Are We Obligated to Marry?
Written By Timothy Fish
The American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year 2005 is “truthiness: the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.” I recently ran across a prime example of this in an article written by Debbie Maken. (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/130/story_13029_1.html)
According to this article singles have a scriptural obligation to marry and it is the responsibility of other Christians to help make this happen. It turns out that this is nothing but truthiness. Most singles would like this to be true. Even though many married people say marriage isnt what singles think it is (though Im not sure why they think they understand what singles think) it is rare that a married person wants to be single. Married people in a bad relationship want the relationship to be good rather than wanting to be single. Singles usually want to be married and single Christians who are trying to follow Gods will would like nothing better than to find anything that tells them that Gods will is that they be married. After all if Gods will is that a person be married then one might as well go buy the wedding dress. But, unfortunately, the Bible does not backup the belief that it is Gods will that everyone get married.
Maken quotes Genesis 2:18 which states, It is not good for man to be alone. She also quotes the Presbyterian Westminster Catechism. Being a Baptist I have no intention of basing doctrine on anything except the word of God and I do not believe the Westminster Catechism is the word of God. As for Genesis 2:18, it is certainly true that it is not good for man to be alone, but when this was said, Adam was the only human being on the face of the Earth. Today a man does not have to have a wife to not be alone. It is said that half of all the people who have lived are alive today.
The Bible does have a lot of good things to say about marriage. Even Paul, who is often noted for speaking so highly in favor of singleness had nothing against marriage and even spoke highly of it. In I Corinthians 7:7 he even called it a gift, but in verse eight he states that it is good for the unmarried and widows to remain that way. He clearly did not believe that we have an obligation to be married.
One of the things that Maken suggested that churches do is to help singles through thoughtful setups. As a single, I am not necessarily opposed to such things, but experience has shown that these setups are often less than desirable. I have found that the criteria my friends have for judging who would be ideal for me is nothing like what mine is. I would like to offer these matchmakers a word of advice. We have been told that men look for women like their mothers and women look for men like their fathers. The old song stated, I want a girl just like the girl that married dear ol Dad. While I dont make a habit of comparing the women I meet to my mother, I suspect that the matchmakers would have a whole lot more success if they would do so.
For those of you who are single and wonder if you will ever marry I can tell you that you probably will. Statistics show that a very small percentage of people do not marry. Some people marry very late in life, but most people marry sometime. Rather than latching on to the idea that you are somehow violating Gods law if you do not marry be happy with the state you are currently in and know that you will probably marry someday, but if you dont, that is ok too.