(Editor's Note: This blog was first posted in June of 2016 on the EngageMagazine.net website HERE. It was authored by Canada Burns, Graphic Designer at AFA)
As a Tolkien fan and connoisseur of Sir Peter Jackson’s films, it has always been a dream of mine to go to New Zealand. How amazing would it be to see the mountains of Gondor with my own eyes and walk the paths that Frodo and Sam walked? Without a doubt, it is the highest of my bucket list items.
Over the past few years, many have asked me, “Well, why don’t you just save up your money and go? What’s stopping you?” In theory I could, but a trip like that would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience considering the amount of time and money it would take. My answer is usually, "Someday I will go. Or perhaps not. I’m waiting for the right time.” The bottom line is this — because visiting New Zealand is such a big dream of mine, I know that it wouldn’t be worth doing if I didn’t do it right. I’m still young and, though none of us are promised tomorrow, I have peace that if I am destined to visit New Zealand, God will open the door and provide the resources and time to go.
Many of my friends and acquaintances have visited New Zealand themselves. Sadly my first reaction to seeing pictures and hearing stories about their journey is to become bitter. My inner 5-year-old whines, “How come they get to go and I don’t? I want it more than anyone!” But this feeling of envy is, as I said, the reaction of a 5 year old and extremely immature. I would want my friends to get excited about my trip, therefore I shouldn’t let my longing turn me into a bitter child.
So why am I telling you all this and what does it have to do with marriage? Well, in many ways marriage for single people is like my dream of going to New Zealand. It is something we want, but only get to do once and therefore we seek to do it right. We should seek for God to give us peace and guide us to the right person at the right time. And we must not become bitter at the idea of marriage just because other people have it and we don’t.
During this week of examining “The Heart of Marriage”, it can be very easy as a single person to let the inner five-year-old take over. I know it can be hard when many of your friends seem to be living a dream that seems like it may never come true for you. But like New Zealand is to me, marriage is more than just a passing task to check off a list. For the Christian, marriage is important regardless of your plans or wishes for your own marriage journey. Here are a few reasons:
Marriage matters to singles because it was created by God.
On the sixth day of creation, God made Adam and Eve to rule over the earth. He made them in his image as male and female (Genesis 1:27) and He called them to be devoted to each other so much that they are considered “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God Himself, the Creator of all things, created marriage. This fact alone makes it valuable and worthy of respect.
Marriage matters because a healthy marriage advances society.
Two heads are better than one. Men and women bring different skills to the table and when they work together they can do great things. Also when you break down marriage to the simplest reality, the purpose of a man and a woman getting together is to have children and grow the population. When the population is grown, there are more people with different skill sets that allow society as a whole to prosper. This is true in every culture and has been a reality since the dawn of time. In addition, marriage (not co-habitation, but committed marriage) has been found to have numerous health benefits. http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/relationships-marriage-and-health
Marriage matters because it is a picture of the gospel.
Once in college, I had a friend who was going through a bad relationship. When trying to counsel her, she turned to me and declared, “You’ve never had a boyfriend. You don’t know anything about being in love.” This statement is both hurtful and untrue. Sure, I have never been in a romantic relationship with a man. But I know what true love is because I am in a relationship with someone who is the quintessential picture of true love: Jesus Christ.
The reality is that even as single people, we can understand the heart of marriage in our relationship with the One who, while we were still in sin, died for us (Romans 5:8). How beautiful is it that Christ wants to have a relationship with us? Not only that, but He was also willing to make great sacrifices in order for that relationship to be possible. Selflessness — this is the very definition of true love.
I’ve been an observer of many relationships over the course of my short life. Many of them were good, some of them not so good. But when I think of the couples I know who exemplify selfless love, it reminds me of Christ. Whether you are preparing to be married, waiting to be married, or don’t plan to be married, for the Christian, marriage is to be upheld and honored because it is a symbol of what we all have in Christ. It’s a symbol of the greatest love story of all time.
So, dear single person, please do not lose heart. We must not let go of our dreams, but we must also not become bitter when they seem out of reach. Marriage is to be cherished not only because it may be a long-held dream of ours, but for what it represents: the relationship between Christ and His Church. Someday you may walk the forest paths of Middle-earth, or perhaps not. But that doesn’t make them any less wondrous.