I was just writing about how to answer the very tough question of “Why are you still single?” when I found this wonderful post from Ruthie Dean, about “What if I never get married?”. She’s someone I already know I’ll want to keep on reading, and will probably refer to again the in the future (in case you want to check her out too!) I started to write a response to her article, but it turned into its post… so … read her post, then come back and read below! Or, just read below…but really, read her post too!
First off, I really appreciate Ruthie Dean’s insight into Paul’s comments, and the circumstances he was writing in.
Singleness is always an exception, not a norm. If you look at Bible as a whole, the main verse people use to discuss this call to singleness is 1 Corinthians 7. But did you know Paul was writing during a time of great distress? There was a famine in Greece and great persecution. Some scholars say Paul was writing of a temporary exception to marriage because of the circumstances.
My married friend and I were recently discussing our various challenges, hers as a wife and mom, mine as a single person. She shared that, as she reads Paul’s comment that “it’s better to remain single” (that Ruthie Dean was discussing), she wonders sometimes if maybe she should have stayed single—so that she could serve God better. I reminded her that, on the other side of that argument, even in the Garden, when man’s relationship with God was perfect, even then GOD Himself said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. I figure that statement trumps Paul’s! J But really, the point is that both singleness and marriage have their pro’s and con’s – in either situation, we can give thanks, or be discontented, the choice is ours—and it’s a choice we have to keep making throughout every life stage. (Sounds so simple, when I write it down like that, huh?! If only life were as easy as a blog!)
I wrestle often with the very painful question that her blog poses – “What if I never marry, and am single forever?” – It’s tough. Can I learn to choose joy???…because, frankly, it’s getting harder the older I get. It was easy when I was younger, but the older I get, the bigger the “Giants in the land” that seem to be preventing me from settling into the Promised Land (marriage), and the lonelier the wilderness (singleness) is. Still, I must walk by faith that the giants are nothing, and my God is EVERYTHING, sovereign over all, and full able to conquer any giant. I also must submit to His will, and trust that while He CAN conquer the giant of marriage, really He MUST conquer the giants of my discontent, fear of the future, and lack of faith that His plan is best.
I think it’s because of that (that the real issue that needs to be addressed isn’t my singleness, but my total submission to God, and faith in Him) that the answer that frustrates me most, when talking about “What if I never marry?” is: “God has someone for you.” Or, “Don’t worry, there’s someone for everyone.” Now that’s just not true—one glance through time of all the wonderful, godly, beautiful people I alone have known who have never married (and not of their preference) would prove that statement false. More importantly, however, there is no promise of God in the Bible that He has given ME a mate. He promises to meet my needs, to be good, to be a loving Father and that I am His bride. He promises to be able, and sovereign and so much more… but he doesn’t promise that I will be married. And, I confess, I get angry when someone wants to promise me something God did not—because that’s the easy way out. It’s the easy way out for them—to give quick comfort through a nice little band aid—but it’s shallow. It’s also the easy way out for me (and therefore a great temptation), because I can focus on waiting for my husband, rather than focusing on submitting fully to the will of God for every season of my life, and for every time in my life—past, present and future.
The truth is, I need help submitting to God’s will and trusting His plan – no matter WHAT it is, even if it’s that I never marry. I need to be reminded that GOD is able to do exceedingly, abundantly MORE, than I can ask or imagine, but I also need to be reminded that what THAT actually looks like is up to HIM, not me. God is good, whether I marry or not. He can do more than I ask or imagine, and that IS true and WILL BE true whether I marry or NOT .
It’s true, I desperately hope that my man on a white horse does come along (and yeah, preferably on a horse!), but even more than that, I hope that I learn to be contented, dare I say even joyful, whatever my status, in every stage of life.
If you want to tell a single person not to worry, that’s fantastic—just do so carefully, with tenderness and love and TRUTH. Don’t give false promises. God never disappoints, but false promises sure can. Please remind us that the reason that we need not worry isn’t that singleness is a calling, or that singleness is so great, or that we are young and still have time, or that marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or even that God has someone for us…the only reason that we, as singles, need not worry is that God, the all-wise, all-knowing, infinitely loving, sovereign over all, perfect in all He does, giver of all good gifts, who calls himself our Loving Father, the Lover of our souls, and who calls us his bride….THIS God is in control and will do in our lives what is “kindest, wisest and best” (to quote Hudson Taylor), “working all things to the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
If you haven’t read Ruthie’s blog, she focuses more on the other not so great answer to the question of, What if I never marry?” It’s the opposite extreme of saying, “Don’t worry – God has someone for you.” It’s, “Maybe God has called you to singleness” –and she does a great job of explaining that while it may be true, it’s still may not be such a great answer. Whether you’re single or know someone who is, it’s worth reading…and it applies to many more tough questions than just singleness.