Now that we’ve entered into 2013, I’ve seen tons of posts and messages about people’s relationships and the lack thereof. I’m sure that there were many people who firmly believed God would bring their spouse to them during 2012, and for some that happened. However, for a lot of people that did not happen. As a response you can bemoan your singleness, renew your fervor in believing that “this is the year”, simply try to remain encouraged and hopeful, or just enjoy this period of your life as a single person. Whatever the case, after talking with a single friend of mine, I figured why not write a blog about being single as a Christian woman today (I mean, at least one person will read it….lol). But I wanted to write this blog with a male perspective, so my husband is also writing this with me. So we hope you enjoy our perspective on the topic.
Our Single Days
As most men my age, I thoroughly enjoyed my single days. In my memory, there wasn’t a point where I pined and longed to get married because there was something lacking or incomplete in my singleness. I enjoyed being a Christian nerd in many ways. I enjoyed doing research as a graduate student, where I pulled all-nighters trying to understand a topic. I loved my time of binge researching where I would stay up for 48 hours, digging into a topic. I enjoyed going out to Outback by myself to enjoy the food and people watch. I enjoyed having the time to dig into the scriptures and to go through commentaries. I enjoyed the personal time of devotion that I had with Christ as He taught me humility and true biblical love. I enjoyed participating and watching theological debates throughout the week and making fun of TBN preachers on the weekend. When God brought my wife to me, it wasn’t because my life was an abject failure and she needed to rescue me; rather, God brought my wife to me because my singleness was spent with God, learning from Him and be prepared by Him. When I got married, I didn’t have regrets of squandering my singleness. My married life was phase two of my overall life; my single days were full and complete and now married life had begun.
As a single Christian woman, I enjoyed being single, and it was a great period of time in my life. I lived alone, and enjoyed my graduate program and working endlessly. Basically, I didn’t have any other responsibilities. I did what I wanted to do, and if I wanted some company of the opposite sex, I had great male friends to hang out with whenever. Personally, the only times I became frustrated with being alone was when I talked to my unsatisfied, single, female friends too much about relationships (…hint, hint there ladies!!!!) Listening to them mourn over their singleness or the guy they thought would be “the one” doing something foolish, it put a damper over my contentment as a single woman. And often I would spend the days following that conversation wondering if perhaps I was not as happy as I thought that I was, but I eventually got over it. Now, visiting family was also another bummer because according to everyone I should have found somebody by now. I was told that I could be too intimidating, too closed off, not feminine enough, not gentle enough, didn’t “fix” myself up with makeup enough, too fat…..etc etc etc. Trust me, there were tons of reasons in their eyes of why I was single. Sometimes I internalized what was said to me, but I eventually learned to let those things go too and enjoy my life. I knew that I would eventually get married, though I had no thought about when that would happen. But until then, I wanted to thoroughly enjoy my responsibility-free life as long as it lasted. So when God finally brought my husband around, I did initially resist at first because I really was enjoying spending my time with God alone. I did want to give that up at first, but after some prayer, I became more open to my husband and married life. Being married thus far, I see this part of my life as another chapter in the same book of my life. The chapter of my single days came to an end, and it was time to move into the next chapter. I am also glad to say that I am not longing or pining away trying to revisit the “glory” days of my singlehood.
So enough with us, let’s get into the four main reasons we believe that adult Christians are still single.
From my perspective as a man, the first basic reason why people remain single is because of high standards. To discuss this point, I will make a distinction between unreasonable standards and reasonable standards. Unreasonable standards usually imply that a person is looking for entire sanctification in their mate, yet don’t require it in themselves. Here, entire sanctification doesn’t imply sinless perfection, but it does imply that everything that a person does (or every aspect of a person’s motives and actions) is done out of a biblical definition of love. This is considered unreasonable because it takes many years for a person to even approach that level of Christian maturity. If a person thinks that his/her potential mate who is in their 20s, 30s, or even 40s has approached this level of Christian maturity, then they are certainly naïve and don’t understand the effects of indwelling sin in a person. The effects and consequences of indwelling sin do not simply vanish at conversion; it takes many years and great striving for the power of sin to gradually break in the heart of a believer and to develop the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22-23). Thus, any potential mate will have blind spots, lapses of judgment, issues of selfishness, and other works of the flesh (cf. Galatians 5:19-21) that haven’t been fully sanctified by the Holy Spirit that will manifest themselves in a number of ways.
Reasonable standards usually imply that a person is looking for genuine evidence of conversion and sanctification in their mate, while realizing that there will be issues of sin and imperfection within any person. Now, if a person has no standards for godliness, then it will be easy to find a mate. All a person has to do is find another desperately single person looking to get married and you have your mate. When you apply standards, that automatically limits who will be acceptable. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you if you are 30 years old and unmarried; it just means that there aren’t people who exhibit clear signs of regeneration and sanctification.
