Living as a Christian single has its challenges. Regularly hearing phrases like, “So, you seeing anybody yet?” or “We need to find you somebody.” can often feel disheartening. Especially when a single is feeling particularly down. Why are statements like this common? Why do many singles feel so conflicted to answer with a “No?” The answer runs much deeper than a casual sentence and awkward feelings. I have come to realize that at the very core, most people, especially in Christian culture have a strong rejection of singleness. This means that for any marriageable Christian, there is a degree of self-rejection. They reject themselves as singles. They reject their singleness. So do others. Single Christians are not as embraced in their communities. They are given the impression that marriage is a rite of passage into adulthood, true faithfulness, leadership, and even completion. Below, I’d like to discuss three elements that exacerbate the feeling of disappointment in single Christians. They are: 1. Socially conditioned for marriage 2. A yearning for marriage means a degree of self-rejection in singleness 3. Bad theology
Christians Are Conditioned to Want Marriage
If we were to look at the budget lines and bulletins for most churches in America, we can easily see the brunt of their resources goes to “Marriage and Family.” Without words, it communicates that the highest priorities and the most coveted areas in the church are Marriage and Family. Weekend retreats and cruise vacation seminars are devoted to enriching marriage and family. How many churches fund retreats for singles? How many resources to churches and Christian bookstores have on living the single life well? In every aspect of Christian culture, marriage is the norm. Marriage is the expectation. Churches will preach series on Song of Solomon. Yet very few will devote as much time preaching on singleness. Christian culture conditions people to want marriage. From the programs to casual conversations, Christians are expected to be married in order to be a full participant in the community.
Pining For Marriage Means Rejecting the Single Self
Most of us don’t think about it this way, but if we are yearning for marriage, we are rejecting our single selves. The belief that singles are incomplete until they get married is a lie. The belief that if someone desires marriage, then they are meant to be married is not founded on any known Biblical truth. In a culture that assumes and expects marriage, there lies a convenient omission of the Biblically preferred life of singleness. If someone wants to be married more than anything, it means they are rejecting their single self. The single self is still the person God made us to be. Since we are designed to find our completion in Jesus, not a spouse, rejecting the single self is a rejection of the work of God in our lives. This leads to a domino effect. If we are expecting marriage (as in point 1 above), then when we don’t get married, we experience disappointment. That disappointment indicates we are not content in any condition, as Paul instructs us to “Be content in all things.” In the end, our disappointment with being single shows we are rejecting the self the God has created in His image. We are also rejecting Him as the source of our completion.
Being single is an opportunity to make the most for the kingdom of heaven. There is no need to let lack of marriage hold us back from doing great things for God. If we can accept our singleness (and celebrate it), perhaps we can focus our energy on advancing the Gospel and not on feeling sorry for ourselves for not being married. As a single man, I was able to make great strides in working for the kingdom. From sharing the Gospel in South America and Central Europe, to receiving a MDiv in my mid-twenties, I have embraced my singleness and pursued the work of God. I continue to celebrate the opportunities and esteem given to single Christians who are taking every opportunity to mature spiritually and emotionally as well as advance the kingdom.
Disappointment in Singleness is Based on Bad Theology
“God has someone out there for you.” Is the frequent statement many single Christians have heard. Christian culture is permeated with a bad theology that asserts there is some mystical design for people to find each other and be married. The problem is, not everyone who wants to marry will marry. It is not guaranteed in the Bible (more on that in an upcoming blog). There is no “other half” or “soulmate” waiting for us to find the right combination of life decisions and prayers. In fact, the New Testament views marriage almost as an option. The way the New Testament treats marriage is pretty casual: “If you’re married, keep it monogamous and honor your spouse. If you’re not married, you’re better off. Now let’s get on with spreading the Gospel.”
There is no “The One” in terms of marriage in the Bible. Finding a spouse in Biblical stories are as diverse and non-uniform as it is today. Abram married his half sister. Isaac’s servant prayed for a woman to give him a drink of water to indicate his master’s bride-to-be. King Solomon tried to woo the Shulamite girl with his riches, King David married everyone, Ruth scandalized a drunk rich man. In biblical concepts, there simply is no “one.”
If we can get the idea of the “one” and the belief that “God has someone just for you” out of our minds, we may make ourselves freer to live our lives as singles and to be wise in selecting a spouse. Finding a spouse really is more about finding proven godly character and doctrinal agreement than it does a mystical meeting of people fated to be together. Honestly, that sounds like the beginning of a long and emotionally toiling marriage.
If we understand we are not guaranteed marriage and that singleness is not a punishment, we will be much better of than most of our Christian culture. We may still need to answer those awkward questions like “You seeing anybody, yet?” (the yet is the worst part). But if we fully accept and embrace our single selves; if we take every opportunity as singles to grow in God, then in the end, we will be pillars in the house of God. Plus there’s an added side benefit-if the opportunity for marriage comes along, we will have forged the godly character needed to be a good spouse, and we will demand nothing less from who we marry. My encouragement for singles is to make singleness such an awesome lifestyle that it would really be a sacrifice to give up–that way you are very picky to let someone take it away.
Was this article insightful? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.
This year I will be publishing my book “Singles and the American Church.” For more researched discussions on the topic of singleness in the American Church, be sure and pick up a copy.
Here at TMWXian, it is my goal to Expand Your Mind Through The Power of Words.