Our last article, “Why Am I Not Married?!?” has brought in our most diverse range of feedback yet. We’ve received some of the most grateful, convicted, excited letters ever (with the strongest support and thanks coming from young men, interestingly, though we didn’t write it for them). We’ve also had a couple of angry or tearful reactions. Mostly, though, we’ve been sent a wide range of questions, from how to become more eligible, practically, to how to deal with unrequited love, to how to react, emotionally, to the engagements and marriages of friends, while we remain unmarried. We hope to address each of these on Visionary Daughters soon. Today, however, we would like to answer this one.
Are you saying that if I’m not married yet, it’s my fault?
This is called a loaded question. There is much more to this question than the question on the surface, which would be impossible to answer accurately on its face. (Where would you start? “Yes, No, Maybe, It Depends, All of the Above…”)
To unload this question and answer it properly, we need to see that there are five faulty presuppositions behind it.
1. We can “earn” or deserve marriage by our own good deeds. — (Wrong)
God’s plan for our lives began before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and cannot be thwarted or altered by us. God is not a cosmic vending machine to be manipulated by our good deed coins. We pointed out in our article that there is a correlation between God’s sovereignty and our duty to action; “good deeds” are always our duty, and we should be striving to be worthy of marriage; but at the end of the day, He may still have other plans for us.
2. Marriage is a reward, singleness is a punishment. — (Wrong)
This is a warped view of both marriage and singleness. Marriage is an instrument God uses for His glory — but so is singleness, whether for a season or for a lifetime (1 Corinthians 7). We believe Scripture teaches that marriage is the normative calling for most believers, and that God created marriage to be a beautiful picture of Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:23-32); a means of creating a godly seed (Malachi 2:15); and a more effective tool for dominion, forging the strengths of two people into a more powerful weapon for His glory (Genesis 2:18).
Marriage is a glorious opportunity, and we believe girls should be working towards marriage as much as is in their power. However, we should be motivated chiefly by one reason. Our interest in marriage should be a hope that we can serve God more effectively married than single. But God is the One who will decide that — if God still has us unmarried, obviously He has determined otherwise, at least for a season.
This means we can be encouraged in our singleness. The single state is not a penalty box, and we are not second-class citizens, and God is not dooming us to a purgatory of ineffectual puttering. He wants us, and has big plans for us, right where we are. We can be used mightily, right now. Our fruit can be significant, today.
On the other hand, if our days now are introspectively focused on our own personal issues and needs and interests, what makes us think we will suddenly become outward-focused and kingdom-focused when we marry?
3. We can reach a level of eligible perfection. — (Wrong)
To ask, in effect, “Are you saying there’s something wrong with me?” presupposes that we could get to a point where there isn’t anything wrong with us. We’ll never reach a point where we’re “fine just the way we are.” That said, a girl can certainly “buffet her body” (and mind, and heart, and character) to a point of being ready for marriage. She just shouldn’t stop there.
We’ve been privileged to know many exemplary young women who were ready for marriage in every way anyone could see, but yet remained unmarried until their late twenties or early thirties. (God’s ways are not our ways… see point 1.) Though each of these girls was already very eligible, none of them waited out her remaining term of singleness in impatience, or stagnation, or bitterness. None of them thought, “I can’t think of any ways to improve on myself, so I must be one of those girls who’s ready already. I’ll just sit here and fold my hands until I get what’s coming to me.” Each one continued to grow, blossom, and bear fruit. Each one remained humble about where she was, and about how much further she could go. They inspired everyone around them, and were a wonderful testimony to the community — to see the humility and growth of these stellar young women, and to see how seriously they took the opportunity of the single season. To the watching outside world, unfamiliar with the picture of an adult daughter serving her family, they were radiant lights and powerful ambassadors of biblical femininity (and God may have partly extended that season for this very reason).
4. Our own eligibility is the sole issue, regardless of the young man’s state. — (Wrong)
One of the big mistakes we often make is to look only at our side of the picture, forgetting that there is another person involved with his own set of situations and issues. A God-ordained marriage involves the preparation of two people, not just one. Remember the girls we mentioned who had been extremely ready and eligible for years before the Lord brought them their husbands? In each case, the Lord was also bringing the young man along on a journey. In one case, the young lady was 31 when her 23-year-old suitor came onto the scene — she laughs to think that, when she became “ready,” he would have been only ten.
In every story, once He brought the pieces together, everyone could see why it was His plan for her to remain unmarried for so long — as they say, hindsight is 20/20. We would be a lot happier in the interim if we would recognize His sovereignty before we see His plan revealed, not just after. And let’s remember that we’re not the only person in this.
5. Something is somebody’s fault. — (Well, that depends…)
This is always likely, in a fallen world — but not necessarily the case in your situation. Sometimes there are other factors involved in God’s timing. See points 1 through 4.
We can reasonably expect everyone involved to have failings — the fathers, mothers, young men, pastors, leaders, etc. — but it’s simply not our place as young women to make them shape up. When we step outside our feminine jurisdiction by trying to tell the men how to do their job, we make the problem worse. Helpful hint: henpecking and scolding men doesn’t help them grow up (and, interestingly, doesn’t make them want to marry us either). In these articles, we’re focusing on our faults as young ladies because they’re the only ones we can fix. They’re also the only ones we authors, as fellow young women, have the authority to address. Sorry, girls, but on Visionary Daughters… everything is your fault. :-)