August 30, 2002
Going to the movies is hard enough when you’re on a date, but try going alone and not feeling like a freak as the couple behind you makes out. What about those infamous family outings, where your siblings bring along their significant others, and you’re alone at the kids’ table, hiding from that pesky aunt that always asks the same worn out question: “So how’s your love life, dear? So when are you going to get married and have kids like your brother?” These questions burn though the single persons psyche like hot knives.
We fall in the ''never married” category in the U.S. Census and we’re the fastest-growing group in America. In less than 30 years, our number will double, apparently pushing back the median age of marriage to the oldest it has been in our country's history—about 25 years for women and 27 for men. Ethan Watters calls us the “Urban Tribes.” Lonely wanders who work all day and bar hop all night. Now with a marketing label, advertisers can sell use single servings of Uncle Bens, travel agents can get us to buy that unsold seat between the old lady that drools while sleeping and the overweight guy who gets airsick, and automobile companies can create a new one seat speedster just for us. I can see it now “The Solo LE 2003—The vehicle for the romantically challenged where every seat is yours.”
But what if this isn’t just a phase in life? What if it’s actually God’s plan for our lives to remain single? A look at the state of marriage in our society and the way couples treat each other makes the “alone” pill easy to swallow. Society’s self-centered game they call love gets worse every year. People use each other for the sake of money, affection and sex. My friend calls them “relationships of convenience” where you are valuable as long as I need you.
I wonder why I waste so much time yearning over an idealized dream of love. But I do see a few gems in the murky waters. Like the way my brother gently kisses his wife’s hand while they are watching television or my pastor makes googly eyes at his sweetheart while he preaches.
To tell you the truth, I don’t know any one who has been called to the single life. The singles I’m surrounded by on a daily basis are confident that God has a soul mate for them in the future. And so am I. But if you’re single, and have heard of the Apostle Paul, then you know that the calling is real and biblical. It should be considered as a possibility.
Singles must be careful if they assume they supposed to live the single life forever. Prayer, pastoral counseling and a healthy church community is needed to test your assumptions. Not dating for years doesn’t count as a sign from God. My uncle got married when he was 39 and to a godly woman. The great Christian writer, C. S. Lewis, was in his 50’s when he found his wife, Joy.
The pain of lifelong singleness, Ethan Watters wrote, isn't so much coveting a relationship, but grieving lost dreams. And I fear he is right. We feel that if we’re alone that we will never experience the pleasures, security and fulfillment of marriage, while our friends around us celebrate anniversaries and raise families. But maybe that’s the problem, it’s our dream, and we have pushed God out.
If the Bible is true and God is omniscient, faithful and loving, why do we fear that He can’t build a better life for us than we can? Why do we trust God for the foundation and take on the rest of the structure ourselves? Maybe you’re one of the selected to temporary lease the Solo LE 2003. The Love Bug may be just headed around the corner to crash into you. But if you’re destined to permanently own the speedster, go ahead and get on the road. Don’t wait for life to happen to you. Life as single will be fulfilling in ways marriage could never be.
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