So I’ve read a lot of online profiles. I mean a lot. I don’t even want to think about the number. Here is one of my least favorite lines, “I know that everything happens for a reason.” This usually follows (or is followed by) some sort of statement about not knowing why they still haven’t found “the one”. I hate this line. I call it Oprah theology.
A lot of Christians put their own sort of twists on it. “I know God has a plan” or “God made this happen for a reason” or “I don’t know why but God does” or “God has His reasons” and so on. I don’t really like those much better. Especially when it comes to marriage and singleness.
I can’t count the times someone has asked me why God has me single, or “encouraged” me by saying that God has a plan, therefore implying that me being single right now is because God wants that. Worst of all is when single people use it to hide from dealing with their sin, insecurity, and hurt. Or they use it to keep from engaging the opposite sex. “It’s God’s deal so I don’t have to do anything.” That’s convenient.
First of all this is not the point of God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty should be a launching pad not a hiding place. If God is sovereign then I am free to deal with all of this stuff. I’m free to deal with my sin. I’m free to face my insecurity. I’m free to deal with my pain and loneliness. If I feel called to marriage, I’m free to actually pursue that. Because if God’s got it, then I can go for it.
Now maybe you are reading this and thinking, “I really believe God wants me to be single right now.” That is great. If you’ve been engaged with God (preferably in community) and that is what you feel He is telling you, I absolutely affirm that. Sometimes we are called to singleness for a season. Or maybe you are called to be single for good. That is awesome. If you are following His call to singleness that is right on. In fact I think it is essential that we ask Him these questions so that’s not what I’m talking about here.
What I’m talking about is blaming God or hiding behind God. I’m talking about assuming that it’s God’s fault that I’m single. What if it’s my fault? What if at different times it’s been other’s fault? What if it’s because I don’t know how to get married? Heck, what if it’s spiritual warfare (you know that thing that we say exists but never actually live like is happening)? Do you think there might be a battle over your love life?
There are a lot of reasons that we are single (we each have an unique story) but we need to be careful before we start assigning it all to God. For one thing, if it is all God’s fault then it is also God’s fault that 49% of Americans are single. It would mean that back in the day God wanted everyone to be married early but then about 25 years ago He changed His mind. He said, “You know I’m tired of everyone being married, lets change it up.”
Look, I’m not pretending to know God’s will. But really who does? What we do know for sure is that His grace is big enough to redeem and use any situation for good. We know that He can use our singleness or marriage (or any other situation) to bring us closer to Him. That is the whole point – that is the one thing we know He wants.
Without even daring to assume that it’s possible to truly understand and know what God thinks about such things that are not clearly outlined in Scripture…I believe that it’s possible to say that God created us for community and for marriage. It’s one of the big three things that we can glean from life before sin (not that it we have a long history there from which to learn). We can also see clearly in the New Testament that some people are, in fact, specifically called to singleness. It’s not supposed to be the norm but rather designated as an exception. However, when we combine sin with what’s mean to be normal and expected, we find ourselves with unfulfilled desires.
One of my big pet peeves is when people tell me that if I have a desire to get married that one of two things will happen: I will get married, or my desires will change, making me crave singleness. Um. NO. Where, might I ask, do we see in Scripture that we can “want” something badly enough to make it happen or that God-given desires disappear over time? Yes, some are called to singleness a little later in life. I have spoken with two women who have said such things and that once they were able to rest in the idea, they found much joy, but I earnestly believe that’s the exception and not the rule.
I believe in a great big God that can do anything. If he can part the Red Sea, conquer sin and death and hell, and continue to change lives and do all kinds of crazy things all over the world, then, yes, he is in control of my dating life (or lack thereof). Nonetheless, I agree with you – we are called to participate in his plan. Does that mean that we should manipulate, control and compromise to twist situations and relationships into what we want them to be? Um. No. But, it does mean that if one is single today, then that’s what God as for today – as long as one is honoring God in the way life is lived. Relationship status matters less than who we are.
See a blog I wrote called Dear Waiting.
I’d write more about the statistics on marriage in the last 100 years…but comments on a blog post probably shouldn’t be longer than said blog.
Thanks for reading!
Maybe there is a difference between God being in control over all and God controlling something. I agree marriage is pre-fall. I do think sin (not just what we do but also being sinned against) play big time into it and we need to deal with that. You are absolutely right – our identity has to be in God not relationship status. Exactly.
