Singles and doubles

According to a recent study, it turns out marriage is good for you. (My wife has been telling me that for years.)

In The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially, researchers report that married people have it better in all sorts of ways. They live longer, have fewer heart attacks and other diseases, and recover more quickly than single people. They behave in less risky ways and are far wealthier than singles throughout their lives. Married women are less vulnerable to rape and domestic violence.

What’s more, they have more sex. Better still, they enjoy sex more.

Any civilized society should welcome good news of marriage felicity. It doesn’t take more than casual observation to see that the fabric of society is loosened by marital misery and tightened by marital bliss. Happy, healthy, and wealthy families strengthen communities and provide a safe and sound climate for kids to grow up in.

With all this data to support marital bonds, you could counsel singles to run on down to the chapel and find the first mate that comes along with ring in hand. People don’t – or shouldn’t – get married, however in order to achieve social or economic advantage.

God is love, the Bible says. So, wherever God is, love is. And neither God nor love is confined only to marriage. Single people can remind us that intimacy is more than sex and that love cannot survive without friendship.

Passion is not limited to the marriage bed. We see it in God’s relentless pursuit of a relationship with the world. We see it in the prophets’ cries for justice. We see it embodied in the self-giving of Christ on the cross.

While we rightly applaud the virtues of marriage, we should equally celebrate the celibate. All of us are created in the image of God and thus are made for relationships of love. But all loving relationships do not consist of making love sexually or saying “I do’s” before many witnesses.

The estate of singleness is not a class below the married. It can be the highest calling a person can have, if it turns out to be that person’s calling. Said another way, being single or married is not the calling itself so much as the means by which people may fulfill their calling to serve God and the world.

The idea that singles are somehow deficient and incomplete might be a surprise to Jesus.


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