As a woman, I have seen that women’s standards tend to fall into 3 groups. First, there are ridiculously unrealistic standards. These are the standards that require supernatural miracles or a mad scientist to put together. These are also the standards that you have been soooo specific about (maybe because you believe that you have to be that specific when you pray for your man) that you reject the man that falls short. For instance, your husband-to-be has to be between 6’0” and 6’4”, have LL Cool J’s physique, the smoothness of Denzel, with a goatee, but no other facial hair. He has to have dimples and have naturally curly hair. He has to make at least $75,000, know how to cook, clean up after himself, and be the ultra-romantic. He should be able to handle himself in a fight, but be completely sold out for Jesus, as he stares intently into your eyes whenever you’re together. Or let’s say you want a Christian thug. You want a man that has some prison-like tendencies, but he should be a teddy bear for you personally and still love Jesus, while threatening to put a clip into some dude who merely glances at you. You see, individually the criteria may not be that bad (although some are), but when you sandwich them all together, it becomes ridiculously unrealistic. I’m not sure where the thought that you have to be very specific when you go to God praying for a husband came from, but it is stupid to think that your thoughts about your spouse are better than the predetermined plan God has for you. For instance, what if the husband God has for you is short, of average attractiveness, slightly pudgy, is genetically predisposed to early balding, has a blue-collar job, yet is humble, and completely faithful to God in all things? Would you reject him because he did not meet your standards?
Second, you have very realistic standards. These are standards that you have that are developed on things that you know are absolutely most important. Some examples are that the guy is clearly and obviously converted, handles life difficulties well, manages money well, etc. Now signs of a truly converted man are evident over time mainly, but it should be obvious that he is faithful to God, that sin is being conquered in his life, that he is accountable to other men, he is humble, that he is loving and kind to other believers, not violent, and that he can be rebuked and corrected. Whatever the case, these are good standards to have, standards that you should hold and expect in your spouse.
Third, you have foolishness. Why is it foolishness? It is foolishness because you expect to marry Christ Himself. You expect a man to be virtually perfect in every way, without faults. There should be nothing in his past that ever affects you, and his future should be bright and comfortable. Everything should be heavenly, perfect and wonderful with him…because obviously, life is like that. And this is why it is foolishness.
All in all, when it comes to your standards, I think that a lot of women take the wrong approach. Today, a lot of women’s standards are influenced by the world and culture around them. You take the same standards you had for a man before you came to Christ, slap a little Jesus on it, and then hold your list up to God fully expecting Him to meet your desires. If your standards are biblically based alone, you do open the door up for more options. You just need to determine whether or not you want a marriage based on the culture’s definitions or God’s definitions. Do you want a husband that looks good to the entire world or that looks good to God and you? What is actually more important to you: approval from this world or approval from God?
Apocalyptic love – (noun) the love that would exist if the Armageddon occurred; love that is highly emotional and based upon circumstances; love that is extreme, as extreme as movies you’ve seen and books you’ve read
Now, I definitely plan to write a blog solely on this topic, but for the purposes of this blog, I’ll keep it short. Many women, I know, have the apocalyptic love in mind when they consider being in a relationship or getting married. This view is derived largely from movies, romance novels, or any extreme story that you’ve heard over the years. With this view, you believe your husband should be invincible, swimming oceans and battling wild beasts at every turn to rescue you from something. And that is key with this: your husband takes on a role that he must continue to keep. Whether he is the hero, the rescuer, the charming prince, the seducer, the mysterious stranger, the beautiful outcast or any other character, you believe he should fulfill a role in the story of your personal romance. Apocalyptic love can also be evident when women hold onto ridiculously unrealistic standards too because many feel that he should play the story while looking perfectly attractive and pleasing to your eyes. Regardless, women who hold on to this view often find themselves highly emotionally charged in a relationship. When one bad thing happens, their world is shattered. You question everything now, because it should never be this way. So your feelings are based on the welfare of the relationship. When things are good, you are exuberant, but when things are rough, you are in the depths of utter despair. Holding onto apocalyptic love may give you an interesting story here and there, but ultimately, this view does not support a stable or Christian relationship or marriage. Moreover, few men want to deal with a woman who holds onto this view and allows herself to have such wild emotional extremes over every little thing in the relationship.
