And yet, it is quite possibly the worst advice ever given about marriage: "Follow your heart."
"Follow your heart."
Follow my heart?
That is all I need to do to end up in a marriage marked by commitment and fidelity?
My heart will constantly give me good advice about whatever decisions I need to make today?
My heart, which is wise beyond words, will always lead me in the right path?
This kind of thinking is radical nonsense.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Is that the kind of compass you want to use? A deceitful compass that snickers as it points southeast instead of north?
Don't follow this advice. It is dangerous advice for any realm of our lives but especially dangerous in the realm of marriage. We are already predisposed to heed the deceitful compass of our hearts when it comes to the emotional area of relationships. Following advice like this can send us right over the edge of a cliff like a herd of naïve lemmings.
In no other area of life do we tell people, “Just follow your heart, dearie, and everything will work out.”
And yet, when it comes to marriage, we are inundated with books and movies and songs instructing us to ignore everything else in life and follow our heart.
Please don’t follow your heart. Not if it contradicts the teaching of Scripture in any way.
The Word of God gives you wisdom to follow. Follow that. Ignore your deceitful heart. It will only get you into trouble down the road.
I know the objection that plagues you when you read about this: “If I don’t follow my heart, will I marry someone I don’t love and live in an emotionless marriage forever?”
Highly unlikely! God is not a malicious Father who gives you stones instead of bread or a snake instead of a fish. He is a loving Father who knows what you need and what will ultimately please you even more than you do.
Wouldn’t it be nice if God spoke from the sky directly to you and told you who to marry? And then promised you a love-filled and fulfilling marriage of the sort that has you holding hands and kissing in corridors when you are seventy?
He doesn’t do that, specifically, but He does give signposts to follow. They are found within the pages of His Word.
(You aren’t reading His Word? That’s the problem right there.)
Jeremiah 13:10 talks about people who refuse to hear God’s Words and who instead stubbornly follow their own heart. Their heart that, a few chapters later we are told, is deceitful and desperately wicked. A wacky compass.
"Follow your heart” is possibly the worst advice ever given about marriage, but here is the best: follow the Words of God. You can’t go wrong when you do that, because God’s Word is a lamp for your feet and a light for your path. It will keep you from stumbling over obstacles and it will show you where the correct road lies.
Don’t follow your heart. Guard your heart. Follow God’s Word.
If you liked this post, you might also like:
Six Very Important Questions to Ask About a Potential Mate
and the Will of God series:
Part One--Sometimes We Ask For A Stone
Part Two--Why Did God Say No?
Part Three--Open Doors and God's Will
Tim and Laura
Timothy and Laura Berrey are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.
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