Can We Stop Saying Singleness is God’s Will?

by | May 13, 2020 | Uncategorized | 76 comments

If you’ve never been married, does that mean that it was always God’s will that you would be single?

I think we talk about that a lot–that people are “called to singleness”, as if God decides before you were born, “Oh, I’m going to make sure that Jennifer doesn’t get married,” or “I’d prefer Stacey never meet the man of her dreams.”

Now, I do believe that God puts on some people’s hearts to be single, and to dedicate their life to a singular purpose to serve Him, in which singleness is necessary. But I don’t think that’s the majority of people who are single. I think that’s a misreading of what God’s will means.

I had a reader send me in something that she saw on Deb Fileta’s wonderful blog–that Deb ran in a post as well because Deb found it so great. (And Deb’s book True Love Dates is awesome, by the way!). You should follow Deb; she’s got real, down-to-earth advice for both dating and marriage.

Anyway, this woman wondered if I would run the comment as well, and I decided that it is really insightful and may start a big conversation.

So here’s the start of it (and you can read the whole thing here). 

Reader Comment

   

    

   

Read the rest here.

I think this is so true. I remember one of the big prayer requests of some missionaries that we supported in the Middle East was that new converts would find marriage partners, because there just weren’t a lot of singe Christians in this particular country. When the numbers aren’t there, then some people will remain single, even if they don’t want to. It doesn’t mean that God looked down and said, “you won’t get married!” It’s just the state of things on the ground.

She goes on to talk about how damaging the idea is that God specifically chose YOU not to marry.

That can really mess up a person’s view of their relationship with God. If you look around and most of your friends/family are married, but you are not, what does it do to you to hear that God intended for all of them to marry, but specifically intended that you not?

I think there’s simply a math thing going on here, and let’s think about this in broader perspective.

We know that God’s will is that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9). We know that God wants everyone to come to a saving knowledge of him.

And yet there are more women in the church than men.

Does that mean that it is God’s will that there are more women in the church than men? Or is it simply that many people resist God’s call on their life, and that men are more likely to resist it?

And that means that there will be more single women. And I think, just as God mourns that so many choose to reject him, God also mourns that many are single when they don’t want to be.

Can we see it that way? Can we stop telling single women, “God planned for your singleness,” like you were chosen from the very beginning never ever to be married, like you won the most unlucky lottery ever? And can we tell women that God mourns, too, when we are lonely?

God is still enough for them. God is still close to them. God can still use them, and in many cases he can use single women to have an even larger impact than married women (1 Corinthians 7). But I do think the way we talk both heaps shame on these women, and adds an ugly layer to what they’re supposed to believe about God.

We need to remember that God created this world with free will baked in. That means that people’s choices will affect us, for good or bad. And sometimes people will suffer for others’ choices, even if God would have preferred it to be different. But He allows us to choose. And His presence is here for us, even if things don’t go the way that we would want them to.

So what do you think? Is she right? Is this a better way of talking about singleness? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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76 Comments

  1. Midforties&stillwaiting

    Thank you for this post Shelia. What an amazing comment. I know exactly where this woman is coming from. I won’t say too much now as it is very raw, and years of waiting for marriage has made me slow to share my heart publicly about my singleness. What I will say, is that God is so good and so kind and so faithful and the grace & strength He gives me to endure is so life giving. I’m now at the age where I am also processing that my greatest desire, which is to have children may also never happen. The pain is real, the loneliness worse, but I have decided I will never give up praying & asking God for the marriage I believe is his will. He is faithful. The bonus is I get eternity with Jesus and I won’t even remember the pain (& a type of humiliation) that comes with my current life on earth.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I like that you acknowledge the grief of it God isn’t happy when others sin cause loss it’s real.

      Reply
  2. Becky

    YES to all of this, and I wish this conversation had been happening when I was in my 20s and struggling through this. I always hated when well-meaning Christian ladies would toss that verse about “it’s better not to marry” at me, as if it was somehow sinful for me to wish to marry. (Like all of them were.) I honestly had to go to counseling in my later 20s, because I really was questioning whether my singleness was either a punishment for that bad college relationship that I mentioned last week, or whether God somehow loved me less than the majority of my friends who did marry in the couple of years within finishing college. It would be so much healthier to acknowledge that being single in a Christian community particularly sucks, the dating pool there is ridiculously disproportionate between women who want to be married and men who are worth their time, and to meet those women where they are instead of making them feel bad for their “failure to meet anyone.” Especially in the current world situation. One of my best friends is single, and has told me how much lonelier it is right now since she can’t even get together with friends, see her family as often as she’s used to, or even see people at work.
    (Sorry for the rant, this is just an issue particularly close to my heart.)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Rant away, Becky!

      Reply
  3. Anon

    This was a great way to look at this and I feel really sorry for the women who have to stay single because there really aren’t any good Christian men in church.
    This also becomes an interesting question: why are there so few good Christian men? This is not an American problem. I majored in religion studies and this is something that is very common all over the world. What is it that make men less interested in faith and religion?
    I know you have talked a lot about why young people turn away from church and how church isn’t working in a way that attracts young people. Is it something that needs to change in church that attracts men? I don’t have the answer to these question but I wonder because it’s sad that so many women can’t find a good Christian man. I hope that many of them don’t chose the “second best” just out of fear of being alone . It’s often worse than staying single.

    Reply
    • Natalie

      I think that’s a great point, Anon: globally (this isn’t just a Christian phenomenon), men tend to not seek out the spiritual as women do. I certainly saw that growing up in my own family, friends circle, and youth group. Even in college and in my college church group, there were far more women than men. It was for that reason that I decided to go outside the church to date (even though that probably wasn’t super biblical)… “missionary date” if you will. I know we shouldn’t use our womanhood and sexuality to attract non-believing men, since they’ll only pull us down to their standards (as my husband did with me when we were dating). But on the flip side, I do think sometimes it takes a woman’s perspective to help bring a man to Christ.
      Idk, I can get messy and I still don’t really know how I feel on the topic or how to verbalize what I’m thinking. All I know is that when God put my husband in my life as a non-believer, I could sense that he was open to Jesus and had a longing that Jesus could fill. (Plus, I did like him enough to want to date him). He had many Christ-like qualities… more than many of the guys who went to my college church group. I probably should’ve stayed just friends with him for a longer period of time instead of jumping straight into a dating relationship with him. But ultimately, God know what He was doing in putting us together, and now that we’re both a lot more mature and healthier in our relationship, I am so thankful I didn’t turn him down simply because he wasn’t a Christian right when we met.

      Reply
      • Anon

        While it’s not something I recommend to to Christians because I have seen so many who suffer with a non-believing spouse , I know there are a few who has been able to lead their spouses to Jesus. My sister started dating a non-believer and he received Jesus as his savior so I have seen it. So I am glad it worked out for you. But in general I don’t recommend it because it sadly can go so wrong With ones faith (altough as you say I can only look at myself to see that not all Christian men are good). But it’s really great when it works out.
        But as you say, this happens worldwide. I never really got an answer when I studied to why. One theory I heard it’s because women in general are more in touch with their emotions. But I don’t know.
        It’s interesting that some theologians in Orthodox Judaism think that women are naturally more spiritual than men. They say that’s why men have more rules when it comes the the faith(for example pray 3 times a day, have to go to the synagogue during the Shabbat etc.). It could just be a way to justify why men should have more responsibility in the synagogue but I still think it’s interesting.
        I think this shows that women should be leaders in church.

