The Idol of Marriage

Guys, staaaaaap.
Why is everyone so curious what I, the outspoken blogger, thinks about marriage?

“Stats are booming!”

You wackos.

(But thanks. I feel the love!)

In my last post, I gave my exact thoughts about the topic of dating and marriage. In that post I shared mostly what was on my heart. I have, however, decided to throw caution into the wind (due to reader disappointment) and share a few thoughts. (This post has been percolating.)

Here are a few thoughts I have on the subject of marriage, some of which I may or may not have shared in my Practical Christian Living class.

In my opinion, marriage is an idol. Marriage, its place, and its importance have grown far too large in our minds due to our misunderstanding of what marriage actually means. And further, idolizing marriage leads to ineffective Christian witness both inside and outside the church.


  1. First, a lot of people are confused about what marriage means.

Marriage is a metaphor created by God to represent the future union of God Himself to His pure, beautiful church.

The first “thing” is God and His church, not the other way around. Human marriage is not the “thing.” God one day receiving His pure, beautiful church—THAT is the thing. Marriage is temporary. The church is eternal.

Jesus Himself said, “When the dead rise, they will neither marry, nor be given in marriage, they will be like the angels in heaven” (Mark 12:25). (You know you won’t be married in heaven, right?)

Paul reminds us that marriage is not the ultimate goal by a strange inversion at the end of his comments on marriage in his letter to the Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (5:25-32).

Just when we think Paul won’t end his moral rampage about husbands, he flips the argument on its side, indicating he’s actually been talking about God and the church the whole time.  (This is not to say that husbands ought to be rude to their wives. Paul’s instructions regarding Christian love still stand.)

Paul’s inversion reminds us that we do not look at marriage and say, “Oh, this is kind of like God and the church.” No, we look at God and His church and say, “This mystery, so amazing, is reflected to me by the human institution of marriage.”

Let us not have such an earthly perspective that we do not see marriage as temporary or that we do not see the church as eternal.

  1. Second, the idolatry of marriage is evident within the church.

It seems like we in the church place great importance on marriage, sometimes at the expense of Kingdom work!

Why is it that many Christian young people find themselves secretly praying, “Jesus, don’t come back until I get married”? (Which is really the subliminal “Jesus, don’t come back until I have sex.”) (And honestly, this is a very common prayer, according to youth!)

Strange isn’t it, that we prefer getting our jollies over the return of our great Lord?

What is it about this marriage relationship or this intimacy that is of utter importance that we cannot imagine getting to the end of our lives without it?

(And married people can’t imagine it. Grown men who are happily married get very uncomfortable by the idea of being celibate for the rest of their lives.) (Though I can’t imagine why. We single people have been doing it for years.)

So where do we get this idea that ultimate satisfaction comes from a romantic relationship (or a marriage relationship)? Is it coming from the church? If so, why?

Or, perhaps, have we bought into the secular message that sexual expression = worth?

Strangely, we in the church forget that our ultimate goal is contributing to God’s kingdom on earth and living in relationship with His people. Building God’s kingdom through the church is the Gospel message, after all.

When people don’t recognize that marriage is a metaphor for something greater, and that marriage itself is not eternal, it can become an idol after which many people seek. People desperately browse the marriage market, follow and like their next new crush, safely marry, and then obsess over all their unmarried friends, attempting to lead them into “Christian bliss,” or marriage, the obvious path to spiritual maturity.

There are people (married or not) who cannot imagine a person living on one’s own (especially a woman living on her own). They cannot imagine “not being known,” as it were, emotionally and physically. They cannot imagine laying down their idol of marriage and instead fully devoting themselves to Kingdom work.

(We know after all, that that’s the whole point of singleness. Paul says in I Corinthians 7:28, 32-35: “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this… I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Paul so clearly outlines the purpose of single living. (Did you hear that singles? We are just SO MUCH MORE SPIRITUAL than everyone. The Bible says so.)

And a side note, perhaps this is what I am saying to you, O gentle reader, who does not wish to be mimic Immoral Married Monica. Help us change the conversation about single people. Instead of the inevitable, “Are you dating?” “Why are you single?” “So have you found anyone yet?” I beg you to instead ask, “Tell me about your Kingdom work.” I know so many single people who have so much to say about how they are influencing the Kingdom of God… either immediate work, or dreams and goals. Can we not talk about these eternal things? Do we have to talk about your second cousin in Goshen who still single and what you would describe as “decent”?

There is a lot to be said about how the idol of marriage appears in church when it comes to preferring marriage to just about ANY other identity, but I’m running out of time, so let’s move on.

