Saturday, July 14, 2012

Single and Happy?

                "So, is there anyone special in your life right now?” “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Wait, you’ve never had a boyfriend!?! Well, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time.” As a young (almost) twenty-something I get this a lot actually. In college a lot of people are branching out, getting into serious relationships and getting married by the time they graduate. And even before that people start dating as young as middle school now (if you can call that dating). In this culture it’s a  little, well, weird, to find someone who, not only is NOT currently seeking any relationships, but has nothing interesting to speak of about her past either.
     I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It happens when you go to college, and look at the male population and are like ‘Holy Cow, I could actually end up marrying one of you!’ But, more and more lately, I’ve been thinking about marriage and singleness and I’ve been feeling more and more that God’s calling me to be single. Now, there’s nothing broken in me, on the contrary, I’ve been planning my wedding since I was ten, I have all of my children’s name’s picked out, and I even have a wedding board on Pinterest and I want to Honeymoon at Disney. I have all these plans, but more and more lately I’ve felt like they’re my plans and not God’s. Still, a decision to remain single is daunting one in this society.
       I never dated in high school (and to be fair I know a lot of people who didn’t, even if that’s not the social norm) and now, in college, I’m still not really all enthused with the idea of ‘going out' with someone (let it be known that this is NOT a blog about the superiority of some form of courtship over dating, but is about the reason why singleness is not a disease). It seems a lot of my friends last year started finding ‘The Guy’ that is right for them, I have friends who are still madly in love with their high school sweethearts, and everyone else is on the lookout. It’s the subject of almost every conversation, many churches use their singles groups as mix and mingle forums and I’m just standing over here like ‘what, exactly, is the problem with being single?’ In our society there’s an enormous pressure on girls especially to be in a relationship with some guy. If girls go through a period of singleness they start asking questions like, ‘what’s wrong with me?’ ‘What is it about me that’s unlovable?’  Even in the church there’s a pressure for women to marry. We even look at older single women and think ‘How sad’. But, I put it to you, is that a Biblical perspective?    
     Simply put, no. I’ve been thinking about 1 Corinthians a lot lately (of course it would be that book) and Paul has some incredibly interesting things to say about marriage and singleness that I just haven’t been able to get out of my mind:

25 Now concerning virgins I have (A)no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who [a](B)by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 26 I think then that this is good in view of the[b]present (C)distress, that (D)it is good for a man [c]to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have [d]trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. 29 But this I say, brethren, (E)the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not (F)make full use of it; for(G)the form of this world is passing away.
32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is(H)unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife,34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but [e]to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
36 But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let [f]her marry. 37 But he who stands firm in his heart, [g]being under no constraint, but has authority [h]over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. 38 So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

I bolded the parts that I’ve been thinking about. I know that that’s long, but it’s best to look at these things in a broader context. The part that’s really been on my mind is verse 26. It’s not really clear what Paul meant by ‘this present distress’, there are lots of theories none of which sound more plausible than any other to me, but it got me thinking about the economic state of our country. Everyone knows that it’s not good right now, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s probably not going to get any better. In fact, many economists give it 10-15 years before a state of total economic collapse in America and maybe even a bit before that for the EU. This isn’t what Paul was talking about, but if this is not a present time of distress then I don’t know what is. But, I was thinking, say I did get married, that would probably happen in the next three to five years. Probably soon after that, say one to two years I would start having children. I don’t think that, if I did get married, I would feel morally comfortable taking the pill, so there goes birth-control. In ten to fifteen years I could probably have a family of three or four, all under the age of 10. If, then, a complete economic collapse comes, how am I going to provide for my family? How am I going to make sure they’re all ok? I can’t.

Well, that’s a selfish reason, some people may think. You’re not going to get married and have children just because of some sort of disaster that may or may not happen in the future!?! WHAT ABOUT THE BABIES!!!!!1!!!111. Well, no, I don’t think that’s very selfish at all. In fact, Paul would agree with me. Choosing to stay single isn’t a selfish decision. Paul indicates earlier in the chapter (v.7) that being Single is a spiritual gift from God (I’m not saying that I have that), and that “because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife” (v. 2). Also, the idea of staying single in times of distress is a logical one as well. If, as I truly believe, a disaster of an economic sort is coming on this country there are things that need to be done in the service of God. Women and orphans will need to be cared for, the message of the Gospel will be needed by people more than ever, spiritual services will be required that a wife and a mother just won’t be equipped to give. If I had those responsibilities I would be expected to care for my family first, I would be one of the people requiring assistance and wouldn’t be able to serve others as effectively. That’s not a bad thing. If I were a wife and mother I believe God would expect me to serve the needs of my family first. As a single woman, however, I believe that I could accomplish more for the kingdom of God, simply because I would have more time (v. 34).

Now, do I think that people who decide to get married are wrong for doing so? Absolutely not. Two people who get married in the Lord and raise their children for Him are doing a valuable thing for His kingdom. It’s not an easy job and in a large way they’re to be commended. They just can’t do all the things that a single man or woman is able to do. Any Godly married man or woman will tell you this. So, I believe that the Bible teaches that being single is far from being a handicap on a person, it allows the man or woman to do more for the Lord. I also believe that, for the time being, God is calling me to a life of singleness. That doesn’t make me better than anyone else, it just means that different things will be expected of me than will be expected of my friends who marry. So, if you feel called to a life of singleness, there’s nothing wrong with you. Even if you don’t feel called, but God just hasn’t placed anyone in your life right now, there’s nothing wrong with you. In fact, you are able to do more to further the kingdom of God right now than you could if you were in a relationship. You’re able to devote all your resources to Him because you don’t have any other obligations.

Well, I suppose that’s enough rambling for right now. Just some of my thoughts as I move into the world of adulthood and try and decide what God wants me to do with my life. Maybe this will help someone else too.

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