It’s Saturday, so I’d like to share this post for singles. A version of it appeared here in April 2011.
This surprised me: More than fifty per cent of U.S. residents are now single, nearly a third of all households are comprised of just one resident, and five million adults younger than thirty-five live alone*.
Singleness is hardly rare and single adults of all ages have a considerable amount of influence on American culture, from their purchasing habits to their entertainment choices.
But would singleness be considered a “workaround”?
The term – workaround – originated as computer lingo referring to a temporary fix for some kind of software or programming problem. Over time, it has come to mean any method, sometimes temporary, for achieving a task or goal when the original or planned method isn’t working.
Does singleness qualify? Is it – as Wikipedia says – “a temporary fix that implies a genuine solution to the problem is needed”?
Well, maybe that depends on your perspective.
As a single, you get to choose whether you view your status as
- something to be enjoyed and celebrated for however long you’re there . . . or
- a mark of incompleteness or even failure, to be corrected as quickly as possible.
(And ever so many variations of the two.)
If you’re in the “I love being single” camp and you really mean it, you probably enjoy a level of contentment that is enviable. Yay, you!
If you’re in the “singleness is a negative” group, though, maybe not so much.
Perhaps without even realizing it, you’ve put your “real life” on hold until marriage and are starting to wonder if you’ll ever get to live that life you envisioned.
If you’ve been married before, you may be hoping for another chance and have also put yourself in a holding pattern “until”…
You could be one who is still reeling from the life-altering effect of a death, a divorce, or a painful breakup that you never anticipated.
Whatever the circumstances, singleness need not be a fragile kind of “cobbled together” existence to be merely endured. It can be a truly satisfying experience. Really.
How? Look at it for a moment through a Biblical lens.
In the Old Testament, the evidence of God’s favor was in the numbers. Everyone knew God had blessed His people when they had large families, plentiful crops, abundant land, and livestock. Marriage and family were the means for producing offspring to inherit wealth and prevail as His chosen people.
In the New Testament, God’s blessings weren’t measured in land and a human legacy, but in salvation and eternal life. God sent Christ as His own divine offspring and arranged it so that through faith in Jesus, anyone could be adopted into God’s family.
Under this new covenant, Christ was the Bridegroom, the church was the Bride, and it was possible for everyone to bear spiritual “children” through evangelism and discipleship. Rich, poor, single, widowed, childless, divorced, married – all were (and are) equally valued by Him.
The command to “Be fruitful and multiply” in the Old Testament was reframed in the New Testament as “Make disciples of all nations.”
Christ continued to value marriage; He performed His first miracle at a wedding. The commitment of marriage was essential then (and now) as an ideal foundation for raising children and maintaining the stability of society but singles were not excluded from His blessing.
Jesus placed great value on singleness by choosing to remain single Himself. He enjoyed deep intimacy with God the Father, and invested time regularly with His single friends (Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and others). He gave them significant roles in his plans to redeem humanity.
He was certainly not “less than” because He was single. His life was rich and meaningful; there is no record or reason to think that He felt deprived in any way because He wasn’t married. In fact, He challenged others to remain single if they could (Matthew 19:12)
So back to the original question: Is singleness a workaround?
Yes, it is. But then, so is marriage. And so is parenthood, childlessness, widowhood, celibacy, and every other human institution and experience since the Fall. We’re all leading workaround lives; we’re all works in progress in this imperfect world.
But you get to choose whether you view this as a good thing or not.
The truth is, being single can be a remarkable opportunity for personal healing, meaningful community, and unique intimacy with Christ. Whether or not you eventually marry, you are uniquely positioned right now to play a critical role in God’s overall plan to restore the world to Himself.
That’s the best kind of workaround.
How do you see singleness – as a problem to be solved or an opportunity for growth? What role does your faith play in forming your perspective?
(Statistics from “Why Are So Many Americans Living Alone?” New Yorker, April 12, 2012)
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