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Monday, November 19, 2012

Spouse Hunting & Misery

In my last post I mentioned the act of serving while single. I wanted to continue with some thoughts on singleness. I was recently listening to a message on Paul's writing to the singles. Here is the passage I was listening to

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
1Cor. 7:27 emphasis added

Now although this passage mentions "wife" specifically, the next verse speaks to women, so the verses in this passage are interchangeable and correlate to men and women, not just men. As I listened to that verse, I suddenly realized something I had never realized before, Paul says we are NOT to seek out marriage. I know, I just repeated what the verse said. But do you realize the significance of that statement? Today we are told to go out wife/husband hunting. When we remain single for a while or have no prospects we are commanded by parents, friends, older men/women to go out and find a spouse. We are told to go online and set up a profile on a Christian dating website or to attend a different church full of singles, go to singles groups, meet new people, etc. We are constantly bombarded by Christians with good intentions, but not Biblical commands. We are told to do the exact opposite the Bible has commanded us to do- continue on in singleness. This does not mean we cannot pray for a spouse or that we must remain in singleness forever. The principle of this verse is that we must not spouse hunt in order to change our circumstances. The underlying principle of this verse also shows us that God will bring about the right circumstances to initiate the change from singleness to marriage in His timing, not ours. It means that we must fully rely upon God to change our circumstances, rather than rely on ourselves.

The Christian society deems that the young man is the one who should be spouse hunting, as opposed to the woman, because she isn't the one who asks to initiate the relationship. The verse above blows this theory out of the water as well. The young man should not be seeking to leave his state of singleness. He should be waiting as well for God's timing, knowing that when it is right, circumstances will change on their own accord without him having to search for a woman to marry.

This verse doesn't imply that we do nothing while waiting to get married, by no means. It seems society thinks that singleness means twiddling our thumbs until our "life begins," to quote a famous saying. As I mentioned in the last post, we serve, we mature in Christ, we prepare. We continue going on with life as it has been, continuously seeking out God's direction throughout this time.

Something else I have noticed of late is that it seems like many Christians have this stigma against singleness, thinking that we are the most miserable and to be pitied above all people. Why on earth do we as singles let married people think that? We are actually to be the happiest people on earth according to these verses-

So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and  he who refrains from marriage will do even better.
1Cor. 7:38 emphasis added

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.Yet in my judgment she is happier  if she remains as she is. 
1Cor. 7:39-40 emphasis added

Paul says we have something better than married couples have. We have Christ as our sole satisfier! I was recently talking to someone who equated singleness to misery, and my mind was blown away at that point. To think that we would say God cannot make us happy but marriage can! Have we idolized marriage so much that it has been come a death sentence to remain in singleness? Is marriage of more value than God? Are we saying that a husband/wife can provide much more satisfaction than God? A sinful creature can help us out better than a sinless God? Think about what you say before you resign yourself to a "woe is me" attitude concerning the single estate. It's good. It's for His glory. Your life is a service to God that is obviously impacting the kingdom more than marriage could at this point.

So when your friends, family, and the people around you make you feel that singleness is miserable, remember what Paul says about it. He of all people would know just how wonderful singleness can be when we make it God-focused, when we become so consumed with His kingdom that nothing else matters. And when you're given advice to seek out a spouse, remember what the Scripture says. Listen to the Bible, not man. Follow the principles. When Kevin DeYoung tells you to go find a spouse, remember, he's not God and he's not perfect. Follow the Scriptures no matter what.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there! I really enjoyed reading your post and hearing your thoughts on this issue. I think single Christians can make spouse "hunting" an idol in their life or pursue it ABOVE the things of God. That's definitely something to be mindful of!

    However, I'd like to point something out. Please don't take it as me trying to correct you or something (especially since this is YOUR blog:) , but it definitely concerns me about this post. You need to realize that while 1 Corinthians ch. has WONDERFUL applications for us as believers today (being content with what situation in life God has us in), it does NOT apply to us today as it did to the believers in Corinth at the time the letter was written. Paul was writing to believers who were being persecuted by the Romans and they were in a situation where marriage wouldn't necessarily strengthen their Christian witness, it would actually be making life more difficult for them. So when Paul says, "Do not seek a wife", he was talking to the Christian single men of Corinth who had other things they needed to be focusing on. To say that this verse applies to us, today, as it did then, is an undeniable misinterpretation of the passage.

    Even so, I agree with your conclusions. Marriage can NOT make us happy. Neither can singleness. ONLY the Lord can satisfy that part in our lives. Praise God you see the truth of that! I've seen many a young person whine and complain because of what season of life they're in, or take foolish steps toward finding a spouse. It happens.

    However, I do not agree with how you came to that conclusion. Marriage is wonderful and it is THE vessel the Lord has chosen to display the relationship between His church and Jesus Christ. Not a mother/child relationship. Not a friendship. Not even a church membership. MARRIAGE. It's good. And seeking it out in a wise and intentional way is not sinful in any way and shouldn't be looked down upon.

    Keep studying and reading! Many blessings your way.