Some Christians are called to singleness. These types of people are typically quite content with not being in a romantic relationship, they don’t struggle with sexual temptation, and their desire for singleness is rooted in their desire to serve God.
Most Christians who are single, however, don’t fall into this category. The vast majority of us have not been blessed with the gift of singleness. One lie churches often unintentionally teach Christian singles is that it’s not okay to be discontent with their singleness. Through well meant teachings and seminars on how Christian singles must find all their contentment in Christ, people often end up feeling guilty for being unhappy about their lack of marriage. Many people feel it is wrong to want to be married.
The Bible Says It Is Good to Want to Be Married
The Bible, however, does not condemn the desire to be married. If you hope to be married, it is natural and good to be discontent with your singleness. The danger is when you allow yourself to be discontent with Christ.
Through Christ, we can be content “in” every situation (Philippians 4:12-13), even our unwanted singleness. But that does not mean we must be content “with” every situation. Your heart must find its ultimate and total joy in Christ. But even in your joy with Christ, you can be unhappy with your circumstance. You only sin when you allow your unwanted circumstances to affect your joy in Christ. Unwanted circumstances should increase and not decrease your joy in Christ. The more we see the imperfections in this world, the more we will value the perfections of Christ.
So if you are someone who wishes they were married, you don’t have to deny this desire. You can be honest with God. You can be vulnerable with him.
Often times people think God will bless them with a spouse when they no longer want one, as though God thinks it’s sinful of you to pursue marriage and thus will only bless you when you stop sinning by stopping your marriage search.
While God wants you to love him above everything else, he also says marriage is a good desire, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).
It’s Not Wrong to Want to Be Married Because God Wants Us to Care About Real-Life Circumstances
While God wants us to be content in every situation, this does not mean we must become blind to real needs in the world and in our own lives.
Idolizing marriage or allowing your desire to find a spouse overtake your desire to love God is sinful. But you can love God completely and still desire your circumstances to change. Christianity does emphasize the need to be content with every situation. It does, however, tell us that no matter what is happening in life, we must find total contentment in Christ.
To seek an inner tranquility with a total blindness to our actual life circumstances is closer to Buddhism that Christianity. In Buddhism the goal is reach a state of nirvana, which is a mental state of being that blocks out and ignores the world as you “clear your mind” and focus on nothing.
This is not Christianity. For example, the book of Philippians is a book all about finding joy in Christ despite the external struggles the world throws at us. Throughout the book, you will find Bible verses like these:
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing . . . (Philippians 2:14)
“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” (Philippians 2:17-18)
“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.” (Philippians 3:1)
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. . . . Not that I am speaking of being in need, 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 4:4, 11-13)
But even though Paul instructs us to find joy in Christ and not our circumstances, he also has a healthy anxiety over the well being of his coworker who became ill (Philippians 2:25-30). Even though Paul found that through Christ he had all he needed, he also requested that provisions be made for him by the Philippians (Philippians 4:16-20). And although he learned to find the good in false preachers who still preached Christ (Philippians 1:17-18), he also warned us to stay away from people like that (Romans 16:17-20).
Likewise, Jesus knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew that it was going to turn out well. Jesus’ joy was always perfect in God. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t weep for Lazarus still. When John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept” it shows us Jesus perfect humanness. Jesus is God, but he is human too – perfectly both. And thus Jesus wept, because to be human is to actually care about things on earth.
Humans are made in the image of God, and God really cares about the actual circumstances in your life (Matthew 6:8, 32-33). Thus our pursuit of being authentically human reflections of God as he originally intended does not mean we need perfect contentment “with our circumstances.” We must seek perfect contentment in Christ and thus we can be content in him while we are in any circumstance. But nowhere in the Bible are we told we must enjoy unwanted circumstances. We are told, rather, to enjoy Christ even in unwanted circumstances.
It Is Not Wrong to Want to Be Married Because God Designed This Need In Us
What’s my point here? The point is that it’s not sinful to want to be married. It’s okay if you are content with your singleness, but it is equally fine if you are not. Your joy must be found in Christ. No circumstance, no matter how good, will ever fill your heart’s need for God. But there are lesser needs within the heart that God gave humans which are found outside of God himself.
He said of Adam that it was not good for him to be alone (Genesis 2:18), and this was before sin entered the picture. This means that even though Adam had God fully, God still created Adam to need a wife.
Eve was never to usurp or challenge God’s place in Adam’s life. But in love God blessed humans with the opportunity to enjoy symbols and lesser expressions of him that are not God himself. God made us to desire blessings that are not God.
All these good gifts come from God (James 1:17). And, yes, all good in the world is a reflection of God that should make us want the source of that reflection more. All our pursuits of the gifts should remind us of the Giver of those gifts. So even in your desire for a spouse, it should enhance your desire and pleasure in God.
But to desire a spouse and love him or her is good. To want a spouse is not an expression of your lack of joy in Christ.
Don’ Feel Guilty For Wanting a Spouse. Seek Christ and Find Joy in Him
You don’t need to feel guilty for wanting a spouse. You should only feel guilty if your desires are crowding out your desire for God. He wants to walk with you through the pain, trials, and unwanted circumstances. It’s okay if you are not happy with your singleness as long as you are still happy in Christ.
The Christian life can be beautifully summarized by 2 Corinthians 6:10, “we are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” It’s okay if your singleness is unwanted and thus you have a sorrow in your heart, as long as within that same heart you are always rejoicing in Christ.
One day perfect circumstances and perfect contentment in Christ will collide. But before the time when God makes all things new, we can still find contentment in Christ even with unwanted circumstances.