Well, this is a very interesting question indeed, and thank you for sending it! Let’s begin with the verse you cited. Genesis 2:22 says: “And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.” It seems clear to me that in this very first instance of marriage, God provided the one and only choice for Adam, and He presented her to him, and she was his wife. But, how about now? Does God choose who we will marry and deliver that person to us as He did Adam? Well, I firmly believe that God does indeed select His best for His children, but I believe we do have the responsibility of seeking God’s will for our life partner, then obeying Him once He has shown us His will—thus, He may not lead a spouse by the hand to a hopeful person per se as He did for Adam, but He surely does allow us to know His will if we truly seek His mind. To enlarge on this thought, in Psalms 139, we see clearly that God has an intimate knowledge of each and every one of us (verses 1-4; 13-16). God knows everything about us, and yet, this knowledge is not just a cold, distant understanding. God loves us and wants the best for us (see verses 5, 9, 10, 17, 18). Thus, I fully believe that God knows who would be the perfect mate for those for whom He has a plan for marriage.

Now, how do we, that is born again Christians, discern God’s will for our lives? The Bible is the Christian’s whole authority as to what is true and good in every aspect of the believer’s life on earth (2 Timothy 3: 16,17). God’s Word too has a sanctifying effect on the believer’s heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 17:17). Then, obedience is paramount once we have discerned God’s will through the Word! We must be willing to live for Christ Jesus, and not just for the pleasures and passions of the flesh, and we must apply some discipline In our lives in order to deny those influences that might cause us to seek our own will in marriage, and ignore what we believe is God’s will for us. And shouldn’t we desire to please the Father in all we do, seeing that He has sent His only begotten Son to the earth to purchase our pardon (Romans 12:1)?

Now, in 1 Corinthians 7, the institution of marriage is outlined fully by the Apostle Paul, and it does appear to me in this chapter that people are to determine God’s will whether to marry or not, and if so, some guidelines are given for who should be chosen as the life partner. Paul clarifies in this portion that marriage is good and not at all sinful (verse 28), but he points out that if one has the gift of singleness, that they might do best not to marry so that they might better serve the Lord (verses 8, 9, and 35). Thus in 1 Corinthians 7, we see that marriage is perfectly good and right before the Lord, and singleness is good too, and in certain cases better (verse 38); but, Christians should be seeking God’s will individually. And, when it is God’s will that one marry, this chapter also gives a very clear criterion that must always be observed when making that choice. Verse 39 says: “…she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” I believe that last phrase, “only in the Lord” indicates clearly that a Christian should only marry a Christian, and this is God’s perfect will. We read additionally in Amos 3:3: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” and then also in 2 Corinthians 6:14,15: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…”. I believe that these verses which I have cited indicate that the will of God for any of His children, then, is that they seek His will as to whether and to whom they should marry. And if they decide that it is the Lord’s will that they marry, then it is imperative that they obey God’s will that they marry only in the Lord.

But, you might ask, can I then marry anyone I choose, so long as they are born again? And here again, I believe that the choice is something to be considered prayerfully and with study of the Scriptures. Two people might be born again, but have very different personalities, temperaments and values, and may even disagree on certain doctrines, thus being saved but not of one mind on the Lord’s things. I do believe that God will reveal His perfect will to those who seek Him; the real question then becomes whether we will be obedient to what we feel He has revealed to us, even if this conflicts with what we may have had in mind for ourselves. There is a lovely account in the Old Testament that describes God’s plan for marriage for Isaac. In Genesis 24:2-27, we find out that Abraham wanted a wife for his son Isaac, but only according to God’s will. So, he assigned his servant to go to the land of Abraham’s people, rather than to mix with the heathen of the land of Canaan, and to seek out the right wife for his son. Abraham cited God’s promise of the land, and reassured the servant that “He (God) shall send His angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife” (verse 7). And  This the servant did, but when he arrived in Mesopotamia, the servant didn’t know who of all the young women he saw was God’s choice. So, he asked the Lord to help him to know His choice: “And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac…,” (verse 14). And so it was that Rebecca was chosen by God; but as you see, God did not bring her to Isaac-Abraham had to go forth seeking God’s will, and so she was brought to Isaac in the land of promise. I believe that this account shows that God does have a perfect will for His children in this and really in every other matter. By seeking the Lord’s mind, and by obeying His revealed will, Isaac received God’s best for his life. And so it is for Christians today. God has His perfect will for us, but it is up to us to seek His will and to obey, whether it means marrying someone we didn’t count on, or perhaps not marrying at all. And, what if we do not correctly discern God’s will and we choose another? Have we sinned? So long as that prospective mate is of the same mind as you concerning the Lord’s things, and definitely born again, there is no sin in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:28); but we may have passed over God’s best for us, and this can result in a relationship fraught with difficulties over time. (SF)  (553.1)