On Sunday we read the gospel from the lectionary, Mark 10:1-12. Though my message was primarily about Jesus lesson about marriage and divorce, I also had planned to say something to those who are not married but ran out of time. Here’s the part I left out.
Hi, single people! I apologize sincerely for not addressing you directly on Sunday. If you are not married but would like to be, I think that is wonderful! We want to encourage you while you look for a partner. Our current dating culture does not reward faithfulness. I’m sorry that you have to navigate in order to find a good husband or wife. Cultivate faithfulness in your life now. Honor everyone and recognize that they are created in the image of God.
Especially, seek to serve others and not just impress or manipulate. Our temporary dating culture runs contrary to the goal of permanence in marriage. But the truth remains that we are not allowed to use people to soothe loneliness. No idle texting, swiping left, and ambiguous hookups until someone better comes along. Be steadfast and intentional in your relationships now.
Marriage doesn’t magically transform you into another person with different character other than what you cultivated as a single person. Learning faithful habits now will prepare you to keep your vow to love, cherish, and honor later.
If you are single or divorced and you don’t think marriage is on the horizon for you, we affirm that choice too. Marriage is a unique relationship but we shouldn’t make it normative for all Christians. After all, Jesus wasn’t married!
Singleness also has its own unique blessings, so many so that the Apostle Paul thought it was better to remain single. In 1 Corinthians 7 he wrote,
“An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife.”
I cannot say this emphatically enough—He was not kidding! I secretly miss being single on many days when I wistfully remember what it was like to be free to go and serve or to focus on things I am passionate about without interruption. Instead, I more time than I ever imagined keeping my child out of oncoming traffic and making second trips to the grocery store for forgotten milk or eggs. While married people are called to live out parable of faithfulness in service of a spouse, the unmarried are called to single-hearted devotion to God who sustains us in all situations.
No one displays this truth more beautifully than widows and widowers. You know what it is to live out a parable of faithfulness during the years you shared with your spouse. You hold treasured memories in tension with the absence of someone you pledged your life to until you were separated by death. Widows and widowers remind our romance obsessed culture that marriage is not eternal, but God is. When the metaphor fades away only God remains and he is always enough.
May you know the love of our heavenly Father who sustains and may you live faithfully wherever you are called!