As a single Christian woman who has never married I found that the evangelical church and the Christian world in general typically put singles in one of two camps. In the first camp are those who have the "Gift of Singleness". These are singles who have voluntarily refrained from marriage to serve the kingdom of God, free from the concerns of marriage and family. This is believed to be a rare gift. In the second camp are those singles who desire to be married. The general belief is that all singles who desire to be married will eventually marry. For this reason, most sermons, books, or Christian advice aimed toward single women involve preparation for marriage - learning how to be the best wife, determining whether a man would make a suitable husband, having a biblical understanding of the purpose of marriage, and so on.
Door Number Three
The problem with this approach is that it completely ignores a growing number of single Christian women who do not feel specially gifted to live a single, celibate life but who, for reasons unknown to them, have never had the opportunity to marry. I fall into that camp, living behind "door number three" (to quote the famous Monty Hall line). Although I admire Christian singles who have decided to remain single for the sake of Christ, I cannot willfully make such a decision - I greatly desire marriage. But even though I desire to be married, I find that, as my adult singleness continues for years and even decades, I cannot continually live in a mode of praying and preparing for marriage indefinitely. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick". I find that quote in Proverbs 13:12 to be especially true about the desire for marriage. I don't think I will ever get to a point where I don't desire marriage but I am loathed to live a life characterized by wanting something I never had. I want my life to reflect Christ and the inexhaustible joy of knowing Him!
Are you living behind door number three? It may feel like the goat on "Let's Make a Deal" - the dubious gift no one wants. But there's hope, single sister!
I have often wondered if there is a theology of celibacy (1 Corinthians 7) and a theology of marriage (Ephesians 5) is there a theology of long-term, unwanted singleness that many women like me find themselves in? In other words, is there any godly comfort, encouragement, and answers for those of us who find ourselves perpetually single in the family-focused church of our day? As I have prayed, received godly counsel, and searched the Scriptures, I have found that there is much to be joyful about in this state. The purpose of Single, Unexpectedly then is not to simply complain about singleness or the church but to share what God through His Word has shown me. To live out what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
Single, Unexpectedly will biblically address issues and concerns unique to those women living behind door number three. Issues such as,
- How can I find joy and purpose as a single Christian woman, especially since I have always wanted to be a wife and mother?
- Where do I fit into today's family-focused church which regularly emphasizes the role of women as wives and mothers?
- What do I do about my sexual desires? How do I keep from being frustrated or sinning against God?
- Why has it been so hard for me and other women to get married?
- Do I have the "gift of singleness"? I don't feel like I do.
- How can I avoid envying others who are married?
- What is my identity? Who am I as a woman if I am no one's wife or mother? I do not draw much identity from my job or career.
- Should I be more concerned about the future? At what point should I establish myself in a solid career, purchase a home, save for retirement?
- Does God know how difficult it is to live this way? Does He care?
I have not given up on marriage - even now I still pray for it - but I have found a godly treasure in looking for meaning and fulfillment in the life God has given me. It is my sincere prayer that this blog will not only encourage single Christian women like me but will reveal that God truly loves us, sees our struggles, and has a plan for our lives both for our good and for His glory.
- Janice at Single, Unexpectedly
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