We fast and pray asking for the Lord to bring healing in our times: for men to be bold and to walk in to relationships with women, for women to be soft and willing to be molded by God’s gracious plan in their lives, and for God to give the good gift of marriage to those who desire it.
Pushing the cart to the exit at Costco on Saturday morning, I was approached by a man in his late 50s and the following conversation took place.
Man: Do you own a restaurant or something? What are you doing with all of that food?
Me: It’s for a wedding!
Man: For yours?
Me: No! That would be kind of crazy!
Man: Are you married?
Man: Why not?
Me: I don’t know! (easier than diving into theory and better than being snarky)
Man: Well, that’s okay. I have 7 siblings and only 2 of us are married. My sisters said they enjoyed their independence too much to get married and be bossed around by a man. Whatever makes you happy, that’s what I say. Is it okay if I get in front of you (as we approach the receipt-checking guy with the sharpie)?
And there you have it, folks, a one-minute commentary on the pervading thoughts on singleness and marriage in America.
- Anyone who wants marriage… is obviously married!
- Marriage means that women have to be bossed around by men.
- Singleness is beneficial for strong females that don’t want to submit to bossy husbands.
- Singleness is a choice.
- Life is only about doing what makes you happy. So you have the power to control your marital status and determine your happiness level.
I’m sure this man had no idea that his conversation with the lady pushing the overflowing shopping cart would lead to a blog post and several re-tellings of our conversation. It’s very likely I’ll never run into this man again, but if I did, I’d like to set him straight on a few points.
- I suppose if I wanted to be married I could have accepted the man’s offer in the Old City market in Jerusalem in exchange for some camels for my father, but quite frankly shipping the camels to America seemed difficult, let alone getting past the neighborhood ordinances against farm animals. There was the more recent offer made while I was descending Mt. Kilimanjaro by an African guide who desperately wanted to marry an American. I found out later, he asked another woman in our group too. I guess his love was transferrable and universal for all American women.I jest, but chances are each of us could have probably married anyone, but marriage isn’t about just anyone, it’s about someone. Someone with whom we can share life with, not just a transaction of exchange or a union for personal benefit (like a blue passport). Finding that someone is a lot harder than the Hallmark Channel makes it seem, although perhaps for some it works that way. I just think it’s an unfair assumption to believe that just because someone isn’t married they don’t want marriage. It also doesn’t mean that if someone desires marriage, but isn’t married, that they are too picky. It’s just not as easy as filling a shopping cart at Costco!
- What a sad commentary on marriage, if it’s only viewed as a place where women go to be bossed around by men. The Bible paints a much better view of marriage, and if each party lives out Christ’s call… what a beautiful thing marriage can be. Men sacrificially loving women, and women using their strength to encourage men.
- Singleness is not a stand against a subservient role for women in marriage, nor is it reserved for the resolute, dominant woman. Singleness affords great freedoms and benefits, as we’ve discussed on this blog before, but it is not meant to foster independence for the promotion of self-interests. As Christians, we are called to live in community with fellow believers and to put other’s needs before our own. Singleness should not equal selfishness.
- Singleness is a choice in as much as I didn’t choose the options that were presented to me, but it often feels like singleness chose me instead of me choosing it. I don’t know of many people that desire marriage, consciously choosing singleness. Perhaps for some, singleness is a chosen state and not just a result of circumstances, but it’s incorrect to assume that singleness is chosen by all that check that box.
- There are many aspects of life that bring great joy and happiness, but for happiness to be a pursuit, I’m afraid it’s always going to come up short. What makes me happy today, is not always the same as what makes me happy tomorrow, my happiness is fickle. The Bible has quite a different take on happiness, consider James 1:2 or Matthew 5:12. I chose to have the joy of the Lord, over the happiness-pursuit, even if that means it comes through suffering and perseverance.
After Costco, I went to a local grocery store to pick up two fruit trays. As I was checking out the cashier says “I hope these aren’t for a funeral!” Then as I’m wheeling them to the car, a lady says to her husband and son, “Let’s follow her!” Large amounts of food certainly draw some crazy comments.
Praying this week that Christians can reflect the beauty of a life in Christ as single and married individuals pursuing Him!