Some may say, “It’s your choice to be single.” All I can say it, “You are right!” But it is not that simple. Behind their words I hear a suggestion that the relational garden is ripe for the picking and I need only stretch out my hand to eat. Thus if I am hungry it is my own fault. It is a suggestion that on every side the fruit is “good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gen 3:6).
They encourage me to take and eat ignoring the fact that not every fruit is permissible—not all are beneficial. They offer shallow advice to deeper issues and bring me down. It is my choice but sometimes it feels like no choice at all.
Today, as singles, “we are legion,” and our numbers are growing. So the happily married bids us marry, thinking it absurd (as I do) that there are so many eligible singles isolated in their sorrows. It seems only logical that all these singles should turn, find a person to their liking, and be joined in blessed union. Nothing would make me happier. But it has not been that easy since the Garden.
Yes, “it is not good” for us to “be alone” (Gen 2:18) but the world is not as it should be—not since the Garden.
I concede that is it a choice to be single—inescapably so. But the words “its your choice to be single,” whether intentionally or unintentionally, suggest that the ONLY reason the single is unmarried is because they are simply too picky or too cowardly. It suggests that the person to the left or to the right will do just as well and that to pass them over is tantamount to sin. This I am not willing to concede.
I have prayed to God that He either fulfill the desire or remove it. If you are single by choice and truly have no desire for marriage—bless you. I am not there. Do not judge my weakness and I will not envy your strength.
Not every single is TOO picky—some are simple more selective.
Not every single is a coward—some are preparing for greater battles.
It is Paul’s admonition to us to consider more than our own desires when thinking of marriage. “The time is short!” he tells us, and no decision can be made without this concept in mind. All that we do must reflect the greater cause at hand—the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We cannot live as though all were well with the world or as though all will be well if we are just married.
All is not well with the world, not this side of Eden, not this side of heaven. We exist, for now, in a world that is passing away and all our energies, all our decisions are measured by His desire to love the world through us. This alone should make us selective.
And no, all will not be well simply because we are married.
Some of us wait, and are extra selective because of the relational scars that mark our hearts. Others are fearful due to poor examples. Still some have no confidence in an institution that seems to be crumbling around their feet—even among Christians. But these are places that need healing and not my subject nor Paul’s.
Some, besides the many relational elements of personalities and attraction that weigh in the seek more. Marriage, or being yoked, means by necessity making certain that both parties are pulling in the same direction and with at least similar spiritual vigor.
I concede that I am single by choice. It is indeed my choice as it is my choice to remain celibate during this prolonged singleness. Of course, if I pursue righteousness it becomes a choice that is not much of a choice. It is a choice between the person that will help me fulfill God’s cause in the world and the person that will aid my own personal desires. It is a choice between an adequate mate and a suitable helper. It is a choice between what brings glory to God and what eases the pain of loneliness. I essence, it is not choice at all.
The shallowness this world births in the heart of men and women is unquestionable. But there are Godly men and women who, in their struggle to find a companion for this journey, have made a choice along the way to remain single. It is their choice but it is an insult to have their true and good choice reduced to simple cliché, “You’re just too picky.”
No, not everyone is simply TOO picky, some are simply wise and discerning.
Some have determined that marriage is not the end goal
—righteousness and the coming of God’s kingdom is the goal.
Thus choices are made in accordance with this greater goal.
If marriage is our chief end then let us all marry now whoever is near—whoever is left. Let us simply find someone, anyone, who is willing to be joined to us and let us move on. If it is children we want then let us simply find someone fertile. If it is a home we want let us find someone financially secure. But if it is His cause that drives us then it is better to be alone than to simply grab ANYONE. It is OUR choice after all.
Even as I write these words they don’t come easy. They don’t come easy because the frills of marriage are a deep desire for me. I long to hold someone and to hear her whisper sweetly in my ear, “I love you. I respect you.” This is the longing like starvation for me. But I have a greater hunger. I have a greater need. I have a deeper desire—to see His kingdom come. As this desire can be fulfilled through marriage and through the person I choose—that will be a good choice. Every other choice is for all practical purposes, no choice at all.
This article first appeared on Crosswalk.com on Friday, April 17, 2009
Yes. We are “legion” as you state, but quite damaged as I think you allude to in this of in part two.
That is wise.
A radio psychologist, in fact, once counseled a caller to think of his/her unfulfilled attraction as a way to remind her/him that they are capable of caring.
Lately, I have experienced the inconvenience of an attaction that would not be fulfilled — for much the better. Even though I realized it very early on (the person was not a good choice), emotions don’t go away immediately. Having been in this position many times before, I was willing to be a friend, only to experience hostility and being ignored because he was made uncomfortable, even though he claimed to never have thought of me as more than a friend.
Anyway, my point is that it’s inconvenient, and I do pray, too, that God would take away my abilitity to develop attractions or fulfill it. ‘Guess it’s gonna’ be my thorn that will remind me that I’m human. And it’s not shameful to have it I don’t think, even though many men (and I suspect some women) will treat you as though it is.
Great article. So many inspiring expressions throughout. The following excerpt sums it up best for me:
“It is a choice between what brings glory to God and what eases the pain of loneliness. In essence, it is not choice at all.”
How true! The pursuit of righteousness eclipses all other pursuits — marriage included.