  1. This idolatry also creates problems for the church’s witness regarding relevant social issues.

Bellering about marriage convinces young people that they CAN get their jollies in the church, just find a right nice young fella and settle down. However, this does not take care of the problem of people idolizing marriage and refusing to find their identity in Christ alone and refusing to find meaning in Kingdom work. I do not need to explain to you how this could be problematic.

Christians, then, finding their worth in their marriage relationship, or in their partner, haven’t got much to say regarding the sexual revolution in which we find ourselves. You know we’re in a new sexual revolution, right?

How can Christians who find their identity in their partner have anything valuable to say to lonely divorcees? How can Christians who find their identity in being married have anything important to say to single adults, young or old? How can Christians who find their identity in something other than Christ alone have anything to say to homosexuals? How can Christians who find their identity in their partner, and not Christ, have anything to say at all about the fornicating teen who wants to get an abortion due to the consequences of her behavior? (We Christians love to condemn the sin of abortion without ever (or, okay, rarely) thinking about what sin, and what belief about identity, that sin proceeds from.)

It is my personal opinion that sexual the climate in which we find ourselves is in part due to the Church’s improper view of marriage. Perhaps marriage became too important. (In the 50s, maybe?) Then the Church failed to get something across in the 60s, and in the 70s, leading to even more sexual freedom, which led to boredom, which led to sexual experimentation, which led to still more boredom.

That boredom is today’s sexual climate. After all, virginity is on the rise.

Relevant magazine recently pointed this out in an article called “Why Aren’t Millennials Having Sex Anymore?” The article states, “Nearly 40 percent of college students claim they’ve never had sex. Only five years ago, as the Esquire editorial notes, a 25-year, ‘exhaustive’ study called ‘Sex Lives of College Students: A Quarter Century of Attitudes and Behaviors,’ found that college students who say they’re virgins made up only 13 percent. If both numbers hold up, that’s a startling, 27 percent jump in a really short time span. As counterintuitive as this may seem, it’s not totally new information. Earlier this year, data from—yes, publishes studies—indicated that one in three of all twentysomethings, not only those in college, are still virgins.”

And we ask, so why HAVE kids stopped having sex? What have they stopped believing, and how does it relate to the church? If sex is not the thing, then WHAT IS? Millennials are asking this question, and we better have an answer.

Back to the issue at hand: if we look to marriage or to sexual expression for our ultimate satisfaction, we will miss our ultimate meaning.

Allow me to quote from Christopher Yuan from his book Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God, A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope. In this book, Yuan hints at those ultimate identity markers which those of us in Christianity are offered:

“God says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy… God never said, ‘Be heterosexual, for I am heterosexual’…

Holy sexuality means one of two scenarios. The first scenario is marriage. If a man is married, he must devote himself to complete faithfulness to his wife. And if a woman is married, she must devote herself to complete faithfulness to her husband. The idea that I might marry a woman seemed like an impossibility—though God could do the impossible. But the truth was, I did not need to be attracted to women in general to get married; I needed to be attracted to only one woman. Heterosexuality is a broad term that focuses on sexual feelings and behaviors toward the opposite gender. It includes lust, adultery, and sex before marriage—all sins according to the Bible. God calls married people to something much more specific—holy sexuality. Holy sexuality means focusing all our sexual feelings and behaviors exclusively toward one person, our spouse.

The second scenario of holy sexuality is singleness. Single people must devote themselves to complete faithfulness to the Lord through celibacy. This is clearly taught throughout Scripture, and abstinence is not something unfair or unreasonable for God to ask of his people. Singleness is not a curse. Singleness is not a burden. As heirs of the new covenant, we know that the emphasis is not on procreation but regeneration. But singleness need not be permanent. It merely means being content in our present situation while being open to marriage—and yet not consumed by the pursuit of marriage.

Holy sexuality doesn’t mean that I no longer have any sexual feelings or attractions… So the question is, if I continue to have these feelings I neither asked for nor chose, will I still be willing to follow Christ no matter what? Is my obedience to Christ dependent on whether he answered my prayers my way? God’s faithfulness is proved not by the elimination of hardships but by carrying us through them. Change is not the absence of struggles; change is the freedom to choose holiness in the midst of our struggles. I realized that the ultimate issue has to be that I yearn after God in total surrender and complete obedience.”

When we do not find our identity first before our Lord, and when we do not find our ultimate satisfaction in Kingdom work, then perhaps we have some sort of idol.

I believe this idol keeps us from regenerative work both inside the church (in our ministry to singles, homosexuals, single parents, the divorced, the elderly) and outside the church as we seek to bring meaning and true identity to all who ask.