Justin, I’m glad you have put this issue out in so many different ways in your blog. I think we say a lot of “wrong” things when we try an come up with answers. At the same time, I think often our incorrect statements and assumptions have elements of truth to them. As a married guy, I think have given partially correct, partially incorrect advice and thoughts to my married friends who come to me saying, “Why the heck am I not married?” A lot of the wrong stuff I say comes when I attempt to verbally process the question. Wrong stuff with an element of truth. For instance, I agree that it is “wrong” to say, “You may not be married because God is working on you in some areas while you are single.” Obviously not even close to accurate in all cases. But….. in any individual case, that may be exactly what God is doing, and it may be exactly why you are single.” Do you see what I mean? The bottom line is that we can come up with “principles” of what is going on and how God is working, but each answer will vary as much as each person is different. Bottom, bottom line: If we answer with platitudes (even scriptural platitudes) without looking deeply into individual situations, we run a high risk of missing the mark. And when we miss the mark in this area, we can leave a friend with more baggage than. Thanks for helping us all unpack the baggage, Justin.
I completely agree Chris. We need to not assume the answers but walk with God, and the individual. In the Bible, Jesus never has the same conversation with any two people. He sees each person and their particular situation and steps into that situation.
I’am 20 years old and i believe that god is in control of people dating life. You can’t say i want a (girlfreind or boyfreind) and think you’ll get it. It all lies, When people say you take one step and god takes two, But that’s not true, The true is that god will hold you back! You try to find somebody in this world but you can’t because god is using his powers to keep you alone and single! You take one step and god will sit down and do nothing. So do’es that means, “Becareful want you wish for”, is a lie, or “Take one step and god take two” is a lie too. you tell me. Because i been single for years and i know god is the cause of it.
Well I have a couple of thoughts. First off I’m sorry you’re hurting. I’ve been there. You’re mad at God and that’s ok, I’ve been there too. No where in scripture does it say that if you take one step God will take two. So I would agree that’s not true. In fairness God mostly steps towards us and we mostly step away from Him. But I get what you’re saying. I believe that God can bring people into our lives. I also believe that both we and that other person can mess that up. God doesn’t control sin. We do. What God does is offer us salvation and a chance to walk with him. If we are filled wrapped up in Him then we can figure the rest out. He’s not a means to an end. He is the end. So we have to start there. Not sure where you are at in that.
What I identify with is your pain and frustration. That’s real. But God does care about it. Jesus demonstrates that again and again. God could want you to be single, but most likely there are a lot of different factors.
So the phase, “you take one step and god will take two”, is not in the bible, then why people say it all the time. Even Joel Osteen sat it too. And also becarefull want you wish for is not in the bible, right.
Then want the point of praying if god is not going to help?
And what’s the point of coming to god, he just gonna sit there and watch people suffer? Please tell me
People say it for two reasons. The first is that it sounds nice. Now in fairness the other reason people say it is that Jesus died for us even though we didn’t do anything to earn it. But the key here is that we don’t step first. It’s more accurate to say (in the salvation sense) that God has taken a million steps toward us so maybe we ought to (out of gratitude) take one towards him. As far as dating goes I just think it’s arrogant to think that it’s all God’s fault I’m single. The point of praying is to develop my relationship with God. He’s not Santa Claus. He’s God. I need to start with the premise that God loves me and the number one thing in life, regardless of what I’m going through at the moment, is my relationship with Him. He is the answer to my loneliness. He is who makes me whole. No woman is going to do that for me. If I can be filled with God then I can walk in any circumstance.
This is the problem with the way some pastors come off. You don’t come to God so that everything goes the way you want it. That’s not going to happen. Many times we want the wrong thing (which is where the phrase be careful what you wish for comes from – that phrase is not in the Bible either). It’s not a matter of wanting something and then demanding God give it to me. It’s submitting my life to God and then asking Him to help me want the right stuff.
I want to encourage you to dive into the Bible yourself and see what you think it says. Don’t let the TV tell you.
Finally I want to encourage you that at 20 years old you don’t need to be desperate for someone. It’s great to desire that but if you are consumed with it that means there is some deeper stuff going on inside you. You need to sort that stuff out with God. You probably need to dive into some local community of people that follow Jesus and walk with them in this area of your life. Again it’s ok to feel what you feel, and even to be mad at God, but you need to deal with that first. That’s more important than if you have a woman in your life.
i still believe that god is the cause that i’m single the prove is their. so if god not going to help, i thinking about making a deal with the satan. my soul for a romanctic love life that god did not give me. give me five good reasons not to do this, and give me five good reason why i should come to god.
