As a single person, sometimes I look around and wonder what happened to marriage.
In my Millennial demographic, it seems like more people are choosing to live together or hookup with someone on Tinder than choosing to tie the knot.
The studies show that there’s a growing pool of young single adults who seem to have little drive to marry. A recent Pew Research study found that most Millennials won’t marry until at least age 27, and 25 percent will never marry at all. Overall, there are more single adults in the U.S. than married, making singleness more “normal” than marriage.
And even within the Church, I see some of that negativity towards marriage creeping in. For example, I’ve heard some of my fellow singles groan when the pastor starts a new series on marriage because they “won’t get anything out of the message.”
And when other Christians speak about marriage, I hear a lot about how it’s hard and sanctifying – but rarely about how good and fun it is.
What’s going on? How did Americans come to settle for the fast food version of family rather than enjoy the marriage feast?
Perhaps one reason is that, on the whole, we’ve forgotten what it means to honor marriage. In our culture where everything is personalized and customized to exactly fit our tastes and our timeframe and our needs, we’ve forgotten that Hebrews 13:4 says that “marriage should be held in honor by all.”
Did you catch that? All.
Because marriage – and the eventual family that flows from it – reflects the very heart of God in His Triune nature.
And because marriage is good. And because as the family goes, so goes the culture.
That’s why, even as a single woman living in a culture where the majority isn’t married, I try to honor marriage. So what does honoring marriage look like when you’re single? Here are five thoughts.
1. Stop bemoaning your singleness.
This may seem like a contradictory way to “honor marriage,” but it is actually foundational. When you stop thinking about marriage as the ultimate life goal, as a way to be happier or less lonely, then you can start to honor it the way it was meant to be honored. People were not created for marriage, but rather to honor Christ. This mindset creates a healthy viewpoint on both singleness and marriage.
2. Help your friends’ marriages succeed.
Stop them when they complain about their spouse. Rather, encourage them to see the best in their spouse – and to run to each other with problems. You might want to suggest counseling if they are struggling, and pray for them to succeed.
And if you have couples in your life who are parents to small children, offer to babysit their kids so they can go on dates.
3. Don’t act married.
Refuse to sleep around or live with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Having sex outside of marriage is essentially saying that marriage is not worth the wait. You are taking God’s greatest gift and cheapening it, creating a false imitation of the real intimacy God created for you to experience. Why play house when the real thing is so much better?
4. Get over your fear of commitment.
Our culture is full of people whose strongest form of commitment is “maybe.” Whether it’s RSVP’ing to a birthday party or deciding to live with a girlfriend rather than marry, “maybe” has taken center stage.
Marriage expert Dr. Scott Stanley compares our generation to wind watchers in the book “Ready to Wed.”
“Wind watchers never plant, because the conditions just don’t seem right,” he says. “They never bring in the crop, because it looks like it might rain… Our ‘maybe I do’ culture encourages us to hedge our bets and protect ourselves rather than take any risks. But ‘maybe I do’ won’t get you where your soul longs to be.”
Preparing for a future marriage built on strong commitment to one another should start in small commitments while single.
5. Pray for marriage.
You can be content in singleness and still have a healthy desire for marriage. Asking God for it and holding onto hope that He is still able, is a great way to fight the independent and self-centered nature of our culture. You are telling God you think it is important and worth asking for still. And it builds your faith at the same time, because God always hears us when we pray, and He always answers.
Despite the fact that people are waiting longer to marry, the reality is most will end up marrying at some point in their lifetimes. And if that’s the case, why not live life today in a way that will prepare you for that tomorrow?
Besides, in the end, honoring marriage is about obeying God. That’s why I hope you’ll consider the ways you can honor marriage, both in your heart and with your life. I think you’ll find out that God will bless you when you do!
Ashley Mazelin is a publicist at Focus on the Family. She originally hails from northern Indiana and graduated from Grace College with a degree in Journalism in 2013. In her free time she likes drinking coffee, exploring the Rocky Mountains and reading interesting books.