I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about singleness and marriage, as we’ve been looking at 1 Corinthians 6-7 at church. But it also feels like I’m always thinking and talking about these issues, that every second article that pops up in my newsfeed has ‘words of wisdom’ to offer.
There’s a running discourse that if you are a Christian you will be destined for marriage and married for life, or you will be given singleness and never marry. It’s even spoken of as a choice we make – we should choose to be single if we can, but otherwise the choice of marriage is available as a concession. It becomes an identity. But the reality is, it’s not an identity. Because it’s not forever. It’s not even for all of this lifetime. It’s just a season.
My Grandma wasn’t married until later in life. Then she married my Grandfather and had three children. But after my Grandpa died, the last few years of her life were lived as a single person again. She had seasons of singleness, seasons of marriage, of motherhood, of grand-motherhood. And she had seasons of singleness at the end of her life too.
I never felt like I chose singleness. It’s true, I’m young and I don’t know what is ahead. But this is my reality right now – single, for this season, however long it lasts. When we use the language of ‘choice’ or when we speak of it, even implicitly, as an identity, we take away the reality that sometimes, our relationship status is just a reflection of circumstances. This also helps with the unhelpful wording that can get used with singleness – the waiting or temporary season – while marriage gets the permanent language. Because the reality is, marriage isn’t guaranteed to be forever – it will end, in death or a breakup. This is the truth of the world we live in. In heaven, there will be no marriage.
Talking about these things in a way that acknowledges that this is the current season, the current moment is helpful. It points us back to the one in control of all our circumstances, and grounds our identity in him. It reminds us that we do not know what tomorrow or next year will bring – let alone a lifetime.