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Why Some Stay Single

Today’s Crosswalk Singles newsletter is intriguing. In it, author Wendy Widder writes that singles whose prayers for a spouse go unanswered are experiencing the suffering that often characterizes the Christian life.

“Telling singles that if they desire to be married, then God has someone for them, doesn’t match up with Scripture,” Widder writes. Just because we desire something is no guarantee we’ll get it, she says. Case in point: when she was young, she wanted a pet monkey and a clear complexion and a way to school other than the big yellow bus. All of those desires, along with her hope for a husband, have so far gone unmet.

“Did God fail?” she asks, “No, I think the better answer is that we have misunderstood the relationship between our desires and God’s fulfillment.”

I would say she’s misunderstood the nature of desire.

It’s disingenuous to lump all those desires into one category. Our grown-up longing for a mate is nothing like the fanciful wishes of childhood.

I know of heart-wrenching situations where a single woman stays single. Her prayers go seemingly unanswered. And in those rare situations, I do believe much of the blame lies with our fallen culture. Things this side of heaven are not as they were meant to be and so she suffers.

But such suffering is not always the case. Sometimes singles remain unmarried because they’ve made bad decisions or lived unwisely or even just made other things, like education and career, the priority.

It’s incomplete to present an either/or picture of singleness: either God answers my prayers for a spouse or He doesn’t. In such a scenario, all the responsibility — and blame — lies with God as if they’re saying, “If I’m single, it’s His will. Period.”

While I believe God is sovereign, I do not believe this negates our free will. We still have a role to play when it comes to getting married, both in what we do and do not do.

Our part includes purity of heart, mind and body; active participation in Christian community; stewardship of time, talents and resources and holding a biblical view of marriage and family.

What concerns me about articles like the one on Crosswalk is that the author doesn’t allow for the possibility that extended singleness may be the result of someone failing to play his part in one or more of these areas of responsibility.

I would rephrase Widder’s thesis to this: Telling singles that if they desire to be married, they desire what God intends for most of us. Marriage was His antidote to Adam’s loneliness in paradise. Marriage is a good thing. And there are things singles can do to increase the likelihood that even in this fallen world, they will be able to marry well — for their good and God’s glory.


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