A picture of me getting ready just a few hours before my wedding!

Before I got married, I was often asked, “When are you getting married?” And for some people, the time it took for me to get married was too long. And before I go any further, I just want to say I’m thankful that I waited, because I’m grateful to God for the amazing woman of God He brought into my life – Joyce!

Nevertheless, one day while single a few years ago I decided to record the questions/comments/advice I received from others related to the issue of being single. I took out a notepad, and without letting anyone know, I began recording. By 3pm, I got around 15 unique remarks about me being single! I realised that others in my predicament may likely be going through similar experiences. And it may even drive some people to think they had a “problem.” It got me thinking, and I did some research, and a few opportunities opened up to share on this issue, from preaching, writing, and even a couple of moments on TV.

In this blog, I want to share one of the first opportunities I had to communicate on being single, to possibly encourage some singles and others to get what I think is a good perspective on the single life. The article I wrote was for a magazine called The Testimony, originally published in February 2005, and later posted on Christianity.ca also in 2005. It was entitled, “Single and Happy.” After reading, feel free to include your thoughts and comments on this issue whether you are single or married. Here’s that article published in 2005:

“SINGLE AND HAPPY”

I’m one of the 16 million people in Canada who are not married (Statistics Canada). It has been my observation, though, that singles are generally treated as if they have a disease, one that needs to be cured by a romantic partner. This message is in our music, on television, in the movies, and in the books we read. The question most often asked of singles is: Have you found someone yet?

Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth

Three single women in the Bible interest me — Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth. Naomi was an Israelite and mother-in-law to Orpah and Ruth, who were Moabites. Sadly, all three women experienced tragedies in their lives. Naomi lost a husband and ten years later she lost her two sons (who were married to Orpah and Ruth). They were left single and alone.

Naomi was living in the country of Moab because of a famine in Israel. She decided to return to Israel with Orpah and Ruth after the famine ended. Naomi’s advice to her daughters on the way back is insightful:

“Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband. Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me — even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons — would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you because the Lord’s hand has gone out against me” (Ruth 1:11-13).

Naomi was most concerned about the marital status of Orpah and Ruth and the repercussions that being single might have on their living conditions. Widows experienced greater challenges during those days, but the idea that marriage could cure their problems is something we still find today.

Myths of marriage

In Fit to be Tied, Bill and Lynn Hybels dispel four myths of marriage. The first is that it will end one’s loneliness. They admit that there are millions of lonely married people who might even be in an ideal marriage.

The second is that it will heal one’s brokenness. Some have become victims themselves, and others even victimize their own spouses as they seek healing that could never come from a human being. The psalmist rightly proclaimed of God that it is He who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

The third myth is that marriage will ensure one’s happiness. The Hybels’s comments are insightful here: “In most cases, an unhappy single person will be an unhappy married person” (33).

The last myth they discredit is that marriage is for everyone. Neither Jesus nor Paul was married, and both spoke of the advantage of being single in order to be involved in ministry to a greater degree (See Matthew 19:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7).

Three choices

Orpah decided to go back home where she might find a man to marry. That was her choice. Sadly, we never hear about her again.

Orpah is like many in society. She desperately wants someone to love, so she does whatever it takes to be married. Some Christians even end up marrying non-Christians because of this heart attitude, which leads them outside of God’s will (consider Genesis 2:24 that underscores the union in marriage with 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 that highlights the need for Christian fellowship in intimate relationships).

We can see something else in Naomi. She has become an embittered person — so much so that she wanted people to call her “Mara” which means “bitter” (Ruth 1:20). She even blames God, saying His hand is against her.

Blaming God is the second choice many singles make, often asking, “Why hasn’t God done anything about this?” Bitterness can lead to resentment, depression, and sin.

Ruth’s reply to Naomi’s advice is intriguing: “Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16-18). She chose to stay with Naomi.

True greatness

We all have a yearning for two levels of relational intimacy (Hybels 26). We desire relationship with God and other people. Ruth was committed to both kinds of intimacy.

Society wraps up our conscious (or unconscious) desire for intimacy with God and people into one solution—a romantic partner. This “cure” has led to discontentment among singles and couples, often due to unrealistic expectations of a partner.

Ruth had her priorities right. We should be developing intimacy with God and meaningful relationships with a variety of people. In the Book of Ruth, a wonderful love story unfolds between Ruth and Boaz. God blessed Ruth with a new husband. In fact, she eventually became the great-grandmother of King David (Matthew 1:5-16). Ruth’s decision to maintain her relationship with Naomi (even if it meant she may never marry again) positioned Ruth for greatness.

What choices have you made lately? Where are your priorities today?

Works Consulted:

Statistics Canada, “Population by marital status and sex, by provinces and territories.” [cited 11 December 2004]. Online http://www.statscan.ca. This is a 2004 statistic. The total Canadian population is 31,946,316. There are 15,540,151 married, 13,338,363 singles, 1,545,813 widowed, and 1,521,989 divorced. When adding singles, widowed, and divorced together, the total unmarried is 16,406,165.

Hybels, Bill and Lynne Hybels. Fit to be Tied: Making Marriage Last a Lifetime. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991. See chapter one for a thorough discussion of these myths. This is an excellent book for both singles and married couples seeking to hear a married couple’s honest insights on this important topic.