I know I like to talk a lot about singleness in the church and joke around about how 1 Corinthians 7 is my life verse. Depending on how well I know you, I may or may not have even jokingly attempted to talk you out of getting married. But despite all that I want to say, “Congratulations.”
You are entering into or have already entered into a holy and blessed union. This new station in life is a gift of God and God only gives good gifts to his children. I pray that God blesses you and your spouse and your future family with peace and joy.
Because I think you’re going to need it.
Now, obviously I’m not married nor will I be getting married any time soon, but I do know that being married is not easy. Any time you get two sinners in the same room there is going to be conflict and strife. So how much more conflict will there be when two sinners now share a life together?
I remember hearing someone say that the people you spend the most time with are the people you’re going to sin against the most. And when I take a short inventory of the various people in my own life, I can confirm that this is definitely true for me. I might sin against a stranger if I cut them off in traffic or something like that, but this is nothing next to how I’ve sinned against my close friends, and nowhere near how I’ve sinned against my own family. But this principle is now more true for you in your marriage than for any other relationship in your life. Your spouse is now going to become such a huge part of your life (as if they weren’t already) which means you are inevitably going to sin against them and hurt them potentially more than anyone else (if you haven’t already).
I don’t know about you, but that idea scares me. The idea that the person that I care the most about in the world is the person that I am going to sin against the most in the world. And not only that, but this person you’re marrying or have married is going to do the same thing to you. There’s no escaping it. This is just now a reality of your life.
Of course this reminds me of something else I’ve heard. This one was actually a wedding sermon. And unlike probably almost every other wedding sermon, I actually remember something from this sermon, even years later. He said that there are three words that you should say to your spouse every single day. If you want to have any hope of surviving it’s just gotta be a routine for you to say these three words. Now, the three words were not, “I love you.” Rather they were, “I forgive you.”
So, I also pray that you learn to forgive your spouse and that you spouse learn to forgive you. I pray that you learn to love each other with the love of Christ. I pray that your marriage reflects the marriage between Christ and his bride, the church in the sense that your relationship is founded upon and utterly saturated in Jesus’ forgiveness.
I pray that your marriage helps to teach you what it’s like to live in a daily pattern of forgiveness, to live with a spirit of graciousness and love. Not the kind of sentimentalized, eroticized, cheap, hallmark love we throw around in our culture all the time. But real love that bleeds and sacrifices itself.
So that’s all a longer and more theologically nuanced way of saying, “good luck.”
But also, don’t forget about your single friends.
I know it’s hard. You’re in a different stage of your life with different concerns and goals and you just don’t have as much time as you used to. In the church it can be so hard to be a single adult because it seems that everyone else is married and the married people don’t really interact with the single people. It’s sometimes like separate castes. The married people only really socialize with other married people and then the single people are usually pretty few and far between anyway. So, hang out with us. Invite us over or whatever. Sometimes we don’t want to intrude into your new life and we’re not sure if you even want to be around your old single friends anymore.
Also don’t forget what it was like when you were single. Don’t forget what it was like to have the condescending comments about finding someone or about how you would finally understand or be a real adult once you were married. Remember what it was like when being single made you feel like a nobody in the church. Remember what it was like when the married people your age had an air of superiority about them. Remember all this so that you can be different. And also help us single people to understand what it’s like to be married so that we don’t make the same mistakes of misunderstanding what it’s like to be in your position. Because I’m sure we don’t get it.
Finally, while everyone else may have been telling you, in some way or another, that being married opens the door for amazing superhuman spiritual development, know that at least according to St. Paul you are in a spiritually more difficult situation. In 1 Corinthians 7, while affirming the goodness of married life, he warns that while the single person is free to devote themself freely and totally to service and life in the church, the married person is not. The single person is concerned with how to please God while the married person is worried about how to please their spouse. You’re going to be busier now. You’re going to be less free in many ways. Don’t let this distract you from your own spiritual life: prayer, studying the scriptures, serving those in need, etc. Now maybe being married will actually be a boon to your spiritual life because of the support of another person you know have. Maybe it won’t. Just know that being married is not going to solve all of your spiritual problems. In fact, it may very well create some new ones.
So anyway, congratulations, best of luck, and be patient with us single people.
image credit: https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-10545746-stock-footage-bridal-bouquet-of-flowers-in-hands-of-the-bride-on-wedding.html?src=rel/503695:0