Sermons on marriage abound, but finding sermons on singleness requires a treasure hunt. Messages on biblical manhood and womanhood often give applications in the context of and preparation for marriage yet neglect the daily realities of striving toward Christlikeness as a single. Marriage is implied as a “when,” not an “if.” Not understanding why they are not married and hoping to help them down the aisle, well-meaning church members quickly bring a single person’s attention to the new guy or girl who walks in the door and asks if they find them attractive. But guess what? Nowhere in Scripture does God promise marriage to every believer. He promised the Marriage Supper of the Lamb when Christ will gather His bride, the church, to Himself (Rev. 19:7-10).
Single believers are caught in the middle of a game of tug of war.
On one side, Team Culture pulls and yells, “Forget marriage, at least for a little while! You do not need a spouse; go pursue your dreams and be your best self!”
The opposing Team Church yanks back, “No, getting married should be your #1 priority! Come visit the meat market…I mean the singles ministry and check out all the available options!”
Who wants to volunteer to be the flag on that rope?
Unfortunately, many single believers experience these constant pressures from the voices talking in their ears every day. In the last year, I realized that I myself have been stuck on the rope as a ministry project allowed me to study, research, and challenge my own thinking on singleness and marriage. So, what exactly is each side saying?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of unmarried Americans has steadily increased since the 1950s (source). A 2022 Pew Research Center study revealed that 30% of U.S. adults are not married, living with a partner, or in a committed relationship (source). In addition, 34% of women and 63% of men in the young adult population are single.
Why these continually growing percentages? Here’s two significant contributing factors:
The culture tells singles they do not need marriage. Instead, culture contends that it provides plenty of easy ways for singles to fulfill their “needs.” Living with a partner has become a socially acceptable norm. Sexual interactions can happen with any individual at any time no matter how long people have known each other. A quick Internet search opens a world of porn and graphic movies to fulfill sexual fantasies from home. A single can have “fun” without commitment.
The culture tells them they as an individual are enough. A single does not need anyone else, but is self-sufficient.. They need to value and love themselves unconditionally. Singles have the freedom to do whatever they want with their lives and should take advantage of it. What they think matters and deserves a platform. It is all about image and climbing the ladder of success and popularity.
Girls, especially, are being fed these messages right now. Last winter, Miley Cyrus’ record-breaking song “Flowers” played three times in one Spotify ad break, telling girls they could love themselves better than a guy ever could. Since it’s not 1937, the upcoming Disney live-action Snow White won’t feature a girl saved by the prince, but instead “dreaming of the leader she knows she can be…if she’s fearless, brave, and true” (source).