I became officially single after high school graduation in the summer of 1971. I told myself, “It's time to go to college, get an education and get a wife.” And this was my program for the next four years.
Expectations: discovery #1
There was no question in my mind (or in the minds of my parents) that, of course, I would marry a fine, Christian woman, have fine, lovely children and have a career to keep us all fine and lovely. What other option is there? God's will was that I leave Mom and Dad, cleave to a wife and fill the quiver with children.
But when the winter of 1975 ended and I had absolutely no prospect of being in love, much less married, I began to lose confidence in God's ability to perform his will in my life. Clearly something had gone wrong. Either the Devil had thwarted God's plan or I was not living in his will – making it impossible for God to fulfill his plan for me.
But that couldn't be the case at all. I had been attending a local Orthodox Presbyterian church for three years. There I was taught God cannot be frustrated: when he decides to do something, it is done. So does God want me to marry or not? I was assured by one and all that, yes, God's will is that I marry – but maybe not immediately. In the meantime I must put the other pieces of the program together (i.e. education and career) and wait for God to bring the woman of his choice into my life. And so for the next four years I was in a kind of purgatory known as being the eligible bachelor, continually dating women of all backgrounds and ages and looking for the missing link in God's plan: my wife.
Commitment: discovery #2
Being in God's will is a motivation to action, and gives purpose to living. Between 1975 and 1979 I wasn't in God's will, I was in God's holding pattern. My job was to keep looking until I found God's woman. Sure it was fun, but I had no sense of direction. All I knew was that without a wife, my life would be retarded severely.
Then it happened: many of the marriages I witnessed in college and through the '70s were dissolving one by one. The very same people I had admired and envied because they had wives and children, I now pitied. I found myself wondering if God wasn't actually sparing me from similar mistakes.
I came to realize that I could commit myself to being a single man without guilt and self-doubt that usually goes along with that status. I began to see that being single could have distinct advantages over marriage. Besides, why should I take the risk of ending up like my divorced, Christian friends? So in 1980 I committed myself to the single lifestyle.
Submission and sacrifice: discovery #3
The main problem with being single is that God's statement that “it is not good that man should be alone” is still true. And clearly the act of marriage is forbidden outside the marriage relationship according to the Bible. The dilemma I face, therefore, is that I am a sexual being without a legitimate context for expressing my sexuality.
As a Christian and a single man, however, I see no dilemma at all. It is axiomatic that you can't have your cake and eat it, too. I have decided to be a single man; therefore, I must submit to God's Word and forfeit sexual intercourse with a woman.
I believe that the reason so many marriages are crumbling and the reason the singles' scene is so shallow is that too many people want to have it both ways. Married people still want to experience the freedom all singles have to explore other relationships; singles, on the other hand, insist that sexual relationships should not be denied to them just because they are single. But only by submitting myself to God's order of relationships and sacrificing those desires that conflict with God's commands can I make sense of the relationships that I have.
Faith and trust: discovery #4
I am taking advantage of my singleness by pursuing postgraduate education, traveling about the world, putting money into risky ventures, dating many marvelous women and looking into a variety of career avenues. As exciting as all this sounds, it still cannot begin to fulfill the most basic of human needs: the need to be loved.
But is it true that I do not have access to such a relationship? Is God real? Is Jesus a person? Does he love me? I am convinced that I have as secure, loving and stable a relationship with Jesus as I could ever hope to have with anyone here on this planet. The faith and trust I place in him is safe from financial problems, emotional vacillation and fickleness – all of which plague sinful human relationships continually.
All of us are social beings, married or single. Our difference is simply that we have chosen alternative avenues to fulfill our need for social interaction. As Christians we stand on common ground: God's love for us. Without that foundation, neither marriage nor singleness can be counted on to satisfy the desires of the heart.