Being Single, Part 2: Not a Waiting Room

[Adapted from this past Sunday’s message at The District Church, “Being Single.”]

Have you ever been told any of the following?

  • “Singleness is a time God gives you to focus on him.”
  • “If you are in the right place with God, it will happen.”
  • “You’ll meet the one when you give it up to God.”

These are things that people say—and I’ve certainly been on the receiving end—because they want to make you feel better, to encourage you that there’s a purpose for what you’re experiencing or something bigger going on, and it’s true that there probably is a purpose and there is something bigger going on.

But:

  • Isn’t everyone supposed to focus on God, not just singles?
  • Doesn’t everyone—single or married—have things that God is teaching them, things that they need to work on, sinful habits and addictions that God wants to break?
  • Do married people or people who are dating get a pass because they’ve met someone special?
  • Is a relationship some kind of reward for achieving a higher level of consciousness, like you’ve jumped through all the hoops and now you get the prize at the end?
  • Is God someone to be negotiated with, a slot-machine God who just wants you to at least want to give up idolizing or idealizing relationships, and then he’ll give you “the desires of your heart”?

Let me be clear about this, contrary to the narrative of Hollywood romantic comedies and a lot of shows we see on TV and even to the narrative of church culture:

Marriage, or even a romantic partner, is not the ultimate goal of life.

That is not the only thing you were created for; that is not where your story ends.

  • When Jesus is asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, his response is not, “Get married,” but rather: “Love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got and everything you are, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • When the prophet Micah says to the people of Israel (6:8), “God has told you what is good and what he requires of you,” it isn’t, “Find fulfillment in a man—or a woman,” but rather: “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”

Singleness is not a waiting room for the ultimate destination of marriage. The ultimate destination is a new heaven and a new earth, it’s fully transformed hearts and lives and bodies, it’s when God’s rule and God’s kingdom are fully realized on earth as it is in heaven. The waiting room is this present age, where we groan with all creation for our restoration to be complete. And the journey is one of becoming more like Jesus, learning to live and love more like Jesus, inviting others into this life-giving relationship that we’ve found with Jesus, while we wait–and we do wait!–for him to come back.

Singleness is not a waiting room, and on a purely practical level, let me say this: the issues that you face as a single person are not magically going to go away if and when you meet what my mom likes to refer to as “a special friend,” if you like it and you do put a ring on it.

  • If you’re insecure as a single person and think that getting married will solve that problem, you’re simply projecting onto your future partner the requirement that they feed your insecurity and bolster your sense of self-worth, and that’s not the foundation of a healthy relationship.
  • If you’re all about yourself now and think that you’ll change when you meet the right person, God have mercy on your spouse.

Singleness is not a waiting room; let God work on you right now.

Justin

Hong Kong | London | California | Washington, DC

Christian | Theologian | Musician | Activist | Sojourner

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