Try being an attractive, outgoing, unmarried adult in a modern church and not have your singleness as a topic of conversation. It is nearly impossible! You will find yourself either trying to justify your singleness or trying to avoid the matchmakers in the church.
Why is it like this? It is because our church culture has nearly idolized marriage. Most assume—and many outright teach—that marriage is God’s plan for everyone. Most Christians today expect you to get married, start a family, and serve God with that family. Anything less leaves you somehow incomplete.
There’s also this kind of thinking:
Being single = being alone = being miserably alone.
Therefore, being single = being miserable.
Bitterly, miserably alone.
So let’s get some things straight. Here are three things that Christians need to stop saying to singles in the church:
“God has someone for everyone.”
This is patently false. Sure, God paired Adam off with Eve; Isaac with Rebbeca; Esther with King Ahasuerus; Ruth with Boaz. But there were also some very important individuals in the Bible who never married: Daniel, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Jesus Christ himself—need I say more?
Marriage is a gift, but remaining faithfully unmarried is also a gift! Considering us incomplete without a spouse is to say that the Jesus, Paul and John were also incomplete. They were not incomplete, nor am I.
“Just focus on being the right person and then the right person will come along.”
Maybe in your life, this is what God wanted you to learn before He brought your spouse. However, this statement is unbiblical because it essentially tells us that we can manipulate God by our goodness. Whether or not you get married, you should be “content in whatever state you are in” (Philippians 4:11).
This idea also creates a false hope in those who are pressured to get married, yet were not created for marriage. Given the expectation that being the right person will bring the right person, many become disillusioned and spiritually sick when it does not happen. The Bible says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
“God will give you the desires of your heart. Be content in your singleness, then God will send you a spouse.”
Psalms 37:4 does say that God gives you the desires of your heart. However, the whole verse reads, “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give you the desires of your heart.”
The word delight gives the idea of joy and focus. Satan’s goal is to steal our joy by persuading us to focus on the negative: on what we don’t have. There’s a reason why it first says, “Delight thyself in the Lord.” Our joy is in the Lord. Our focus should be on the Lord. Once we do that, then we will begin to see how God gives us a desire that we never had before or thought imaginable!
These statements have been true for some people. That is probably why many feel it is fine to repeat them. But the sweeping generalization does more hurt than good. What if you did all these things and yet never married? Does that mean you did something wrong? Does that mean God doesn’t keep His promises? Absolutely not!
As for the whole, “being single= being bitterly, miserably alone” thinking, as we have written before, the apostle Paul says that it can be better to remain unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:8). In the same chapter, he goes so far as to say that those who remain faithfully unmarried are happier than those who marry! (Why have I never heard that verse proclaimed from the pulpit?)
So do your faithfully unmarried brothers and sisters in Christ a favor. Avoid saying these things in an effort to give us “hope.” Rather, encourage us in God’s service, utilize our strengths, and build us up in the faith. Marriage isn’t for everyone, but serving God is!