This week I will be teaching from Genesis 2:4-25 on man's time in the garden. During time in the garden with God, God realized that it was not good for man to be alone. In order to open man's eyes to that fact as well, God began parading all of the animals before man to see what he would call it. God had another purpose for this task. He wanted man to realize that he had a need for a partner as well. Once man realized that no helper was found his complement, the LORD God caused a deep sleep to come over the man and then God took one of man's ribs and formed woman from the rib.
As the first human words spoken in the Bible state poetically,
"This one, at last, is bone of my bone
and flesh of my flesh;
this one will be called 'woman,'
for she was taken from man.
This passage is often used as a defense of a Biblical marriage. But as I survey the room that I will be teaching, knowing the majority of the room are single, I reflected upon my years of Single Adult Ministry and of my own singleness prior to marriage seven years ago. The uncertainty of marriage can sometimes be an overwhelming burden to a single Christian and the church has not always done a very good job of ministering to this demographic of brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, if you sat down to chat with single adult Christians, you may hear stories of neglect or being taken advantage of for use in ministry.
Reviewing Genesis 2:4-25, specifically the purpose of woman being created specifically for man, I began perusing my library for resources on marriage and the relationship between man and woman. One such resource that has been quite helpful is a book written by Timothy Keller and his wife Kathy Keller, "The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God." In addition to many helpful chapters on marriage, Keller also dedicates an entire chapter to Singleness and Marriage. In fact, Keller considers this book a resource for unmarried people just as much as it is for married people. This focus is intentional as Keller noticed many marriage books have been written to assist married couples with specific problems. Ultimately, the book is useful "to give both married and unmarried people a vision for what marriage is according to the Bible. That will help married people correct mistaken views that might be harming their marriage, and it will help single people stop destructively over-desiring marriage or destructively dismissing marriage altogether" (Keller, 2011, p. 4).
I ran across a list mentioned by Tim Keller in "The Meaning of Marriage." He writes:
"The Christian church in the West, unfortunately, does not seem to have maintained its grasp on the goodness of singleness. Instead it has labeled it 'Plan B for the Christian life,' Paige Benton Brown, in her classic article 'Singled Out by God for Good,' lists a number of common ways that Christian churches try to 'explain' singleness:
"As soon as you're satisfied with God alone, he'll bring someone special into your life." - as though God's blessings are ever earned by our contentment.
"You're too picky" - as though God is frustrated by our fickle whims and needs broader parameters in which to work.
"As a single you can commit yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord's work" - as though God requires emotional martyrs to do his work, of which marriage must be no part.
"Before you can marry someone wonderful, the Lord has to make you someone wonderful" - as though God grants marriage as a second blessing to the satisfactorily sanctified.
Beneath these statements is the premise that single life is a state of deprivation for people who are not yet fully formed enough for marriage...Christianity affirmed the goodness of single life as no other faith or worldview ever has" (Keller, 2011, p. 224-225).
What a great reminder that marriage is not a wrung on the spiritual ladder of sanctification, but a covenant relationship that was developed before the fall to depict the story of the gospel "of sin, grace, and restoration" (Keller, p. 249).
If you are single and interested in learning more about Biblical marriage and how you fit in to the equation prior to marriage, check out Keller's book "The Meaning of Marriage." Keller outlines some practical counsel for marriage seekers:
Recognize that there are seasons for not seeking marriage.
Understand the "gift of singleness."
Get more serious about seeking marriage as you get older.
Do not allow yourself deep emotional involvement with a nonbelieving person.
Feel "attraction" in the most comprehensive sense.
Don't let things get too passionate too quickly,
However, also don't become a faux spouse for someone who won't commit to you.
Get and submit to lots of community input.
You are NOT alone, and you do not have to go through the struggle of feeling alone all by yourself. It is natural for you to desire to be connected to a spouse, but don't settle! Continue to remain faithful to God and seek to grow in your relationship with Him. Gather with other believers (single & married) and fellowship in community with the body of Christ. Ultimately, He is our desire, our hope, and the fulfillment of our purpose.