Katherine and I have been reading assorted blogs which discuss life and theology, as well as the notes on Facebook written by our friends and acquaintances. One consistently recurring theme which appears are essays written by young women in the 18-35 age group – our age group – in which the women write about how to prepare oneself for marriage and what they need to learn before God will provide them with a husband.
We appreciate the passion of these women and we value their desire to share encouragement and guidance with others.
However, we have very strong concerns about the ideas presented in their essays.
Marriage as an Idol
We see a recurring pattern which risks turning the institution of marriage, which is by all accounts a blessing from God, into an idol.
An idol is any element that we construct in order to find fulfillment while distracting ourselves from God.
Singletons frequently get tangled in the idea of marriage; the idea of getting and being married can become an enormous element in one’s life. The desire to be married can become a distraction away from God and from what God wants in one’s personal growth. The idea of marriage becomes constructed as an idol in one’s life.
The idol-construct of marriage can take several forms. For example: unrealistic expectations about married life. Some Christians view marriage as the only circumstance in which they will be happy, fulfilled, and productive. This leads to frustration and discouragement as a result of singleness, which squanders the unique opportunities for growth, joy, and productivity available to singletons.
The idol-construct of marriage is apparent in singletons who focus on the growth towards and the achievement of becoming married; bitterness and resentment develops and festers into a desperate anger with friends who become married, the Spouse-Who-Has-Not-Yet-Arrived, and ultimately with God.
This trap is dangerous because it is usually masked in God-speak. A singleton might focus on developing all manner of skills and characteristics under the guise of becoming a more godly future-spouse. In reality, all such skills and characteristics should be developed by Christians regardless of marital status – such skills are just a normal part of human development. If anything but God is the focus, then the development is both incomplete and done for the wrong reason. God must be the motivation, not marriage.
Not a reward system
Too often singletons engage in a deceptive and unbiblical attempt to create a reward system:
“I will develop this skill set and God will give me a husband.”
“I will take the initiative and God will give me a wife.”
“What do I have to do before God will give me a spouse?!”
This, frankly, is a sickness which lacks any measure of biblical support.
Singleness is not a failure
Humans are not failures if they remain single. Humans are not sucesses if they become married. Marriage is a neutral state.
Two women exist. Both women are equally pursuing God, following God’s will, and fulfilling God’s work. One woman is single. One woman is married.
These two women are viewed equally by God. One is not valued more or considered more honorable or fulfilled because of her marital status.
A woman’s identity and life is not limited to nor necessarily focused upon being married.
The responsibility of all humans is to accept Christ. Every one of us has this opportunity. Some of us choose to accept and become Christians.
Christians have a further responsibility: to love and therefore to serve God. Every individual Christian has a different set of tasks and gifts assigned by God. Some female Christians find their set of tasks to be primarily oriented around being a wife and a mother. Not all female Christians, nor perhaps even most, are intended by God to orient the whole of their existence to this purpose.
Some female Christians are called to be leaders. Some are called to be teachers. Counselors. Advocates. Professionals.
VITAL: Not all singletons are future-spouses. Not all singletons are intended by God to be future-spouses.
Self-sabotage and destruction
The focus of a singleton on the desire to get married squanders the current ability and potential of that individual.
When we accept any idol in our lives, we cannot devote our all to God. We ignore our tasks. We squander our gifts.
Conclusion for EVERY Singleton:
Live your life. Pursue God. Seek His tasks and set about fulfilling them. If you happen to encounter another person along the way whose life’s work is compatible, then pursue God towards marriage if that is what He wants for you WHEN HE BRINGS IT TO YOU. Stop focusing on the subject now, because it can only distract you from God and the task God has assigned.