Our culture conditions us to believe marriage is a command, not a concession.
Scripture says, “Marriage is a concession, not a command” (1 Cor 7:6). “Nearly everyone should marry,” we are told from infancy, “and those who don’t marry must be strange or unlucky or selfish or high-maintenance, or maybe they have a special calling from God.” We teach little girls from toddlers on up to dream of their wedding day, to plan for it, to choose colleges that might enhance their prospects of it, to join sororities to perhaps find their soulmate, to join a church where there are plenty of young men to choose from, and to rush into marriage before they get too old.
Why do we put such implicit pressure on little girls and young ladies?
Why aren’t we creating a Christian culture where it’s normal for young women to fall in love with Jesus, to devote their life to serving His Kingdom purposes, to become a missionary for His Majesty (whether on the mission field or in society), to serve Him all the days of their life, and to lay down their life to Him — unhindered by the demands marriage places on them. In short, why don’t we teach little girls to fix their “undivided devotion to the Lord?” (1 Cor 7:35).
Why haven’t we made that “the normal?” And if they desire to get married anyway, that’s wonderful, too. But, why haven’t we emphasized that, in God’s eyes, it’s normal to stay single and be wholly married to Him. Why haven’t we emphasized that singleness is just as honorable — perhaps moreso — than having 18 kids and counting?
No, we implicitly pressure our children into marriage — even if they marry pagans, even if they’re not ready for it — because “we” think they’ll never be happy with Jesus alone. Or worse, because “we” want grandchildren.
The same goes for men. If you hear of a single Christian man in his 30s or 40s, (it’s sad, and it’s not politically correct to say this, but) the first thought that enters peoples’ minds is, “I wonder if he is gay.” That’s how we make singles feel.
That’s how our culture pressures and alienate singles, widows, divorcees. God has a different perspective. He lays it out beautifully in 1 Corinthians 7. I’d like to share it with you sometime. For now, though ...
To anyone out there who is single: Jesus loves you. Jesus loves the fact that He has you all to Himself. You are not strange. You are exactly where God wants you to be. You are in a wonderful place. Use this time. Maximize every minute for His Name’s sake. Make every single day you are single count. Serve Him with all of your might ... because the Scripture says, “He who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains does better.”
God may bring a soulmate to you, in His time. If He doesn’t, no worries. Keep devoting your undivided attention to the Lord.
Your reward is in heaven.
Chipley Thornton is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church-Springville.