35 thoughts on “The Idol of Marriage”

  1. I’ve seen much of the same things – when I was in the young adult class, the church elder who lead it decided that our class, made up of only one couple, one husband whose wife never attended, and four to six individual singles really needed to take the Bible study on Covenant Marriage. I was expected to pretend to be married to someone in the class so that we could complete the man/woman communication exercises as husband/wife. To me it seemed so wrong, were I actually about to marry, I think completing the study with my future spouse would be more conducive, so I opted to quit the class. The elder implored me to take the class anyway, but I stood firm on my decision. I think that’s when he declared me as a lost cause as I had been a long-term single the whole time I attended that church. I attended the next church for about a year before moving on. A year after that, I ran into one of the old matriarchs who grilled me as to my marital status, asked why I was still single, and interrogated me as to whether or not my siblings were married. She seemed shocked that none of us were married at our ages. I felt as if I weren’t that important to her because I was single and that I could only gain her respect had I married and started having kids. Perhaps that’s why I find it so amusing that the worst possible thing that happens is that Mary becomes an Old Maid/Spinster if George is never born in It’s a Wonderful Life – I know what they’re trying to say, she never found her true love and never had children and her life was “empty” because of it; but they never stopped to see what did fill her life – purpose, self-confidence, the ability to pursue her dreams.

    1. (I apologize for the Bible study choice!)
      Interesting analysis of It’s a Wonderful Life! So true. The movie-maker’s “simple” conclusion is actually more complex.

  2. “Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is.” (1 Corinthians 7:26)

    Some context to Paul’s recommendation ^^^

    I hear a tinge of Augustine in this post and an idea that sex is somehow dirty or of no spiritual value. I agree that marriage is not for everyone and everytime. However, I do believe, if we take the entire Bible seriously, that man wanted companionship of an equal and therefore God created a suitable mate. I believe there is a special beauty in these two halves being joined and learning to put some self-sacrificial love to practice.

    It would be one thing if people were indeed remaining single because they were so committed to God. But the reality is often quite the opposite, many aren’t marrying for completely selfish reasons, because they have their own wish list of requirements and would rather have control if they can’t get exactly what they want. I see no point in adding false spiritual value to millennial generation narcissistism.

    Do we need to include singles who have less social connection, more time, etc?


    Do we need to undo the stigma of singleness and open leadership positions to those who are unmarried?


    However, we also need not to follow the path of failed Christian sects (like the Shakers) who turned away from natural affection and became extinct as a result. We need not spiritualize the selfish tendencies of this generation.

    Then again, maybe it is God’s will that this mess called Mennonitism dies out?

    So do as you please…

    1. This is fair, but I disagree, and I’ll tell you why. 1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I wonder if you’re the type of person who thinks that it’s necessary that “a girl should give a guy a chance.” I understand why this makes sense from a guy’s perspective (who has to do the scary asking in the first place). BUT. Plenty of women are “rejected” every day by men who never ask them out. So women deal with just as much rejection as men. Therefore, I don’t understand why women can’t “reject” men when men “reject” women all the time by not asking them out in the first place. 2. It sounds like rejection to you is “selfish,” but rejection is actually women and men being able to have a voice. Please don’t take this away from us. 3. What are these selfish reasons, exactly? I’d like to push you on the point that requirements are “selfish.” I don’t see how having personal taste is selfish, and I don’t understand why a person should marry just for the sake of marrying. 4. In my opinion, what is selfish is requiring a woman to “give you a chance” when there are plenty of women who you’ve never given a chance. 5. It is true that many singles are not using their singleness as a time for service to God. However, I don’t think the way to fix this is to marry them off so that they learn selflessness in marriage.

      1. I don’t recall making this a gendered issue. I believe there is plenty of fear and selfishness on both sides. Perhaps both single men and women could be a little more open to options that seem less than ideal? Who knows?

        What I do know is that you seem to be being a bit defensive… 😉

      2. Why? Why do they have to be a little more open? I get the feeling that you are indicating that marriage is still the goal. Have you read my blog? Single living is legitimate.

