Back in the day (that was in the 80s and 90s), single people in most of the evangelical churches I attended often felt like second class citizens, waiting until they could join the real world via marriage.
Most of my single women friends LONGED to be married, to find their prince, to discover ultimate happiness in marriage. I was NO exception!
That’s why Paul’s discussion of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7: 25-40 always puzzled me and gave me hope.
It puzzled me because Paul says no less than 5 times (at my count) that it’s better to stay single than to marry.
If that’s the case, then why weren’t the evangelical protestant pastors I knew not preaching and pushing Paul’s teaching? Why did it “feel” like the church regarded marriage and children as the “better” option? Why did we get the sense that those who married were more mature?
Did the evangelical seminaries somehow skip over Paul’s teaching here?
On the other hand, the passage gave me hope. I turned there often to remind myself that staying single was a noble estate. I especially liked verse 34: “…the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.” ESV
Although I longed for marriage and family, I often reminded myself that if I stayed single the rest of my life, it would allow me to focus more on Jesus and ministry. And, in fact, I had a much more robust ministry when I was single than for most of my married life [although that is about to change with my new job...].
Dear readers, what do you think? Why the big emphasis on marriage in the evangelical church?
Today’s Readings: Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:26, Psalm 102:1-11, Proverbs 24:1-2, 1 Corinthians 7:17-40. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).