If this idea isn’t overtly taught from the pulpits of our churches, magazines and relationship books, then it is often at least implicitly taught. I think the most common mutation or strain of this idea right now if the “godly” notion that marriage is designed to build yourand develop you into the person wants you to be in a way that being single won’t.
It’s unbelievable and I’m sick of it.
There are so many problems with this idea. For starters, there are plenty of people who are married that don’t grow or mature. So, that’s a problem. And it’s a problem for both the married and the unmarried. Maybe marriage makes it a little harder to ignore issues you need to work through, but I don’t think it forces you to grow and mature.
It might just force your spouse to hate you.
Next,was single. If you want to declare that his character or holiness was underdeveloped because he was never married, then I’ll let you take the up with him.
Next, Paul. He was single too. Possibly—although unlikely—he was married, but all the evidence supports him being single. And he wrote a lot of the. More than Jesus did, actually.
Next, scripture is very clear (see Paul’s letters) that singleness is at least equal (if not superior) to being married.
Additionally, and perhaps finally, the people who are married who tell me this don’t always have the right to speak of character development in single people.
Let me explain.
If you get married in your early twenties you’ll never know the character development that occurs when you’re still single and 25. Or in your late twenties. Or into your thirties.
And they’ll never know what it’s like to live in religious culture that sees singleness as an imperfection, an incompleteness—that somehow you’re missing your “other half” or that you’re only “half of what you could be.”*
They will not know what it’s like to maintain purity and holiness for years longer than they imagined they’d have to wait for that special someone.
They’ll never know what it’s like to get a job offer or acceptance to a school far away from home and only have themselves (and God) to decide whether or not to go. And then only have themselves for support when they do go, alone.
They’ll never know what it’s like to have to depend on only themselves when they’re sick and need food from the grocery store.
They’ll never know the perseverance or strength it takes to both go to school and figure out how to pay for their schooling, rent, books and food without the help of someone else to make the income.
Or to balance all of that with doing the laundry, cooking food, taking the car to the shop and cleaning the dishes.
I’m concerned that we are doing an unspeakable disservice to the single community by adding to their anxiety and struggles this idea that marriage is superior in developing their holiness, character or whatever else, than being single.
I think they’re just different.
But at the same time, I should mention that I’m still single.
And so was Jesus.
That is why I am convinced that what we really need is for people to rally around singles and encourage them to be the content and complete people they really are.
Additionally, we need to encourage people, while they are still singe (to quote Andy Stanley) to “work on becoming the person you’re looking for is looking for,” because they are completely capable of growing and maturing through their relationship with God and their peers.
“is better than singleness”? I think I can stamp that one as another lie I’ve been sold. And it’s especially upsetting that this lie is so heavily pandered in circles.
*I particularly detest this line from a song originally written and sung byand then covered (ripped off?) by . I like the song, but I am discouraged by the notion here and elsewhere that you can’t make it as well as a single person.