I am so thankful that so many of you reading this want to be part of the dialogue about marriage, singleness, and the church. I also love that your approach–and the approach I try to have–is that of all-of-us-in-this-together mentality rather than us-versus-them. Your responses are encouraging, enlightening, and just plain fun to interact with.
After my last post on marriage and singleness went live, I received a really thoughtful response asking for clarification on a statement I made and a great conversation emerged. I’d love to bring that conversation to our community at large today.
I stated and still stand behind the statement that the church (especially the evangelical side of the body) tends to idolize marriage. But how do I see this? Here are some of the thoughts that came out of this great dialogue.
Once upon a time, I was very passionately involved in the purity culture that was so active in the late nineties and early two thousands. I had kissed dating good bye and embraced authentic femininity with Jesus as my prince charming. (And I have lots of thoughts about that time in my life, but that’s a different blog post.) There was so much teaching I subjected myself to that were, frankly, lies verging on spiritual abuse.
We were taught—and many are still taught—that we need to be sexually pure for the sake of our future spouse—not for the sake of godliness or obedience. But what if there is no spouse ahead? Then what was the point?
I remember banking on the words of a popular purity author of the time that essentially amounted to “if you pursue a relationship with God and do everything you’re supposed to as a good Christian girl and you want a marriage hard enough, he will bring that to you.” But is that not just a slanted version of a prosperity gospel? This was based off of the Psalm saying that God will bring us the desires of our hearts. But what if he won’t give us the thing we desire, but instead redeemed desires?
So often the dialogue for young people regarding a future of marriage is that it is the only and expected option. This is what I mean by the idolizing of marriage. It is the assumption that it happens for everyone and if it does not, something is wrong.
The stats a single friend has shared—and according to a Barna study are correct—is that there are twice as many Christian young women in the world than Christian young men. If we are supposed to seek to be equally yoked, the church is going to be seeing more singles, not because the church is falling to the ways of the world, but because marriage is not the only plan God has.
In an unbroken world, yes, I think everyone would find their person, but in our broken world, God draws together so many of us with different stories to make up his body. I think we need to acknowledge this possibility and diversity of God’s plan earlier than we have been with our young people—from jr. high and high schoolers as well as those in adulthood.
Here is a question my friend asked, that I’d love for you to weigh in on: how can these two groups—married and single—not just coexist, but thrive together, and benefit one another? Please weigh in in the comments below!