Marriage is NOT the answer.
I’m going to go out on a limb here with a statement that I’m prepared for many of you to disagree with. Here it is: There isn’t a problem for which marriage is the answer. Now, this isn’t to say that people shouldn’t get married. It’s not even to say that marriage isn’t an answer. It’s just not an answer to problems.
Let me explain.
Marriage it not an answer to problems because it is simply a status – the opposite of singleness – and despite what some of you may believe, singleness is not a problem, it too is simply a status.
Right now many of you are grabbing your Bibles to quote to me Genesis 2:18 and 1 Corinthians 7:9. We’ll talk about Genesis later, let’s addess 1 Corinthians, which paraphrased says, if you can’t control yourself you should get married, because it’s “better to marry than burn with lust”. Ok, so this could be interpreted to mean that marriage is the solution to lust – but that interpretation would be wrong. Marriage isn’t the solution to the sin of lust – God is. People with lust problems before marriage will almost certainly have lust problems after marriage. Lust is sin and marriage can’t make that go away. Marriage might provide an outlet for some of those thoughts and feelings, but ultimately that sin needs to be dealt with before God. Anytime the problem is sin – whatever the sin may be, marriage is most definitely not the answer.
Another common problem people attempt to use marriage to solve is loneliness. And, while marriage may offer a solution to this by bringing another person closer to your proximity more consistently, sadly there are many, many married people who are just as lonely as if they were truly alone. Loneliness doesn’t have anything to do with having people around you, loneliness is solved by connecting with others in a deep and genuine way – which can be done regardless of marital status.
Yet another issue where marriage is attempted as a solution is that of unwed mothers. Here, because of experience, I have radically changed my stance. Historically, when a couple was unmarried and found to be expecting, a marriage was hastily patched together in an effort to “make an honest woman of her” – whatever that means. Historically this may have been a decent approach, but things have changed. Historically, people didn’t sleep together hours after meeting. Historically, marriage was seen as a commitment that was taken seriously. Historically, families lived in communities that supported and held them accountable for their actions. Historically, women who were pregnant and unmarried were ostracized from society. For better and for worse, things have changed.
Now, forcing marriage on an expecting, unwed couple is simply taking two people with poor discernment (at best), who have displayed irresponsibility, who are likely unprepared in almost every way for marriage, and telling them that because they made a bad choice they are now obligated to enter into one of the most serious and life-impacting commitments there is, on top of being solely responsible for the life of a totally dependent child. This is wisdom? No, it’s a recipe for divorce and a lot of other issues. I absolutely believe that there are certain couples who should be encouraged to continue dating with the intention of moving toward marriage if possible (however, statistics show us that few dating relationships survive long after a pregnancy is introduced). Regardless of whether they continue dating, I believe that both the new father and mother should take responsibility for their choice and financially, practically, and emotionally support this child to the best of their ability. And I believe that the community around them should lovingly hold them accountable, while mentoring and supporting the couple with the tools they need to be great parents. There are times when the next logical step for an unwed couple who is expecting would be to get married, but while marriage may be the correct next step, it’s still not the answer to the problem.
How about these:
Problem: I’m poor.
Answer: You think you’re poor now? How about adding in the expenses of another adult and roughly $286,330 per child, a house, etc. Yeah. There are lots of poor married people.
Problem: I don’t like to cook/clean/do laundry.
Answer: Stop being lazy or hire a maid.
Problem: I’m unhappy.
Answer: There are MANY unhappy married people. If you’re looking for happiness in another person you’ll never find it (or at least not for long.)
Problem: We’re [They’re] already living together, we [they] should just get married.
Answer: Marriage is very different than living together. Marriage is a commitment, cohabitation is a convenience. Marriage is forever, cohabitation is for a while. Marriage joins body, finances, and futures, cohabitation joins space. Statistics are grave when it comes to the future success of couples who cohabitated before marriage, presumably because cohabiting couples view marriage as a formality to what they already have, which is not the case. Cohabitation is a problem, marriage isn’t the answer.
Problem: I don’t like being alone.
Answer: You think marriage is the answer? Tell that to the married person whose spouse is in the military, travels often, works nights, or simply chooses not to come home. You want consistent companionship? Get a dog.
And the list goes on. For every “problem” I could think of, marriage still wasn’t the answer – because marriage is simply a status other than singleness, and singleness isn’t the problem. Practically every problem is caused by a root other than singleness and as such, can be solved with an answer other than marriage. Marriage will not make issues magically disappear, it simply changes the circumstances (and brings with it issues of its own).
But, while marriage isn’t the answer to problems, it is the answer to questions, like this one:
Question: I love this person sacrificially, we have a common God, common ministry, common goals. I believe God has placed this person in my life for the purpose of companionship, mutual growth, and enjoyment. What should I do?
Answer: By all that is pure and holy, MARRY THAT PERSON, and in my personal opinion, you should do it quickly!
I believe (and I have concluded that the Bible supports this belief – Genesis 2:18 and others), that for the vast majority of people, marriage is the best situation in which to grow as an individual, utilize our gifts, and act within the roles God has made us for. I believe God made us for marriage. But even with that, 1 Corinthians 7: 32 and 34 tell us that singleness gives us more resources to serve the Lord. Because of this some people remain single either by their choice or God’s wisdom.
Marriage is awesome, comes with many benefits, is a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for us, is something we should be open to and working toward, and is most likely either part of your present or future. What marriage isn’t, is an answer to your problems.