When singing, “I surrender all”, do we really mean, “I surrender all except my right to get married”? When we read, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life”, do we actually mean, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may get married”? When we read “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” is our desire to get married the first desire we think of rather than our desire for God Himself? If we were in a good Bible believing church where we were growing, serving and needed but there were no single Christian men there, would we consider leaving to go to a bigger church with more singles? Does the idea of never getting married cripple us with fear? Would we rather marry a halfhearted Christian, a Christian with serious character weaknesses or a non-believer than remain single? Do we experience a lack of joy when we hear a sister in Christ has got engaged and instead feel envious or jealous? If we were to never get married would we feel bitter towards God?
Many unmarried women will have answered “yes” to some of the above questions. If that’s us, we must consider the very real possibility that marriage has become an idol. Instead of simply wanting to get married and seeing marriage as something beautiful and good (See Ephesians 5), we have come to passionately desire marriage more than we desire God Himself.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)
What are the effects of idolizing marriage? Firstly and most importantly we dishonor God. In addition, we can end up:
- Feeling discontent, dissatisfied and resentful for life if we never get married (and not every woman will).
- Abandoning or not even considering smaller churches without many singles that really need us and thus hinder their ministry.
- Dating out of desperation and hurting others and ourselves in the process.
- Scaring genuine, godly men away due to our desperation.
- Marrying someone whom the Bible warns us against and having to live with the consequences for the rest of our lives.
- Majorly holding back our Christian growth and fruitfulness.
The idolatry of marriage, as with all idolatry, must be put to death (Colossians 3:5). Idolatry is a nasty weed that strangles and damages our relationship with God and our lives.
Below are four reminders from scripture for us Christian women who struggle with idolizing marriage:
1. The Christian life is a life of self-denial and sacrifice
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
Yes, if we don’t get married we might suffer (and we may be suffering loneliness now as a single person) but the Christian life is a life of denial, suffering and sacrifice. Part of becoming Jesus’ disciple is to say “I daily deny my hopes, my dreams and embrace suffering for You my King who suffered and denied Himself to save me”. Have you ever been part of an activity, perhaps at a camp, where you write your sins on a piece of paper and throw them into a fire to signify how Jesus has died for them and saved you? Well, a friend of mine did a similar activity but instead he got his children to write down their hopes and dreams and throw them into the fire to signify how in following Jesus we are giving up our rights to everything. If we believe we have a right to get married we need to repent and surrender that right to God. Doing this does not mean we won’t get married, but it will help free us to joyfully live for Christ in the state we are currently in.
2. Through God’s help, we can have peace, joy and learn contentment in all circumstances.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:6-7,11-13)
Some of us have come to overly desire and idolize marriage due to fear of remaining unmarried. If we are saved and never get married, we don’t need to worry about a certain future of anxiety and discontentment. By bringing everything to God in prayer, supplication (request) and thanksgiving we can have the peace of God guard our hearts and minds and can achieve this contentment through Him who strengthens us! If you personally suffer great anxiety about never getting married, I encourage you now to bring that anxiety to God, thank Him for all the immense blessings in your life and trust Him to give you that peace that surpasses all understanding! If you can start experiencing that supernatural contentment now, you will feel a lot less scared about your future, whatever it holds!
3. There are wonderful privileges of being unmarried
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:32-34)
Some Christian women idolize marriage because they don’t understand or have never experienced the wonderful blessings and freedoms of being unmarried! There are unmarried Christians who are out on the streets evangelising late into the evening many times a week! There are others who have left their countries and are serving in places where it would be very difficult to raise a family. Some unmarried Christians give double the time that than any married person could offer their churches to do the mundane but very necessary tasks that have helped ministries thrive that would have otherwise died. Others get to spend hours every evening in prayer for the needs of their church and worship of God. We have the best models of single service in Jesus and Paul! Through seeing the unique opportunities to serve that singleness brings and taking them, we can better appreciate the privileges of being unmarried and let go of any desperate need to get married. This does not mean we have to give up our desire for marriage altogether as it is a good desire, but rather better enjoy and take advantage of the state we are in for the Lord’s work.
4. Seek God first
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
We are called to seek God’s kingdom first. As we put Him first, any idols naturally will be moved to second place! We will increasingly fall in love with Him and find our desire for companionship, comfort, intimacy and love more and more met without the need of getting married. Also, if we then do end up getting married, we will be offering our husband a far more godly and whole wife who can be a much better help to him! [Rowina Seidler]