What is it we’re so obsessed with?
Marriage? or guilt-free sex?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my experience growing up around “church-people”. Particularly, I’ve been considering my observations regarding singleness, relationships, sex and marriage.
From a young age, I decided that I didn’t want to engage in the dating culture of high school. I didn’t want to hold anyone’s hand or kiss a boy “just for fun.” I wanted that kind of affection to mean something. And I also didn’t think I would miss any quality catches by avoiding the dating scene in high school. So, my summary of high school was one boy asking me out (via a friend), one boy playing with my hair during chemistry, and several asking if I was lesbian–because why else wouldn’t you date?!
Then college came. I re-evaluated and decided that earning my acceptance into the nursing program would be more than enough work. So I decided ahead of time–no dating for the first two years. Summary–met some genuine Christians on campus, held a few crushes, and a guy in my bible study passive aggressively said I was racist if I didn’t vote for Obama. Nice. I also led several of my own bible studies with the girls at church, sang on the worship team, created/launched an active prayer circle, and led one of my professors to Christ. Two years came and went. No one even asked me out.
Then came nursing school. I quietly determined that I would be open to a relationship if something came up. ONE guy asked me out. Wasn’t feeling it. And that was the summary of my college “love life.” Meanwhile, several of my friends are either in serious relationships, engaged, or at least pursued.
So that’s my sad-sap story of being single.
As people, our lives are shaped by our environment AND our choices. As a young teenager and adult, I can see now that I made some pretty mature decisions. However, if I’m honest–I didn’t get much in the way of affirmation for that. What I did see is that people entering relationships were quickly given a new circle of friends, a mentor that all of the sudden wanted to “speak into” their lives, and even talk of “congratulations”…for DATING.
Ultimately, young Kirsten stood firm in her decisions despite the evidence of positive reinforcement for those who dated. However, just like a pressure ulcer slowly breaks down the skin (the body’s ultimate armor against the world)…the loneliness began to eat away at young Kirsten. Church-people were often forgoing deep friendships for the sake of potential matrimonial union. The wound left behind by deep loneliness is still with me to this day.
As I’ve examined my life and confronted my wounds in this area, I’ve learned some things:
Loneliness is, at it’s root, healthy. Loneliness is an emotional response that prompts us to seek out people. Loneliness sparks a desire to be “known.” Loneliness is supposed to push us toward deep friendship.
Singleness is, biblically, healthy and even preferential. Singleness is a time to be “fully devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.” Singleness is a time to be “undivided” in our devotion to God and advancing his kingdom. Singleness is the very opposite of a disease.
Basically, I’ve started to wonder if all those scriptures saying “two are better than one” really mean just that. Two people working together are better than one. Nowhere in the context does it insinuate that the passage is oriented toward marriage ONLY. But you know what I grew up believing? That marriage was the ultimate sign of reward, favor, and success. In marriage, I would be rewarded with a companion and guilt-free sex (Whew! Just made it!).
I know this is a tough line to walk, but I’m going to keep typing until it I get it out. Marriage is a beautiful picture of God’s love for the church–definitely. I get it. However, through the lense of scripture I struggle to see where we draw the conclusion that when it comes to marriage, “the sooner the better.” The only premise I could possibly find is regarding sex. But guys, seriously, is that not the most shallow reason to hurry marriage? Ok, whoopdeedoo…if you get married young and don’t have premarital sex–you have successfully not sinned in one particular subset of sexual sin. Sin is bad, I’m not diminishing that. However, two people having sex isn’t the only way to sin. It’s not even the only way to sin sexually! You could struggle with lustful fantasizing. You could struggle with porn. You could struggle with controlling your passions. You could struggle with creating constructive boundaries. And you can do all that without getting naked. (Sorry, not sorry)
Unfortunately, I’ve observed the above struggles affect MARRIED people–even Christian married people. Conclusion: marriage does not fix anything. So for the love of GOD, can we please stop encouraging our young people to hurry up and get married?! Even when marriage is done right, the bible says it will bring much trouble!
[Aside: for all my quickly or young-married friends out there, I love you and hold zero resentment towards you. Please know that. I celebrate your union and pray that it is pure and kingdom advancing. Rep Christ’s love for his people like it’s your JOB! Cuz it is.]
Now that I’ve gotten all that out…
I believe what we say we value and what we actually value as a group of people has been made clear, to me at least. I believe we are failing to encourage eachother in the pursuit of the highest things. In my next post, I plan to explain with scripture and in detail the way we should “provoke” the youth, the singles, and everyone else in our church. Let’s get back to the main thing.
Please read part two in my next post titled, “Dear Church People.”