      3. Of course, anything under the umbrella of faithfulness is legitimate. That can mean single, married or otherwise. However, that does not mean that people who choose to be single are doing it for good or spiritual reasons. In many cases it is plain selfishness and a reflection of the current cultural trends towards an individualistic and self-centered life. Note, we can’t use Paul to contradict the larger portion of Scripture, we are told elsewhere that finding a wife is a “good thing” (Proverbs 18:22) and that we were created for this kind of committed companionship. There is nothing in Scripture that comes close to calling marriage (or the pursuit of deeper level human relationship) an idol. Furthermore, Paul’s comments were intended for a specific set of circumstances and it is clear in the context—as a writer you should know that proper contextualization is extremely important and without it meaning can be twisted around. Anyhow, I have much more respect for a woman like Maria von Trapp, who married because she was asked and decided to submit to God’s will despite her own initial lack of feelings, than I do for those who manipulate Scripture to fit their millennial generation values. There is much more on serving each other in love and submission than there is on adventure seeking Gnostic idealism.

      4. I believe that the point of my original post is to recognize that there are people for whom “committed companionship” (for which we “were created”) is no longer an option. Some of those identities include divorcees, those separated from their spouses, and, in some cases, those of varying sexual orientations.

        Another point is to recognize that there are people for whom “committed companionship” is not an option RIGHT NOW—people who do not currently have potential suitors or partners in their lives.

        Upon recognition of these two points, I hoped that my blog might be a space for people who are not currently “in the market,” as it were, to find meaning, affirmation, and solidarity (apart from the marriage ideal).

      5. Aside from my correcting your quotation of Paul and seeing a slightly different perspective of the overall picture, I do not believe what we are at odds or in contradiction. There are many scenarios, such as those that you have listed, where it is better not to marry and to practice celibacy. Jesus did mention those who are born eunuchs. However we dare not turn the exceptions into the rule and need to be aware of trends (like the “beautiful ones” and declining birth rates in Japan) so that we aren’t deceived. One can both marry or remain single for the wrong reasons.

        As a parting note, I would have less concern with the growing ranks of singles if we had a stronger community. Unfortunately we are moving away from commitment to other people on all fronts, adopting a culture of faithless self-love and without any true love for people there is no love of God.

      6. This is some incredible thinking and writing and i do appreciate it all, even if I do not agree on every point. The reason i think more girls should give guys a chance is that if my bride of 38 years would not not have given me a second chance… well lets just say what we were blessed with together (11 children) is awesome in a true sense. It had and still has hard things and times but I am glad she gave me a chance and she is too,… last i checked.
        We are both better and worse at relationship than we could have imagined! Get it? Like i said its a mystery and can’t it all but its true. (Love is blind marriage is an eyeopener!) I do know a man that asked his girl friend to marry him and she said NO and they lived happily ever after! 🙂 We all couples who did not do it well at least as many as singles who do not do it well.
        Actually life in either calling is far from easy or glamorous. But the inordinate need to get married is immature at best and downright disastous at worst. So following God’s leading is incredibly important but I will say for me at least, the buzz of hormones almost drowned God’s voice at times and for many more mature and older people this does not go away easily. Keep thinking! Keep writing! And to avoid trouble stay single!
        Happiness is a decision of the will, not a relationship with another person. But i will admit when I am happy it really special to share it with someone who I can be happy with and when I am out of sorts she helps me sort it out again! I call that a team and although we are far from selfless we do help each other a lot.

      7. Well, I’m late to this party. I agree with you and with Joel on two separate points.
        I believe one error the conservative dating movement can create is impossibly detailed and exacting standards for both sexes, but particularly men, before dating and marriage. Maybe these are what Joel was referring to?
        But I also believe that the counter error is to “just give men a chance.” Why should a girl date a guy she has no feelings for? Couldn’t that lack of feelings be a sign, if you subscribe to that way of thinking?
        I wonder if both errors are related to over-spiritualizing and mystifying the whole process. Thoughts on that?
        And a final note: I think the best people to help one avoid either error are trustworthy friends and family. You can convince yourself that any general advice applies to your particular situation in the way you want it to–or, if you have a masochistic bent, in the way you don’t want it to. Only your reliable friends and family will know you well enough to set you straight.

      8. Funny. No guy in my Christian college ever gave me a chance. Lots of wonderful, godly young women were invisible to the Christian guys chasing hot blondes. For their superior moral character of course. Didn’t help that we were only 30% male either.

        Stinks to know you’ll die alone at 22. And spiritual maturity has nothing to do with being chosen either. After 23 years I still cry sometimes at the remembrance of the overwhelming rejection in the last two years of college where all my friends paired off and I realized no man would ever love me except Jesus. For me, a great date was a guy–no matter how ugly–deigning to say “Hi” in the corridor.

        Most wouldn’t even acknowledge us “plain janes” if we said, “Hello. How are you doing?” The guy would walk right past you, sometimes snorting in offended majesty. They ignored all girls who weren’t at least a 9–to the point of rudeness.

