Last week’s Friday Night Date Place on meeting the kids got me thinking about the reverse scenario. The situation I’m talking about is the single person who finds themselves creeping up in age and the prospect of finding a partner and having a child of their own seems to be fading with each successive birthday. They hear their friends, hear the words of their families, and hear the (however unintended) message of the church and come to the conclusion that they are not fulfilled unless they are married with children. What have we been telling these folks and what should we be telling them?

There are several reasons why most folks are single:
1. Choice – some folks choose to be single.
2. Time of life – there are times when folks are more focused on getting through school, climbing in their careers, or are simply pursuing other interests such that it is not the right time to “settle down.”
3. Socially inept/clueless – I’m not going to lie, some folks haven’t quite figured out how to make connections with others (though, frankly, some of those people still end up married, they’ve just found someone to put up with them)
4. Just hasn’t happened. Try as hard and desire it as much as they want, marriage, much less kids, simply hasn’t happened for them.

Now, is the right message we are to be sending them that they have somehow fallen out of God’s will by remaining single?

There are two mindsets at work here: 1) we act like marriage is a trade up when it’s a trade over, a lateral move of equal value; and 2) we, as a church, have placed family on an altar as if sustaining the family is the be all of Christian living. All of this means we will have to examine what it means to be fully human.

We’re called to join in God’s mission, whether doing it on our own (as singles) or as a team (if married). I know, no one buys the whole “Jesus and Paul were single” argument (though, Paul might have been married at one point). Focus on the Family of God needs to be lived out more deeply instead of worshiping the idea of family. (If I was the cynical type, I’d note that the emphasis on families might have something to do with the fact that families, giving units, are where the money is.)

So we as a culture have set marriage and kids as the be all of existence, setting folks up to believe that it’s our destiny as humans. Somehow you’re not fulfilling your role as human being if you’re not reaching those goals (it doesn’t matter how much you would like it to happen, but it hasn’t ). You know what? Some folks may need to be reminded to cling to their faith that God loves them and is for them (God’s will is not out of whack. If all you do is work and go home, God isn’t going to materialize a partner for you. Your choices and decisions matter, so be for Him in all that you do, after that, it’s on you).

I’m not going to lie, I like seeing myself in my children. Now that I have them, they are my primary ministry. I still have responsibilities to do kingdom work and if I’m being honest with myself, marriage and kids pulls me from that. Time is one of the trade-offs when I went from being single to being married. We need to cling to the true purpose and mission of life: to be fully human is to be fully loving and be in community. When Romans 14-15 talks about living out the Christian life, it’s not about making babies. The bigger point is that we’re co-creators with Him, joined in a mission or reconciliation. We’re all called to be fully human, but that’s an edict that isn’t solely fulfilled by being married and having kids. For many, there is an emptiness and longing for something that hasn’t happened. We don’t know how to speak to that void (and most times, we’d be better off not saying anything). We do them a great disservice by treating (and telling) them as if they are less than human otherwise.

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