You can believe whatever you want. You haven’t offered any proof that it’s God’s fault. You seem to think that you are perfect and God owes you romantic love. He doesn’t. By the way I didn’t say in the post that God never keeps people single. I said we can’t assume that and we have to look at our own problems. You don’t want to do that so my words won’t help you.
I’m not sure if you are for real or trolling. If you are for real you have to find some local community and begin to process this stuff.
As far as making a deal with satan – That’s up to you. Although I doubt that Satan himself will show up to do the deal – he’ll be glad to send someone over. They know a fair amount about romantic love but very little about real love. But that really isn’t how this all works. It’s not about making deals.
God doesn’t make deals. He’s God. If what is most important to you is romantic love you are in trouble. The reason to come to God (if you mean by that, give your life to Him) is because He died for us and offers us life – which we do not have on our own. The rest is bonus. The promise of God is not that we get everything we want – it’s that we get Him.
here a question that i heard.
can god created a rock soooooooooo big that god himself can’t lift it! this is not love relationship related question like before, i just want to heard of what you think of that phase!
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yes i do certainly blame God for me being single today, especially when i see so many VERY LUCKY men and women that have met one another with their families today. why not us? what did we ever do wrong? i am a straight man that is looking to meet a good woman to share my life with, and i always seem to meet the very nasty women that like to CURSE at me when i am trying to start a conversation with the woman that will attract me. there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and i know other men that have been CURSED at by a woman that they wanted to meet. makes me wonder how many GAY WOMEN that are out there nowadays adding to our problem.
Look, seriously here. I have been a life long single. I have never had a date, never had sex, never had a kiss, a hand held, been endeared. I have been told “lies” by women to spare my feelings over the decades like “If wasn’t dating so n’ so, I would so totally date you” type of lies; and yes, when they become single; that “single” line they told me fades and they don’t ever remember saying it. You see the world around you just “turn it on” and get dates. You see the girl you have been honest friends with for months; suddenly calls you and tells you that “She can’t hang out with you anymore because she met this really, really, really awesome guy.” A week before she told you that she’s taking time for herself, and she’s not into anyone.
It smacks of hurt. Bad. Women don’t understand, many of them think we have no feelings anyway, or are somehow are immune to pangs of emotional hurt. Your guy friends tell you it’s “no big deal, happens to everybody” but then they themselves would never want to endure what you have been up against, and they have this “code” of every-man for himself when it comes to this (dating, helping their single friends out). Their advice is “beer and fart” jokes, and then they shame you when you show serious hurt, and think you are somehow less of a man. I know.
I will also add that I was not a Christian until a few years ago (almost four). Most of my life I walked with the world. At times, even being in Christ right now, I think this is even harder to deal with being single. I am also in my early forties. I am “The Above Forty-Year-Old-Virgin” and no, I am not some dweeb, loser, and I don’t think “Star Trek” is real. I have excellent style. I am educated, well traveled……and I am really, really tall! (supposedly something women like, still waiting on THAT 😉 )
For years I blamed ALL of my problems on the fact that I was “single”. My cocaine problem? It’s because I was single. My slow increase in drinking during the 1990’s? It was because I was single. My “hurt” well, it was because I was single. My sin of the heart, of lust, of jealousy? Of anger? Of greed? It was because I was single. True statements yes. These were TRUE statements. I was hurt. I was angry, I was depressed about it…..I still get days when it still “smacks” me hard, and I don’t think it’s fair. I honestly don’t.
I can say I have never regretted changing my life, and following Jesus. I have never regretted getting cleaned-up off drugs. I have never regretted that I do have REAL friends now…..before only surface friends; the kind when the cocaine or cash flow runs low, so do their phone calls, and the beer n’ fart jokes ensure. I have not regretted asking for forgiveness for my past. I have not regretted of the many new things I learned about myself when I finally learned to “dump” a girlfriend, a wife, a date off my plate so I could focus on staying clean. Learning new things and finding new interests; and I have found many! I have not regretted fixing my relationship with my parents, and with my mother before she died!
I have not regretted the time I took to start enjoying myself for myself, and not just trying to find “soulmate” 24 hrs a day.
