…Single, never been married.
…Divorced or separated.
…Widows or widowers.
…Recent college graduates or students.
…People who have emerged from same-sex relationships.
…Independent and successful professionals who are aware of the quiet ticking away of their child-bearing years.
…Any of the above with a child or two that was conceived in or out of wedlock, virgins, those who have been around the block a few times, those who made it to the block but didn’t really go all the way around it, the broken-hearted, the naïve and starry-eyed romantics, the sceptics, the love veterans who came back from the battle of their lives, the proverbs 31 wannabes, the desperately seeking, those with hobbies and ministries to keep them happily pre-occupied….
This whole list is broken down into one very simple term in the church: “The Singles” – One monolithic block of inexplicably unmarried people.
Compare the people who are a part of this list to the Pastors and Church Elders who have been married to the same woman since the beginning of time, have neat little families all loving the Lord together and looking like bright and shining examples of God’s plan for all of humanity and you can see right away that there’s a cultural disconnect somewhere between the “The Singles” and their aforementioned married counterparts.
The unprecedented explosion of single adult households that we are currently in the midst of is the underlying cause of the disconnection. It’s one of three demographic changes that the marketing research firm Yankelovich Partners is advising Fortune 100 companies to consider if they hope to “stay on top”.
Seeing single mommies, bachelors well into their forties – still dating, bachelorettes who have it all together but no-one to share it with, etc. is becoming more and more common in society and the dating pool is getting wider and wider, teeming with people who are single and ready to mingle, but quantity isn’t really the issue when you’re looking for a life-partner, quality is.
When society devalues the institution of marriage and writes off its credibility, it’s no wonder that brokenness shows up in the church. With the hands-off approach parents and elders have slowly adopted when it comes to the dating habits of today’s singles, many single adults tend to go adrift in their pursuit of a life-partner, not sure if they should even be asking for help meeting and marrying wisely for fear of looking like they’re unsatisfied, too eager, interfering with God’s divine timing, unable to produce the fruits of self-control and long-suffering etc.
One wise pastor once told a group of single adults that he was sympathetic to the challenges of “Endless Opportunity”. Because he was a pastor, father and husband, the boundaries of his day were fairly well-defined from the moment he woke up in the morning. He knew his responsibilities and the priorities he had to attend to and didn’t have to spend a lot of time deciding what he was supposed to do, when and with who.
Single adults on the other hand have so many options that are available to them each day that making the wrong choice is fairly easy. I mean, unlike a generation or two ago, two singles can hook up, decide to move in together without getting married and not even consider that they are missing out on anything by choosing not to officially tie the knot. They’ll just do everything else without all the heavy commitments.
And this isn’t going to make much sense, but contrary to popular belief, my personal belief and conviction is that as a result of this current state of affairs (no pun intended) marriage is more relevant today than ever before.
Stay with me now, I’m about to explain.
There was a time when marriage was a given due to societal norms. Now it is a choice that is made as a statement of faith in true love despite the depravity of society, a choice borne out of the conviction that the person you love deserves your faithfulness and the security of a covenant that is made before God, both families and friends, a choice that isn’t externally induced by society but internally induced by a need to follow a divine order because you value this union and want it to be the foundational platform for future generations that will be born out of it.
Whether or not it is endorsed by movies and music videos, whether or not your own parents had a successful marriage, whether or not the statistics declare that the odds are stacked up against you, you still take that step, selflessly and sacrificially forsaking all others for one when you could have as many as you want if you’re willing to buy all those drinks at the club.
What I’m realizing is that what were once good reasons to get married in my parents’ time are rapidly becoming irrelevant today. For example:
•So we can live together. Many couples live happily together for many years without getting married and it’s no longer frowned upon.
•For sex. Please.
•Financial Security. Both men and women now have the capacity to earn the income of their choice in relation to their skills to achieve a certain lifestyle without anyone having to rely on the other.
•So we can have children. Many couples who live together eventually have children out of wedlock too and that’s no longer frowned upon either.
•To make our relationship official. You could achieve that by posting up on Facebook that “…. And I are now OFFICIAL” and tag all the people that really really needed to know that and proceed changing your profile picture to one of those “they’re obviously officially together” pictures.
•Cooking, cleaning, etc. Get a maid.
So what are we left with?
Well, marriage makes a relationship divine. It’s bigger than you and your feelings for each other, because marriage introduces God into the relationship and makes Him an integral link between the two of you. Until they are married, a couple’s commitment to each other is a human commitment, with all the limitations of being human. We can’t predict the future, what may change in and around us, how the other partner will wrong us. But the marriage covenant elevates the commitment beyond human limitations. It makes the union sacred.
The world has shown us that marriage doesn’t work.
But of course…It’s marriage our way in our own strength through our own intellect.
Of course it won’t work.
It’s not supposed to.
Only after the wedding is your love rescued from superficiality, selfishness and temporality, but blessed with the divine imprint of eternity.
Not that this ideal is dangling like a carrot at the end of my singlehood. It’s not the reward for being a good single person, for memorising enough scriptures, for praying hard enough, for all the occasions of self-denial I have survived etc.
I’m just willing to accept this ministry if and when it comes, understanding full well that as the steward of my husband’s life, I will release Him back into Our Father’s hands one day with an account of how I served faithfully in the position of his wife with the understanding that it never really was about me…