        Reply
    • Doug Hoyle

      Going to walk out onto some shards of glass here, but I will just take my chances.
      I don’t think most churches are “designed” with men in mind. It might not be intentional, but it really seems that they are more interested in attracting women.
      I belong to a very masculine church. It is set up that way deliberately. It is a cowboy church, and while there really is something for everyone, it is designed to attract men, and to teach them to be real Christian men. The idea is that if the men come, and they can be taught to be real spiritual leaders, that their families (wives, sons and daughters) will come as well. I can’t tell you that it is perfect, and there are some aspects of it that many would say are patriarchal, and that might even be true to an extent. What I can say is that it works. The word is preached full strength, without sugar coating anything, and without apology, and the church is filled to capacity most Sundays, and half of those seated are husbands, fathers and sons. If I am honest, our Pastor is much more outspoken about men and their sins than most I have listened to, to the point that it is sometimes annoying and seemingly unfair, but I know he speaks to where he thinks it is needed most. Mothers day sermons are “Mothers are wonderful”, while Fathers day are more “get your act together and be a man”. I think most men really do appreciate that sort of message. They want to be strong leaders, and many don’t know how. They want someone to show them how to be better, not preach to them about how bad they are, or the opposite, which is just as bad. We have a church full of servant leaders, some more mature, and some less so. Some men don’t want to lead, and there are some women who don’t want to be led, and I suppose they find a different place to belong, which is fine. I just know that what we do works for the majority, and it is because men are truly challenged to be better.

      Reply
      • Matilda

        Are women expected to submit & obey their husbands? Is feminism to blame for the ills of the world? If so your Church is irrelevant to the majority of women. Also, if Jesus is our role model, how does being a cowboy fit with that? I believe it’s time for real equality in the church. We are equal but different, there is no male or female in Christ. What this means for marriages will be for those couples to decide, what works out best for them. I am happy to be a stay at home mum, but I also prefer female doctors, so we need everyone to be excelling in their God given calls & gifts. Gender shouldn’t matter.

        Reply
      • Anna

        I’m way late to this party, but as someone who has only ever been single (and someone who has loved Jesus for a lot of years) I believe I can speak to this. It’s really sad to me that we’ve become a culture so obsessed with marriage that the idea of singleness being a gift is offensive to a lot of Christians. When I think of how Jesus spoke of marriage and singleness, how the apostle Paul spoke of marriage and singleness, and how they both lived single life to the very fullest, it breaks my heart that single women in the church aren’t being encouraged to really lean into all the goodness of it. We assume that marriage is God’s will for most people. Furthermore, we assume that everyone who wants to get married *should* get married. What if none of that is true? What if a life full of intimacy and community is attainable outside of marriage? I love the amount of content on this website about marriage and how to make it great, but this post on singleness really missed the mark. I hope if there are more posts about this topic that they’ll come at it from a different angle.

        Reply
        • Jenny

          Funny how you love the articles celebrating marriage but you have a problem with this one which affirms the pain of single women. It’s about the untrue claims of the other articles about single women, which belittled their pain and pressures them to be happy even though they have tried but aren’t, and are entitled to feel unhappy.

          So your objection to this wel written one shows that you don’t have a problem with those articles.

          Interesting. I don’t know if it occurred to you but, just because you and some other single women don’t struggle, that doesn’t mean the rest don’t struggle. Or that they aren’t allowed to be sad, or that they aren’t TRYING to lean into the good sorts of singleness.

          Because you can do that and STILL not be happy. If you have a desire for marriage it’s VERY EASY for people like you to just pretend it’s as easy as seeing the good parts.

          But you wouldn’t say that to a wife who can’t conceive. Or a widow or widower. Just ‘lean into the good parts’.

          But look how quick you are to pressure single people to do that with the SAME situation. The same childlessness that wives have and the same type of loneliness and loss and grief and singleness that those who’ve lost their spouse have.

          Or divorced people.

          You allow them to feel sad. You wouldn’t be so insensitive about their pain by telling them to lean I got he good parts. No, you’d have the decency to validate to wife pain first. And even then you wouldn’t dare suggest that there are positives to THEIR pain.

          Well, it here same for single women. You think it easy to not have a spouse, it’s not easy for widows OR single women.

          You think it’s easy to become infertile. It’s JUST as heartbreaking for single women if not MORE because THEY don’t have a husband and therefore OPTIONS to become a mother.

          So have some respect for those who suffer because they’re not as ‘good’ and ‘faithful’ or whatever it is that you think you are.

          This article is one of the FEW that validates single women. You want more of the ones who belittle and patronises and SHAME single women.

          It’s people like you who make single women feel far from God. Because you’re so wrapped up in your contentment and the superiority of it, that you don’t bother to see the pain of your sisters.

          Reply
  4. Arwen

    Oh, Sheila this is SOOOOOOOOO wonderful and i have been thinking about this deeply since 2019. My perspective shifted from, “If God wants you to get married, you’ll get married” to, hold on why am i blaming God for men’s free will in refusing to pursuing men or other single women in the church?
    It gives you false sense of hope that the timing is just not right when the timing could never be right because love is something God never forces on anyone. I just find it odd when pastors preach that maybe it’s not God’s will for someone to get married but when you look around the Church all the good looking people are married, you start questioning God. Instead what we need to realize is that marriage is one of the many areas God has given us free will in. So instead of blaming God let’s face the harsh truth, someone deliberately chose not to sacrificial love you.
    I think that’s harder to accept because it’s easier to just say, i’m waiting on God’s timing. Part of living in a fallen world is living with the bitterness of sin. It was such a mind shift for me, i read it on a singles blog where she explained it in detail! I actually feel vindicated and a burden was lifted from me. Now i know if i never marry it wasn’t because God favored other women over me it was because all those single Christian men didn’t want me. And that is far more freeing to me. Because i would much rather be unloved by a man than to be unloved by God. I would rather know a man deliberately chose not to make a vow to me than to realize that God tried to make a man fall in love with me but failed. That’s far more scary! I don’t want to believe in a God who fails, but instead in God who has given us so much free will in life.
    I’m so glad to see this being affirmed here. Seriously thank you! I pray the Church will preach from this perspective from now on. I have had single women ask what are they doing wrong with God that they’re still single in their 30s. And it sadness me to see them thinking that somehow God isn’t impressed with them and is hiding their “prince charming.” May they find this article and be free from such shackle.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Arwen!
      “when you look around the Church all the good looking people are married, you start questioning God.”
      Wow, that was a gut punch. Yep. I’m sure that must be so difficult. Great comment!

      Reply
    • gbolling

      Can I ask what the name of this single’s blog is that talked about living in a fallen world including living with the bitterness of sin?

      Reply
    • Sonya

      The way we talk about singleness as though it is a disease has always struck me as a bit twisted. I’m learning more about it, and I’d like to, from a place of sincerity, point to what I feel is a healthier and more complete perspective: what if, instead of only being comforted in their emotional tribulation, we address the false belief that we “need” a spouse and kids to lead a rich, full, meaningful life? Yes, God made us male and female, marriage and kids exists and that is wonderful–but it is not the only (I dare even say primary) way God “puts the lonely in families”. Jesus made a very special point that his mother and sisters and brothers are those who do the will of our Father in heaven. The Church is our family, sometimes more so than our earthly one, and I know from experience how important those relationships are. Someone who is eating their heart out over marriage has been sold the lie that marriage will heal their loneliness–this is untrue, and as a Church we can truly love them by raising up singles as valid and complete in Christ, and bringing marriage down from its idol status to the also beautiful, refining, somewhat limiting, gift that it actually is.

      Reply
  5. Anon

    I’m just thinking of some of the reasons women I know are not married. I know girls who are single because they can’t find a man who shares their passion to follow the Lord – either because there are no Christian single guys or because the ones who are around are lacklustre about their faith. Or just treat women really badly. Also, a lot of Christian guys seem to be commitment-phobes until they’re much older – by which point, although they can start a family with a younger woman, it’s too late for women their age to have kids.
    I also know women who are single because they are way too fussy – I’m not talking about women who want a husband who loves Jesus, but women who reject a potential date because he has a beard, didn’t go to the right college, is 6 months ‘too old’ or ‘too young’ or a couple of inches ‘too tall’ or ‘too short’.
    One of my friends is desperate to get married, and has expressed envy that I have ‘found a man’ – yet my fiance has at least 4 things ‘wrong’ with him in her eyes that would wipe him off her list of possible future husbands! Her list is literally pages long and has really specific height, weight, age, hair (no beards or baldness), education, career and income requirements.
    So I really don’t think it’s fair to blame God for the way we or those around us behave! And it’s time we stopped telling women that ‘they’ll find someone one day’ because with the male/female ratio in churches, unless they’re going to marry someone who doesn’t share their faith, or who will treat them really badly, a lot of women won’t marry.
    I also think we need to stop treating single women as beings to be ‘pitied’ or treated as failures. I know many have a deep desire to marry, but I wonder if some would find singleness easier or more enjoyable if it were given greater respect by the church. I’m in my mid 40s, yet some Christians have only just started treating me as a ‘grownup’ since I got engaged! Perhaps if we stopped acting as if marriage were ‘the only honourable provision’ for women, singleness wouldn’t get such a bad press.