Yes, Truth…it hurts. I do agree with Justin here that the church is probably not doing the best job when it comes to singles in their flocks. I KNOW you are angry, but instead of shaming you with silly lines like “Well, that’s why you are single, because you are so angry.”
I won’t. I will tell you I love you. I understand. I care. I know. You’re starved for some interest or affection. So am I. You hurt by what’s around you. Me too. You’re at the point of “what else am I supposed to do”
Pray. Cry. Comfort yourself with these realities. Even the “lucky” ones hurt. Even the “blessed in the looks department” have problems. Pray for Christ to just help you get a good nights sleep. Thank Him for ONE thing. It can be for anything….the sky being blue……keep it personal.
Truth, I don’t know you. You could live next door to me, I don’t know. I do understand. I do care. I HAVE had that rage and such frustration. You’re better than this, and so am I. I am willing to chat more sometime, or pray with you.
I don’t know if anything I said will help you, but Jesus knows. Read Matthew 6 about praying, deeds in the sight of men, and asking your Father in heaven about what you need, and how our solitude can begin to help us walk towards an answer.
you really can’t blame me for making a comment like that, and i am sure you do agree with me. and i do for some reason that i just can’t never understand why i meet so many very nasty women today, and women were so much easier to meet years ago. i was married at one time myself before she cheated on me, and i was a very caring and loving husband that was very much committed to her as well. i guess my age has something to do with it, now that i am 58 years old. but age should not matter anyway since i am looking for a good woman more my age. women have certainly changed for the worse today, and years ago they were totally different than now. my aunt and uncle just celebrated their 65th year together, and i was very happy to be there. they met in Junior High School which it was certainly meant to be for them. straight men like us are obviously looking for a good straight woman to share a life with like i have just mentioned with my last comment, and that certainly makes sense to me. but now i will just go out and hope for the best, and thank you very much for your support. I wish you good luck as well, Peace.
Thank you for this blog, I am one of the over 40 category too. It is worse when all your relatives and family friends are asking you the same annoying questions, give tones of unsolicited advice. Or…when all your best friends hook up, except you. Then they say you picky! Or women (I am glad someone brought that up), saying just focus more on God and all those thoughts will just go away on their own…because after all you are married to God and don’t need to marry a woman. Or those pastors get angry and judge you…how dare you be angry and frustrated with singleness…no girl likes that.
Why in the world would many of us want to be single in the first place when all your friends and family members were very fortunate finding love with one another? Absolutely Not. And you should Not bring God into this situation at all which God has really punished many of us with Singleness, especially since many of us good men by now should’ve been married with a good wife and family by now since we really are Not to blame here. Now we have so many women today that are very high maintenance, independent, selfish, spoiled, greedy, and very money hungry, which really adds to our problem today too.
To David, i will agree with you 100 percent since the women of today really have a lot to do with it since they’re very much to blame since it does take two too tango. It is the women of today that have really changed for the worst of all since they’re nothing at all like the women in the past were that were so much different which most of them were the very complete opposite of what these women are now since many of us very good men aren’t single by choice at all.
David, Great comment. You nailed it.
I can certainly Blame the women of today why so many of us Good men are still Single now when we really Shouldn’t be at all since the women of today have certainly Changed for the worst of all unfortunately. Most women nowadays want the Best of all and will Never settle for Less since they’re very Greedy And Selfish since it is always about Money for them.
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Well many of us good innocent single men can certainly blame Feminism why so many of us are still single today as i speak.
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There is a devil. Sometimes God lets him work mischief for His greater good.
Read the Book of Job.
Rachel, unfortunately most women nowadays are like the devil since they really have no manners and personality at all when it comes to many of us single men very seriously looking for love.
Sorry you are lonely Jay. Many of us are. I don’t doubt women have treated you badly.
I can’t argue that women are no holier than men. Female as well as male are marred images, None of us reflect His glory as we were made to.
Well now that so many women today have their very high unrealistic expectations and standards which will certainly make it much more difficult for many of us single good men really trying to find love now.
May regret this. I’m a 47 year old Christian childless single woman.
If any age appropriate eligible Christian man is interested and willing to take a risk again he can contact me at Lulivingnichols@gmail.com
I don’t care if you’re short or awkward. Or–given the current economy–unemployed. If you’re into long distance and correspondence I may be right for you.