Like most Christian single people, I was a huge fan of marriage. But I wasn’t married. And I didn’t know if or when God would give me a spouse. Although God did give me the gift of a wife when I was thirty-one years old, I am still indebted to the people in my life who taught me about marriage before I ever entered into it.
Here are four reasons why I believe a marriage series is helpful for those who are single:
1. It Helps Us Realize Marriage Can Work
The current realities of marriage in the U.S. are painful. Many of my peer millennials come from homes with divorced parents; and even though there’s a chance the divorce rate is decreasing, that doesn’t necessarily mean more are living healthy life-long covenants. Instead, more are looking to cohabiting as their solution to a distrust of the difficult relationship called “marriage.”
I don’t need to belabor the many problems we face in a culture seeking to reshape marriage, sex, and relationships. But I can say that this is why we need a community of others to tell us what marriage really is and that it can work!
Perhaps you have seen marriage fall apart or your own marriage has done so. Hearing God’s Word proclaimed about marriage and helping ourselves and others apply God’s vision together in a Small Group is just what the doctor has ordered for most of us. We should have hope that God can use us to help our friends with their marriages; and we should have hope that God can empower us to fulfill that same covenant if he calls us into it.
2. It Helps Us Understand Our Married Friend’s Experience
Singleness is hard. And in the midst of singleness, I often forgot that marriage is hard too. Being in a Small Group with others who were married helped transform my perspective—especially when I saw their failings.
This is when your married friends need you: to support them as they stumble along in figuring out how to love someone else “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25) or “submit in everything” to someone else (Eph. 5:24) or in how to run away from the same temptations that you face in singleness (lust, selfishness, pride) with someone else always nearby. Discussing these things opens up greater understanding to the breadth of experiences a married person is going through: not always just what you might expect.
3. It Prepares Us for Marriage
There are some single people reading this whom God will call into marriage. I have at least eight friends that I have been in a Small Group with who have either gotten married or are doing so in the near future.
Just as Aesop’s wild boar tells his friend the fox that he’s sharpening his tusks now because there will be no time to do so when danger arrives, so we too ought to be prepared as best we can for what God may call us into: even the battlefront of marriage.
4. It Leads Us Into the Whole Counsel of God
We would never counsel a married person to remove from their Bible the passages related to singleness. Nor non-parents the verses about children. But for a number of reasons, it can feel like we don’t want to hear about marriage if we’re single:
- Maybe others have burned us by asking insensitive questions about our singleness
- Maybe we feel like there is an overemphasis on marriage in the church already
- Maybe we think that talking more about marriage will erupt emotions within us about something we don’t have
Those are real challenges. But also remember that God is faithful. He knows exactly where he wants you, what to give you, and what to teach you in the context of his family. And he’ll never give us more than we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). So allow this time to be a moment where God tests your heart (Ps. 139:4), and you can pray, “Yes, Lord, teach me even what may be hard to hear about because I love you, I love your people, and I love your Word.”
If you’re married and reading this: be sensitive! Realize that a marriage series can be hard to listen to when you are single. Find ways to intentionally include your single friend’s perspective on this topic, and assure them that you want to continue to know them deeply.
The God of Marriage
My hope is that in uncovering these areas of Scripture, you will see more of our God who alone is perfectly covenant-keeping, merciful, loving, intimate, leading, patient, and our closest companion.