Monday, August 22, 2005

On being single

John at Blogotional added this outstanding comment to the discussion:
This I know for sure -- marriage doesn't solve any problems, it just changes the problem set. It's not a panacea. It makes one better simply because of the necessity to consider "the other," but it does not solve you self-image problem, or even your loneliness. I recommend marriage, but you need the right expectations.
I concur, and I would add one fine secret to being successful in marriage is learning how to be content in the Lord in singleness. Notice I didn't suggest you should be self-sufficient. Notice I didn't say you should learn how to bide your time.

When a single person submits themselves to the Lord, the heart should be such that one may greatly desire marriage, but prepares for a life in case the Lord does not bring them such a blessing. It is a sacrificial heart that God requires, I believe, to prepare them for the very kind of sacrifice a person is required of in marriage.

John notes "it does not solve your self-image problem," and I cannot think of a stronger comment than that. If you are craving marriage because you think it will make you a better person, you have been deceived into not trusting in the Lord to make you whole. If this is your position, you have turned marriage into something of an idol. I think it's important to note marriage is about what you are willing to do for your spouse, not the expectation of someone serving you -- although it's important to find a spouse who has the attitude of service.

If marriage is to mirror the Christ/Church relationship, then the man must understand his priestly role in marriage. This does not make man the king of the castle. Quite the contrary. Jesus said to be a leader, you must take the role of the servant. He did this, even so far as taking on the curse of sin and death. By relationship, the wife takes the role of the Church. This does not mean she is to worship her husband, but as the man serves the wife, she is to honor the man as the Church is to honor Christ. This is not to say the woman is wholly subservient, but if her husband is properly leading by serving, I sincerely doubt any wife would be complaining about her role in marriage.

John comments that marriage doesn't even solve your loneliness, and I also find this to be a profound statement about the necessity of first finding our relationship with the Lord. If God is not first in your life, if you are not seeking the Holy Spirit to fill you up for service, you bring nothing to the table in your marriage. Without God, you are bringing your own flesh, and you are likely to suck the life out of your spouse.

Being single is difficult and complicated. You cannot force contentment, but God does not ask you to do so. I found I was best at being single when I wasn't attempting to live fast and free. When I made sacrifices, when I freely gave of my time to the Body, when was not idle, when I was not measuring up every single woman and their potential benefit as my wife, this is when I was content. I did not seek marriage, it just found me, as God just led me to this wonderful woman while I was busy serving Him.

I could not have picked a better wife on my own. I would not be so vulgar as to turn God into a heavenly matchmaker, but I do believe there is wisdom in letting God work these things out while you focus on your higher calling in the Body. There is a blessing, not only in the better life God will bring you, but in the similarities of a sacrificial heart that are required in both serving the Body and a spouse.

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