I’ll go ahead and admit it. I was working on the typical single blogger’s perspective on singlehood. You know, the generic kind, with lists such as “what singles wish you’d understand.”
I kept stalling. Perhaps it was not my time to die. Writing about emotionally explosive subjects without sounding whiny or petulant is difficult. Plus, original content was scarce. It’s all been said by every other bona fide single blogger out there.
Then God hit me with an entirely new perspective. How would it change my perspective if I viewed it from a broader one? What does marriage and singlehood look like in the context of Kingdom Christianity? I’ll try to explain this concept:
Kingdom Christianity was established by Jesus and remains an active, growing organism. It’s more than about one’s personal relationship with Christ, and the future event of living with Him. It’s a present, global reality. It is the concentrated, intentional efforts of combined Christians working to increase it, and to shrink the gates of hell. Christ’s final commandment to go make disciples is the Kingdom cause and should be the mission statement for each Christian.
The Kingdom is not a museum, where we merely serve as exhibits of the ideology. It’s a boots-on-the-ground operative where we do active battle, where we engage the powers of darkness, pulling people into the Kingdom and into community.Where we disciple and love and live in community together.
What does this have to do with marriage and singlehood? How about everything, for starters?
What if we’ve been asking the wrong questions? What if life was bigger than marriage and singlehood? What if both thriving marriage and thriving singlehood were secondary things?
The truth is, when you look at this subject outside of a kingdom perspective, things break down. Happiness and pursuing God- given desires are sanctions for marriage but in singlehood are often labeled selfishness. The aimless, purposeless single is viewed less graciouly than the aimless, purposeless marriage. We’ve somehow promoted marriage to The Best, and anything else as somewhere beneath it. In scouring the New Testament, both in Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of the Apostles, I’m struggling to understand how we got there.
In my understanding, there are clear roles for both singles and families. The most beautiful picture is Acts 18:1-4. Paul,a Kingdom single joins forces with Aquila and Priscilla, a Kingdom couple, and together they bless the church in Corinth. Kingdom singles often have more time and resources for God’s work (1Cor 7:32). Kingdom marriages better portray Christ’s relationship with the church. Neither one is inherently better than the other.
If living the Kingdom life was the most important thing to or about us, it might change our set of questions. Instead of only asking “why aren’t our young people getting married” we could also ask, “why are our young people getting married?” “Are they staying single or getting married for selfish or for holy reasons?” What if a healthy Kingdom church is a good ratio of vibrant singles and marriages? What would happen if we’d push young people into Kingdom building instead of spouse-finding? What if we’d commission the singles and the families alike and send them on specific missions? Wouldn’t it take singlehood and marriage to the next level?
You know what would happen? Those things that singles struggle with (identity, value, meaning, purpose), would take care of themselves, as they participate in the bigger cause.
I’m a hopeless romantic. I love building the ideal. The reality is that the real world is messy and not so easily formulated. But I still dream and struggle on to the better, and the questions above really make me excited 🙂
In many ways we’ve bought into the American/Western idea that we should get what we want, particularly if the wants are good. We believe that God wants us to have good health, financial stability, spouses, and children. We give our lives to these pursuits instead of the greater cause. We idolize the gifts and overlook the Giver.
I feel deeply about this and this is written out of life experience and circumstances. Here’s a little background:
I was raised in a home infused with Kingdom consciousness. Growing up, life wasn’t primarily about our happiness. At early ages we were pushed into spaces of Kingdom building and were introduced to a foundational Kingdom concept-servanthood. It wasn’t easy. We messed up constantly. But we struggled on. My parents didn’t try to make life easy for us, because they expected us to hit the real world realistically. They moved us to stretching places both geographically and socially. Life was far from easy. I had times of immense frustration and resentment. They’ll be the first to tell you they didn’t do it perfectly but they did do it intentionally. Consequently they gifted us with one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child: A framework for processing life that let’s God fill His own spaces. The holy privilege of doing His work. These gifts continue to shape my life today and I hope that if I ever have children, I can pass them along to them.
So I lived the majority of my life in places where potential life-mates were/are scarce. Has that been devastating? No. Disappointing? In some ways, yes. In ministry, there are times that I long for a strong shoulder on which to cry, a balancing perspective, and companionship. If there were a 1-800-KINGDOM HUSBAND number, I sure would have called it. But in these times, God continues to fill His spaces. I’m living and breathing the most fulfilling life imaginable: I’m loved by the Almighty, and attempting to live that love to a world that’s falling apart
I’m not saying what God has been calling me to is the only or best calling one can have. If God were to bring a man into my life, I could happily change it, so long as I’m joining forces with a man who also is pursuing his calling.
I will get vulnerable here for a minute. It is hard to respond graciously when well-meaning people continue to push/wish marriage on me as though its the only life worth living, and as though it’s the gift I should want most. It’s hard because marriage is only one of my dreams, and it’s the only one a lot of people care about. Wish and pray bigger for me. God has called me to good and hard things. Pray for wisdom, for empathy, for courage. Pray that God will continue to give me what I need for what He wants me to do. It might or might not include a husband. And I will cheer you on in your marriages, in the good places where God has blessed you, in the hard places where it’s not easy. In the kingdom we are better working together, on the same team, for the same cause.
At the end of the day, and in the perspective of eternity (where the only marriage is the best of all-Christ and his Church), it’s not really about marital status. Those warriors from history: Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Adoniram Judson, Paul, Jesus, they stand out in history not because they were married or single, but because they lived for God, breathed Kingdom air, and impacted their worlds.
To idolize or treat flippantly the concepts of marriage and singlehood is to destroy their strengths.
We can’t afford that. We need to affirm and value both. Because together, we’re stronger.
For Christ and for the Kingdom.