You know the ones. they start with “Why are you. . .? When are you. . .? You’re not yet. . .?” There is a great variety of comments and questions which are recounted on a lot of lists online under titles such as “10 things not to say to singles.” As I have scanned that well-covered category this week, it seems that the questioners are all reading the same book. People in Nebraska ask the very same questions as people in New York. Go figure.
When younger, the questions usually are “When are you getting married?” or “Why are you not married yet?” As years go by, they change a bit to “Why is it that you have never married?” If I had even a quarter for the number of times I’ve been asked those questions, I’d be very wealthy. And if I had THE definitive answer to those “why” questions, I’d be even richer.
I like a response I read awhile back. “My prospective husband took a detour and he refuses to ask for directions.” Well, if that’s possible, mine has been wandering around the wilderness for 40 years just like the Israelites in the Old Testament. What can I say?
Even though many singles are choosing to live together, the common expectation is still that college age men and women will find their “significant other” and hopefully marry one another in a lifetime commitment – that covenant to love and cherish each other as long as they both shall live. While there are many marriages which illustrate that, we seem to mainly hear of the ones which do not. Few walk down the wedding aisle thinking that their marriage will fall apart with relational death. What happens?
My observation: The hard work which goes into a committed, faithful, covenant marriage often fails because the hard work of committed, faithful, and yes, covenantal singleness goes undone. Fidelity is a word which gets much lip service today, but actually living it out is deemed impossible. In particular, sexual freedom is viewed as an entitlement, and little thought is given to inevitable physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.
In reality, all these consequences meld together because the physical connection is but a visual part of the “becoming one flesh” which Scripture talks about.♥ This process is meant to go infinitely beyond “urges” and “needs.” Animals illustrate those basic things; but we are to transcend those. The physical act is meant to connect the emotions in mutual love and respect, and to point to an even deeper reflection of our spiritual relationship with the God Who put all those complex gifts into our lives.
How in the world can I relate to all this as a single person who believes that this “becoming one” – body, soul, and spirit – is a freedom one is only to have with a spouse? Is remaining celibate an impossible task? More applicable for today, is remaining celibate a laughable and unnecessary goal if one is unmarried? Is it a respected ideal only if one is called to be a Mother Teresa?
There is universal respect for the discipline it takes to be skillful athletes. Olympic skaters, gymnasts, swimmers, skiers, and cyclists wow us with their finesse and speed. What we see, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Their public successes come only as a result of all the behind-the-scenes work on tiny details. Same with pianists, by the way. A Chopin Etude may eventually take less than 5 minutes to play in concert. The preparation may be 100+ hours of slow, steady practice. A concert lasting an hour may consist of 250 pages of music – traditionally memorized if you are a pianist. All these skills are seen as objects of celebration when done successfully.
So, why do we see fidelity and discipline in the life of an unmarried person as any less a celebration? It is a puzzle, isn’t it?
For those of you reading this who are walking this journey with me, I’m here to say, “Good for you! You encourage me just as I hope I encourage you! God’s blessing of His spiritual fruit be yours in abundance – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control!” Galatians 5:23 goes on to tell us that none of these things are against any law in any situation!
Well, this post has started my mind on a quest for more good responses to singleness questions. More to come! 🙂