Last March, I had the honor of being a bridesmaid for one of my dear friends from work. The other bridesmaids and I decided to put together an amazing bridal shower a couple weeks before the wedding. As the guests arrived, I started talking with one of the guests, who proceeded to ask me, “Are you dating anyone?”
When I replied with a ‘no,’ her facial response was mixed with shock and horror. She immediately informed me: “Besides Jesus, marriage should be a person’s highest goal.”
I will be the first to admit that anytime someone starts with, ‘I knew he was the one…,’ or ‘I first met her at…,’ I get a twinkle in my eye, a smile on my face, and join the collective sigh that communicates: Don’t you love love?
But when I have encounters with other Christians like the one I described above, I have to ask – how did marriage become the holy grail of Christianity? Is marriage truly the ideal for the Christian life?
According to Greg Carey, Professor at Lancaster Seminary, the Bible actually talks very little about marriage. In a Huffpost Religion article, Carey examines the fact that most Bible verses read during wedding ceremonies are not in reference to marriage at all, but are instead in reference to conflict resolution, declaration of loyalty between family members, and even divorce.
He goes even further to talk about the fact that there are more verses in the Bible that explicitly teach on singleness. (Do I detect a collective cringe?) When’s the last time you’ve heard a sermon or a talk on “Remain single! It’s better that way!” or “Singleness: Following Jesus and Paul’s example”? Probably never.
While I agree that marriage is good—I honestly do love love and would love to get married one day—it is refreshing to know that our cultural ideal of marriage may not be the holy ideal of Christianity. That what the Bible actually says and what our culture adheres to is different. That despite whether we are married, single, divorced, or have lost loved ones, the Bible explicitly gives us an ideal worthy of chasing after with our entire being:
“So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let us keep on running the race marked out for us. Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the author of faith. He also makes it perfect. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2
Amy Hauptman is an InterVarsity Campus Leader at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, NV, and a part-time Campus Staff Member at the University of Nevada, Reno. She graduated from UC Davis in 2006 with a BA in Comparative Literature. She has a heart for the ‘towns’ and ‘villages’ of college ministry (the junior and community colleges). She would also say that the three driving forces in her life, besides her love for coffee, are to see, learn and enjoy as much as possible.