In the Church, it seems we have a hard time finding the balance of talking about marriage.
Often, we elevate marriage to be the utmost goal of a young person’s life, making it almost into an idol. And when this happens, there tends to be a backlash, a group pointing out that marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
And, to top it all off, with divorce rates at an all-time high, the broader culture is skeptical of marriage, and this can influence our thinking in the Church. Is marriage really worth it? Is it better to just stay single?
There are definitely good reasons to be single. I don’t want this article to join the annoying chorus of voices who claim singleness is always a lesser existence, because it’s not (see Christ, Jesus). Likewise, I don’t want to convey that marriage is the end-all of existence, because it’s not (again, see Christ, Jesus).
With this in mind, there are still definitely some bad reasons to avoid marriage and/or be skeptical of the institution itself. Here are a few.
1. Bad Examples of Marriage
“My parents’ marriage was a disaster. They stayed together but they weren’t happy at all. And I’m afraid I’ll inherit their bad habits. I don’t want to put my future spouse in the same position my parents were in. All I’ve seen is bad examples and I don’t want that to become me. So I’d rather stay single than get hurt or hurt someone else.”
I personally know people who came from horrible home situations and who are now in Godly, committed marriages. And they’re great spouses, too. They weren’t cursed to take on the bad examples of marriage they experienced.
God can always bring healing and wisdom (James 1:5), so don’t put limits on what He can do to make you a good husband or wife. If He can hold the universe together (Colossians 1:17), He can make you a good spouse. Go to Him before you go to your history.
2. Fear of Responsibility
“My friends tell me I need to grow up, that I’ve been living the same lifestyle since 21, but you know, when I’m ready to settle down and start a family, I will. Marriage is a massive commitment. I’m not trying to rush into it.”
“These are your twenties! Being a housewife, changing diapers and doing my husband’s laundry isn’t exactly how I envision spending the prime of my life. Marriage is the end of youth. I’ll get to it when I feel like I’m ready.”
The Toys-R-Us theme resonates in the hearts of many twentysomething guys and girls: “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a [insert teenage pastime] kid…” So many don’t want to get married simply because they don’t want to let go of their perpetual teenage dreams and accept the responsibilities of marriage. They literally want to extend their adolescence of minimal responsibilities and maximum fun as long as they possibly can. If only they knew how much joy comes with the responsibilities.
3. Instability with Career/Finances
“I’m afraid to get serious about relationships because I’m not in a place with my career and my education where I feel comfortable getting married.”
One of the strangest myths about marriage is that you have to be completely financially stable and/or set in your career and/or education in order to get married. It’s simply not true.
If the requirements for getting married are being debt-free, making at least $45,000 a year, being completely done with your education, having a job with full benefits and a 401(k) and being a homeowner, virtually none of us could get married during the prime of our lives. Let’s be honest: how many of us are fully established in our careers before our late twenties anyway?
The truth is, you don’t have to have your career totally put together to get married. You can humble yourself to live a lower-income lifestyle than you might like (at least to start with) and still be happily married.
Marriage can provide unique structure and support as a husband/wife develops toward a career. Besides, if both of you are working at the beginning of your marriage, your financial situation will usually be better than if you were single. For most people who are gainfully employed and able to at least support themselves, there’s typically no reason they couldn’t get married with good planning.
“He’s a decent guy and his life’s going in a good direction. And I’m pretty sure he’s interested in me, but I really think I can do better. I mean, I’m not trying to be arrogant or anything, but I feel like I deserve something good, you know?”
“Honestly, she would probably be a good wife, but she just isn’t as attractive as I’m looking for. I wouldn’t be proud to show her off to my buddies. I want to make sure I’m not dating down.”
Ah, pride. The five-letter word that drips with more evil than any four-letter one ever could. It’s a deep self focus that filters every decision in life through the gate of personal taste, convenience, comfort and pleasure, marriage being no exception. It’s what turns high standards centered on glorifying God into unrealistic standards centered on glorifying self. It assumes that marriage’s primary purpose is personal happiness, and it keeps people single and disillusioned when their Holy Hollywood romance never shows up.
5. Sexual Addictions
“Honestly, I’m just so caught up in porn that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get married.”
A lot of guys and girls would rather enjoy the fleeting sexual pleasures of pornography, erotic literature/movies and masturbation than take on the responsibility of sharing a lifetime of sexual intimacy with a spouse. In the back of their minds they really do want to get married, but they decide it’s not worth the lifestyle changes and responsibility they’d have to undertake.
The fundamental issue with sexual addictions is selfishness: We want sexual pleasure for ourselves without the responsibility of sharing our lives with another person. Marriage is where God designed the expression and consummation of sexual desire to occur, and so we should associate sexual pleasure only with marital intimacy. But our culture leads us to do the exact opposite. So, we stay single and make our sexual desires all about us instead of rising to the occasion, becoming married and serving our spouses and the Lord with our sexuality.