Depending on who you speak to, you’ll find different perspectives about how either singleness or marriage relate to one’s faithfulness to God.
In some circles, if you’re not married by the time you are 25, you are past your prime, have lost your golden chance to get that ring by spring and are living a selfish and dangerously temptation-filled life without a family to help keep you grounded.
In other groups, if you get married at what is perceived to be a young age by certain cultural standards, you’ve given up on your dreams, are only working on pumping out another mouth to feed, and have lost the chance to follow your wanderlust and live a life worth blogging about.
You may be thinking, “But there is nothing on either of those lists that actually has anything to do with a person’s relationship to God.” Hence the incredibly ironic state of affairs that leads to an opinion piece such as this one.
What is often missing from the discussion of singleness and marriage in the Christian community is an acknowledgment that for the believer, your life does not belong to you.
In the New Testament, Paul reminds the Corinthian Church: “…You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19–20).
Following Jesus necessarily demands self-abandonment, denying oneself, and taking up a cross and following the Christ who laid down his very life for the world.
We hear this from time to time and apply it to various life contexts, but I find we rarely apply these principles to our understanding of whether to marry or remain single because the intimacy of relationships tends to inherently assume the overtones of individual gratification.
In our culture, our choice to be single or married is focused on “what I want,” “feel like I deserve,” “what I am completed by,” “what I feel most secure about,” etc.
What if we actually did think about our relationship with God and service to others in considering whether to marry or be single, rather than about what is best for our own desires? What if we under- stood our marriages or single- ness as worship?
After exclaiming, “… let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe…” (Heb. 12:28), the author of Hebrews encourages his readers, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled…” (Heb 13:4), thus placing marital sex and single purity within the realm of worship.
Will you use your marriage or singleness to glorify God?
Your worth is certainly not defined by what Facebook says about your relationship status, but rather is given to you by the God who creates you in his image, pursues your salvation for a purpose, and calls you to use whatever stage of life you are in to love him and your neighbor.
Joe Slunaker M. Div is a visiting professor of Christian studies at California Baptist University.