Welp, it’s Valentine’s Day, and for the 23rd consecutive year, I’m single.
I’m gonna be 23 this August and I’ve never so much as gone on a date. The last time a girl even hinted that she liked me was in 1st grade. I struggled all throughout middle school, high school, and even some of college with insecurities and thinking that I was undateable. It wasn’t until late in my sophomore year of college that I finally began giving those insecurities to God and quit worrying about what everyone around me thought, because there was a good chance that none of them cared, anyway.
While I was going through all of that, I witnessed friends and close family members get into (and sometimes out of) relationships almost weekly (or at least it felt like that). Looking around at my friends, it felt like I was the only single person, which was ridiculous because plenty of my friends were single, I just refused to acknowledge and believe that. It was hard enough to witness so many relationships, engagements, and even a few marriages while I struggled with self-esteem. Now that I’ve surrendered it to God, it’s gotten somewhat easier to see my friends and family go through so much happiness, but it’s still not very much fun.
It’s never easy being single on Valentine’s Day, especially when many of your family and/or friends are in relationships, engaged, or married. It’s even harder if you’re a Christian while all of that is going on. Christianity can be cruel to single people, albeit unintentionally. I can’t count how many times well-meaning Christian people have asked me, “When are you going to meet a nice girl?” Believe me, nothing would make me happier then to do just that, but Christendom has put so much pressure on young, single people like me to find someone and find someone now.
I’m so fed up of all this pressure. It’s hard enough to stay pure, try to wade through the sea of “fish” (as the saying implies), narrow it down to a few potential candidates that match yours and God’s criteria, and pick the right one. That’s a daunting undertaking. However, apparently taking the necessary time to not just find the right one, but the one God has chosen for you isn’t quick enough for some in Christendom. To some, not being married by the time you’ve graduated college means that there’s something wrong with you. You’re either impure, walking away from the faith, or there’s something wrong with you personally, physically, emotionally, or all of the above. They treat us single people like we have a disease.
It’s getting to the point that I at times feel guilty that I haven’t found someone yet. The church preaches endlessly on the importance of family, and here I am sitting on my hands doing nothing to oblige the seemingly thousands of people that are expecting me to do my part repopulating the church (through marriage, of course). I’m fed up with it. If the church is making me and many others like me feel this way, it’s time for those in the church to take a step back and reevaluate what and how they’re teaching. At the risk of sounding blasphemous or, even worse, liberal, I believe the church needs to put less of an emphasis on family.
Now, I’m not by any means saying that the church should stop believing or preaching the importance of family. Quite the contrary, I think they should continue doing just that. But I think that when it comes to preaching about family to younger people, especially high school and college students, they should be careful as to how much emphasis they put on marriage and family. At times, it feels as though those in the church don’t believe that it’s healthy to be single. That is absolutely not true. And I honestly believe that there are those in the church that believe God has called all Christians to be married and have families. That is also not true. God never promises you a wife (or husband, if you’re a woman), 3 kids, a high paying job, and a nice house in the suburbs with a white picket fence when you choose to follow Him. Quite the contrary, He promises that we’ll be persecuted for His Name’s sake. Marriage and family are a blessing, not a requirement for life as a Christian, and should be treated as such in the church.
In regards to singleness being unhealthy, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul goes so far as to not only imply that being single is healthy, but he makes a case for staying single:
“An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided…” (1 Corinthians 7:32b – 34a, NLT).
As Paul shows in these and other verses in chapter seven, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being single. In fact, we single people should take advantage of it right now!
So to all of my fellow single people on this Valentine’s Day, I just want to let y’all know it’s ok to be single. If you want to be married, wonderful! Keep praying that God will bring the right person to you in His perfect timing. Pray blessings over that person, even though you’ve never met them before. If you don’t feel like you’re supposed to get married or are holding off on that for a later time, fantastic! Take advantage of your free time. Do things that you’ve always wanted to do. Travel, take risks, have fun. And, most importantly, use your free time to further study God and His Word. Grow in your walk with Him. And to those who work in the church, don’t look down on us single people. We can’t just walk out the doors after service and magically make our soul mate appear. Acknowledge and sympathize with us about how difficult it can be to be single and don’t look down on us. To those are married, but don’t work in the church, do the same. Don’t ask a single person, “So when are you going to meet someone?” For the sake of your health, don’t do it. Ever.
And finally, I want to wish a happy Valentine’s Day to everyone who is in a relationship, engaged, or married! Enjoy your time with your special person! And to those of us who aren’t celebrating, just remember that being single is ok. And that spending Valentine’s Day in sweats watching TV and eating candy is a pretty fantastic way to spend a Saturday!