    Reply
    • Jane Eyre

      Your friend does not want to find someone. Trust me when I say this: she will eventually admit to being a commitment-phobe.
      There are a lot of confused single people out there, who don’t know where the line is between giving someone a chance and being shackled to someone you don’t love, or what are real deal-breakers and what is just foolishness. When people start in on the laundry list, they are usually doing it to avoid a relationship with an actual person.
      I used to think they just needed a reality check, but saw it happen a lot.

      Reply
      • Chris

        Jane, I agree. I saw it happen a lot too. When i first saw it happening i just assumed they were being childish. But the more i saw it happen i was like, ya, you just are scared of a relationship.

        Reply
        • Jenny

          That makes it true then Chris, since you saw it happen.

          Please give us more of your wisdom.

          It couldn’t be that it’s hard to find a good man. No, of course it’s the single woman’s fault.

          And yes that is, what you said. Easy to talk about being afraid of a relationship when you’re talking to women who likely have NEVER been pursued.

          You’re either a married woman, a man with an abundance of choice and fertility you don’t have to worry about so you feel entitled to look down on others for difficulties you don’t have.

          Or maybe you’re another single woman who for whatever reason, likes to criticise single women like everyone else.

          They’re the easy target. Sad that they’re treated this way.

          Reply
  6. Andrea

    How about infertility? What do you think that’s all about? There’s a shortage of single men in the church, so that explains why some Christian women remain single. That’s not God’s plan, but it is a fact in a sin-stained world. What about infertility?
    Also, can we talk about how the church has a bad habit of idolizing marriage and child-rearing, creating very little space for those that are single (beyond their 20s) and those that are infertile?

    Reply
    • A

      Couldn’t agree with you more Andrea!
      Infertility also came to my mind. Such an incredibly lonely feeling. Over and over most of my friends have gotten pregnant and are done their families. And I’m still wondering if I will ever get that privilege. When we hang out, that’s the focus of the conversations and makes me wonder why I’ve been so forgotten. I feel less than, not a complete woman. There’s been countless evenings I’ve left feeling worse than I arrived.
      A church I’ve recently left didn’t leave room for that kind of struggle either. My last ladies event I attended there was my last because I was the only one at a table of 10 not joining in on the pregnancy/labour stories. I’m not exaggerating when it went on the majority of the night and I couldn’t join a different table without causing a scene because we were in groups. As the evening went on I didn’t have the ability to attempt to causally change the subject because I was knew if I opened my mouth I would completely break down. I eventually made a lame excuse to leave and bawled as soon as I got to my car. I was incredibly hurt because of my struggle and hurt that no one seemed to care about the one person who remained silent the entire evening and no one seemed to give thought to why I wasn’t joining in the conversation.
      Please. Take a look around the group next time you’re with a bunch of people. If someone hasn’t said a word, reach out to them. It doesn’t have to be deep. It doesn’t have to be related to the subject that everyone else is talking about. Just be considerate and make them feel included and important to the group.
      One of my closest friends has been single a long time and desires to get married. We’ve connected alot the last few years, I think because the isolation in our church circles is so real to us.
      I know everyone struggles with something but singleness (and maybe the ability to bear children) needs a new approach.

      Reply
  7. Budgie

    I’m 41 and single. I am kind of in between the two sides – I function fairly well living on my own and never was “desperate” for a relationship the way some of my friends were. (Though the pandemic and its isolation has been brutal for me – I’ve barely seen anyone I know for more than 2 months now). At the same time, I always imagined I would marry and have children. It’s pretty unlikely now. And I do feel sadness that the dream most people have didn’t materialize. I wonder what the future will look like. I’m fortunate that my church is very loving and and many of the families include me. I also have a lot of time to pursue church ministries that I wouldn’t have if I had married and had children.
    I don’t really think it was God’s will as such for me to be single. I made choices in my 20s when I was more focused on school and work that limited me from really dating. That was the time when I might have met someone, though I’ve never had guys banging down the door wanting to go out with me. By the time I was in my 30s, the eligible men at church were obviously small. So I missed my chance in a way, and I’m to blame for that. However, my family background and a tough childhood (mother passed away at 7, had an unpredictable and emotionally abusive stepmother) have also made me somewhat afraid and not so confident when it comes to relationships. So it’s a complicated issue.
    I think Paul’s words in Philippians 4 about being content in all circumstances apply. It isn’t God’s will that we be poor or sick or struggle in many ways. But He can use it for His good if we allow Him. So I try to focus on each day.
    Marriage is a blessing and part of God’s plan, but there were many single people in the Bible – John the Baptist, Anna, Paul, Jeremiah, and likely Daniel, Elijah and others. And of course Jesus. So we have to keep marriage in perspective.
    In the last year, I reflected on Zacharias and Elizabeth and how they prayed for a son and finally got one in their old age. As Jews, they obviously wanted a legacy for themselves through descendants. And they got a son, but he never had a family and died a horrible death. So in the end, their line died out. But their son was the herald for the Messiah. So I imagine they died satisfied.
    I cling to the promise of Isaiah 56:3-5. It’s given to eunuchs, but I think it applies to anyone who’s never had children. God has promised something even better.

    Reply
    • D

      Thank you for pointing out this passage. I needed to read it. In this day of my life season, I don’t see how a monument could be better than a child. But still this is an encouragement, and I thank you for it.

      Reply
    • A

      Thank you this encouraged me, please keep me in prayer.

      Reply
  8. Bre

    I never really though about singleness in terms of evil and an availability shortage before! However, from my experience, both IRL and with countless Christians that I’ve met online, I think it’s way more common for single people to be shamed, particularly if they chose to be single. There was this really amazing quote that this lady made on Facebook and I took a picture of it because it really resonated with me;
    “It’s as if Christians can’t see marriage as part of the Christian life and there’s a reason for it: they see it as the meaning of life and as such, they see as transcending the rest. It’s utter foolishness….When we finally realize that marriage is just a part of life instead of the meaning of life, we have a far more holistic, positive view of life.”
    That’s really what I’ve seen in the church; it’s basically assumed that you will get married and, instead of treating singleness (whether lifetime or temporary) as a gift, it’s treated as a temporary inconvenience. In the college ministry I’m in, on relationship night, as much as they may not have noticed, the female staff’ members responses basically amounted to “whatever good, amazing things you do for God’s kingdom and the opportunities you get while you’re single, it’s just a phase because every single person is on the conveyer belt to marriage.” The ability to serve God freely and anything else you may do was totally treated secondary to the importance of getting married, like that was the pinnacle of human existence. The pastor (a female) actually said that nowhere in the Bible did it ever say that God would ever call anyone to singleness! Ummm….You do know that JESUS and PAUL said it and would disagree with you, right, Ma’am?
    That’s what really gets to me; Paul said that both marriage and singleness were Godly and good, but that he was biased towards singleness because it was awesome and gave you far more freedom, yet the church today seems to see singles past their mid twenties as some sort of two-headed monster. The stories of the people I’ve met online are both sad an infuriating. People who stayed single simply because they didn’t want to get married were treated like heretics. Older singles were treated with a mixture of pity, disdain, and fear; lots of the women got frustrated at attending church because they men didn’t want to talk to them and “give the appearance of evil” and the married women watched them like a hawk because they suspected them of trying to steal their man. In general, all their churches ever talked about/were centered around was families and marriages, so they felt totally pushed to the side, and any singles events were focused on trying to get them to no longer be single, instead of community and Jesus. Other people who were genuinely called to be single or just preferred to be that way were looked down on. Their church talked about “the call of singleness” but it was just window dressing because they looked down on those singles with pity and disdain because they basically thought singleness was given when God didn’t know what to do with the person; like they were a failure.
    It’s really sad stuff. I tend to agree with these people that the desire to defend the family structure as God intended it has led to it being elevated to the status of and idol and being falsely seen as the ultimate goal and pinacle of the Christian life.

