One of the Myths of Singleness is the idea that if you are content in your singleness that you will then somehow find someone to marry. I don’t how many times someone has told me things like, “I wasn’t looking and then I met my wife” or, “stop focussing on it and then it will happen”, or my favorite, “when you are content in your singleness, then God will send you someone.”
Now there’s an underlying truth here that is good – and I’m going to get that – but on the surface this is kind of ridiculous. And it is even worse when it comes from married people – so marrieds should pay attention here as well.
Now there would be nothing wrong with being content in singleness. It is ok to be single and sometimes God calls us to singleness. This can be for life as a second vow – in other words you make a vow to walk with God and then you give your life to ministry – as a priest, nun, single pastor, or lay single person. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Paul talks about it. For many years (as in over a thousand) this was seen as a higher calling than marriage in the Church. But if you are called to it then you are not looking to find a spouse – you have vowed to not get married. You can also be called to be single for a season. Sometimes God calls us to certain things for certain times. (It would be good by the way to ask God about this stuff – don’t ask if you have the “gift of singleness” but more “God are you calling me to be single?” or, “Do you want me to get married?” Those are brave prayers in our Christian culture but worth asking).
But striving to be content in order to be ready or good enough to find a spouse is not good. First of all it’s a little dishonest. If I’m trying to become content so that I can get married then I’m not really content. Secondly what about every person who gets married early in life without really entering singleness – were they content in singleness first? I’m gonna say no.
Now here’s the underlying truth that many of these people are getting at. When you are working on who you are as a person (which we all should be) and focussed on following Jesus and becoming who He has made us to be, then guess what – you are way more confident, comfortable, and attractive to the opposite sex. This is a good thing. If we are focussed on finding someone to marry or constantly letting that impact every decision we make, it can begin to control us – which makes us desperate, needy, and unfocussed on the Lord. That is of course unattractive and gets in the way.
But we have to be careful of the “I’m not going to look” line of thinking. It can lead to at least two dangers. First we can just shut down rather than actually working on our own lives. In other words it can be an excuse to hide from real reasons we are single. Second it can cause to grow cold and not pay attention to people around us that might be potential spouses – kind of a self protection plan gone wrong.
What we need to do is work on finding our identity in Jesus regardless of marital status. As a bonus (not as the goal) it makes us way, way more attractive.