The author of this article, Cole NeSmith, argues that in the Bible singleness is held as ideal but marriage is for those who cannot hold to that ideal without sinning. Among the many points he makes is the fact that in 1 Corinthians 7 Paul says if you are married you will be concerned with pleasing your husband, if you are not married you will be concerned with pleasing God.
My favorite part in the article is when he says, “If you’re thinking, ‘This guy just hasn’t felt what it’s like to be ‘in love’ and that’s why he can say this,’ trust me. I take issue with the term ‘in love,’ but I certainly know how it feels to be enamored of another person.” I’m not sure that this section really strengthens his argument; I just know what it’s like to have people tell me “You just don’t understand, because you’ve never been in love.” And it’s extremely annoying.
Here’s the thing with this article, whether you agree or disagree with his thesis I think he brings up some great points for consideration. I readthe comments from his article and many–probably most–of them said something about how NeSmith is SO WRONG for believing that singleness might be better than marriage. I don’t know if singleness really is better than marriage in God’s eyes, but here’s the thing; the church (and society as a whole) are constantly saying that marriage is better. Whole sermons are devoted to lessons on how to date and how to marry, and how if you’re not married or dating, you certainly will be someday (if there’s nothing wrong with you, of course). People definitely judge people who aren’t married. I even do it. I see a 40-year-old single person and I think “I wonder why they’re single?” instead of “I wonder why they choose to be single.” It’s absolutely outrageous to think that someone would be single by choice unless they’re a monk, a priest, or a nun (and, of course, they’re just weird).
So my question is, if it is unclear in the Bible whether it is better to be single or married (and I think one could make the case that what is better differs for each individual, that God calls some of us to marriage and some to singleness), then why is it so acceptable for the church to insinuate that marriage is better (even “the gold standard”), and so offensive when someone actually suggests that singleness might be better?
Or, as my women’s studies profs used to say, “what threatens people about the idea that singeness might be the better option?”