The church has traditionally done a huge disservice to a large number of people in its own membership. That disservice then bled out into the culture at large, and has done some damage to an even larger number of people.
Here’s the myth: “Everyone is bound to get married.”
Well, not exactly. Sure, if that’s what you want, then please pursue that goal. However, if marriage isn’t something you desire, then go ahead an pass. There are requirements and consequences for both choices. But that’s what marriage is – a choice, a commitment to another person forever and a day. It isn’t a crush, infatuation, or destiny. Marriage is an oath made in all seriousness in front of God and witnesses that two people will be faithful and look out for one another. It’s a big deal and a huge responsibility.
Being married myself, I can say that it does have its perks. But my best friend at the moment is single, and can do much more spur of the moment service than I can. When two people function as one, it takes more effort and planning to schedule service opportunities. Add kids (whether married or single), and that planning takes even more effort and thought. People who don’t have those commitments can and do have the freedom to pursue different goals and can move much faster in response to God’s calling. For instance, I would love to return to China and teach English for a year or longer. But, being married means I have to take into account how my wife feels and how that will affect our family. Before I was married, I had the opportunity to spend a month there teaching English and took it. Now I have opportunities here with my wife to serve together serving children and their families, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But understand that’s where my wife and I are right now, and everyone has a different calling.
In some ways, this is where I have to commend the Catholic church for its stance on marriage and singleness. They have taken, especially in recent years, to teaching that every person has a vocation, a calling, and each person’s is unique to the gifts and situation of that person. Think about it, the vocation of a married parent will be very different than an unmarried person with no children which will be different than a single parent or a married person with no children. Both have unique places in the body of Christ that are no more or less important.
The church doesn’t emphasize the abilities and opportunities for singleness enough. When was the last time anyone heard a sermon on the virtues and opportunity of being unmarried? Now how many sermons on marriage have you heard in the past three months?
Regardless on whether you’re married, single, have kids, or have no children, you have a calling from God. Don’t let the tide of culture and the pressure from others keep you from taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you. Listen for God and where he’s leading you. Watch for opportunities to serve and take them!
(For the parents in the room: How do you show your children the benefits of your situation? How do you model marriage in a way that shows the opportunities there? How do you model your singleness as a chance to live a full life serving God and others?)