Originally published in Issue #13 on June 25, 2021
Many American churches promote marriage as the best, and often sole, answer to the sexual temptation single men and women face.
This has several problems. First, it is not true that marriage will fix a heart full of lust. Paul tells us that those who are struggling with sexual temptation should get married (1 Corinthians 7:9). And while it is true that sexual desire is easier to manage when you can have licit sex, it cannot fix the heart. If we are shuttling our young men and women into marriage to “fix” their sexual temptation and ignoring building them into disciples and the kind of people who can build a marriage with another flawed human being, the result will not be happily married people. The result will be unhappy people and broken marriages.
Second, this tends to promote marriage as the fulfilled life, and singleness as a secondary option to be “fixed” as quickly as possible. But this focus on singleness as something to be “fixed” has resulted in an inability to disciple our same-sex attracted Christian neighbor.
It is this over-emphasis on marriage that has led to the inability of the church to reach the culture. Scripture has a different emphasis on the single life (1 Corinthians 7:8, Matthew 19:12). The church must place a proper emphasis on discipling singles, even those who may remain that way for life. We do that by being the family of God; we have to be the family for those who have no natural family, and even for those who do (Matthew 12:50)!
If we make marriage the goal and focus of singleness, we lose years of productive kingdom work from young men and women. Single people have so much more time and energy to devote to kingdom work than married people do (1 Corinthians 7:32). The time of singleness is the time for our young men and women to pursue extra schooling in Christian ministry, short, medium, or long-term missionary work, evangelism, cooking for and visiting the sick and elderly, and much more.