Some listeners to Wednesday’s podcast were troubled by Greg’s statement that “part of being a human being before God is getting married and having a family.” As single people, this seemed to them to be a painful denigration of their humanity—a claim that single people are failing God and are not fully human.
I don’t think that’s what Greg intended to convey, but I do understand the pain involved with being single, and I have thought quite a bit about how I should view marriage and my singleness as a Christian. I’m posting my response to the commenters here because I’m sure there are many others out there who grieve their singleness.
Getting married and having kids is part of being human (i.e., it’s an aspect of humanity that has played a central role in human societies throughout time, created by God to teach about the union of Christ and His church, contribute to our sanctification, etc.)—given to us for our good and His glory, but it doesn’t follow that if one does not take part in those things that one is not fully human, nor does it follow that one has failed God if one doesn’t marry and have children (only if one despises those things do I think one fails). God calls some to one thing, some to another. I understand the pain of not taking part in these things (believe me), but that doesn’t mean I ought to minimize the role they play in humanity.
The problem in our culture today is that it does minimize the value of marriage and children. That is the error that was being addressed on the show. In a time when culture devalues marriage and children, that is the time when the church ought to speak of their great value as creations of God. This is the time we are in.
Am I grieved that I’m not taking part in these things? Absolutely. It is likely that Jesus also grieved over not having these things, so we’re in good company there. But these things, great as they are, are merely shadows symbolizing what’s to come for us as Christians—i.e., our union with Christ in the resurrection, being united to Him forever and enjoying our place in His body of believers. True, we don’t have the shadow (marriage and children) now, but we will one day have the reality. And that will be much, much better than any shadow that points to that reality in this life.
But even though it makes us sad, let’s honor that shadow now, not deny or denigrate it (and, in fact, the grief itself honors it because our longing for it testifies of its goodness and beauty), knowing that the complete fulfillment of it will eventually be experienced by us. We know better than most what it means to long for its fulfillment, and that understanding of longing is something we can contribute to the body of Christ, as we should all be longing for its fulfillment rather than being content with the shadow.
I hope those words will bring some peace to those who need it.