Take this test (1 point for a yes answer, 0 for a no):
Have you ever been told or asked one of the following:
- “Don’t worry, your day will come!”
- “I’m sure you will be next!”
- “You better hurry up and get hitched so you can have a little one – you would make a brilliant mom.”
- “I pray often for God to send you the man He has chosen for you.”
- “You don’t know how hard it is to work and be a parent, you have all the time in the world.”
- “God loves you too much to let you be single.”
- “You should stop being so picky, time is running out”
- “Sorry, it just ended up with couples coming for supper, we didn’t want you to feel awkward.”
- “At least you don’t have to hold back at work, you can really have a job.”
- “I don’t know how you do it – I couldn’t be on my own, I wouldn’t be able to cope – you must have that gift thing the Bible talks about.”
How did you do? 10 out of 10 deserves a gold medal; come to think of it even 2 out of 10 also deserves a gold medal. People, and sadly, it seems especially Christian people have lots of vocal opinions about singleness. In the next two blogs, I am going to be sharing what the Bible actually says about singleness (it’s not what you think!) and thinking about our local churches and what needs to perhaps shift in our cultural expectations.
If you are not single i.e. you are currently married to a living person – you should read this too! It will help you when you become single again (most married women will grieve their husbands – it’s a statistical thing) and it will help those around you who are single.
If you are single, pray and ask God to teach you something, to grow and challenge you and finally to make you honour your status rather than treat it as a dirty secret you hope no one will bring up in conversation.
Marriage is a metaphor
So let’s start by asking the question: Why do we get married, what’s it all about? The world will tell you it’s traditional, it’s to show everyone you are committed, it’s to start a family and maybe it’s to financially be helpful to one another in death. The Bible says marriage is meant to be a metaphor for the Gospel story. I’ll repeat that because we don’t often hear that in marriage talks. Ephesians 5 tells us that marriage is a walking, talking, breathing metaphor for the gospel. This shouldn’t surprise us because that is the way God intended it back in Genesis. As men sacrificially serve their wives in leadership, women are meant to sacrificially submit to them. It’s the picture of Christ sacrificially serving God’s people; our response to humbly submit ourselves to Him. It has an end goal – to be presented perfect. Just as Christ died to make us perfect for God.
So a husband is to labour to present his wife as a godly woman. His relationship to her is not meant to primarily be one of seeking romance, or her happiness, or providing financially over and beyond her needs. He is meant to put her godliness first; face the pain of personal rejection or resistance if she is unwilling (and she will be, we struggle with sin and our minds everyday) and labour on – not giving in to the temptation to seek his own physical or emotional needs. This is the Gospel – Christ dying for an ungrateful world who mocked Him and His sacrifice for them to rescue God’s people.
Wives in turn are meant to trust and relinquish their control of the relationship. They are to submit, not because they want to, or agree with them or even because they will gain from the decision but because God has said it is the picture of the Gospel. To chose to submit when intellectually you do not agree with a decision or when you don’t feel you have been emotionally nurtured can be excruciating. It isn’t the field of daisies and dancing that movies and books would have us believe. It requires a focused, disciplined mind, one that knows what the purpose of marriage is: to show the world the humility of God’s people, like children who just accept and don’t second guess.
Singles (didn’t think I would skip us, did you?) The Bible is clear that as Christians, our role is to live lives that show Christ’s leadership of us – that as we submit to Him we show the world Christ’s Lordship and the Gospel.
Ok, so those of you who are married might be feeling a bit tired (I would be) and those of you who are single might be thinking you have it easier – submitting to the perfect Christ rather than a sinful, human man.
Here are some things to think and do before the next post:
- If you are single, ask yourself, how do I make decisions? Who do I submit to – my own ambition or Christ? What type of husband would I need to be able to submit to his leadership?
- If you are married, ask yourself, how your marriage is doing? What does your husband have to do to get you to submit to his leadership? Do you look with envy at others husbands’ leadership? Are you chasing the world’s definition or does your marriage increasingly point to Christ?
- Start talking to someone who isn’t in the same boat. Singles, find married friends to talk to about your roles and pray. Marrieds, find singles (or singles in their faith) to start talking to and praying with.
In the next post, we are going to think about the local church and community and what we need to change to foster a Biblical worldview.