    Reply
    • Bre

      I really feel for these people and never really thought that I’d end up experiencing this for myself…but I decided that I’d be happier single and decided that I don’t want to get married. I also plan on doing some mission work after I graduate college and God clearly told me to not date until after I actually reached the mission field and he gave me the ok (avoiding distraction and actually getting where I’m supposed to go). But, really, even though it’s true, I use it more as the nice, Christian-ese excuse when I talk to people so that I won’t get stares, questions, and unwanted pity. I am kinda sad in a way; I’ve always been a sappy romantic and part of me would still like to get married. But, in general, I feel that; between my mental health and ASD, as well as the fact that I’ll have greater freedom single; I’ll be much happier staying single. Thing is, this is such an unvoiced opinion that most of my Christian friends look at me like I’ve grown a second head! I basically get the verbal equivalent of a head pat and told that I’m still young and don’t know stuff and will change my mind once I mature. Ugh! I may just be 21, but I know what I want! It really irks me when some of the girls on staff in the ministry basically say ‘oh, cute. I used to think that too before I met the love of my life. You’re being silly and will change your mind.’…these girls are only 3 years older than me and some of them haven’t even been married for a year yet, but they think they know all the answers!
      This basically turned into a rant but…yeah. I’m happily planning to be single, but I know that the church really devalues singleness so I’m not looking forward to that an honestly kinda apprehensive. You have a valid point, but I think that the devaluing of singles goes hand-in-hand with that; I’ve heard way more about singles having their devotion to God questioned because they don’t have a spouse, but I think that it syncs up with dismissing the genuine pain some people have over their singleness. When marriage is seen as the thing that all the holy people do, not only are those who genuinely want to be single looked down on, but the pain of those with unwanted singleness is dismissed because it’s assumed that everyone will get married, so just suck it up until God brings the right person. It hurts people at both ends up the spectrum, and I think the church needs to reevaluate how it looks at and treats singles.

      Reply
      • Madeline

        Bre, I’m sorry you feel you’re being talked down to just because you’re single. That must be so frustrating!
        I’ve actually noticed that when a person says “I want to be single” people frequently react with “oh, you’ll change your mind.” Yet when someone says “I want to get married” no one ever doubts them! No one says “oh you’ll realize when you’re older how much you DO NOT want to marry.” That would be incredibly odd. I wonder why there’s such disbelief, but only on one side.

        Reply
      • Anon~zy

        Bre,
        First off, I want to say that I’m glad you’re going where God has called you! I pray right now for your mission field to be ripe for watering & harvest soon!
        If I may respond to your post, I want to say, I’m at the very end of my 20s and thought EXACTLY as you did at 21. (In fact, I started saying in 7th grade that I would never have a boyfriend).
        I got all the same feedback from people, “You’ll change your mind”, “you’ll meet somebody”, etc… this from Christians and non-Christians. And I remember pushing back ALL the time, “I know what I want! Please don’t make predictions about MY life!!” I still hate it. And while they were wrong about how they went about telling me those things- they were in part, right.
        You see, God has used me in my singleness to go to people, help people, be places, etc. I’m glad of our journey!! However, something that I did push away (& something you stated as well) is that I did have a small desire to be married/in a relationship. I pushed it so far away that I couldn’t even find it for some years. But then it started creeping up again and I started to be “open” to the idea of marriage. I started saying, “God, if it’s Your Will that I should be married, then please change my heart/my fears/my pride in this matter.” OH, BUDDY.
        You see, God was waiting for me to hear what He had to say on the matter- which was one thing: yes. And my heart changed dramatically after that. I then spent 3-5 years (the first two I tried to ignore as much as possible) crying out to God to bring His “Isaac” along to meet me. And I mean cry~ing. Ugly crying.
        [And yes, I did fall in love. I could suddenly understand why that stupid Fergie song, about tripping over yourself in love, made sense.]
        But during those years, I also began to REALLY feel the punch of both loneliness and the humiliation that comes with being an older single (in church, in family & in life). I had to watch both younger sisters get engaged/married. I had to face being ALONE in every church service and small group because I was the only one not married (of any age, including some 18 year olds). Even feeling wildly left out from adult women groups because I was the only one not even in a relationship, much less a wife or mom.
        Friends started peeling off, one by one, due to they’re married & have kids.
        I do believe that God gave you that small desire for marriage so that it will be met one day. Your future husband may not yet be saved!
        However, please be careful with pride and “don’t/nevers”. It’s not an easy road to walk, as pride goes before a fall. But God humbled me and brought about that part of me I had shoved to the side. He has/is integrating me into one person. The work for His glory doesn’t stop or end with marriage, in fact, Priscilla + Aquila were one such Christian couple whose work made the Bible!

        Reply
    • christianpundit

      I don’t think the Bible teaches that anyone is “called to” or “gifted with” singleness. I have posts on my blog that get into that, so I won’t here.
      I have often found that Christians who idolize marriage actually use that “calling” and “gifting” rhetoric to avoid helping single adults who’d like to marry to get marry.
      One issue I have with the “calling” / “gifting” vantage is the underlying assumption seems to be that if you remain single into your 40s, even though you had wanted to be married, that God “forced” you into singleness.
      God had no intention of “sending” you a spouse, even though you had wanted one, is one of the implications behind this theology.
      Well, I had no desire to be interest in being never married into my late 40s, trust me, and I don’t consider being single and celibate this long as a calling or a gift.
      I do think the churches and Christians who revere marriage too much need to tone that down and start respecting singles and singleness.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Great thoughts! I’m going to chew on this a bit: “I have often found that Christians who idolize marriage actually use that “calling” and “gifting” rhetoric to avoid helping single adults who’d like to marry to get marry.”

        Reply
  9. Boone

    Several years ago, after investing three months in the strangest relationship in which I’ve ever been involved, I was told that it had to end because I just wasn’t spiritual enough. I was then apprised of all of my short comings and advised how to make the necessary repairs and replacements. I was also told that the advice was strictly for my assistance and in no way would remedy our particular situation.
    Now, my main offenses were not praying about getting new tires for my truck, not attending church while on a fishing trip to Wyoming that went over a weekend and enjoying a pipe and a tin cup of Kentucky bourbon around a fire with friends on said trip. I was never rude or crude to this woman. I treated her with the utmost respect and deference.
    About two years later I met a woman that liked me the way I was and decided that I’d make a fine husband. We’ll be married thirty one years next month. We raised three children in the fear and admonition of the Lord who have their own families now. All three work in occupations that serve their fellow man. I still don’t pray about getting tires. Of a cool evening I still sit around a fire with my dear wife and my old bird dog. My taste has changed from the occasional Kentucky bourbon to the occasional single malt Scotch and alas, the doc made me promise to give up the pipe years ago. Lord willing I’ll turn 62 in August. That old girl turned 60 this year and she’s still single. I thank God regularly that I wasn’t spiritual enough.

    Reply
    • E

      Haha! Great story. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
    • Tani

      I praise God that He sent you someone who was right for you, but it’s not right to comment, “that old girl is 60 and still single.” She’s a woman, not an “old girl” and what’s even the point of saying that? To one up her? To warn other women to choose men that they don’t believe are a good fit for them so they won’t be 60 and single? We don’t know why God still has her single. Maybe she has grown over that time. I can’t imagine how she would feel if she saw this comment especially if she still desires marriage.
      Those are the kind of comments and mindsets that can scare people into settling for someone who isn’t right for them and being worse off.
      I will say that she didn’t need to list all the ways you didn’t meet her standards, which she has every right to have, but encouraging someone in the Lord with their growth is different from telling them all the ways they don’t like you just to be prideful.

