Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It's Okay to Be Single...Even For Life!

Our culture is obsessed with romance.  Almost all of the best-loved fictional yarns of the past century, ranging from Star Wars to The Great Gatsby to I Love Lucy, have some sort of romantic element to them.  It's rare to find a story these days that does not involve two characters falling in love.  Such a fixation makes many lifelong singles feel like losers.
That trend has made its way into the doors of the church.  God ordained marriage as a sacred union, and has even given commandments regarding it; however, Christians have become increasingly insistent that marriage is God's plan for everyone's life.  Is it wrong to get married? Of course not! However, take into consideration these verses:
  • "Jesus replied, 'Not everyone can accept the idea of staying single. Only those who have been helped to live without getting married can accept it.  Some men are not able to have children because they were born that way. Some have been made that way by other people. Others have made themselves that way in order to serve the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept living that way should do it.'" -- Matthew 19:11-12 (NIRV)
  • "Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry." -- 1 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV 1984)
  • "So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am." -- 1 Corinthians 7:8 (NLT)
 I have no doubt that, for some people, marriage can be a wonderful thing.  Still, there are plenty of cases where people should refrain from getting married, just because, as those verses say, it's not for everyone.  I've heard far too many heartbreaking stories of married couples, including some Christian ones, whose marriages have gone wrong, leading to all kinds of trouble.  There are some people who just aren't meant to find romance, and that's fine.
As usual, I'll use stories from the entertainment world to prove my point: Some of you may have heard of the Christian comedian/southern gospel singer Mark Lowry, who is a lifelong member of the Baptist church.  Mr. Lowry is old enough to be my dad, but he has no children (unless you count his nieces and nephews) and has never married...yet, he is perfectly happy with his life.  Sure, single Christian women have tried to start a romance with him; in his book Live Long and Die Laughing, he discussed getting dating proposals from unmarried female fans via e-mail such as, "I don't normally do stuff like this, but God contacted me last night and told me we're gonna have kids, so call me."  If he is still living a full Godly life without a significant other and is completely happy with his lot in life, then, I say, more power to him.  There are probably plenty of other Christians out there, of both genders, who are the same way.
Despite everything I've mentioned in this post so far, some people, including Christians, seem to pressure others into finding romance.  I've seen numerous cases where well-meaning believers assumed there were romantic feelings between two people of the opposite gender when there was absolutely zero, or assure people who haven't found "the one" yet that there is 100% chance they will at some point.  I ask: Why? Didn't the above verses say that some people are meant to remain unmarried?  Sure, our society's focus on romantic love may make it harder for those who are in such a situation, but not only is the entertainment industry to blame for that, but no one said that being a Christian, no matter your relationship/marital status, is easy.  Marriage may make some people happy, but, for others, it does the exact opposite.
In conclusion, I will say this: I've mentioned before that all of us have something that is only behind faith, family, and friends in terms of importance to us.  Some people's passion for that topic, no matter what it is, is so encompassing that it takes place of a relationship.  I'm reminded of a scene in the 2006 film The Astronaut Farmer where the title character has asked his friends and family what he should name the rocket he'd built.  A Latino buddy suggests La Otra Mujer; that's Spanish for The Other Woman.  As strange as it may sound, for some, their hobby is their "spouse."  I should know; I am one of those people.  I know I've joked about a celebrity such as Hilary Duff, Anne Hathaway, Victoria Justice, or some others I won't mention, as being my "girlfriend" or "wife".  Of course, it was all a joke; I've never met any of those famous people, and I never have been in any sort of relationship with them.  Still, as my interests have shifted and I've expanded my horizons, I really feel that I am "in a relationship with" or "married to" entertainment.  I know, I know; pretty much all of us love our movies, music, television, books, etc., but I spend so much time immersed in, discussing, and/or researching at least one form of entertainment that it rivals the number of hours I've seen young couples in serious relationships spend together.  Frankly, I'm perfectly fine with that; no, entertainment can't supply me with the physical aspect of romantic love, but it can make me happy and brighten my day.  It may sound like a defeatist attitude to feel that way, but that may be God's plan for me; check the above verses for proof.
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