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Has marriage become an idol in the church?

For some years now, I’ve heard many of my sisters in Christ complain about the lack of men pursuing them into marriage. I’ve seen many of these sisters hope and pray for a man that might give them a sense of completeness in their Christian journey. There’s this underlying idea that a ring will give them all the affirmation, value, and worth they need for the next season of life.

Believe it or not I’ve also heard many of my single Christian brothers tell me about their desire for marriage...but won’t pursue it because they feel incomplete. This incompleteness can be financial, mental, academic, or a host of other things.

So what’s the common denominator? It seems that both Christian men and women have felt that marriage is somehow tied to completeness. Many women think that marriage will complete them and many men think that they need to be complete before marriage.

Before we go any further, let me affirm that the desire to be married is a GOOD desire. I believe God loves marriage, because it gives His children an opportunity to step into the realization of the love He has for us. There’s a reason why the church is referred to as the bride of Christ.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭19:7-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

However, what many don’t realize and the church often forgets to mention, is that God loves singleness too.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Apostle Paul describes singleness as a gift. In fact, he says he wishes everybody would be single.

“Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:6-9‬

Later in the chapter he explains why he wishes that people remained single...

““I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:32-34‬

The single person has a much higher capacity to devote their time, resources, and energy directly to God and people. The married person, ideally, spends much of their time, resources, and energy pleasing their spouse so that the marriage is successful.

As someone who was in ministry as both a single man and a married man, I can say undoubtedly that I felt more free to do ministry (in its traditional sense) as a single person. However, my ministry focus has now shifted first to the home, then to those outside my home.

So what’s the point of this blog? I believe it’s important to open our eyes to the reality that marriage is not a “level up” for Christian, it is not synonymous with completeness. While marriage is a blessing, it’s not THE blessing. And when we make it more than what it is, we risk idolizing a good thing into the GOD thing.

Hebrews 10:14 talks about the perfection of believers. It doesn’t mention marriage or singleness only mentions the finished work of Christ on the cross. In fact, the Greek word (teleioó) that is often translated to perfection is actually more closely tied to the word “completeness.”

“For by a single offering he has perfected (brought to completion) for all time those who are being sanctified.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Your completeness is found in Christ alone. So men if you feel called to marry don’t wait until you feel “complete” by society standards, know your completeness in Christ and work toward your goal with diligence and intentionality.

Ladies, if you feel called to content in the current season. It is not a curse, I promise. Find ways to serve others and make those around you better. Don’t just sit around waiting for husband. There’s so much more to life.

And to my single ladies and fellas called to singleness. Thank you for accepting the gift of singleness. Don’t be distracted by church idolatry. Pursue your God given purpose with tenacity and discipline.

May we ALL continue to make Jesus smile on our road to glory.

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