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One Last Single Question

Why don’t people just come out and say it? “Being single is unnatural.” Because it is, right? I mean, God did say, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” So, He made “him a helper suitable for him” and commanded them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” God’s original intent was that we would all find our special someone and have lots and lots of kids. But when sin came into the world, everything became unnatural. I readily accept a plethora of unnatural things in my daily life, which are a result of sin. Payday finds me at the local EarthFare carefully choosing astronomically priced organic groceries because my body can’t handle the pesticides anymore. I buy spring water, because whether it’s better than what comes out of my tap or not, I feel safer and healthier. Last week, my home group spent a long time praying for a man in our church who has cancer. All my grandparents are dead. Why do I accept that the earth is “wearing out like a garment,” my dear friends are bed-ridden with incurable diseases, and my family members are dying, but not my prolonged, involuntary singleness?

Christian discussions on singleness usually start with a Pauline epistle and jump right on the “singleness is a gift” bandwagon. But Paul’s comments on the subject are certainly not the beginning of the story. His insights come way, way later. The beginning of the story is Adam and Eve—it’s not good for us to be alone. Then, thousands of years later, in a world ravaged by sin, Paul shows up, and only in this historical context are his comments helpful. His main point is that this world is sick and messed up, and whether we marry or not, we’re going to have trouble. Paul’s personal view is that singleness is less trouble than being married, a valid point. Marriage does come with many responsibilities. It’s so easy for us “wish-we-were-married” singles to lump all our grievances in the cauldron of our singleness. “I’m lonely because I’m single.” “I’m tired because I’m single.” “I’m poor because I’m single.” But it’s important to point out, married people are also lonely, tired and poor. Sin is the monster, not singleness.

So how exactly does sin’s entrance in the world impose singleness on us? Sin separates. Within hours of the first sin, humanity found themselves separated from God and blaming each other. We have been separated from each other ever since. True, the modern world has taken sin, and thus separation, to new heights. Journalist Laurel Chesky said, “According to Whitehead [referring to Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Ph.D. American Social History] being a marriage-minded woman caught in a relationship-oriented world ‘is like being an Amish woman at a rave … the process of finding a life partner is often chaotic, unintelligible and full of unexpected twists.’”

But here, again, there’s good news for the modern single man and woman. God is always relevant, and therefore, His kingdom ways are relevant in any culture. Statistically, the chances of finding a suitable mate have never been good. Let’s go back to Adam. Immediately after God told Adam it wasn’t good for him to be alone, He began bringing the animals to him to see what he would name them. After a long day with the animals, Scripture actually says, “but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.” I think God put this down in Holy Writ just for the singles throughout every generation struggling to find a suitable spouse. It’s like He’s saying, “Look, guys, My plan from the beginning was that you would all have someone, but even from the beginning, finding that someone required supernatural intervention,” even in Paradise.

Then (what a beautiful word) God made Eve and brought her to the man. And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” This miracle of Eden was repeated in the famous love story of Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac trusted his father to find a spouse; Abraham trusted his servant to fetch her; the servant trusted God to reveal her; and Rebekah trusted God to go with the servant and marry Isaac. Their union was the result of supernatural intervention every step of the way.

So cheer up, my fellow “Where-is-he/she?” single, the life we lead is unnatural, but we serve a supernatural God. He is more than capable of helping us find each other.

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[Jennifer Putnam is 31 and single. She lives in Charlotte, N.C. You may contact her at [email protected].]

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