My favorite marriage proposal was the one I received about two minutes after talking to a market seller about her wares. I stopped to look at the clothing she was selling and started chatting with her. After mere seconds, she sized me up and decided that since I was tall (here, five-foot-seven is considered tall, and I am as tall or taller than most men), educated, and had blue eyes, I was just the type of girl her son would be interested in marrying. Since he was not there to ask, she just went ahead and asked me for him.
Receiving weekly and monthly marriage proposals from ladies on behalf of their sons, brothers, and nephews is not at all uncommon here. Currently, one lady of my acquaintance is convinced that I am missing out on life by not marrying her nephew who works at the local tea factory.
When people ask me about marriage, they are shocked by my reply, “I am not interested in getting married.” Actually, people are so shocked and I get lectured so much by both believers and nonbelievers about how I should marry or be open to marriage, that now I have started saying I will get married later in life, perhaps at forty or fifty years of age or so. That response still shocks them, but at least I do not get lectured about why I am so wrong to not consider marriage.
I understand the unbelieving world not understanding me wanting to be single, but the believing world can tend to be just as unsupportive. It is almost as if believers have chosen to simply skip over Paul’s thoughts on the whole subject of singleness. First Corinthians 6:12 says, All things are lawful for me but all things are not helpful. I will not be brought under the power of any. Have we let the world’s idea that all people should marry bring us into bondage? It is my opinion that we as the body of Christ have done so.
Paul says in I Corinthians 7:7-8, I wish that all men were even as I myself. I say this to the unmarried and to the widows: it is good for them if they remain even as I am, but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. How many in the church today encourage people to serve the Lord as singles? I have found acceptance of the idea that one can serve the Lord joyfully while being single and waiting for “The Person” to come along. However, not many seem to understand that one can choose to not marry and to serve the Lord happily and contentedly all the days of their life. You were bought at a price: do not become slaves of men (I Corinthians 7:23). Too many have bought into the idea that marriage is a “must” and have “become slaves of men.” Many marry when they did not need to; they could have saved themselves a lot of grief by serving the Lord as singles. Paul says, I would spare you… (I Corinthians 7:28).
I have found the joy of serving the Lord as a “single.” “Single,” that is, in a manner of speaking—because I always have had a roommate or my mom and dad around, I have never felt like a single but mostly like a double or a triple. I have been spared the trouble in the flesh that Paul warns awaits those who marry (I Corinthians 7:28). I know the time is short (I Corinthians 7:29) and, as I am not married, I can devote myself to the cause of my Savior night and day.
I live seven thousand miles away from America in a small town by the sea. My days are filled with spending time with children and youth. I teach them how to speak, write, and read English. Because I can be without the care and distraction of marriage, I can totally devote myself to the kids around me.
One day, when I meet my Savior face to face, I believe I will have more children than she who bore them (Isaiah 54:1). How could I maintain this same schedule were I married and had my own children? I could not.
To those of you who are married and have children, please raise them to know they are complete in Christ. No one else completes them; they are complete when they trust in the name of Jesus for the eternal life He offers. When was the last time a father was congratulated who had not given his daughter away in marriage? Paul says, He who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better. Does better! They need to understand that growing up to be single means they can serve the Lord more wholeheartedly than the married woman can, because the single woman can totally focus on God without distraction (I Corinthians 7:34-35).
Can it be that too many have bought into the idea that “when you grow up, you get married”? Can it be that many are missing out on the joy and peace of unreservedly serving Christ in their singleness? If more of us truly understood what God intended for those who choose to be single, I believe there would be many more young people, especially young women, joyfully serving the Lord as singles for life. Perhaps there would be fewer young women serving and waiting just until an eligible man came along.