      Reply
  10. Paula

    I agree with so much of this post, and am walking in the physical reality of it. The one thing that is missing though, in my opinion, is where are the women that will stand up and fight for the desires God has given them? If God gave you the desires to be a wife, He didn’t do it to cause you pain and shame. Have you wrestled with Him? Have you fought for your dreams and desires? Have you warred for them?
    Yes there is an abundance of women compared to men in the church, but what are people doing about that? Are you willing to pray your husband to salvation before you even meet him? Did you give up too soon?
    I’m single and in my late 30’s, life has not panned out how I imagined it, but I refuse to give in to the enemy on this. I’ve know since I was 3 years old that I was going to be a wife and mother, and I’m willing to stay in the fight until that happens. It grieves me so much that women, just give up, and are passively sitting waiting for life to happen. If something is worthwhile then it is worth fighting for. If you have wrestled this out with God and are at peace in your singleness, I applaud you. but if you’re not content, I urge you to rise up and fight for the dreams and desires God has given you. One of the biggest destroyers in life is passivity.
    I’m sorry if this seems like a rant, or preaching. I’m just passionate about women fulfilling the desires that God has given them, be that marriage, singleness or whatever. It may not come the way you envisioned, but if you’re willing to fight for it, and stay in the fight, He is a good Father who will bring it to pass.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Paula, I hear you. I don’t think that believing singleness isn’t necessarily God’s will for you and giving up need to be synonyms, though. I think it can be a great relief to realize that God didn’t just pick you to be single on purpose, and maybe that will energize some women to find a different church, try online dating, whatever!

      Reply
    • Matilda

      Agree Paula, I too am waiting and believing and will never give up. I have wrestled with God and truly believe it’s his will, timing is important. Online dating is something I have prayed about but feel I’m not to participate in. So I wait 🙂 Waiting for me is active, I actively pray, having done all stand, decree God’s promises and work on myself to be ready, prepared etc. (part of which is why i read this blog and am learning heaps!)

      Reply
    • Britani

      I’m tired, I’m frustrated, and I’ve been praying and waiting for over a decade. But I’m still doing it anyway. 🤷🏾‍♂️
      How do we fulfill our own desires if we have no options for marriage? What other ways do you suggest we “fight” for our desires along with prayer, fasting, trusting God, and doing things to meet new people?

      Reply
  11. Catherine

    This is a great topic to always be bringing to the forefront of Christian discussions, because singleness is so looked down upon by many in the church, as several people have pointed out above.
    As a single female missionary, I struggled with all of this greatly as well as dealing with pressure from family and friends. I’ll share just a few of my own personal thoughts born out of experience – and I can’t guarantee that I have hardcore Scriptural backing for all of them
    For many women coming to Christ in different parts of Asia (and all around the world for that matter), the decision usually means a commitment / sentence (depending on how one views it) to lifelong singleness. It is a natural consequence to their commitment of faith that they gladly bear for the sake of the cross. It’s just interesting that in North America, we have different colored glasses on that sometimes cause us to struggle with the idea of marriage being almost an entitlement that God owes us. It’s just a very different perspective.
    For those who are single and pursuing what the Lord has placed on your heart and then are also presented with the opportunity for marriage…..take great care. The grass is always greener on the other side. while those who are single and longing for marriage sometimes feel as though their field is barren and the grass is lush and green in the marriage corral…..sometimes things in marriage aren’t always so rosey and you’ll find yourself wondering if you could have served Him better staying single. The Bible does explicitly say that within marriage, you will have troubles. And sometimes those troubles can take a great toll on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And it’s at that time you will be reminded that the choice to date and get married was also an act of free will – not something forced on you by the Lord.
    Lastly, as far as the woman’s biological clock ticking and a deep desire to have children and being single……I personally see no reason why adoption isn’t an option. Yes, it’s difficult as a single mom. But some are in positions to do so or have extra family help etc. and if so, then we are called to care for orphans. Plain and simple. Is it ideal to being a child into a fatherless family? No, not ideal. Fathers are so important. But life isn’t ideal, and many of the situations orphans are in are even less ideal. So perhaps you won’t be getting married at all or in time to have biological kids before menopause…..I think this is a legitimate option that some singles should consider. And for those who get married later in life, adopting older kids in need of homes is also an option!
    Hugs for all of you who are single and struggling. He walks with us in our pain and hears the cries of your heart.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      And as a follow up thought, which I hope isn’t too off-topic….but if an “older” single woman in the church wants to pursue adoption but still needs to work part-time to support a child, then instead of the church looking down upon her for daring to do so outside of marriage, it seems the church should rally around her as we do any other missionary by providing whatever support is needed and being co-laborers in her dream. Whether that’s done by offering free daycare or financial assistance or whatever may be needed. K. Off my soap box now. 🙂

      Reply
      • Bre

        Catherine, I don’t think that you are on your soapbox at all! What you said is actually very important and accurate-and is something that I’ve seen and heard in multiple churches and it’s, frankly, annoying and not very Christ like. In addition, I’m very involved in Pro-Life work and activism and I’ve also noticed a quite a bit of the attitude you mention among the Christians in it, even though, in theory, we all think that single foster/adoptive parents are awesome because kids are being safe, loved, and not abused or in unstable situations.
        People tend to totally forget that, yes, singles can love those kids too and that the kids can grow up happy and safe, even without two parents. I always find it both funny and sad when people I’m working with/dialoging with about adoption and foster care reforms seem to be totally shocked that single people would actually both want and be able to do both of those things! It’s like it’s a totally revolutionary idea or something!
        I think that in the church as a whole, there needs to be a better balance between “yes, two-parent families were what was initially intended by God and statistically are better” and the fact that God…is God. While I hope people don’t mean it that way…they make it seem like God values a traditional family more than happy, living, healthy children who aren’t stuck in bad situations. Like he can’t bless a single parent family and make things turn out well. I mean, kids walk away from the faith in two parent families, too, and marriage can be rough, so it’s not like the issues in single parent homes are totally unique or too much for God. God values people more than institutions.
        In all honesty It’s very stressful for me to work in the Pro-Life movement (and other things that I’m involved in) with these type of people. Some of them in particular are so paranoid that the traditional family is under attack that they’ve swung the pendulum the other way and have basically turned it into a fetish. Lots of them, even some close friends, buy into some of the unhealthy ideas about sex and marriage that have been countered on this blog. It makes me angry and stressed because I know it’s inaccurate and I’m sick of these ideas and, in addition to being wrong, they ain’t helping our work! It’s like “Umm…we’re here to love people, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and fight for justice. Can we not fix ten unhealthy, harmful things, just to replace them with ten new harmful things? Thanks!”

        Reply
        • Bre

          Ack! Sorry for the rant! (And sorry if anyone reading this disagrees with some of the stuff I personally believe in! You can disagree; I’m just sharing my experiences and how things I’ve noticed in them connect to this topic! Please don’t get offended!) It’s just…God, the church, mainstream Christian culture, singleness, missions work, the pro-life movement, other groups that I’m involved in…it’s just been so hard, painful, and mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining to be balancing all these communities lately. In many of these areas/groups, the kind, well-meaning Christians with the bad/harmful ideas make up the majority and I’m the weirdo . But then, in the other areas of Christian thought I follow, particularly online, they have the healthy ideas, but none of them are involved in the activisms and service that I am. Because the vast majority of those groups/movements are made up of the people with the “toxic” beliefs they are trying to disprove and help people heal from. They believe that the unhealthy ideas taint the solutions….and it is just too draining and rough emotionally for people who have been hurt by and came out of the same beliefs to be surrounded by those beliefs. It’s all been really weighing on me because I feel like a weirdo with nowhere that I fit and I get what some of those people mean; sometimes, it would honestly just be easier to not believe some of the things I believe/am passionate about just so I could totally shut out all the negativity and all the idealogical contradictions and dissonances’. And since I’ve finished the college semester, moved into my own apartment, and am now alone with nothing but time…yeah, my mind overthinks and over worries. Woo.
          Thats why I periodically come on here, leave comments, get into discussions, AND end up doing rants and getting the spiritual/emotional gunk off of my chest…everyone in the TLHV online community is really nice and patient and they put up with me and my strong emotions and crazy ideas! Sorry I turned my comment to your very good and important comment into a rabbit hole!

          Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          GREAT comment, Bre! Totally agree, especially as one raised by a wonderful single mother (who now lives with me!). I know a single mom in her 40s who just adopted a sibling group out of the foster care system. They’re doing so great. She’s super tired, because they’re a handful, but there’s so much love there on all sides, and she’s very happy, and the kids are in such a better place.

          Reply
        • Tani

          Bre, maybe Sheila can connect us because I actually am involved in the pro life movement and do sidewalk ministry at abortion mills and have the EXACT SAME CONCERNS AND FRUSTRATIONS! You’re not alone!

          Reply
          • Bre

            Tani,
            Oh my gosh! That would be amazing! I didn’t think that anyone else “got it”! I’m an officer in my college’s Students For Life club. We’ve done a lot of displays, talks and some protests and were going to start weekend sidewalk counseling at the abortion place the town over….but COVID19 derailed that. We’re a newer group ( I was one of the first five members my freshman year) and I’m very NEW to this…wasn’t involved in actually doing something about it until I got to college 3 yrs ago and my roommate at the time invited me to help form the group.
            Thank you SO much! It honestly helps SO MUCH to know that I’m not imagining things and that I’m not the only one with these concerns! My ASD tends to come out and give me existential terrors about everything, including God, sometimes, when I see hypocrisy or genuinely good people getting things SO wrong and not understanding how harmful it is…my Autistic brain wants everything to be perfect and safe and all that…which isn’t gonna happen this side of Heaven.
            It’s kinda funny, because you think these concerns wouldn’t get me to me so much. Me and my friends have had plenty of “Christians” tells us that we weren’t really Christian, weren’t really Pro-Life and that Jesus hates us and we will burn in Hell unless we repent. Some of these people REALLY don’t like the organization our club is umbrellaed under, so they literally stalked our Facebook page, especially all the pictures that we took at the March for Life and the National Pro-Life summit, and sat and spewed hate at us “in the name of Jesus” until we blocked them. I’ve also had some really kooky male science students (the kind that are epic conspiracy theorists and don’t think that reality exists) on campus say that I deserve to be stabbed and die in the street because they know that I’m also a Christian and part of a campus ministry in addition to also being Pro-Life…somehow, the idealogical dissonance and stuff gets to me more than people literally damning me and making death threats🤣

        • Madeline

          Bre, I’ve totally seen what you’re talking about with the fetish comment!! I can’t speak to Pro Life activism specifically, but I definitely know people like that. Its like you said, a lot of them are well-meaning people, but sometimes I think they borderline turn their traditional views into an idol. They are SO concerned with opposing the world that I feel they shoot themselves in the foot and hurt their own cause.
          It makes me think of Sheila’s remarks regarding divorce: God loves marriage but he loves the people in it more than the marriage itself. I think a similar thing is going on in what you’re observing. God loves the children themselves more than an “ideal” family structure.

          Reply
          • Bre

            You said EXACTLY what I was thinking in about dozen less paragraphs than I did😂! I’ve noticed it in Christian culture/Church culture in general, too, but I’ve just started noticing it in the Pro-Life circles I run in (Both online and a bit IRL). I think that it’s basically the same thing and is probably coming over from some churches … the people mean well, but they bring their own traditional assumptions to the table and it’s hard for them to value marriage, families, and kids without seeing them as the very meaning of human existence because of their own church backgrounds. And since, in my specific case, we are a large, diverse movement…I can see it creating more issues than it helps, just like you said about shooting themselves in the foot.
            Actually, “God values people more than an institution” was what went through my mind when I wrote my rant yesterday! I just didn’t write it because I wasn’t sure if it said everything that I was thinking, feeling, and trying to write at the moment….in retrospect, I probably could have been much more concise.

          • Britani

            Bre, are you referring to Abolish Human Abortion? Or the crazy pelagians? GIRL. WE NEED TO TALK ASAP! And I can give you some tips with sidewalk ministry as well if you’d like! I’ve learned a lot in my almost 8 years of being on the final lines.
            Sheila, I know we aren’t supposed to post our contact info, but could you connect Bre and I by chance?

          • Bre

            Britani,
            Yes, I’m Pro-Life as in “Anti-human-abortion”!…Uhh, what’s a pelagian😅? But that would be awesome! I actually haven’t done sidewalk ministry/counseling yet…we were planning on starting to do it in my universities’ pro-life club, but then COVID19 rained on that idea. But, funnily enough, I literally just got off of a Zoom club meeting and we discussed trying to get together to do it after all the restrictions are lifted! Advice would be awesome! Our club VP is certified in sidewalk counseling and has been doing it since she was a kid and lots of the other people in our club have done it before, too. Me and the 2 only other non-Catholics are the only ones that haven’t done it before, and they probably won’t be able to go with us if we go in the summer…so I’m kinda the one out of their element here.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        GREAT soapbox!

        Reply
    • Bre

      I really love your idea about adopting! Contrary to what my earlier rant might suggest to some people, I LOVELOVELOVE kids and am currently going to college to be an early childhood and elementary teacher. I wanted to both foster and adopt kids even if I got married and I still want to do that if I can! In my case, it’s up in the air though; I’m going to go to India to do missions work for two years after graduation, and then we’ll see what happens, but I’ve got a near-certain sense it’s going to be longer than that. However, if I do ever come back to the states to permanently stay, my ideal would be to get a teaching job, be a foster mom, and eventually adopt. I know fostering is intended to reunite kids with their parents and will be hard and temporary, but there are so many hurt kids who need a safe space and I might as well if I can and there may be some opportunities to adopt eventually. I’m happy that someone brought this up! I feel like, despite many churches truly wanting to do good and help children, adoption and/or fostering is seen as something that only two parents families with their own kids and (often) a stay-at-home mom can do, even if it isn/t actually taught or a rule because those families are the ones most likely to get into that lifestyle or be invited/encouraged to do it. While not looked down on, childless couples who are older and/or can’t have kids can sometimes be forgotten and singles as adoptive/foster parents isn’t even thought about in many places until people are confronted with someone who actually has taken that route. I think that it’s a very viable option, depending on personal circumstances, and people should be encouraged to think about it more.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s lovely! I always wanted to adopt out of the foster system, but it didn’t work out for Keith and me for various reasons, which aren’t important to go into.
        But my best friend has adopted two children from foster care, plus she has two biological ones. One of her adopted children has special needs. She’s seen some kids reunited, but many be adopted. Reunification just isn’t always possible, and there are a lot of kids up for adoption. The problem is that they’re often in and out of care until they finally get released for adoption, and they would have been so much better off if they’d been put up for adoption earlier.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely to all of this!

      Reply
    • Matilda

      Thanks for sharing Catherine. Just to let you know that not all nations allow adoption like the US does. Adopting as a single in my nation would be almost impossible unless you are very wealthy, and I think there is a cut off date age wise. like 40s or something? I also believe children need & flourish with both a mum & dad. However, If God really wanted an adoption to happen, nothing is impossible for him.

      Reply
  12. unmowngrass

    This is a great point but there’s more to it than even that.
    Even if, miracle of miracles, the whole world was Christian, and leaving aside levels of maturity of faith, that still wouldn’t mean that there were suitable marriage partners for everyone.
    Biologically the male population is in decline. It’s not so much as a percentage, but in raw numbers there are still less men available than women to start with.
    Once you get into any sort of level of higher education, and more so the higher up the chain you get, the proportion of women rapidly outpaces men. Which doesn’t say anything about the kindness and character of the person, but everyone wants someone who will match them well on general personality too, and I and a lot of people like me could not spend a lifetime with someone who didn’t have that burning desire to just know stuff… what would we ever talk about??
    And then there’s widows, who need more than one of the already reduced numbers of men. Partly because women live longer. Partly because men are more likely to be killed in dangerous situations, whether that’s military, defending their family, bad driving, dangerous hobbies, or fights. (OK, OK, if the whole world were Christian there might not be those fights. And maybe not the military either, I can’t see there being one in the golden City. But I think the point still stands, men are more likely to be killed and therefore women are more likely to be widows, needing more than one husband.)
    The odds are stacked against us from the beginning. Then we get to 30 and realise all the good ones have already been taken… it’s like there isn’t any room for second chances, if you have a relationship and it doesn’t work and then you take the time you need to feel ready to move on but the world didn’t wait for you and the pickings got slimmer… That’s hard to swallow. No second chances doesn’t sound like God. And then as we get older it just becomes much harder to meet people in general and get to know them than it ever used to be…
    And the list goes on. It’s exhausting.

