When Singleness Isn’t The Better Way
“You’re just a notch above all those guys, Jamie.”
As I moved towards my thirties as a single, I asked a father figure in my life why I wasn’t married. He suggested that it was because of my maturity spiritually and personally. He said that it meant many men would look at me as something that couldn’t be attained and just move on. He was sure that was a good thing though because the losers were moving past me and one day someone great would come.
I came away from that conversation encouraged. I was missing all the losers and this mentor of mine thought I was great. Looking back it was a bit confusing too though. Was it good for me to be spiritually mature or not?
Young women are intentionally choosing not to love the Lord their God with all their heart, all their soul, all their mind, and all their strength because the messages they’ve received from the church have made loving God with their all a short-lived pursuit at best and a futile pursuit at worst.
One of the messages being received is…
Single women need to prepare for a spiritual demotion once they get married.” Kat Armstrong
Someone tell me how often a guy gets this talk? How often is it suggested that he is missing the low level loser women because of his spiritual maturity? Does he think he better slow it down so he can find a spouse? Do we have any idea what message we are sending?
Although I did end up married, it was later than I had expected, and I struggled with these messages as a single. Even so, time can muddy the waters of memory, so I asked a friend who was single if the church had a different message than the world when it comes to singleness:
“I think the church might assume, similar to the world, that there is some lack in singleness, and that all single people are just waiting to get married. Or that a single person has a lot to learn from one who is married. I think there’s a lot to be learned in both directions–married people can learn from single people, and single people can learn from married people.” Adrienne Ruegg
Why are we telling singles they lack something? Why are women getting a message that “marriage is the greatest joy of Christian womanhood and motherhood is the highest calling of Christian womanhood“? Yes, marriage is a great joy and motherhood a high calling, but the greatest and the highest?
“THIS IS OBVIOUS IDOLATRY. The highest calling of any Christian is loving God and loving others. The greatest joy of any Christian is loving God and loving others. Period.” Kat Armstrong
Open your Bible, and the message is totally different than what we as the church are saying (whether stated or implied). Paul recommends remaining single if someone can. Singleness is called the better way (1 Corinthians 7). Are we too encouraging and applauding singles, whether they chose singleness or not, that they are on an exciting path of serving God?
It finally occurred to me in my late 20s that I might never get married, that marriage was not a guarantee from God even if it was a desire of my heart. I was ashamed to think of all the hours I had spent trying to figure out who I would marry; hoping, dreaming, planning, and praying about marriage more than many other things. I did not want to be 80-years-old and see that my life was full of prayers and dreams of marriage when it could have been full of God and serving him.
For some, singleness is a choice. For others, it is not. But, never does it make that person less, unfulfilled, or incomplete. Singles are not simply waiting for someone, in a holding pattern, or useful to us to do this and this and this because they don’t have responsibilities like those with families do.
“The church body should serve each other regardless of family status. Singles should strive to serve and help out families, and families in turn should serve and help singles. Singles should also serve and be hospitable to other single people in the church community. This model should be an easy application of how a church operates.” Adrienne Ruegg
Our common decision in churches of separating everyone out into homogeneous groups has played into this problem. Why do we have all the adult singles separated from the marrieds? Yes, there are times that we need to speak of something that the other might not “get.” But, who cares? Can’t we speak of that anyway and help each other get it? The body of Christ is to be a functioning body, not a bunch of random parts.
Over half of the adults in the US are now single, and if we don’t come up with a better message than “you aren’t fulfilled until you are married” or “just keep waiting because someone is coming,” we are going to miss out on sharing God with a lot of people. We are going to miss out on community with a lot of people. We are going to miss out on encouraging others to find wholeness in God and serve Him fully.
“It’s easy to think that someone will make me feel complete, when actually it’s a reflection of my relationship with God, the only source of completion.” Adrienne Ruegg
Honestly, it’s easy to struggle with needing someone to make me feel complete in marriage, too. Thus, a lot of problems in our marriages. If there’s one thing we could encourage each other in whether married or single, it would be to find wholeness in God and serve Him fully.
Let’s help the body function healthily and remember that God is the greatest relationship for all of us. Our message needs to be “God completes you” and nothing else.