By Melissa Affolter
In today’s Christian market, women find a plethora of resources aimed at helping them become better wives and mothers, as well as friends and teachers. In recent decades, we have seen a surge of materials directed more specifically at single women; and in general, we have been well served by this expanding market.
Typically filled with reassurances that our waiting is not in vain, such books encourage us that by persevering in prayer and service to God, He will bring our husband eventually. Others have called on single women to reevaluate their expectations, replacing overly romanticized notions with the biblical reality of what marriage truly is – a picture of Christ redeeming His Bride, the Church. Let’s face it, the church is oftentimes ugly and in desperate need of merciful compassion. Inundated by a cultural standard of delayed adolescence, coupled with greater anxieties about the future, many singles need to be reminded that selfishness is a common roadblock to marriage.
Amidst all the study and discussion, the single woman faces practical struggles, which are oftentimes never addressed. She celebrates birthday after birthday with no husband on the horizon, clings to her theological underpinnings, and stretches wide her sphere of ministry, only to find herself reduced to tears when faced with the awkward seating arrangement at her friend’s wedding.
For some, the entire day becomes a painful reminder of her solitary existence. As she sits at the reception table watching the couples tenderly embracing on the dance floor, she feels her face turning red when the husband of her grandmotherly mentor from church approaches her with a smile and an outstretched hand, while his wife looks on with that all too familiar sympathetic smile.
Your Big Day
Even as thoughts of becoming the reclusive “cat lady” might plague your mind, or anxieties about the future economic demands of caring for yourself on one income begin to clutch at your throat, the wedding of another can still be your big day. How? By remembering that this one temporary day is pointing to an ultimate day for every child of God! This is not a cliché message to help you survive all the weddings and baby showers you have to endure. It is not another reminder that Christ is your perfect Husband and you will one day be reunited with Him for eternity – though that is true. This is a call to stir up your mind and heart to recognize that the ways in which you, as a redeemed woman (who happens to be unmarried), respond to the marriages taking place around you, speaks volumes on behalf of the church regarding issues of gender, marriage and family.
Biblical manhood and womanhood has become a hot topic permeating churches – pastors spend a significant amount of time addressing the theological framework of it within their church walls. For this we ought to be grateful, as we live in a world filled with twisted perversions of God’s creation design for man and woman. We live in a day when men and women have truly become “lovers of self” (2 Timothy 3:2), exalting personal preferences and selfish lusts above all else. Consequently, for the church, every marriage provides an opportunity for the Gospel to be declared in a unique and mysterious way, as it stands out dramatically from the unions crumbling around us.
All women, whether married or unmarried, are called upon to undergird the church’s position on biblical womanhood. For single women, this means rejoicing as others unite in marriage because you are ultimately rejoicing for the church. You are proclaiming a loud “Amen” each time you join in praise as the vows are repeated and sealed with a kiss!
“Easier said than done,” you reply! As with any spiritual perspective, it requires a well-trained mind, soaked in the scriptures. The guiding principle of Romans 12:2, to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind,” succeeds only in direct proportion to our cultivation of it. For many, the more singleness becomes an extended reality, the easier it becomes to avoid studying topics like biblical womanhood and marriage. We think those passages are not really for us anymore, or that we have plumbed all the depths we can until faced with the experience of marriage itself.
However, the very passages you may be avoiding are the same ones you ought to be relishing in, particularly as you prepare to attend a wedding. What a glorious thing to awake on the morning of the big day, acknowledging the great significance of what is taking place! Ponder the mystery of grace, that Christ would redeem a rebellious and stained people, drawing her to himself in love and mercy, ultimately presenting her spotless before the Father! Consider the treasure of finding a godly spouse, and the Lord’s revealed goodness in bringing two humble lives together, allowing them to be a part of the redemption story.
So the next time you start growing anxious when wrinkled Mr. Harvey is walking toward your reception table, flash your pearly whites and give him your hand with sincere affection, and then dance your heart out!
Melissa Affolter is a curriculum writer for The Rafiki Foundation in Florida and serves in the youth and children’s ministries at Riverbend Community Church in Ormond Beach. After completing a degree in history and teaching in a Classical Christian school for several years, Melissa earned a Master of Arts in biblical counseling from The Master’s College in 2011. She enjoys meeting with young women regularly for counsel and encouragement, as well as loving on the many children who refer to her as “Auntie Mel”.
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