I am single. Therefore people often have lots of advice for me and sometimes it’s helpful but the majority of the time it’s not. People are quick to make assumptions and presume things and then feel the need to interject a solution or inquire where no inquiry is needed. It’s not just married people who do this, it is single people too.
We treat singleness as if it’s this horrible haircut that no body wants but somehow your hairstylist continues to give you the wrong cut over and over again – and everyone sees it and knows it. You’re single and it needs to be fixed.
I know this is where I’m supposed to write about how your (my) singleness is a gift blah blah blah…well not today. Is singleness a gift? Yes. Is marriage a gift? Yes. Our culture and ways of doing things has changed drastically over the past 40 years. There’s no longer a clear passage into adulthood. Marriage use to be that right of passage into adulthood but now people (both men and women) are getting married much later in life if they even get married, pursuing multiple degrees, and establishing their careers. Women are freezing their eggs so they can have children when they so please. We can even look better and younger longer.
It’s clear no one wants to grow up from a worldly standpoint. Look at how vain we are and the expenses we go to beat the clock of time. From the plastic surgery industry to the make-up industry we no longer have to age physically we can just purchase our youth.
How should we respond to this culture shift that will only continue to happen around us?
We need to stop teaching people that our highest calling is marriage. The role of a woman being a wife and mother are valuable roles that the Lord has called many women to. But it’s not their highest or only calling.
During the Sixteenth Century the reformers emphasized that a woman’s role was in the home in order to support men. Arthur Glasser wrote that, “The reformers also subjected women to the confining perspective that their only recognized vocation was marriage. With the dissolution of the convent, women lost their last chance of churchly service outside the narrow circle of a husband, home and children.”
With women’s ministries becoming a rarity for many large, evangelical churches, it has opened the doors for me to have a lot of conversations with women from various denominations who desire to serve and know the Lord more. This is a right craving for women to have; God created us to know him, to be in relationship with him. When we limit women by saying that they were created only to be a wife and mother or teaching from the pulpit as if this is it, God is robbed of His glory when pointed inward to their family and self, not God-ward.
Your highest calling as a woman is made clear in scripture in Matthew 22. Jesus is questioned by a lawyer who was a Pharisee. In the lawyers attempt to test Jesus, he asked him what the greatest commandment was to which Jesus replied (verses 37-39) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.
We are mistaken and fooled if we live, teach and pass on to the next generation of women that all they are living for is to be a great wife and mother one day. When we do ministry with this goal of wife and motherhood as the finish line of life, we aren’t preparing women for eternity. We are instead preparing them for a season of life that not all women may have. You are limiting the Lord’s work if this is your focus in your women’s ministry and at the same time crippling the single women in your churches.
When we live as if our calling for all women is to be a wife and mother, we act as if those who are wives and mothers are the truly blessed ones. Others are just second rate citizens. A woman who is married with children is no more holy, blessed, sanctified or loved than a woman who is in her 80’s who has never been married and never birthed a child. There’s no hierarchy or room for arrogance in the body of Christ.
What does this mean for us as women?
It simply means that your highest calling is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor better than yourself. We don’t need to add anything to this or take anything away. Women, this is your calling. I don’t have the solution to our culture changes or the shifts of the age of when people get married. I don’t know why I am single. I don't know why you're single. But I do know that I long far more for Christ’s return than I long to leave my state of singleness. Our world is broken and there is far more terrible things going on in this world than my lack of a husband. Come Lord Jesus.