    Reply
    • Doug Hoyle

      “and a lot of people like me could not spend a lifetime with someone who didn’t have that burning desire to just know stuff… what would we ever talk about??”
      I never quite understood the objection to marrying someone who is “beneath your station” You are correct that there are more “educated” women than men, or I believe that is the case. It hasn’t always been that way tho. I’m probably an uneducated slob by those standards, but I am also highly intelligent. In my youth, I pursued a military career, because it was sort of a family tradition. I attended the toughest training, both from an intellectual standpoint, and physical, that the Army had to offer. I never got a degree, never really wanted one, tho there are times I would have enjoyed the benefit of some of the doors it would open. I was trained in electronics initially, and then trained as a Special Operations medic. My wife has a degree. She was well on her way to finishing it when we met, and I was just a lowly enlisted man. We have had our ups and downs, but I am glad she didn’t consider me to be less than her because of our stations in life.
      What do we talk about now, after 37 years of marriage? We talk about those things that we both share common interests in a lot, but we also talk about those things that don’t interest one of us, but interest the other. I know more about interior decorating and cross stitch than any self respecting man should, because it interests her. She knows more about those things that interest me than she would if we were not together.
      If anything, being so different has made us reach farther outside ourselves, and we are both better for it.

      Reply
      • unmowngrass

        It’s great that what you have works for you. I never said it was one size fits all. Only that I, and some others, would not be satisfied with what you have described. I could not spend a lifetime with someone that I couldn’t have these kinds of conversations:
        “I learned a new word today, do you want to guess what it means?”
        “How did people first discover fire, d’y’reckon? And cooking? Why did people start cooking things?”
        “Did you know that the universe compresses and relaxes in a way that is kind of akin to music? Just very slowed down…”
        “How d’y’reckon we could solve the gender paradox?” [As women get more and more opportunities in society, they actually pursue them less and less and are more inclined to the SAHM gig.]
        And politics, and theology, and economics, and so forth. I know not everyone is like that, and that’s fine. But I am, and I’m not the only one.
        It’s kind of like only wanting to date a serious Christian. There are a lot of reasons for this, many more serious/important than this one, but one of the most visible differences it would make in the day to day life of a couple is, again, something to talk about. Because with a fellow Christian you can talk about sermons and theology and bible verses and books and commentaries and church life and church family and different denominations and church history and … the list goes on. So if you marry someone who isn’t also a serious Christian, that’s so very many conversations you’ve cut yourselves off from. Which is not something I would want to do.

        Reply
  13. Kevin

    I’m a man who married a little later in life (age 39) and I understand the frustration that can come from being single longer than you expected. I think this is a great post.

    Reply
  14. Trucker Dave

    The ratio of men and women in church is nothing new. The one I attended in my late teens, early twenties had more single women than men. The first couple times I went I was pounced upon. That pretty well went out the window when it became known I was a bus mechanic for the city, although when the car acted up-call Dave. Or if you have to move, he has a pickup truck. In my mid twenties I started driving a truck, something I always wanted to do. That got thier noses even higher in the air! Apparently, a blue collar guy wasn’t good enough, their loss. I met my wife outside of church, about the time we were both ready to give up. We went to that church, once. She had never met a colder, more snooty bunch in her life. Haven’t gone back, found a different one. That was over 30 years ago.

    Reply
  15. gabbi

    I love this! The only thing I’d critique is the warning against saying that God “planned” for singleness. I mean…didn’t He? That isn’t to say that He “wants” me to be single, but I firmly believe that He is still in control of my singleness. And there, I think, is the difference. In fact, some people talk about the difference between God’s “desired” will (what He “wants”) vs His “planned” will (what He is in control of). For example, He does not “desire” anyone to not know Him, but He is still in control of those who reject Him – see Romans 9…(but, aaaa, I know that’s a “controversial” passage).
    To make it personal: I am almost 24 and I have never had a boyfriend and don’t have any great prospects on my horizon. Nevertheless, I find my greatest peace in knowing first that God is in control of this season of my life, and second in knowing that God knows my heart and feelings and weeps when I weep. If God’s plan can include Jesus suffering on the cross and still be best, surely His plan can include my singleness (for a season and for life) and still be best. But to say that God mourns without also reinforcing that God is in control has the effect of, to me, providing shallow comfort. Moreover, I don’t think it’s Biblical…although I realize that the extent of God’s sovereignty, especially in regards to the reality of a fallen world, are sometimes up for debate.

    Reply
    • Britani

      You said almost everything that I wanted to!

      Reply
  16. Frans

    Absolutely there is a better way to talk about singleness in christianity. I am acctully right now doing a reserach paper on the topic. It also good to remember that singleness is not only a mater for women. Yes, men might show up to church less then women, but men are also looking for godly spouses. No one should lower their standards but i also have the impression that high, rigid and specific standards can sometimes be exclusive and count someone out if he or she does not tick “all” the boxes at the first impression. I had a list and it was very clear in my mind how i wanted it to look like. But, unfortunately that helped me build barriers and have a reason for NOT considering someone a potential partner. It became a stumbling block rather than a tool i hoped it to be.. We gotta look deeper. Dig under the surface of ourselves and other.

    Reply
  17. Purplecandy

    I don’t understand why single Christian women shouldn’t date outside of the church. There are amazing men out there with good character and a spiritual “open mind” or longing. I understand that getting married to a non Christian has its own challenges but dating ? And keeping an open mind ? Christian husbands are no better than non Christian husbands… Reading this blog taught me that in many ways it would even be preferable being married to a non Christian loving and caring man than to a selfish legalistic Christian one. At some point we have to accept that our walk with God is our own responsability, and that marrying a Christian just to tick that box won’t make this walk more authentic or easy.

    Reply
    • Britani

      No. That’s a horrible idea and unbiblical. We are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers nor missionary date. We are setting ourselves up for failure to not be with men who already love the Lord and are growing in their faith. They will not be able to help sharpen and lead us closer to Jesus. Those men are not options for potential husbands.

      Reply
      • kmmc

        I understand what you mean about not being the best option, but times are hard.
        I don’t know if you are married or not.
        But let’s say that you have a friend in her forties who NOT EVEN ONE CHRISTIAN GUY has asked out. EVER. She goes to church, she prays, she volunteers but has never been asked out.
        And suddenly, a nice, loving , responsible non-christian guy falls in love with her and wants to marry her. (And she loves him back).
        Then, according to you, she should stay single.
        And ruining her last chance to have and raise her child with a man who loves her.
        She should never , for the rest of her life, have sex. She should never know intimacy with a man.
        That’s it. She should stay alone while the other christian women who are admonishing her and judging her for being single are the same ones who get to go home to their husbands.
        And yes, they are the same women who will judge her for marrying a non christian man.
        I get telling teens and young adults to wait for a christian partner.
        But try telling that to someone in her late thirties or in her forties who have been waiting for over 20 years for someone to look their way…

        Reply
        • Tani

          If you’re willing to disobey a clear command from God in scripture to get something you desire so badly, it’s an idol. This is non negotiable unless she’s willing to forsake her relationship with Jesus and God’s command. It’s going to be worse than being single being married to an unbeliever. I know this from talking to a number of Christian women who are unfortunately married to unbelievers. It’s not worth it. Obeying God comes with sacrifice. And if that means sacrificing sexual intimacy and a child by birth, then yes, place it on the altar and ask God for help to follow Him no matter how hard it gets.

