There are countless reasons Christians remain single even when they wish they were married. They usually fall somewhere in between “It’s just not in God’s plan right now” and “You are doing something wrong that is keeping you single.”
One area that is often not looked at in the context of extended seasons of unwanted singleness is societal and cultural influences. Here are 4 societal issues that are contributing to prolonged seasons of unwanted singleness.
- Less Real Friendships and Higher Levels of Isolation Are Contributing to Extended Singleness
One of the negative effects of social media and technology is that people are more isolated than ever. It’s an odd phenomenon really, but social media allows people to stay away from real people while still making them feel connected to a community. Humans will actively seek out other humans when they are alone because God has created us to be social beings.
Social media, however, has interrupted the natural flow of connecting with people because now we can feel connected even as we sit alone in our rooms. We have the sensation of being with others but the reality is we are simply alone with our phones sending digital information to one another.
I am not against social media and I think the internet is an amazing tool that should be used for the glory of God. But when our internet use stops face-to-face interactions from occurring, there are serious consequences to pay.
One interesting trend that I have noticed with Christian singles who wish they were married is that they feel they do not know any Christian singles of the opposite sex that they can perhaps start to date. They just feel like these Christians of the opposite sex don’t exist.
But with a little digging, it also becomes clear that many of these same people with this problem also do not have Christian friends of the same gender either. So really, the true problem is not that there are no Christians of the opposite gender available, the true problem is even bigger. Christians have less real friendships in general these days with people of the same gender as well.
We can stay home and watch a sermon in our beds. We can post of picture of ourselves and get a kick of dopamine when people “like” it on social media. We have become less connected to other Christians in general, not just Christians who are datable.
The reason this is such a huge problem that causes extended singleness is because one of the most natural ways Christians meet people is through mutual friendships and social circles. If you are not connected to people in general, the odds of meeting someone from the opposite sex who is similar age, who is single, and who is also a Christian becomes drastically less likely.
So sometimes the real issue is not a lack of options of Christians of the opposite sex. The real problem is that many people don’t have real human connections at all anymore. It’s no wonder singleness is being prolonged in many people’s lives. They are disconnected from society in general and thus the possibility of meeting a Christian guy or girl is that much more unlikely.
- More Schooling and Debt Causes People’s “Adult Lives” to Begin Later
Education can be a very politically charged topic with views all over the spectrum, so I don’t want to turn this into a huge debate. I think one fact about increasing education for more people, however, is that it is delaying many people from starting normal adult behavior at ages which were more common in the past.
Because so many people go to college now, we have more adults busier with school and with less time to focus on relationships. Additionally, a normal college culture celebrates a youthful lifestyle and encourages students to enjoy their “college experience” before entering the “adult world.” I can’t tell you how many social media posts I’ve seen from 24-year-old men who are announcing their new job with something like, “I start my first big boy job today.”
In the past, a 24-year-old man was much further along in his social and relational development than most men of today. The same is true of women. Additionally, more schooling means more debt. People don’t want to get married while still in college, they don’t want to get married when they just started a new job, and they don’t want to get married when they have so much debt. All of this combines into prolonging seasons of unwanted singleness.
- Gender Confusion Has Caused Extended Seasons of Singleness
The roles between the genders in relationships is a huge topic which I will not fully engage with here. However, it is undeniable that over the past few decades society has been exploring what roles the genders should have between one another, especially when it comes to romance and marriage.
It is also undeniable that over the past few decades our culture has become increasingly feminine. I’m not going to talk about how this happened, why it happened, and what the positive and negative effects of this have been. I do not think it is debatable, however, that as whole American society has grown more “feminine” in the traditional sense of the term.
One of the effects this has had on singleness is that a man is less likely to pursue a woman as men traditionally did in the past. Quite frankly, we have asked the men in our society over the past few decades to act more feminine. Many of them have answered the call. Now when it comes to romance and dating, for example, men are unsure of what they are supposed to do. We have asked them to be more feminine and so they have; now they pursue less, they feel it is the woman’s job just as much as a man’s to lead in relationships, and the result is the sexes no longer know how to interact like they once did.
Additionally, society has been emphasizing for some time now how you should not need a relationship to be happy. In the past it was much more socially acceptable to embrace the differences between men and women. This embrace of our differences was also an embrace of our need for one another. The masculine and the feminine once represented in society two important different elements to a happy life. But now that the message has been that the sexes are the same, it is no surprise that the subtle message has also been, “Men and women don’t need each other.”
It’s just a logical conclusion that if both the sexes are the same, then when they come together there’s not that much added to enrich one’s life. When it is accepted that men and women are different, it is also accepted that each one contributes something unique to the other. When we refuse to see how man and woman complement one another, we are less likely to see the value of being in a traditional male and female relationship.
It used to be very clear that a man should pursue a woman in our culture. But because we have taken away traditional masculinity in much of our culture, the traditional interactions between males and females have been altered, resulting in confusion and extended seasons of singleness.
- The Normalization of Sexual Promiscuity and Porn Use Has Caused Extended Seasons of Singleness
The Bible does not say that you should get married just to have sex. However, having a strong sexual desire is a biblical sign that someone should pursue marriage if they want to. 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 states, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
Christians are supposed to have sexual desires. Sin only occurs when sexual expressions occur outside of the bonds of marriage. One of the negative consequences to having premarital sexual experiences with people is that it delays marriage. When two people act like they are married, why would they put in the time and energy to actually get married for real?
Perhaps even worse than that is the effects porn has had on our society. While porn affects men and women, I believe it’s use amongst men has had an especially damaging effect on marriages forming. A Christian man, unless he has the gift of singleness, is supposed to have a sexual desire. When used properly, this sexual desire will draw him to pursue a woman in healthy ways. I’m not saying he should just seek a woman for sexual pleasure, but I do believe God uses this desire as a draw for men to pursue a wife. This is not shallow. The man still loves the woman for the relationship they have. But the sexual drive he has causes him to initiate and pursue. His physical desires and emotional desires are intertwined. When he loves a woman relationally, God has designed him to have a sexual desire for her.
But when a man uses porn as a substitute, this interrupts the normal cycle and causes the desire to pursue a woman to be lessened. There is a movement right now amongst non-Christian men called Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW). I don’t have any concrete data on this, but I can almost guarantee that men who follow this movement use porn a lot. Because they can see a naked woman whenever they want, they are less inclined to pursue a real woman.
Now that’s an extreme secular example in our culture, but I believe the underlying issues there are similar to what are happening with Christian men as well. Their use of porn lessens their desire for real women. It also causes them shame and makes them feel they are not prepared for a Christian marriage, therefore they do not pursue a woman like they would if they did not have the shame from their porn use. They feel they are not prepared to be a Christian husband because of their porn addiction, and so they remain single for much longer.
There are many more reasons sexual promiscuity and porn use cause extended periods of unwanted singleness. The main point to make here is that sexual sin does delay Christian marriages from forming.
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