“Oh, stop being so picky.” she laughs as she twirls her wedding ring around her finger. “Find a man who loves Jesus and marry him. Honestly, all you singles just need to pick someone and marry them.”
The single people sitting in the group visibly cringe. It’s a speech they’ve heard again and again and again, and even if they find someone to date, that refrain is replaced by, “So, when will you get engaged?” And as a result we find ourselves living in a constant cycle of waiting for the next thing, waiting for something better, trying to meet these standards that are placed upon us, and if you’re like me, wondering why it is that you haven’t yet met these milestones of sanctification (because, I mean, you can’t be growing in your Christian life if you’re not married, yeah?*).
I don’t doubt that the suggestion comes from a caring place, but there’s an assumption behind it – about the need for marriage – that is inherently unhelpful for those who are single.
A lot of my time is spent with two friends, both of whom are single, and we have some fairly particular things we can do because of our lack-of-marriage. We can camp out all night before a sample sale and talk about life and make new friends. We can go on spontaneous adventures. We can use our time to serve people without too much concern for the fallout at home. We enjoy this unmarried life. It isn’t that we’re sitting at a bus stop waiting for someone to come pick us up, we’re living and exploring and serving. We’re not less than because there’s no ring on our fingers. We’re not stagnant in our growth because we’re unmarried.
These two friends – one of whom is unlikely to ever marry – remind me again and again of the grace of God. We have intentional friendships, and those friendships push us towards God all the more. We remind each other of who God is making us to be. I would never, ever, consider them to be lacking because they don’t hold anyone’s hand frequently. I would never, ever, consider them to be less mature because they haven’t made covenant vows in fancy clothing.
See, the church is a whole body. Your marriage matters. Marriage matters. But your connection to your spouse is not the only connection you have – you have family and friends and pastors and peers. A single person is not a single person, they should be surrounded by the exact same people. They have friends, and they have family, and pastors and peers too. These connections are what we are called to – Christ’s body, a family established by His blood. Christianity isn’t a call to be marriage, except that marriage between Christ and the Church. The single person among you is not single. They are part of the Body, just like you.
You see, the single people that you love do not need to be told that they should marry (though, if they want to – do that wedding thing, friend!). They need to be told that their life now is a blessing to you and to others. They need to be celebrated, as they are (seriously, won’t someone buy me a Kitchenaid without me having to get married? PLEASE). Your marriage is so very worth celebrating, friend. Your single friends delighted in God’s work in you on your wedding day. Delight in them, without them having a ring on their finger, because there’s so much to delight in.
They need you to stop asking when they’ll get married, because you don’t know if they’re longing for that or not, and honestly, their marital status is none of your business. But if you’re their friend, their holiness is your business, their delight is your business, their plans and their hurts are too, what God is doing in them and through them matters to you too.
So next time you’re tempted to lean in and lecture about how singles need to stop being picky, bite your tongue, think for a second, and ask them about something that really matters.