From a male perspective, the second basic reason that people remain single is because you are applying inconsistent standards for your mate. This usually means that you are trying to combine the biblical standards for a mate, while at the same time, applying unbiblical cultural influences for your mate. For a man, this may mean that you may be looking for a godly, submissive wife who understands the importance of motherhood. Yet, she may not be the best cook, or she may be a little sloppy, or even worse, she might be terrible at sex. If these turn you off, then it may be that you do not value godliness as much as you claim. Perhaps you truly wanted a “lady in the street, freak in the bed” and just wanted a Christianized version of it. For a woman, this may mean that you are looking for a godly husband who understands the importance of fatherhood and embraces his role in the home. Yet, he may not meet your spontaneous romantic needs. If this is a deal breaker for you, then maybe you do not value godliness as much as you claim. Perhaps you are looking for the apocalyptic romance (see definition above) where the fullness of your joy and happiness is based on whether those romantic needs are met in the exact ways that you want them. Maybe you are looking for the Christianized version of your favorite romance novel. Maybe you are basing your view of a husband more on our culture’s view of love and romance rather than the biblical definition of love. For both men and women, until you are able to deal with these unbiblical cultural views, then you will generally remain single. Marriage is not about demanding your preferences from God, but it’s about being content with the person that God has given you.
Probably the most important reason that you are single is because of numbers. This means that there are not enough single Christians who desire to get married. I’m going to repeat this for emphasis: based purely on numbers, there aren’t enough single Christians in America who desire to get married. In particular, the number of single Christian women in America outnumbers the number of single Christian men. This number is particularly exaggerated among Black Christians. We have all seen Black churches that are 70-80% female. The odds are that many of those women will not find their husband in their church. This makes it significantly easier for men, but much more difficult for women. For this reason, I think many single women have to embrace the basic reality that you may get married much later than you would like. Whether you like it or not, as a woman, you will be in competition with other single, Christian women all the time, and the sooner you accept that reality, the sooner you can adjust your expectations of when you will get married and who your husband will be. Perhaps 29 is the new 19 in this generation. The other reality is that you may get married outside of your race and/or outside America. There are other cultures where the number of single Christian men outnumbers single Christian women. Here, this is where all Christians have to trust the sovereignty of God. God’s sovereignty is not simply a lofty doctrine, but it’s intensely practical for all areas of our lives including this one.
Finally, a good reason why Christians are still single is that they haven’t gone through an accurate self-reflection. Oftentimes, especially as women, you don’t accurately assess yourself. You may acknowledge that you have problems, but you don’t know how far they extend into your life. You may still be dealing with the effects of a life decision or circumstance today but not fully aware of it. I know that many women want to quote the “he that finds a wife finds a good thing” Scripture (cf. Proverbs 18:22) in reference to themselves, but few women will also quote the “it’s better to live on a rooftop than in the house with a quarrelsome wife” (cf. Proverbs 21:9; 21:19; 25:24; 27:15). Reflecting personally, I found that sometimes female friends will either never acknowledge some things that could be problematic for you or they will blow certain things out of proportion that really don’t matter to most men anyway. Either way, you should have a good grasp on your positive points and the less than positive points, and it is most important that you know how those of the opposite sex view and value your points, good and bad. It may be that you think you have a serious flaw with attracting a mate like your weight, but to the opposite sex it isn’t as bad as you think it is.
From the male perspective, there are many reasons why men choose not to get married. For some, it’s purely selfishness since they know that they can continue to live however they please and marry much later in their lives. For others, they are taking cues from male friends who are depressed in marriage and gather that marriage is a worse state than being single. And then there are those who feel that they probably shouldn’t get married, or married any time soon, because of their flaws or things they know won’t work well in a marriage. Whatever the case is, most men come into marriage knowing intuitively that this will not be a simple endeavor and that marriage adds much more responsibility and stress to their lives. At this point, the question becomes: is marriage worth it? Will I be unnecessarily adding more stress to myself? This is part of the self-reflection of men. As a man, I’m not persuaded that enough women that are pining for marriage ask themselves these questions.
From our perspective, the petty things that most people believe will make or break them as a single Christian are not what they make them out to be. Whether you feel like your weight, complexion, financial status, etc makes you more or less able to get married, it probably doesn’t. If you want to marry a Christian brother or sister who is randomly carnal or worldly in their expectations of who they want to marry, then we hope you consider if you would want to marry them, and if your measure for a spouse is not based or derived from the Word of God, then you may need to reconsider some things. Finally, really consider the numbers out there (a lot of this comes down to the numbers). If you live in the middle of nowhere…yeah, it will probably feel like there is absolutely no one to marry, and you’ll probably be right. If you are stuck on a particular race, body type, or any other physical characteristic, it is just going to take a while. Know that, and relax. If anything, you should be enjoying this portion of your life. Discover your hobbies, interests, take trips, pay off your debt, and save for the dreams of your future. Enjoy this chapter of your life, and don’t try to skip ahead to see what the other chapters hold. If God has you here right now, then obviously, this is the BEST place for you to be. Trust Him, and trust His plan.