On Mondays, we fast and pray for the Lord to do a work in our generation: for Him to move mountains, raise up men to walk into relationships, soften women to allow God to work in our hearts, and to bring the gift of marriage for those who desire it.
Every once in a while, when I run out of things to say here on FastPray and on Single Matters, I wonder if sites like these are doing good and necessary work. It’s easy to get discouraged writing about singleness and other related topics because the broader church population often still doesn’t understand what it is like to live wanting marriage, finding no one, and hearing “just hold out a little longer” from the pulpit.
Then, a co-worker sends me a blog post from South Carolina, mega-church pastor, Perry Noble summing up eight reasons why you can’t get a date or married. I read it with a furrowed brow and then, share it with Amy who is mystified. I remember why this FastPray conversation is necessary. I wish I could sit Pastor Noble down with a cup of coffee and chat about his little blog post.
According to Mr. Noble, we may be single because we don’t have our lives in order, we struggle with impurity, and we are bitter. All of those things may be true. But, there’s a huge flaw in his logic—a lack of self-control, raging bitterness, and sexual immorality aren’t sins that only afflict the unmarried. If you’re cuttingly sarcastic and bitter, you might have trouble holding a first date dinner conversation, but getting married isn’t directly tied to your current level of holiness.
As Amy and I were sitting there talking, I started laughing because really, Perry Noble’s blog post is probably the worst written advice to singles I’ve read in a while, but sadly, people say this stuff in person. And, even if it’s ridiculous, the lies can get lodged in your heart. I was reminded why we choose to fast and pray and why we talk about the ups and downs of living—wanting marriage but staying single.
Finding a spouse is not formulaic.
One problem (of the many problems) with Perry Noble’s perspective is that pretends that if you could somehow take care of those eight things, but you’d find a spouse. Check all the boxes. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Make it happen. Pluck your eyebrows. Memorize Proverbs 31. Teach Sunday school. Then, after all of that you’ll be good enough to earn a husband.
I’ve run down that road before. And, then when I opened my eyes, I realized on some kind of singleness treadmill. I thought by doing X, Y, or Z that I could manipulate my circumstances into creating a marriage. I assumed that my married friends were clearly more worthy, hotter, and better in the kitchen. I just needed to work harder.
Frenzied thinking is a spiritual trap.
You’re not single because of some broken formula that needs to be fixed. Even if somehow magically, overnight you could lose 20 lbs, get rid of all your impurity, and be 125% bitter-free—you might still be single. Marriage isn’t something you earn from good behavior.
Marriage (like singleness) is a gift. It’s not the next level in Super Mario Brothers. Your married friends didn’t get married because they beat Bowser through more complicated holy maneuvers within the time limit.
James 1 says:
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Basically, if you’re married, don’t chalk it up to your awesome skills. If you’re single, don’t waste your time blaming yourself unnecessarily. Some are married. Some desire marriage and haven’t married. God gives good gifts. He writes our stories. Do we always like where our story currently is? No. Do we even understand why on earth God is taking us down this path? Not usually. Is God trustworthy to meet your needs where you are? Definitely.
No one went to the Perry Noble School of Awesomeness and came out with a certificate of readiness and a spouse. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God, and God hasn’t abandoned us to or punished us with a life of singleness because of our sin.
And, why not? Because…
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:10-13
Blessings on you as you pray and fast this week.