Relationship status? Single.
That’s true of most of you. That’s not necessarily big news. Singleness isn’t a curse or a season to be “endured.” It’s not a disease or something to seek out a cure for. But I’ve been paying attention, and I’ve noticed that more of you are single than ever before and that you’re staying single longer.
I’m not the only one who’s noticed.
Psychologists say that Americans now spend more years of their adult lives unmarried than married.
Christian researchers point out that the percentage of single people has increased from just over one-quarter to three in ten.
Secular researchers have noticed that our overall attitudes toward marriage have shifted. The idea of never getting married just doesn’t seem to bother us anymore.
I know the readers of this blog. I study you closer than psychologists and researchers watch graphs and trends. I know that for the most part you want to be married, yet I’ve met many of you who are single much longer than you thought you’d be. Perhaps you’re in your twenties, your thirties, or beyond, and you’re not married, engaged, or even dating.
I’m sure the reasons for this trend are vast and varied. But I have a theory . . . it’s my fault. I know that’s a bit melodramatic. After all, I’m just one woman running one blog. It’s true I don’t have the power to determine the relationship status of an entire generation. But I do think I’ve played a role. There are many of us who work to influence young women with our words, and somewhere along the way we started sending you signals about romance that aren’t helpful. I want to do what I can to untie that knot. Here are four lies we’ve told you about romance.
1. Some day your prince will come.
It’s not the main message, but a lot of times when we talk about marriage and singleness, there’s an undercurrent, a footnote of thought that implies, “If you wait well, God will send your dream guy your way and he will be worth the wait.”
But singleness is not a test. The apostle Paul called it a gift, just like marriage is a gift (1 Cor. 7:7). Your single years are not the Hunger Games, a series of battles to be endured until you finally find yourself at the altar. The truth is not that some day your prince will come. The truth is your Prince has already come.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6, emphasis added).
Jesus is the best portion we will ever receive. He is the dream come true we need most. When we put our hope in anything other than Him, even if it’s waiting for the gifts He loves to “lavish” on us, that hope is misplaced.
Speaking of waiting, here’s a doozy of a lie . . .
2. Singleness is the only waiting room you’ll ever be in.
We’ve written a lot about singleness here on the blog. I see a lot about singleness on other blogs, and in magazine articles, and on Instagram posts. That’s good. If you’re single, I want you to be encouraged, but I don’t want to trick you into thinking that once you get married, you’re done with waiting. You may:
- Wait to get the job you want.
- Wait to have enough money to buy a house or car.
- Wait to get pregnant.
- Wait to get a diagnosis.
- Wait to be healed.
- Wait to fit in.
- Wait to get a promotion.
- Wait to retire.
That list could go on, and on, and on.
Our lives are a series of waiting rooms, but we’re not really waiting for our circumstances to change. We’re not waiting for a wedding day, but for this day:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:1–4).
Getting married won’t make that anxious waiting feeling go away; neither will having a baby nor landing your dream job. Your deepest longings can never be met by relationships or achievements. That restlessness will remain until you are face to face with Jesus.
3. Virginity and purity are interchangeable.
God’s Word is clear that sex is to be saved for marriage. Through ministering to girls, I’ve had a close-up view of the carnage that happens in our hearts when we violate God’s best for us in this area, but virginity is not the ultimate goal—purity is.
Purity isn’t a gold band around your finger; it’s a commitment to be holy because God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). Virginity is one teeny-tiny piece of that puzzle. Virginity is a behavior choice; purity is a heart choice. Yes, God calls us to keep the marriage bed pure (Heb. 13:4), but He also says:
- To keep our prayer lives pure (Job 16:17).
- To keep our hearts pure (Ps. 24:4).
- To keep our conduct pure (Prov. 21:8).
- To keep our speech pure (Zeph. 3:9).
- To have pure devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).
- To practice pure faith (James 1:27).
- To offer pure love to others (1 Peter 1:22).
Just like marriage is not a finish line to be crossed, neither is purity. If you think it is, you may take pride in your status as a virgin or struggle to embrace healthy sexuality if you do marry. We need to broaden the conversation here. No matter what your relationship status is, God has called you to a pure devotion toward Him that purifies every pocket of your life.
I don’t want you to focus on the “don’ts” of virginity. That’s not the goal. Purity is a by-product of focusing on God and wanting what He wants for our lives. We don’t stick to His guidelines for sexuality to convince God to love us but because we are gobsmacked with gratitude that He already does.
4. Wait for Mr. Perfect.
I call this “The Jesus Standard.” I’ve written a whole post about it here. Here’s a section:
For years, those of us who seek to speak truth into the lives of young women have been pushing you to wait for the guy that God has designed for you. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you read this blog very often, you know that surrendering your love life to God’s standards is a drum I beat often. But I fear we may have swung the pendulum a little too far. I worry we may have pushed you to wait for a fella who isn’t coming.
The bottom line is, there is no perfect man. There is no guy who is able to “complete you” or meet all of your needs. What’s more, none of us have serving Jesus all figured out. We’re all still sinners, working to be more like Him, but bound to struggle some along the way. If you’re waiting for a guy who is without sin, communicates perfectly, and has his faith all figured out, it’s going to be a long wait.
Why does it matter if young women have their sights set on flawlessness? I think this issue has the potential to grow into something bigger once you say, “I do.” Specifically, I don’t want you to hold your husbands up to a standard they can never reach.
Your decision about who to marry will have a major impact on the trajectory of your life. Wait for someone who loves Jesus. But on his best day, your boyfriend/fiancé/husband will be a sinner in desperate need of God’s grace just like you.
Trends will come and go. Your relationship status may change (or not), but I want to hold up a megaphone to this truth:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:16–18).
What about you? Are you still single? Do you recognize any of these lies in your own heart? Are there other lies we tell single women? Tell me about it in a comment below.