There’s no checkbox for “relationship status” on the employment application God gives you. And regardless of how the culture in some Christian institutions may make you feel, there’s no relationship criteria to become a member of the family of God, or to get into heaven.
Where did we ever get this idea that being happily married was a mark of godliness? Yes, being happily married is a blessing from God. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage. And for those who are married, following God’s design for marriage can bring depth, meaning, and joy. God can and does use a happy marriage for His kingdom.
But not everyone is or can be happily married. There are so many circumstances where a satisfying marriage may be out of reach, at least for now:
- The fifty+ never-married social worker who volunteers in a small church with no single men
- The assistant pastor with a contentious wife who makes homelife miserable and hasn’t allowed intimacy in months, who stays married for his career and the children
- The husband caring for a wife so disabled she cannot do basic personal care tasks for herself
- The wife forced to watch her husband refuse marriage counseling, develop a relationship with his business associate, and serve her with divorce papers
- The middle-aged woman who becomes a sincere Christian over the strenuous, angry objections of her husband
- The person who struggles with whether or not to leave the marriage because of a spouse who continues in an active addiction
When we make a happy marriage equivalent to godliness we miss the point. As important as a good marriage is, it’s not the most important thing. If you’re married, God can use your marriage for His kingdom. But He doesn’t save, call, or equip couples. He saves, calls, and equips individuals first. And whether you’re never married, previously married, unhappily married, or happily married, that means you.
If you fit into some category other than “happily married,” be assured God doesn’t look on you as a second class citizen. Remember, Jesus was never married. Some of those who have done some of the greatest things for God were not happily married either. David had many wives. (That couldn’t have been happy!) Ezekiel’s wife died. Hosea’s wife kept on having affairs. Paul may not have been married, or if he was it may have ended. None of that limits what God can do in and with and through you.
A happy marriage is a worthy goal. But there are more important goals, and here are a few of them that apply regardless of your relationship status:
- Discovering the kind of person God created you to be
- Getting over the hang-ups, addictions, character flaws, and sins that hold you back
- Developing the kind of mature character that will make you the most useful to God
- Developing character traits such as integrity, joy, peace, self-control, persistence, courage, flexibility, and love
- Learning how to learn, and never stop learning
- Discovering the purpose for which God put YOU on this planet
- Giving extravagantly of whatever God has given to you – love, material goods, skills, talents, insight
On the very last day of your life, when you meet God face to face, it will be just you. Your parents, your boss, your pastor, your kids, your spouse – none of them will be there. It’s your relationship with Him that matters.
I’ve been happily married for several years now, and sometimes I can forget what it was like to be single until I was 48 years old. There are also many people with a ring on their finger who are terribly miserable, or exhausted, or confused. And others have experienced being pushed out of the “inner circle” when their marriage ends.
There’s something God needs you to do for Him whatever your relationship status is.
Remember, there’s no checkbox for “relationship status” on the employment application God gives you. Tweet that.
Your Turn: Have you felt your relationship status affected God’s opinion of you, or your usefulness to Him? Why or why not? Leave a comment below.
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