After multiple conversations with friends and after reading this article, there’s something I feel I really need to address that a lot of people associated with the Christian faith have yet to acknowledge.
Growing up, I heard so many lessons in bible class about how to be a good wife, and I went to so many Bible studies that focused on “the someday.” What people always seemed to fail to mention was that “someday” wasn’t a guarantee and that “someday” was not the purpose of our existence or our faith. Somewhere along the way, people seemed to forget to mention that our purpose was to glorify Christ. In short, modern Christianity has missed the mark as a whole when it comes to marriage and how we teach it to young people. Bible studies have gone from how we can imitate Christ to the “when you’re married”, from the “someday” where Christ returns to the “someday” with a white dress and diamond ring.
So super duper honesty time: how modern Christianity teaches marriage is backwards. If we simply taught people what it means to be a Christian, which is to serve and love others unconditionally, then the rest would follow. It would be a natural transition to go from a person whose mission was to be Jesus to others to being Christ at a more intimate level to a spouse. If greater Christendom emphasized what it means to love one another, people would already know how to be good spouses if and when the time came because they would be treating everyone else that way.
Instead, young, single people fall victim to single shaming and they freak out when they get to college and realize they don’t have a significant other in their lives and so many others do. They feel like those who are in relationships must have reached some higher level of righteousness and that God is rewarding them because they have been taught that marriage is the goal to strive for or that marriage is the ultimate way to live out and practice their faith. It becomes the fuel for many sleepless nights and personal crying sessions. It becomes the core of devotionals and the topic of Bible class series in an effort to undo the damage. It becomes the snarky comment in a conversation and the scary thing is when you hear high school girls start repeating these snarky comments. It becomes the fear that paralyzes us and keeps us from doing what we are meant to do and from following our dreams. It’s what inhibits us from dreaming wildly and living adventurously.
And then it gets to the point that young single people think that if they don’t graduate in a certain semester or if they don’t take a certain career path that they would some how royally mess up their life and ruin any chance of ever meeting “the one.” We think if we dare to dream too big and somehow find success in that dream then we would be thought of as intimidating, unapproachable or unattractive.
Essentially, young Christians come out of high school youth groups more prepared to be “good spouses” than they are prepared to live out the gospel and that’s not okay.
So, to teachers of Christianity, which is essentially everyone who calls him or herself a Christian, stop teaching marriage and teach Jesus. And to the singles (meaning anyone who isn’t married) dare to dream wildly, be ambitious and live adventurously! Don’t let fear stop you from climbing a mountain, writing a book, starting a business, or doing what you love to do.
(Photos courtesy of Kathryn Patterson)