As Valentine’s Day looms, our good editor thought it wise to commission me to write a piece on singleness and Christianity.
Being a Christian single, and having reached *gasp* my thirties. I should be ideally qualified to write on the subject. And I guess I am. I’ve by no means got it all sussed, but I’ve been there. I’ve been the third wheel more times than I care to count, I’ve countless times been asked why I’m still not married, I’ve endured the pitying, head-tilting looks…I’ve been there.
Created to be connected
I dream of being married, building a home, having kids, raising a family. I long for the intimacy of a marriage relationship. And I would love someone to call my partner, someone to adventure with, to take on life with, to be my co-conspirator in all my dreams and plans. And I’m beginning to let myself believe that that’s ok, because we were designed to be in relationship. That longing, that desire, for intimacy is God-given.
In the beginning, God created us. He created us, firstly; because it was His pleasure to – He created us to be in relationship with Him (indicated in Genesis 1.26 and 3.8). He also created us to be in relationship with each other (Genesis 2.18).
This truth of the human condition hasn’t changed in all these years – something deep inside of us longs for connection, for relationship. Around the world and across the ages, we see this expressed (and to a certain extent, fulfilled,) in romantic relationships.
“I dream of being married, building a home, having kids, raising a family. I long for the intimacy of a marriage relationship.”
But I think I’m doing myself out of a whole wealth of relationships if I search for connection, for intimacy even, only in a romantic/ marriage context. I think the importance of, and the quest for, a marriage relationship over and above all other relationships has become skewed out of proportion.
First and foremost we are created to be in relationship with our creator God. As a Christian, this is our primary responsibility and reward – we are invited into intimate relationship with the God of the universe. This is a relationship, a love affair, if you will, with infinite possibilities.
God longs for intimacy with us, like that which He enjoyed with Adam and Eve in the garden. He has spent the whole of history wooing us and winning us back into
relationship with Him (via various prophets, judges, kings, and finally His precious son, Jesus).
“We are invited into intimate relationship with the God of the universe – this is a relationship, a love affair, if you will, with infinite possibilities.”
There can be no doubt that this can be and should be the most intimate, the most exciting and the most important relationship in any Christian’s life.
Secondly, we were created to be in relationship with each other. Jasmine Holmes on The Single Person’s Search for Intimacy makes a very good point when she notes that somehow, intimacy has come to be equated with sex, thereby effectively excluding singles from intimacy.
She reminds us that intimacy is not exclusive to a sexual relationship, that there are several, healthy forms of intimate relationship open to everyone – married or single. Our desire as humans to know and to be known could and should be expressed and fulfilled in our relationship with our family, our friends, and our church community. This opens up the possibility of a more diverse, and healthy range of intimate relationships – for both marrieds and singles. It also does away with the, unreasonable and unhelpful, assumption that spouses should be fulfilling their partner’s every single relationship and intimacy desire.
But then there’s the fear. The worry that I might not ever get married. That I might end up alone. Forever. But I don’t believe that’s the kind of life we were designed to lead. Fear was never meant to dominate our lives.
Jesus came to give us life, and life to its fullest (John 10.10). His life, death, and resurrection were the means of bringing us into right relationship with God, and setting us free to live the lives that He dreamed of for us.
When we say things like “if only I were married”, or “if I were married, I could do….”, we restrict our lives, our dreams, our possibilities in a way God never meant for. When we create churches and cultures that explicitly or implicitly restrict singles (e.g. from leadership, involvement in groups etc.), we place restrictions, which I believe, God never intended.
“When we say things like “if only I were married”, or “if I were married, I could do….”, we restrict our lives, our dreams, our possibilities in a way God never meant for.”
My Dad has told me, since I was young, that I would meet the right man if I kept pursuing God and what He had for me. Now, I’m not sure if I’ll ever meet Mr Right, but what I do know is that pursuing God and what He has for me is the most fulfilling, the most exciting and the fullest life I could lead.
The thing is, between where I am now and where I want to be; is a huge gap. I long to have kids of my own someday – so much so that when a friend innocently handed me her new baby boy for a cuddle the other day tears sprang to my eyes and in that moment I honestly thought my heart would break.
Even in the fullness of a life lived pursuing God and building wonderful friendships and community, the struggle is still real. Those lovely moments witnessed between couples that remind me so harshly that I’m single, the early-morning and the late-night loneliness, those tough times when I don’t have a person to turn to; those times are hard. And they’ll continue to be hard.
So, I continue to look for the man who might be the one. I’ve even joined an app (from which I hope, at the very least, to gain some half-decent dinner party anecdotes).
But what I won’t do is give up. Or give in, for that matter. I will continue to pursue God, and all He has for me, and I will continue to invest in my wonderful friends (singles and marrieds), family and community. And I won’t give up hoping that I’ll meet my someone one day, hopefully not too long from now.
So. My advice to all the Christian singles out there?
Exactly the same as the marrieds. Pursue God. Pursue Him for all you’re worth. And all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6.33). And invest in relationships, be they with friends, family, or in your church community. Build trust and intimacy that don’t depend on romance or sex. Go for coffee with your mate. Call your Mum. And, if you’re not in one already, do yourself a favour and join a small group.
Do this and I can guarantee a rich, full, exciting life. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll meet your partner in the process.