[Following up a much-read post on soccer with a rant on singleness? I must be out of my mind. But humor me and read it anyway, will you? I even included lots of pictures for those of you more averse to words… I know there are a LOT of single young women who read this blog, and I wanted, with this post, to refute a recently discovered perspective on the largely misdiagnosed and mistreated state of singleness.]
One of my dear friends, ever the inspirer of fascinating meditations, recently loaned me a book about marriage and singleness. I’d give you the name of the book, but I’m afraid it might cause severe and irreparable emotional harm for most single women to read it, so I’ll refrain. Its effect on me was less “emotional harm” than “philosophical rant”…and I’ve decided, against my better judgment, to pass some of that on to you. In all honesty, the book was FABULOUS, not so much because of what it said (mostly utter hogwash) as because of what it caused. I’ve seldom been more inspired to question my own theories and develop my own rationale than in the reading of this infuriating tome!
The author did begin with some valid Biblical points: “The reason we feel a lack of wholeness is because God created us to feel incomplete without a spouse.” (23) Indeed. Couldn’t agree more.
She even made some enlightening statements as to the state of “modern man,” statements which partially explain the difficulty most single women have in finding a person even remotely approaching the standards they’ve set for their life-mate. “As our culture has shifted, there’s been a widespread result among men. Since men’s maturity and adulthood [are] no longer measured by taking a wife and starting a family, men have been given the freedom not to grow up and pursue the things that accompany adulthood—namely, a wife and family. Men have been given license to have a protracted adolescence. In today’s culture, men are encouraged to look out for number one and to be the kids they always wanted to be. (64) The most popular sitcoms convey the same message to me. Consider Seinfeld, Friends, and even Everybody Loves Raymond. Have fun, live for the moment, don’t answer to anyone, and always leave your options open.” (63)
Yet despite the convincing arguments she makes about the dearth of eligible and respectable men from which to choose a mate (and who must, by the way, initially choose us), she still goes on to state that WE MUST MARRY, AND WE MUST MARRY YOUNG. Singleness, she says, is a sin in that it is a direct rejection of God’s original will for us. And if we do not marry, we will live horrendous lives of emotional desolation and affective “constipation.” Uhm… And hmm. I was struck by the inconsistency of her declarations. She was saying, in essence, “There are few, if any, godly men out there and most of them are frankly losers…but you have to marry SOMEONE, so just grab a decent specimen and march him down the aisle—no love, respect, or common faith required!” [Not a real quote—just a rough paraphrase of the author’s mixed messages.] I like logic. I like it when point A leads seamlessly to point B. So when the book’s point A led to point 49.68, I was just a tad nonplussed—and not afraid to tell Renee about it in a hastily typed email:
The author also came down hard on women who aren’t married until they approach their forties [oh, lady you’re treading on thin and treacherous ice!], because we’ve squandered our child-bearing years and therefore [I’m not kidding!] contributed to the shrinking number of Christians in this world. See, Muslims are having more children than Christians, so we’re losing the demographic battle. [That much is true.] And I, because I am single, have contributed to the defeat. Hmm… Yes, lady, that was indeed my strategy in remaining single. I wanted to single-handedly destroy the Christian church… To quote Tim Shuman during staff orientation week, “Oh, just go delete yourself!”
She wrote: “Without a doubt, the story of a woman who narrowly manages to marry before the age of forty is more a grim reminder of a society gone awry than of the good providence of God. This woman will not enjoy the full benefits of marriage. She may have to be a stepmother to children that aren’t hers, or perhaps she can have children, but her older husband has already had a vasectomy. She may very well be marrying a divorced man who will spend half of his income supporting his existing family rather than the family she wanted to have. From a completely objective viewpoint, the woman who marries too late will only find a piecemeal marriage.” (98)
I have one thing to say about that: I’d rather marry late (or not at all) than marry terribly! Being single was NOT God’s original plan for us. I’ll give her that and endorse it too! But He, of all people, realizes the consequences of sin in which we live. He knows that the world has evolved in such a way that a “blanket” marriage policy would only result in greater injury and despair, and He has given us the faculties to have a more cautious and realistic approach to the TRUTH about the world in which we live. He’s a logical God who doesn’t delude himself or us into seeing silver linings where there aren’t any. The God I know wouldn’t say, “Marry him–though he doesn’t have much going for him and I’m not sure he would treat you right. He and I haven’t actually talked since he was twelve, but marry him…it’s better than paying your own rent.” How many couples do I know who followed this disastrous mentality, misguided and moronic? They married early and multiplied, as the author suggests we all should from a Biblical standpoint, because it was “the thing to do.” They married light-heartedly and quickly, pleased to be “attached” and thrilled to be free of the dating game—only to divorce bitterly years or decades later. I’m pretty sure God wasn’t pleased by unions that happened FOR THE SAKE OF union…and neither were those who made the tragic choice.
