I am asked this and related questions almost every Sunday.
I enjoy being asked because I know that the questions are well intended and asked out of genuine interest. However, out of every question that could be asked, that is usually the only one that is.
I have found it very intriguing – married people’s fascination with my relationship status.
Sometimes it leads to great conversations where I have the opportunity to share where I am. Sometimes, people just respond with clichés that make me want to puke, like, “if you stop looking for love, you’ll find it.”
As a single person immersed in the Christian world, I have felt pushed towards marriage by well-intended people.
I believe that marriage can be fantastic, but it's time we clarify some premises before I can answer fully.
Marriage is not the only healthy option.
Have we forgotten the words of Jesus?
“…some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can” (Matthew 19:12).
Anyone accept this who can? That is a hefty call from Jesus that we cannot quickly pass over. It requires a pause. Why are people not urged to consider this call?
Then the apostle Paul contributed to the topic, reaffirming what Christ had spoken.
Paul says, “I wish everyone were single, just as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:6).
In the rest of that passage Paul showed that marriage can be good and appropriate, but he made a point to show that it is not the only option.
Contentment will not come from our relationship status, but instead it comes from proper identity placement.
We need to keep the main thing the main thing.
I have heard people comfortably use the phrase “God and Family” or refer to themselves as “marriage evangelists.”
The bible makes this very clear.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24).
We can’t serve both God and Family.
That means I am called to serve God alone.
Not God as the top on my list of priorities, but God as the alpha and omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end.
I serve God alone and then allow him to define my priorities.
Christ did not call us to be matchmakers for marriages, but to be disciple makers.
There is an inherit risk in being a “marriage evangelist.” In the process of calling people to the good thing that God had for you, you might be calling people away from the good thing God has for them.
Instead of urging people towards marriage relationships lets stir people up to place their identity in Christ.
Marriage is not the biblical means to maturity.
Marriage can come off as this final arrival to a greater level of maturity.
The implication often feels that as a result of my relationship status, I don’t have as great of frame of reference for responsibility or sacrifice, so as a result I cannot be mature.
In the Body of Christ we are tempted to operate according to the world’s definition of maturity.
The world often uses this formula to define maturity: status x age = maturity level
- Financial status - Do you have a nice house and a great car?
- Job status – Are you a manager? Are you moving up the ladder?
- Relationship status – Are you dating someone? Are you married?
I’m young, single, drive a scooter, rent a room and have almost no savings.
In the world’s eyes, my status says I’m the definition of immaturity.
But Paul said, “don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth…” (1 Timothy 4:12) and then he redefined maturity for the Body of Christ.
Paul said to set an example in:
- what you say
- how you act
- your love
- your faith
- your purity
The Bible redefined maturity - it’s about more than your age, more than your relationship status, but about your pursuit of Christ and the character that results.
This maturity comes from the “testing of your faith” (James 1:3) as “iron is sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17) in community with others.
Marriage is not the way to maturity, discipleship is. Yes, you can experience discipleship within marriage, but discipleship is not exclusive to marriage.
So, when are you going to get married?
I hate how cliché this sounds, but... I am open to getting married someday, but I’m not focused on that. I’m content with who I am and where I am, but yes I enjoy dating and sure at some point I would like to be married (yes, it took me 885-ish words to answer that simple question with a simple answer).
Now here’s the difficult part: I already made a significant commitment. I’m doing my best to give my whole life to Christ and have ideals that I personally feel called to live out, so I would be extremely cautious making an additional life-long commitment.
Now, before I go on ranting about the culture of dating (a blog post for another time), I’ll end with this:
We each have unique experiences – so let’s use them to urge people on, but urge them on to become Disciples of Christ, not duplicates of us.
Thanks for reading, comment with your thoughts, share it with your friends.
- Brandon Maddux