Do we idolize marriage?

As I have been studying racial injustice intently for about a year now, my eyes have been opened to injustice in other areas too. There is to be no partiality in how we treat anyone because God shows no partiality.

For God shows no partiality.  Romans 2:11 NIV

One of the areas I have been considering lately is how marriage is esteemed in church communities and I wonder if married couples receive partiality or are favored. The entire bible is strung between the marriage of Adam and Eve in Genesis and the bride of Christ being presented to Jesus in Revelation, so marriage is a mainstay institution in the church and constant pattern God uses.

I wonder if we can push things too far and make marriage in idol.

For example,

  • I wonder if we sometimes seek our identity in who we marry or on how well our marriage is going.
  • I wonder if we somethings think less of those who are not married.
  • I wonder if we can compare marriages and make judgments.
  • I wonder if we are prone to care more about how well our marriage is going than how well our relationship with Jesus is going.

Marriage is not the goal in life. Jesus is.

As I watch beautiful women who love Jesus, wait for marriage, I have been sensitized to seeing single women be asked, “Are you dating anyone yet?” How often is that question heard as, There is a higher goal for you called marriage. How are you doing at reaching that?

While mulling this over for quite a few weeks now, I  read a quote in a book this week that scalded me and prompted this post. When talking about marriage between people being a pattern for the greater marriage between Christ and the church this author wrote: Recognition that marriage (at its best) points to a much greater reality relieves the pressure on all concerned. First, it depressurizes single people. We live in a world where sexual and romantic fulfillment are paraded as ultimate goods. Miss out on sex, we are told and you miss out on life.

True, although why is the sex part in there? Isn’t an intimate relationship more of the dream?

But within a Christian framework, missing marriage and gaining Christ is like missing out on playing with dolls as a child, but growing up to have a real baby.

Don’t say those words to a single woman aching for her prince.

Don’t turn her dreams into playing with dolls as a child. And don’t use another painful element of being single as illustration. The single woman who is aching to be married, probably also wants to be a mom. Don’t talk to her today about having a relationship with Jesus is like having the real thing, like a real baby

I think I am seeing partiality right now.

I want to be angry at this author, but then I have to look at something I myself have done innocently as a mom that is breaking my heart right now.

I started “married boxes” when the girls were little.

The box was labeled with each daughter’s name and each year I added keepsakes, photos, awards, and a customized Christmas ornament that represented every year of their life. Last year one of my daughters got married and I joyfully delivered her married box. She was delighted to decorate her first Christmas tree as a new wife by hanging her family history on evergreen branches as she shared the story of each ornament with her new husband, including the crocheted angels her grandmother made her when she was born.

But what about my other adult daughter in her late twenties who is not yet married? Why did I do this married box thing? She hopes to marry, but I don’t know God’s plans for her. What if in a few years she purchases a home as a single woman? I will deliver the box of keepsakes and ornaments to her home like I did for the other, but as I hand it to her, she and I will both know what I called it her entire life.

I am grieved.

I am so grieved at what I have done. May my heartfelt apology result in changed behavior. May I never treat a single person as if they are less than, accidentally or on purpose. Oh, Lord, help me.

Let’s stop making marriage the prize in our churches.

Walking with God is the prize.


Picture Explanation: My daughter graciously permitted me to publish this blog.

On a more upbeat note, your Irish blogger is going to make corned beef and cabbage for the 27th year in a row. Getting pretty good at it, but the fun part is seeing my family, playing Sequence, and eating Irish soda bread all month. Kudos to our oldest daughter, E, who sends us Winston’s Irish soda bread each year and taught me how to make the mustard horseradish sauce to slather all over everything. Game changer. Pictures are from past years.

© 2021 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.

10 Responses

  1. Jonathan is very available. Geographically, it may be a problem for the next 1.5 years. But once he is in residency…

    I agree with you, Laurie. Remember years ago; we had a discussion of if being single is a vocation? What is your answer?


    1. Hello friend,

      The word vocation is used more frequently in Catholic circles than in evangelical circles, so I am not familiar enough with what you mean by
      “single as a vocation” to answer with confidence, and I can’t remember that conversation years ago. (I am glad your memory is better than mine.)

      I can imagine the possibility of someone deciding to remain single and celibate for God, but I think God more often is expecting us to remain content in our current circumstance while not knowing what the future holds and being willing to trust God with that knowledge and follow God where life leads, which may include marriage. Part 1 of my answer is that all Christ followers, whether single, married, or in church leadership are to live Romans 12:1-2 and other verses like it: ESV
      I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

      Though married, I still aim to live with heart that is wholly God’s (not wholly my husband’s) and to live for “an audience of One” (not live for my husband’s approval). If God is pleased, I am pleased. Of course as I please God with how I live my life, I am also often also pleasing my husband as a natural result, but pleasing God is the higher aim. At least I try to live that way. It seems the same would be true for any single person or a person in a formal position within the church as well.

      Chat back if you want! I am not pretending to have understood your question completely or to have answered well.

  2. I have prayed for Jake’s future wife since he was a baby never considering that it might not be part of Gods plans for him. Selfishly I then realize that means no grandchildren too. These days my prayers are focused on him having a renewed heart for Jesus and seeing himself the way God see’s him. I know he has so much more for him than just a wife and kids. I grieve that I didn’t do better at instilling that in him.

    1. I heard a pastor yesterday remind us that a car has a small rear-view mirror and an expansive windshield. We are to glance back, but our main focus is to move forward. I still pray for my child’s spouses that are probably alive, but while I am praying, I know they might not get married. My prayers are in an open hand now.

      I, too, have been seeing the gaps in my parenting, but let’s confess the things He shows us and move forward in faith that God the Father will fill those caps for our kids. I, too, have been realizing more that if my children get a spouse and kids without a sold-out heart to Jesus…I would rather the sold-out heart to Jesus.

  3. Hi, Friend. Thank you for the reminder that Christ is the prize. May I be a better encourager to my single friends.

  4. Here is another thought. As we get older and we may lose our spouse are we a nothing? That will be the true test for me. Has Christ been my life or has my husband been my life? Has my husband been an idol of my heart? Will I still have purpose and meaning in Christ without Him………?

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this article. Though we differ in the role baptism plays, there are many places of agreement. This is one:’How is God calling me to make a response to Him and to my brothers and sisters from within the state in life in which I find myself?’”

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I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6

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