Marriage is not always the golden ticket the author claims it to be, though it absolutely can be if it’s done right. She made too many generalizations that ignored the fallenness of our world and the risks of hasty inter-dependence. And not once did she talk about compatibility and love and twoness in a way that promotes marriage for anything more than meeting birth quotas and delivering ourselves from sexual longings. Her point of view sounded like a recipe for generalized divorce, not the wonders of a life spent with a person you love and respect and long to be with.
One last thing. The author finished by declaring that any degree of sexual desire for a man is an obligation to marry him. If your hormones respond to him, you have, in essence, already consummated a relationship, so you must—MUST—now marry him…regardless of morals, faith, ethics (what if he’s already married?), and profession (what if he’s a monk??). I was thrilled…and I wrote Renee to tell her about it:
I’ve written too long already—all the blog-writing tutorials say to keep it short and sweet—so I won’t submit you just now to my own thesis on singleness. I’ll keep it to a couple succinct and heartfelt statements:
1. I don’t think I’ve been called to be single. But I KNOW I’ve been called to wait until I can link my life with another’s in a way that God approves of and is glorified by.
2. God has filled my singleness (filled it to bursting!) with so many wonderful things that though I still feel the pinch of aloneness, it is abundantly balanced by the joy of doing what I love with people I love and basking in the serenity and wonder of a life that fulfills and satisfies.
3. Until a man who I want to love, respect, and spend my “old age” with decides he wants me, I am committed to wanting Christ.
4. Being single is not a curse—though it does hold serious challenges. But it can be filled with vitality and discovery and expectation, without the need to dampen or stamp out one’s femininity! Mass singleness may not have been in God’s original design, but He can redeem it into something beautiful, whether it lasts a lifetime or a season.
Being single (or a “spinster”) used to look like this:
But today it can look like this:
And, if we’re truly fortunate, like this:
And until something even better comes along, I’m committed to finding and basking in the oasis within this necessary marital desert. God is sufficient–though He made us for human twoness. And He Knows.
oh so wise my friend. i can only hope that in a similar situation i could have the same attitude. i’m pretty sure i coudln’t. it takes a lot of strength to come to some of those conclusions. you are admired….
Wow. I don’t know whether to cry, let out a frustrated roar or roll my eyes. I think I’ll hop on a plane right now and we can have a book burning party. SERIOUSLY! :o) I totally agree with your ‘thesis’ on singleness. My mom married ‘late’ (29) and before that, she says that she always said ‘I’d rather be an old maid than wish I was one’. And she’s been married to my dad for getting close to 40 years. I’m definitely not single by choice, but by circumstance (ie. no one’s had the guts to ask!).
Amen to that Michelle! And I think I’d be pretty mad if i read that book too!
Holy cow, when I heard about this book and read about it, I was absolutely infuriated. Now you should get a book called “Loves Me, Loves Me Not: The Ethics of Unrequited Love” for a theology of singleness, i.e. an utterly different perspective! Maybe when I have a few extra buckaroos, I’ll send you my copy of the book.
you can have george, but please can i have robert???
..i’ll call you soon so we can praise god together.
Powerful and so true! Thanks for sharing!
I have a better idea. Why don’t we simply have said men’s children? That way, they pay child support, we have little Christians running about left and right, and we don’t have to deal with the possibility that said male would be the “wrong one.” Think she would go for this one?
Does the author of that retarded book attend Church of Christ? I was just having a conversation with a lady yesterday about how the Church of Christ says that singleness is a sin….I wanted to hit the person who preaches that rubbish. Were you given that book to read for fun or what?
It really touched me deep when I saw the photo of all of us. I miss you, you were always there for us when we needed you……you have such purpose in your life Michele, not just for us 6 storch girls, but for so many kids who come through BFA. You are a beacon a light to alot people. I love you Mish…
That sounds like the worst book ever. And it’s supposed to be Christian? Sounds like a bunch of lies to me!
Last year I watched so many of my friends “fall in love” and I did wish sometimes that I was in a relationships. Lately it seems that so many of my friends are experiencing heart-aches from break-ups though (even divorce)… and I remember why I’m waiting for a Christ-centered relationship that will last… and yeah, Jesus is enough to satisfy my heart. I may have told you this already, but some of the girls at my school and I get together once a week to discuss a book called “Lady in Waiting” with one of the staff people. The book is kind of exaggerated at some parts, but for the most part it’s pretty good at emphasizing the need for people to be fully satisfied in Christ, whether in a relationship or not.