Much has been said about the fact that singles are waiting longer and longer to get married. There’s been a lot of speculation on why this is the case. Some say men are prolonging their adolescence in life, causing them to lack a desire to grow up and take on the responsibility of family. Others think it’s due to the fact women have more career opportunities, so their need for someone to provide for them is no longer there. Still others attribute it to the greater acceptance in our culture of co-habitation, which grants benefits without total commitment. Whatever the belief may be, many think they have solutions to the problem. Men need to grow up. Women need to quit being so feminist. Young adults need to abstain from sexual intimacy outside of marriage. Now, I definitely think there is some truth to all of the above. However, it seems to me, much of the debate revolves around singles, our issues, and our need to resolve them.
But what if there was another contributing factor to the singleness epidemic? Should the blame solely fall on us? While I do think singles should be challenged and corrected when in sin, I don’t think the focus just needs to be on us. I think marrieds have just as much of a role to play in promoting a high view of marriage to singles.
A Time to Complain and a Time to Refrain
Have you ever heard a married person publicly complain about his or her marriage or spouse? Have you heard parents complain about their children and how stressful life can be with wild kids? How many times have stay-at-home moms vented their frustrations of the utterly exhausting nature of taking care of home and ornery, temper tantrum kids? How many times have working mothers expressed how it’s too difficult to be a wife, mother, and career woman? What about all of the times we see husbands jokingly complain about their nagging, ball and chain wife and kids? There’s hardly a day that passes where I’m not bombarded with just how extremely difficult and exhausting being married and having a kid is. The overwhelming negativity really does not give me too many warm and happy feelings about marriage and family.
To be fair, I have not been married, nor do I have kids, so I recognize that life in every stage carries its own challenges, suffering, and exhaustion. There is a time and place for being honest with the difficulties of life, but perhaps the lack of desire for marriage in singles isn’t just our own fault or problem. The feedback we get from married people really can and does affect us. For those of us who aren’t even sure we ever want to get married, being confronted with a lot of negativity about marriage and family only pushes us further and further away from it. For those who do want to get married, the negativity is extremely discouraging because it seems like those who have spouses or children really aren’t grateful for the blessings they have. No matter what side a single may be on, when husbands and wives complain about their spouses or children, it really has a damaging affect on singles. It can either feel like a slap in the face to those who want what the married person has, or it can be a discouragement to ever seek life beyond singleness who is okay with being single.
Esteem What the Bible Esteems
Scripture has much to say on marriage and family. In fact, Scripture is the only source that provides complete truth and instruction about both of these. According to God’s word, marriage and family is a gift. Children are referred to as a blessing and joy (Psalm 127:3-5; John 16:21). We are told that marriage is valuable and should be held in high regard (Hebrews 13:4). Wives are described as being good and helpful (Proverbs 18:22; Genesis 2:18). Husbands are said to be sacrificing, loving, and protecting (Ephesians 5:25-29). Most importantly, marriage is a picture of the gospel (Ephesians 5:30-31). There’s nothing on this earth that better represents Christ and his church than the relationship between a husband and wife. According to scripture, marriage and family is something to be greatly rejoiced. It shouldn’t be devalued and cheapened by such negative speech.
The singleness epidemic in our culture and churches is an issue, there is no denying that. Singles definitely need to be pointed towards their part in it. However, married people also need to understand the role they play. Maybe if marriage and family were praised more regularly, instead of complained about, more singles might be more prone to desire it?
My challenge to you if you’re married is to be more cognizant of how your words may be negatively affecting singles, whether on social media or in person. Encourage your single friends by speaking truth into their lives. Yes, be honest about the difficulties, but also be quick to share the blessings of it. Singles really need you to show how amazing and worthwhile it is to be a spouse and parent. If we don’t see much value in it from those who are actually experiencing it, it’s almost impossible for us to be motivated to change what we need to change to move towards it. Marrieds, you have an amazing opportunity to really impact the singleness epidemic. Please don’t miss it.
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