Its been awhile since I've written here. So much has changed yet so much has changed. One thing that has continued to develop is my theology on romantic relationships. Its a sensitive topic for me personally because my first thoughts of singleness and marriage can be traced back to my childhood.
When I was teenager, there was this thing called a bible store. These stores were a playground for any christian that was trying to grow in their faith or hide from the world . I remember walking through those doors about once a month, hearing Hillsong's instrumental track of Shout to the Lord. Books, bibles, and vhs tapes were everywhere. There were even christian toys! This store was called Blessings. And for the most part I would agree that this store was a blessing to my life as a teenage woman.
Every time we visited, I went to the girly section of the store and saw this journal. On the front of the hard cover it said “While I Wait”. There was a frilly image of a young lady and man embracing as if they just exited a fairytale love story. As I opened the journal, I read a short introduction describing the purpose of this journal. Page after page it became clear that these prompts were created to help the participant wait with expectation and excitement for a spouse. I quickly found my mom and asked if she could buy it for me... she said yes; and the rest was history...at least for a couple years…
For a number of my teen years, I would write in my journal. Answering the prompts I would tell my ‘future’ husband how much I loved him and why I was waiting for him... what I was doing with my day, and the list goes on. After a while, the excitement began to wane and I just wanted him to hurry up and find me. What I didn’t realize is that some of my motivations for getting married was not God honoring. What I also did not realize was that I was assuming that there were certain blessings that I was entitled to simply because I was a christian.
While I greatly benefited from the encouragement that the ‘True Love Waits’ campaign brought to encourage abstinence, I wrestled a great deal in my early 20’s when I didn’t have a ring by spring. Years prior I interpreted that this 'waiting' had an expiration date, but in reality I was persevering for something that was not promised to me in this life. That's why I want to have a dialogue about this. What does scripture have to say about a part of our life that shapes a portion of our identity?
God’s view of singleness
But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
For those who may not be familiar with this passage, Jesus had just finished answering a question that was posed by the pharisees regarding if they could divorce for any and every reason. Jesus was telling them no, and they were asking why so Jesus shares why it was allowed in the past. After hearing this response some of the disciples actually thought it would be better not to marry. Jesus, a single man, the author and finisher of our faith knew the weight of what it meant to be married was restoring the integrity of what it means to be married.
We have the family of God, most of whom would love to get together, hang out, eat together etc. If the Lord has assigned for you to be married than yes their is a spouse,but its also possible that your assignment is to remain unmarried...how will you steward that unknown and potentially unfulfilled desire?
2. Is marriage the goal?
If Marriage was the goal, Jesus would’ve been married. Marriage is a shadow of what is to come but it is not everything. Let me say that again, If Marriage was the goal, Jesus would’ve been married. Marriage is a shadow of what is to come but it is not everything.
If we get into serious dating relationships to have a blessed outlet for relief of sexual tensions, we are using another person for our own gains.
7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8 Now to the unmarried[a] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.
25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
For a while I've seen marriage approached as...'Who is going to match our list of things?' instead of asking, 'Am I prepared to die to myself in a million different ways?' Am I willing to sign up to potentially be more poor than I am now, take care of someone if they become terminally ill, and deal with their attitude if they can’t have things their way? It’s a rude awakening to think that something will be about making you happy, when both parties have to learn to do things a new way. In reality, in scripture marriage is honorable, but it is encouraged to remain unmarried. If you are engaged, and you’re having trouble honoring one another in purity, then you get married...that’s a whole different way of looking at it huh? What if we started admiring singleness? That was the state of being that Paul promoted...How would our lives and community change if we celebrated those who remained single, especially for the cause of Christ?
3. Family and Friends
I don't see marriage as a promise laid out in scripture. Nor do I see it implied as an inherit right of christians. As I did this search, it scared me because that's what I inherently thought. That God owed me a husband and I was scared to face the music. What God does promise is that we will be a part of a family and friendship. (Psalm 68:6) “
God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing;but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”
A brother is born for adversity:(Proverbs 17:17)
As we look at some of the greatest relationships in scripture, we see David and Jonathan
loving each other with a deep, sacrificial love...We see Elijah and Elisha...Elisha gave up everything to follow Elijah and learned from him. We have Ruth and Naomi...two widows, separated by age but not status. Even Jesus modeled what healthy friendship could look like as he traveled with his disciples and the women who cared for him along the way. These men and women were not only Jesus friends but also his family.(Matthew 12:47-50)
In my mid 20's this conversation had a tipping point. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn't have a ring by spring, I wasn't in a relationship and I couldn't understand why...why was God withholding from me...Then these two questions came to mind:
1. Will God and I still be ok if I do not get married?
2. Will I be ok if I’ve 'remained pure', said no to being in relationship with unequally yoked individuals (in order to save myself ) YET I dont ever get married?
Those were two questions I had to keep asking myself...sometimes the answer was yes I'd be ok, other times the answer was no.
If you are an unmarried (as I currently am) enjoy this time and don't wish it away. I didn't meet my fiancé until the Lord made it clear to me that he didn't owe me anything. It stopped me in my tracks. Over time he kept asking me the question above until I finally surrendered (which happened multiple times). A couple years after that I met my fiancé Now I don't think that's the recipe for meeting a spouse, but that is how the Lord had to speak to me...was I expecting God to reward me for my good behavior? And would I be ok if I didn't get the reward I expected?
If we treat each other as family there may still remain a desire to get married...and that may never go away, but we'll get to experience what it is like to be apart of family. And it may not be fulfilled the way its been dreamed up hope. But if we are there for each other as the body of Christ, having fun, enjoying each other's company, our perspective on marriage and the joy of singlehood can get an upgrade. At the end of the day, we were created for connection… there are plenty of biblical heroes that are not indicated as married. Of course people remember Paul, but before Paul there was Anna the prophetess who remained unmarried and prayed for the coming of the messiah, there was Elijah, Daniel, Jeremiah, John the Baptist. We must be careful that we are not looking for something in one person, that we should all be bringing to the table as the body of Christ.
How have you journeyed through being single? Has it caused conflict in your relationship with he Lord?
Much Love Family,