Should Christian Girls Desire Marriage?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Socks Without Partners cartoon

Disclaimer:  This is a long post… the start of a big topic. :)
When I was a little girl, my favorite free-time activity was playing with babydolls. I would spend hours setting up my imaginary house, feeding my many children, changing countless diapers, and cooking imaginary dinners to have ready on the table when my wonderful man got home from work. Other women looking on at my playtime – like that of a thousand other little girls just like me – would smile and speak encouraging words of approval. It’s natural for girls to play with dolls and imagine our futures as wives and mothers. 
But little girls grow up. When I hit the teen years, I began getting an entirely new message from the Christian community: “stop thinking so much about marriage!” and “you don’t need a man in your life to make you happy” and “singleness is a gift.”

I thought marriage was what I was growing up to anticipate, and childhood and singleness were lovely stops along the way. I began to wonder at the mixed messages of today’s post-marriage Christian culture; is culture contradicting itself, giving message “A” when girls are young, and message “B” when girls are of marriageable age?  Is this God’s intention for me? Is it really okay for young women to say “I can’t wait to have babies!” but block out any longing for a husband and act like they couldn’t care less about marriage?

Perhaps our generation has been deluded by all the marvelous opportunities that single femininity now affords, so that it makes sense to focus on this wonderful “now” with its freedoms and fun and personal development (the independence of singleness promises education, career, music, sports, ministry, debate, writing, speaking, shopping, entertainment, endless coffees out with our girlfriends – none of these things are wrong, so why not enjoy them as long as we can?) Or have we simply lost our way from the old paths of Scripture? If there is really a “Creation Mandate” to marry and to multiply, have we allowed secular thinking to misguide us? A good marriage dispels the emptiness of self-focused activity, ends loneliness, and provides an exciting and understanding companion with whom to share life and love.

There was a time when even secular society recognized from Scripture the value of marriage, a time when it was not socially acceptable to prolong singleness except for those who felt a call to lifelong celibacy and service to God. What a huge difference in the percentage of Americans aged 25 to 34 who were married in 1960 (80%), to the percentage in the same age group who were married in 1990 (45%). In our grandparents’ generation, young women both in church and in society were intentional about making marriage their goal.  Young people who didn’t aim for marriage were seen as immature.  

As one pastor put it: “To willingly remain single was to invite questions, gossip, and even a measure of scorn – because society recognized marriage as God’s intention for most people…younger generations don’t pursue marriage with the intentionality of former generations. That relaxed attitude toward marriage rests on an individualistic view of marriage. Marriage and its pursuit (or avoidance) are seen as each person’s choice, period. If you want to get married…<shrug>. If you don’t…<shrug>.” 

Candice Watters writes: “Starting with the baby boomers, the emphasis shifted from ‘marriage equals adulthood’ to ‘marriage, nice if it happens’ to ‘marriage, one of many lifestyle options.’ No longer do we assume we’ll get married. And for many women, that life script is one they’re not happy to abandon. On the whole, women still want to marry. And though most eventually will, they’re doing so ‘later, less frequently, more hesitantly, and by and large, less successfully.’”

We are in error when we make singleness our idol, pitting our desire for individual fulfillment and creative pursuits or personal wealth or adventure against our pursuit of God-honouring marriage. We are equally in error when we think that finding that one right person will cure everything.  If we think a husband will meet our every need, fill our every character gap and give us every answer in life, we are misguided. Albert Mohler writes: “the man and the woman are made for each other and the institution of marriage is given to humanity as both opportunity and obligation…the responsibilities, duties, and joys of marriage are presented as matters of spiritual significance….”  He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

But isn’t it socially awkward to admit that you want to be married?  My brother’s friends at medical school ask me what I want to do with my life, and if I said I want to be married and raise a bunch of kids, it would not be the answer they expect.  In church, that answer would be even more awkward, often because church girls think you might want marriage too much or that you are sitting around eating bonbons while you pine away for a guy, and if a guy should appear, you might seem desperate and crazy-obsessed, driven to get married but without any income or decent skills to show for all your waiting.

