But should it?
Do we really want the message that the church promotes to be one of marriage versus singleness? Is marriage a sort of spiritual achievement worth striving for and if so, where does that leave all those who are single?
So yes, the church at large places marriage on a pedestal. However, I think part of the reason the American church idolizes marriage is a bit less honorable than we might suspect.
For starters, marriages produce children and children produce families. More marriages–more children. Bigger families. You guessed it…Bigger churches.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I do not think this is the sole reason many churches promote marriage. Not at all, but it is certainly a factor. Families are a powerful force, helping to shape the culture from the movies that are made to the foods that are manufactured. Many churches are run like businesses and businesses need consumers.
But, beyond the need for families, the church has other reasons to promote marriage. Marriage is, after all, meant to serve as a reflection of Christ’s relationship to the Body. Yet, I doubt many pastors consider this fact when they are preaching from the pulpit about the need to be married.
Instead, it seems to me that many church leaders push marriage as a sort of excellence to be achieved– a Christian trophy to be won. They see marriage as the ultimate prize.
But is it? Is marriage really worth all the church fanfare?
Heck, yes! I love marriage and I am a huge proponent of it, as you would know if you’ve spent longer than 3 seconds on this blog.
But, that does not mean that I think those who are married are somehow superior or more Godly. Sadly, however, I do think that this is the message being projected to many in the church–that in order to fully walk with Christ, you have to walk alongside a spouse.
This message is a lie.
Christ never places marriage above singleness. Jesus never said anything recorded in the scriptures that should make us believe that marriage is a more spiritual path. Jesus was single, by choice I believe ( I imagine the ladies were like bees to honey though…)
Paul was single, by choice I believe, as well. Paul certainly understood some of the reasons to pursue marriage–sexual purity, for example. But, he also understood quite well the reasons to abstain from marriage–so that you might be more wholly devoted to God and that marriage can actually cause you more trouble in life.
The problem we face is that the American church has created a cultural lie that tells us that those who are married are whole, complete, and full in Christ. Yet, those we are not married are somehow lacking, less than, incomplete, and in limbo waiting for their life to begin.
Single people within the church are often left feeling left out or forgotten as their congregation happily partakes in family night, family picnics, family everything. It may seem seem trivial, but to a single person, it is not. I have even known of Godly men who were turned down for teaching or pastoral jobs because they were not married.
Can you imagine? What if Paul had been turned down because he didn’t have a wife? The idea seems preposterous to us, and yet it’s happening today.
Life does not begin at marriage. Life begins in the exact moment when we submit ourselves to Christ and make Him Lord, when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us and take residence within us.
Our spiritual life is not dependent on our love life. Get that. Our love life might be dependent on our spiritual life, but certainly not the other way around.
And if we truly believe that God shows no partiality, than we must also believe that singleness is just as valuable in God’s eyes as marriage. Just as valuable. Does marriage offer unique opportunities to glorify God that singleness does not? Of course, but so does being single.
Both are worthwhile in God’s kingdom and His kingdom has room for both.