Singleness is treated as a disease. It is prayed over as if it needs a cure. I find that as I get older, an increasing number of people are praying for me to find my godly man. While I do appreciate this sweet act of love, this prayer should not be a priority in my life. At this stage in our lives, it is essential to create spaces of intimacy with everyone we meet. Why is so much emphasis placed on finding a husband or wife in our early twenties? This reinforces mediocrity and puts an unhealthy pressure on members of the Christian community to settle down at an undeveloped age.
My Christian friends are getting engaged and even married at 21, 22, 24 and my heart sinks, as if I am mourning a life! And then I have my other communities where dating is celebrated and encouraged. I find myself battling this dualism of being, first, a woman in Christ who wants to guard her heart under all circumstances, but also being a 21 year old in college where dating is essential for growing healthy relationships. How do I straddle this line?
As Christians, we are so wrapped up in the idea of a marriage that we severely limit our experiences with dating. We need to stop treating the first date like a marriage proposal. A date is simply an opportunity to get to know someone on a deeper level; it is not a life commitment of any kind. Contradictorily, though we place so much emphasis on marriage, dating is seen as shameful and inappropriate behavior for Christians to engage in. Dating is reduced to promiscuity in most communities and this is a problem. It is what we make it to be, so we need to make our dates wholesome, respectable, and intentional. Dating does not equate sleaziness; your intentions in that situation are what make it sleazy.
I am not saying we should not date in a serious way, I am suggesting that this fixation on marriage is stunting our growth as sociable human beings. Instead of encouraging premature marriage in a demographic that cannot even decide on a major, we need to encourage healthy relationship skills.
The most valuable relationship skills are those we learn from being believers in God for we are called to love Him above all else. Through this dynamic we learn of an unconditional and patient love. However, since this love is not always the most tangible, we seek it from people and not from God. We give up on God’s most perfect and pure love by pursuing flawed and unhealthy mediums of intimacy, which is what invites sin to take hold of our lives.
When we are able to fully mature in the matters of the heart through receiving God’s love; that is when we can confidently date without being saturated in sin. When we can achieve this, I encourage us to date, embracing the people we meet along the way. There is nothing inherently sinful about dating and discerning what we like and dislike. In fact, I’d argue that the lack of dating is more unhealthy than dating.
I am not urging us to live a life of singleness or even to date an obscene amount of people; I am simply suggesting that going on a few dates, guarding our hearts in the process, is useful in cultivating maturity in dating.
God has called us to greatness; let that resonate in every area of our lives. There is more to this life than finding someone to marry, so if you’re single, enjoy this moment of stillness in your life. Let us use this moment of singleness to reach our full potential as individuals and as future spouses by dating in a respectable way. Let us not date towards marriage exclusively, but for the opportunities of growth lying in those dates.