Keeping Matrimony Holy Starts with Singles
- Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Bolick seems baffled about why her fastidious career-climbing, made easier by her singlehood, hasn’t compensated for her spouselessness. So she finds solace in faulting modern men for hardly being worthy of the affections they seek from trophy specimens of womanhood like herself.
Ultimately, however, Bolick’s attempt at celebrating modern singlehood simply unravels into a grim caricature of it, providing a cautionary tale for us singles of faith.
Our challenge is to be the exception to her norm.
Families Under Fire
In the big picture, families provide the pragmatic function of social stability from which we all benefit. However, since commitment is now considered superfluous for procreation, individual choices regarding extramarital sex are changing what the family unit looks like. Recent statistics put the percentage of married couples in our society at 51%, a new record low. But our maternity wards aren’t sitting empty, are they?
Meanwhile, courts in California have become increasingly involved with decisions affecting what the family unit looks like. Rulings in several child custody cases have re-defined what it means to be a parent as courts reassign parental rights, often replacing biological lineage with communal affectations based on who is performing conventional child-rearing roles.
Granted, California’s courts wouldn’t be making such sweeping reallocations of parental rights if biological parents weren’t so inept at caring for their own offspring. It’s a sad testament to the dysfunction of the family unit when it’s hard to disagree with court rulings transferring custody from drug-blitzed birth mothers to kindly neighbors.
But can we assume that such tinkering with the traditional family unit by California’s courts is that much worse than divorce and the resulting patchwork of blended families? According to a 2008 report by the Barna Group, divorce rates of churched Americans mirror those of the unchurched, at about 32% and 33% respectively. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the holiness of matrimony, is it?
Grace is wonderful after divorce papers are signed, but wouldn’t grace be even better when practiced before those papers were necessary? Singles considering marriage must resign their desires to the Lord’s leading, and recognize the holiness of the covenant they’re making with him and their potential spouse. After all, a biblical marriage is more faith than fairy tale.
Having our courts come along behind damaged marriages should be a worst-case scenario, not a back-up plan.
The Responsibility of Singles Toward Marriage
Which brings us back to non-married Christ-followers, and our role in preserving the sanctity of marriage.
In some cultures, marriages are arranged by other people. Whom one marries, and even the wedding itself, carries deep social significance between castes, classes, cultures, and even countries. Here in North America, our modern marriage customs have become relatively unencumbered by such peripheral considerations, and indeed, even though people like Kate Bolick have their reasoning wrong for being single, singlehood itself isn’t the anathema it used to be.
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