Finding someone to marry seems like a mysterious process. And in some ways it really is. God has a plan for you full of twists and turns, and if you are called to marriage, God knows just how he is going to bring your future husband or wife into your life.
While Christian singles certainly must trust and submit to the sovereignty of God, that doesn’t mean God has not outlined specific actions that will increase your chances of getting married. While finding the one will always have elements of mystery to it, there are always reasons for everything, including why you are not married.
What follows is not an exhaustive list of reasons you’re not married. These are just some of the most common reasons, or roadblocks (depending how you look at), for why many Christian singles are not married.
Reason 1: It’s Just Not Your Time Yet to Be Married
If you are a Christian, you want to be married, and you know marriage is a good gift from God, it’s hard to not feel like you are doing something wrong if you are still not married. But that’s not always the case.
Just because you are not married doesn’t mean you are failing. It could just mean it’s not your time yet. It’s impossible to know the reasons why God makes some wait until their forty to find a spouse and he allows others to get married at nineteen. The best answer is that it’s just not the right time.
What’s often forgotten is that singleness is not a biblical curse. Singleness is actually a high calling in the Bible. God instructs us that singles are actually often better equipped to serve him (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). Therefore, one reason you might not be married yet is because God’s plan of service for you in this season can be better accomplished in singleness. Perhaps when God’s call on you will be better accomplished as a married person, he will bless you with a spouse.
We don’t always know the reason why some are still unmarried, but we do know that whether a Christian is single or married, God always has a good work for them to do (Ephesians 2:10). Singleness is a gift to be used in service to God. It might not be your time to get married. But it’s always your time to serve God.
Reason 2: You’re Called to Singleness, Not Marriage
Everyone has the responsibility to use their season of singleness to serve God. However, some have the high calling of using singleness their entire life to serve God. Therefore one of the main reasons many (not most) Christian singles are not married is because they’re called to a life of singleness.
I think the American Church has done a poor job of celebrating Christian singleness. In fact, the subtle feeling you often get from some church cultures is that it’s shameful to be single, as though you are definitely doing something wrong if you are over thirty-years-old and still single.
The Bible sends the opposite message. Paul actually gives the impression that singleness is a higher calling than marriage because it’s a way of life that provides more practical benefits of focusing solely on serving Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 7:38). However, if you read 1 Corinthians 7 in its full context, Paul’s message is not that singleness is better than marriage. Rather serving Jesus first and foremost is always better. Therefore whether single or married, all Christians should pursue the benefits of a simplified life when seeking to serve God.
You can be a single person and waist your life on worldly concerns and be a married person and use your life for kingdom purposes. The point is not that singleness or marriage is better. The point is that serving Jesus is best.
We all must embrace the life that helps us to best accomplish God’s goals for us, whether that means a life of singleness or of Christian marriage.
Reason 3: Your Sin Is Blocking God’s Blessing
While it’s sometimes true that the reason you’re not married is simply that it’s not your time, this is not the case for everyone. Marriage is a blessing from God (along with singleness), and nothing blocks God’s blessings like unrepentant sin (Galatians 6:7-9).
God often withholds blessings when we are living in sin because he loves us so much. To bless us while we are in rebellion is to passively support our sinfulness. God will do what’s best for us, and he knows it’s always best that we repent of sin and turn to him. Therefore, to accomplish our everlasting joy in him, he will often supernaturally work against our superficial happiness rooted in idolatry and worldliness.
Therefore one reason you’re not married could be that God loves you too much to bless you with a godly spouse when you are living a godless life. He absolutely wants us to have maximum joy, but he knows sin is the chief thief of true joy, which is always the joy rooted in God.
Reason 4: Your Sinful Life Doesn’t Match Your Marriage Standards, Causing Dating Paralysis
Living in sin not only affects the spiritual side in our search for a spouse. It also has very negative practical effects on a Christian who desires marriage.
If a Christian is living in sin, they will feel guilty. A Christian can be backsliding and even live in sin for a period of time. But if someone feels no guilt for their sin and thus they never fight against the sin they are stuck in, this is biblical evidence that they are not a Christian.
Therefore, if you are a Christian living in sin, you will feel guilty. This guilt wreaks havoc on your dating choices. One reason many Christians are not married is because they feel too guilty to date a Christian guy or girl who is not living in sin. So they end up dating impassionate Christians, missionary dating non-Christians, or not dating at all.
Living in sin is a major reason why many are not married because it causes Christian singles to live in a state of paralysis. You feel guilty and unworthy, so you date people with lower standards for themselves, people who don’t passionately love Jesus. But since you are a Christian, you know it’s wrong to marry someone like this. Thus you get stuck in a cycle of feeling too unworthy to date a good Christian, but since you love Jesus, your standards are too high to marry someone who doesn’t passionately love Jesus.
This same cycle can occur for someone who has not embraced the full redemption offered in the gospel, which causes them to hold onto the shame stemming from their past. Since they feel unworthy, they don’t want to open themselves to Christian men or women who seem so much purer than them. The reason people don’t date is often because of past shame and a poor understanding of godly purity.
The only solution to all this is to stop living in sin and embrace the effects of the gospel.
Reason 5: You’re Dating Too Much Or You’re Not Dating Enough to Find a Spouse
Christian dating advice usually falls into one of two categories. You are instructed to either, “Just serve Jesus and he’ll bring you a spouse” or you are told that “God only helps those who help themselves, so get out there and date, date, date until you find the one.”
There’s biblical grounds for a healthy version of both camps. Loving Jesus Christ is always the first step to embracing his call on your life. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t call us to action in the process of receiving his blessings.
Often times people jump into the camp that most fits their personality. If you are an introvert, you’ll often go about finding a spouse by going on prayer walks alone. If you are an extrovert, you’ll probably have a new date lined up every week. There’s a balance to this dating dance. I’ve written about this more in the blog, “How to Find a Christian Spouse” if you’d like to explore this idea more deeply.
Reason 6: You’re Over Complicating the Process of Getting Married
One common reason many people are not married is because they are over complicating the process.
Nothing happens quickly when things get overly complicated. I’m sure we’ve all had experiences in life where a process becomes so complicated, you don’t even want to start it. For example: I know I want to put a rain barrel next to my garage, but then I need to add gutters. But to add gutters, I need to put up new fascia. And to add new fascia, I need to tear out the old ones. And then . . . and then . . . and then . . . I think you get the point: Because it seems complicated, I am reluctant to even start.
Sometimes when we look fifty steps ahead, it hinders us from making the first step. Never is this truer than when searching for the right Christian spouse. It’s a daunting task to think about finding someone to date, dating, getting more serious, engagement, planning a wedding, getting married, being married, avoiding divorce, having kids, and . . . and . . . and I think you get the point: Because it seems complicated, you are reluctant to even start.
In summary, love Jesus first, be practical, and have fun!