Monday, February 1, 2010

Excerpts from "Getting Serious About Getting Married" by Debbie Maken

When faced with responses to your single life consider the following:

1. “You have to be the right person to meet the right person.”
This is a variation on the “Jesus is all you need,” “You must be content in God alone” message. It sounds good and wise, but it presumes that God withholds a spouse for someone based on spiritual “rightness,” painting an inaccurate picture of God and his plans for his people. It also represents the works-righteousness version of achieving marriage, like it’s some sort of bonus incentive program for the super-sanctified. It is God’s Will that we be sanctified, but that is not a yardstick by which he measures our marriage readiness.

2. “It’s better to be single than to wish you were.”
And its variation “Marriage is hard”
Does this make sense? Why long for singleness when you are married? If singleness was so great, why did you get married in the first place? And what makes the person with this comment assume they can handle pressures but you can’t. Life is hard. So is work, so is having a baby, so is parenting, so is being alone. There are trade-offs in every station of life--challenges and benefits. No one should be discouraged from marriage or encouraged to put it on hold indefinitely just because it’s hard! Most things worth having require hard work.

3. “As soon as you stop looking you’ll find the right person.”
The variation on the contentment idea rewrites Proverbs 18:22 to say, “He sho stumbles upon a wife… obtains favor from the LORD.” Finding involves looking for something in particular, time limitations. The truth is that most of us are always looking—consciously or not—until we find a spouce. While some confidently believe that God is the factor in causing marriage to occur, it does not mean that God is the only factor. We must search. There’s an underlying barb to this saying that anyone who is unhappyily single must have been on a rampage or hunt until this point. If you’re single with no prospect in sight, you have cause for concern. Voicing that concern in no way reflects on you as a person or implies that you’re doing something wrong or that God must want you to stop so he can show you he is God. Scripture clearly demonstrates that God loves to bless godly spouse hunts. (See, for example, the story of Abraham, Issac, and Rebekah in Genesis 24.) He is not waiting for you to end your search but instead uses your looking to get you a mate—just as he uses your hunger to get you to eat and your thirst to get you drink.

4. “You’ll get married in God’s perfect time, so just relax!”
Here’s that “wait on the Lord” idea again. So if God knows the future, why pray? Since God knows where I’ll work, why look for a job? We must stop thinking that because God knows the end result, we can rely on him to work out everything in between. Of course he is able to do that. But we were not created to just sit back and retire from life as he works out the details. There is nothing wrong with finding comfort in the knowledge that God is sovereign and sitting on this throne, at work in our lives. But we cannot use good theology as an excuse to get out of the responsibilities we must take secure our own futures—whether it means finding a job, a house, or a husband.

5. “It’s God’s will that you are single right now.”
In order to comfort (or condone) those who find themselves in protracted singleness, church leaders will often say something to the effect that God has ordained them to be single at this point in their lives—maybe they’ll marry later and maybe they won’t. Telling an entire group of singles that God has mandated or decreed their singleness at that point in time can have the dangerous effect of justifying bad behavior. This goes back to misunderstanding God’s will and sovereignty and the need to think biblically rather than culturally.

6. “Dating is FUN!”
Not hardly! Dating may have been fun in high school and early college. But once you start hitting your mid-to late twenties, dating loses its luster. As Carrie mused on Sex and the City, “When did dating go from being fun to being scary?” If dating is so much fun, why do so few singles actually date (one on one, not in groups), especially as the years go on? The truth is that dating is not only not fun, it’s unfair to women.

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