There are so many reasons a girl craves to be married – but I think one of the most subtle is to gain the approval and acceptance of society (and the church). This is often fueled by a sense of pity for you until you’re able to find a man who will love you.
It’s as if you have to prove your worth by finding someone who finds you worthy of love. And sometimes it feels worth it to get married just so that people will stop pitying you.
In fact, my friend from Ireland said that in his country, a man really isn’t respected until he’s married. His voice isn’t really heard until he has a wife by his side. Social status of the 21st century, it would seem, is not all that different from a few thousand years ago.
Marriage does offer the allure of security and confidence. Someone has promised to love you for the rest of your life. You always have someone to walk into the room with you. You don’t have to make major life decisions alone. Eventually you’ll probably share the title of “parent” with that person.
But titles and roles and stability – these are not where Christ has asked us to find our identity and security. They won’t last into eternity – only our God-given identity of forgiven and redeemed will. And when we look to the former things to satisfy us – sweet as they are – they will ultimately fall short.
Your husband or wife does not “complete” you, even though they might help to make you more complete in Christ. They cannot quench your soul longings, even though they may bring your soul great delight. And if we look to a spouse for our identity, when they fail us (as they will, for they are human), we will feel ourselves crumbling as well.
Marriage also seems to give you more “maturity” in the church at times. I’ve seen couples younger than I be given leadership roles – hopefully because of their spiritual wisdom – but I can’t help but wonder if being married made them appear older or more experienced. As if saying wedding vows allows you to advance automatically to the “Mature Adult” section in the game of Life?
Let me not discount the fact that getting married certainly does help mature many people. There is much self-sacrificing, problem-solving, and compromising that go into sharing life with another person. And if a couple handles their new marriage biblically, then I believe they will grow in maturity in many ways. But it’s not an automatic guarantee that a young married person will end up wiser than another young person who isn’t married.
There might be a feeling of “less than,” “pitiable,” or “not quite as mature” from society directed toward single people. But we can’t let that define us. If we allow ourselves to buy into those titles, we will start believing them about ourselves.
And they’re simply not true.
A single person is every bit as valuable and worthy as a married person. Christ has redeemed all of us unworthy sinners and made our standing in Him the same – forever forgiven.
A single person can be just as mature or immature as a married person – the rings don’t get to decide that. In fact, learning to bravely weather the storms of life alone and learning to trust Christ through the darkness of loneliness might make a single person wiser in some cases than a married person.
Notice that I said “might.” Because a person’s wisdom and maturity is directly related to how immersed they are in Scripture and prayer – not in their ability to find another person to marry them or stand “strongly” on their own while not married.
And a single person doesn’t have to be pitied any more than a married person, unless they make themselves into an object of pity. Live a life that is passionate and intentional and you will inspire others to do the same instead of making them feel bad for you.
We love to compete with each other, don’t we? “My life is more picturesque than yours” our Instagram feeds want to shout out. We don’t even realize the subtle desires we have to prove how happy and beautiful our lives are compared to everyone else’s. Those who are single post about their vacations, their jobs, their exciting hobbies. Those who are married may also post about those things, but more frequently they post about their husbands and kids.
All of these are wonderful things, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that we stop posting about them because they are treasured gifts and they are meant to be used for God’s glory.
But they are not the most important thing. Christ is. And His unique design for each of our lives demands that we respect one another’s stories, married or single.
So should I stop desiring to be married? Should I stuff that desire away because that doesn’t give me more “status” than being unmarried?
No, not at all. I just believe that if we desire marriage, we have to carefully examine our motives and allow God to refine and purify them. We need to treasure marriage [and the potential for it] as a gift, but not elevate it as more prestigious than being single. Similarly, we need to not elevate singleness as something that’s more honorable than being married. And if we find ourselves wanting marriage simply because we’ll feel more secure and worthy in life, we have to run back to the cross and ask Christ to remind us of who we are in Him.
For none of us were worthy to be loved. Yet Christ loved us anyway. And that’s a story worth boasting about. In comparison, the world’s measures of status and success become strands of tinsel next to the glorious beauty of Christ on display in our lives.
He will get the glory through all of our stories, however He chooses to write them.