Watters writes:

“I was 25 and still single, and I was embarrassed to admit that I wanted to get married.  It seemed like it was okay to pursue all of my other dreams but not the one that I wanted most. And I was worried that I would be one of the few people that God called to lifelong singleness.

Thankfully, He helped me to see that my desire for marriage was actually from him.  It was God-given.  Getting married was far more than a lifestyle option – something that’s nice ‘if it happens.’ To want to get married is natural.  And good. Not only is it good and natural to want to get married, it’s actually something that most of us are called to pursue.”

So what do we know for sure? 

1.      We know that God ordained marriage, that it is part of His blueprint for His creation, and therefore, we ought to honor marriage. (Hebrews 13:4)
       2.      We know that if God’s plan for the majority of us is marriage, we should anticipate it with joy, and look forward to it with a longing not unlike our longing for marital intimacy, our maternal desire for children, our craving of spiritual meat, and our earnest prayer for the salvation of the lost.
       3.      We know that even the church is seeking to comfort singles by telling them that singleness is a gift when the real gift of God is marriage. Debbie Maken writes: “We have been told over and over that singleness is a gift. But it’s the kind of gift that makes us cringe and smile politely while we desperately search for a gift receipt so we can return it”! The gift of marriage is long-lasting, providing deep friendship, warm embraces, and the wisdom of a man’s input in your life.
       4.      We know that our attitude is to be one of trusting God, and seeking what He says is good for us (thinking on whatsoever things are true, honest, pure). We ought not to pine away, nor hide behind singleness as a gift, nor cloister ourselves to meditate on our state with wishful-ness or envy or bitterness or desperation.
       5.      We know that God wants to hear us express to Him our desire and our sadness and any feeling that life isn’t fair, just as David did, or Hannah did when she wanted a child. It is healthy to acknowledge the longing of our hearts, especially to One who infinitely cares and who has thoughtfully designed us.
       6.      We know that we should not put off His gift, like one might put off the gift of salvation or put off the blessings of children, though we should also not rush into marriage unprepared.

So, all this is to say that it is Okay and Healthy to want to be married, and it is good time management to prepare now for a successful marriage. As Watters’ mentor would say, “Marriage is good. Be open about your desire to marry. Talk about it with your friends, just like you talk about all the other things you hope to do.” 

My answer to this post? I want to be married. What about you? 


  1. Thanks for posting this, Ems! Ever since we discussed this via email, I've been curious to read your post whenever you posted it. =) I love that you're doing a series.
    I would have to disagree with a few of your points, though. While I agree with you that I feel like marriage has been downplayed in our culture, and many people choose to be single out of an attitude of selfishness...I also think that in the conservative Christian culture some people have tended to flip the other way and elevate marriage so high that it is almost considered that something is "wrong" if you reach a certain age and aren't married. Singleness is a beautiful season as well, and there is nothing wrong with delighting and being FULLY content in it. As single young people, we aren't just "killing time" until marriage...we are involved in a grand life-work just as much as those who are married. Our application + roles are just different.
    Yes, I would love to be a wife + a mother someday. It would be my occupation of choice, and I believe it is what God has for most women. But marriage can also be an idol, just as singleness can be an idol.
    Looking forward to hearing the rest of your posts on this series!
    Love ya,
    ps..I love the comic at the top. hilarious. =)

    1. LOVE your honesty, Chels! :) I totally agree: a lot of single young people have a desire for marriage and are praying towards it, but they haven't been given the opportunity yet... and they should never be blamed for that or made to feel like something's wrong. Singleness is a season that should be celebrated just the same as every other season in life, not endured as though life will only begin after marriage. You are right that we should be content in ALL seasons of life!

      Love you too,

  2. This post was a HUGE blessing to me. I totally agree with you and was super encouraged to find that there is another young woman out there who believes marriage is something to pursue, pray, and prepare for! A few friends and I discuss this topic often and we've simply come to find that the majority of women in the Bible were married. If they weren't, they were widowed and using their singleness to bless the church. The only obvious exception to this that I have found so far is Acts 21:9.
    This is definitely an intriguing subject to study and I'm so looking forward to reading more. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thank-you so much for your comment, Madyson! So glad the post was an encouragement!


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