          Reply
        • Tani

          For the record, I am 31, have never had a boyfriend Christian woman who has no options and also deeply desires marriage to a Godly man one day. It’s not worth it to marry a non-Christian man. Settling and desperation will never, ever be a good idea. He cannot begin to love and treat her the way Christ loves the Church. And there’s no guarantee he will get saved later on either.

          Reply
    • unmowngrass

      I touched on it a bit in my reply to Doug Hoyle above, but that is also like the least important reason. You need the same world view as each other. Not in every minor detail, but most certainly for the basics. You need to be able to pray together about problems you are facing together. You both need to know and believe that God is the final authority, and there are some things that you just need to submit to in that regard, no matter how much you don’t like it. But you also need to both be willing to throw it all up in the air if God reveals a new amazing adventure to you. And being a Christian is hard enough as it is, so you need a team mate to “spur one another on to love and good deeds”, which is one of Sheila’s favourite verses, and a non-believer, even one who is quite happy to drive you to church, etc, and give you as much space as you want for it, will not be able to do that in the same way. So even if they are not actively saying “do you really need to go to church this week?”, it’s not the same and the Christian spouse’s religious practices (for want of a better term) will probably eventually tail off some… Jesus says that He doesn’t want us to be lukewarm, that He wishes we were either cold or hot. And because Christianity also affects our priorities, and therefore how we spend our time and money. A non-Christian husband is not going to want to go on a missions trip digging wells in his one week’s vacation, he’s going to want to sit by a pool drinking beer. Which I know is grossly stereotyped and that there’s also nothing wrong with Christians taking beach/poolside vacations, but as a solitary example you see my point. The same goes, perhaps even more so, to the money. Donating to the church, to other charities, to families in need, or just getting yourself another cool toy. (Same goes.) It’s ~maybe~ less of an issue now that women bring home some of the money too, which makes it harder for the non-Christian husband to be dictatorial about how it’s spent, but it still seems like it’s inviting unnecessary tension when joint finances are hard enough. And although church culture can occasionally, unfortunately, be toxic at times… Jesus isn’t toxic. And it’s only by looking at Jesus that we ourselves become less toxic. So that “good character” in your non-Christian man, who has not spent any time looking at Jesus, is likely also excessively stubborn, or is narcissistic, or is driven by an unhealed wound, or chases something like money that promises life but doesn’t deliver, or will become cowardly when things get too tough, or something else that mean he isn’t everything a Christian man would be, even though he may be kind, dependable, etc in everyday life.
      And the fact that it is a command that we kind of need to just submit to with very little wiggle room, as I mentioned.
      And probably some other reasons too. hth.

      Reply
  18. Tina

    I am married, and have been for over 25 years. But I remember when I was in college, whether or not you were being dated seemed to related to how “spiritual” you were. I was in a church where how “spiritual” you were was directly related to how many people you converted to the church and how high up in leadership you were.
    We didn’t have a lot of eligible men in my old church and I was one of the ones who wasn’t asked out a whole lot. I started feeling like I just wasn’t spiritual enough to get a date.
    And as much as I love my husband, this is an area of my past that is still very painful.

    Reply
  19. Mae

    “Can we see it that way? Can we stop telling single women, “God planned for your singleness,” like you were chosen from the very beginning never ever to be married, like you won the most unlucky lottery ever?”
    As a 45yo single woman who has never married and has no children, i find this a little offensive. Being single is not like winning the unlucky lottery! Yeah, I do have times when I feel lonely and worry about not having anyone to grow old with. But overall, i am happy. Stop making it seem like being married is better than being single. NOT ALL married couples are happy, even in Christian circles. There’s a high rate of divorce in and out of church. I know a lot of people who are married but MISERABLE. Yeah, MISERABLE. We all have to learn to be content in whatever state we’re in. Sure, it would be great to have a lifetime partner. But if that partner is not the right one, you’ll just end up being (more) unhappy. My best friend is a 49yo single woman who is perfectly happy being single. She had more than her share of men who pursued her, but she just wasn’t /isn’t interested. She’s happy doing her ministries and does not need a man to make her happy.

    Reply
    • Anna

      Thank you, Mae! I’m 31 and single and feel the same.

      Reply
    • Jenny

      And I find it offensive that you’re comparing you and YOUR best friend to other single women, as if their unhappiness with being single is petty.

      For them, it does feel like the unlucky lottery. It’s not always about you.

      Single women are pressured to be happy all the time, this is just ONE post validating their sadness. Single women are allowed to feel sad that they have unmet desires.

      What you are doing is offensive to them.

      Let single women who are sad, be sad. Just because you’re happy doesn’t mean they need to be. And news flash, EVERY post for singles is about leaning into the good parts, they tried that. It’s still sad for SOME women. We don’t need you adding the usual pressure to be happy. Everything good you’re talking about, we ALREADY know. Guess what it’s still painful.

      Stop invalidating us. We are not your 49 year old friend and we have our own stories and feelings.

      We didn’t have our fair share of men and we only wanted ONE. furthermore, there is no ‘right one’.

      We are not choosing between happy singleness and MISERABLE marriage, as you put it.

      You don’t give us the credit of desiring HEALTHY marriages. The same way you said some are MISERABLE well some are HAPPY.

      And singleness CAN is IS MISERABLE for MANY single women.

      So instead of comparing us you our friend, leave us alone and give us the respect of assuming that we’re have healthy desires for a HEALTHY marriage.

      We do not rely on marrying the RIGHT ONE whatever that is, we we desire to be the right one and to marry someone who loves God and will try to do the same.

      The same marriages you celebrate, because I’m sure you don’t speak negatively like this about married women, well single women want those marriages.

      Nothing wrong with that or being sad that we didn’t have them. Leave us alone.

      You’re acting like the healthy marriages we desire are far fetched. You are belittling our feelings just because you’re happy.

      Perhaps we were GIVEN stronger desires than you.

      Reply
  20. YaGirl

    Sheila, this is gold. Answers perfectly why I and many of my Christian girlfriends are single, many into their 30s and 40s and who desperately want husbands and kids.
    I have one single friend, never married, in a country where Christians are not the majority, who may be going through the menopause now and my heart breaks for her because I have seen her in tears before about not having the marriage and the family she always wanted. Many of my other friends are stoic stalwarts; they love Jesus and couldn’t imagine marrying a man who didn’t love Jesus but that doesn’t mean they’re altogether happy with their singleness.
    So many times we are told this ridiculous and frankly cruel lie that we were destined for singleness. I heard a preacher say once when I was 18 that God never calls to singleness those who struggle with it – in other words, you will only be permanently single if you lack a sex drive. What extra-biblical nonsense! Yet I believed it at the time and for many years to come. It is not only grating, it is patently untrue. Your explanation makes so much more sense. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad it spoke to you. And I am sorry that you didn’t get your heart’s desire. I feel like those are such hollow words coming from someone who is married, but nevertheless–I am sorry.

      Reply
  21. Anonymous

    I see many people mention about there not being many Christian men….I feel you must first look at the fact females out numbered males which is the first disadvantage. The second disadvantage would be for those males that are born the number lessens with those who claim to be Christians or not. The third disadvantage just because you claim to be a Christian does not make you any better than non believers. I’ve ran into many Christian women that were so critical, judgmental of others but they claim the title of Christian. I no longer look at titles I look at how the person speaks and acts that in itself truly tells me whats in a person’s heart. I will take a loving heart over a person who claims to be a Christian anyday.

    Reply
  22. Anonymous

    God is very evil the way that i look at it, since he punished many of us single good men this way for no reason at all. And there are many of us men that were really hoping to meet a good woman to settle down with too have a family as well. Why in the world would God be so very rotten to many of us men and women as well that were hoping to meet a good man themselves. To go through life being single and alone all the time really isn’t fun at all, especially when we see how very lucky others were to find their loved ones which isn’t really fair at all. We all need to be loved, NOT SINGLE AND ALONE ALL THE TIME.

    Reply

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