        If a youngster’s bitter because he’s still single maybe he should be willing to ask out girls who don’t look like Mattel’s Barbie and flirt like Scarlet O’Hara. Lots of wonderful Christian girls for the taking everywhere

  3. “How can Christians who find their identity in their partner have anything valuable to say to lonely divorcees? How can Christians who find their identity in being married have anything important to say to single adults, young or old? How can Christians who find their identity in something other than Christ alone have anything to say to homosexuals? How can Christians who find their identity in their partner, and not Christ, have anything to say at all about the fornicating teen who wants to get an abortion due to the consequences of her behavior?”

    Fantastic post. As long as us single Menno virgins are consumed with the “greener grass” of marriage and sex, our sexuality and our witness suffers.

  4. I’ve been thinking some of the same thoughts for a few years. You said it better than I ever could have. Thank you.

  5. “The first “thing” is God and His church, not the other way around. Human marriage is not the “thing.” God one day receiving His pure, beautiful church—THAT is the thing. Marriage is temporary. The church is eternal.”
    I agree with this and in danger of repeating what you may have eluded to already, I’ll say this. I have felt for several years already that many young people look at marriage as an end in itself and put way to much time, energy and effort into finding that life partner, rather then seeing marriage as the representation of the glorious return of Christ for His pure and spotless bride!!
    Thanks for posting.

  6. 1.) No doubt, marriage is an idol around the world; that’s not limited to the church. I realized that marriage is an idol for many Christians when I noticed that countless Christians prioritize the preservation of a marriage over and above the preservation of an abused spouse’s life and welfare. Domestic violence is an epidemic. A lot of professing Christians are perpetrators or victims of domestic violence, yet the church rarely ever addresses the problem or acknowledges it’s existence. Countless clergy and laypeople have encouraged abused wives to stay with their abusive spouses, prayer harder and submit more, even if it costs them their life or quality of life.

    Unfortunately, a lot of Christian women have fallen for this.
    Kari Baker told her therapist that she feared that her abusive, adulterous husband was going to poison her with some strange pills that he carried around in his briefcase, yet she stayed and just prayed. Her husband, Pastor Matt Baker, used those pill to kill her. He was later convicted for her murder. I’m not victim blaming, but God allowed Kari Baker to see the pills that could be used to kill her coupled with her husband’s already abusive behavior day to weeks in advance, yet she valued the preservation of a marriage over and above the preservation of her life and her children’s welfare.

    Her tragic end is similar to that of Sheri Coleman. She
    also chose the preservation of a marriage over the preservation of her life and the lives of her children.

    Former pastor and chaplain, Daniel Randall,
    was totally consumed with the idea of marriage and a wife’s alleged duty to her husband, yet he cared absolutely nothing about the preservation of his daughter’s life or his own.

    2.) I agree. A lot of folks are remaining single for purely selfish reasons. Likewise, a lot of folks, male and female alike, get married for purely selfish reasons. For them, marriage is all about “what can I get out of it?” or “what is my spouse going to do for me?” rather than “what can I do for my spouse?” Getting married for selfish reasons is no better than remaining single for selfish reasons. They are both rotten ideas because the root of each one is selfishness, and the bible warns about the dangers of selfishness and pride.

  7. I agree with what you’re saying, but there’s one point that I think it would do well to remember…. God made marriage as a gift to human beings and a portrayal of how Christ loves the church… it doesn’t make someone less spiritual if they are married… there a great kingdom citizens who are happily married whilst doing amazing work for Christ. Being married does not define who we are spiritually, just as being single doesn’t either. Marriage is a gift… some people are blessed with other gifts, such as singleness, because it fits what God has planned for them. Some people, however, can increase their kingdom work by being married to somebody, henceforth that is why they are married.

    1. Welcome to Shasta’s Fog!
      The things you’ve said about marriage are mostly true, but since marriage is overemphasized in our culture, I am trying to shine some much needed light on singleness.
      You can be sure that I was using sarcasm about single people be oh-so-spiritual. I utilize a lot of irony and sarcasm that seems to be lost on some readers.
      Though I might mention that your point about marriage not defining us spiritually actually contradicts Scripture. Scripture actually indicates that marriage does define a person’s spiritual life in one sense in that Paul indicates that married people cannot be as prolific in their work for God because of the demands of family life. Accordingly, single people have the potential to do more work for God because of the lack of demands of family life. (I admit that the majority of single people do not use their status in this way. But that’s beside the point.)

  8. Wow! This is some much-needed wisdom for our Anabaptist community. I agree that too much emphasis is often placed on young people getting married, at the expense of effective Kingdom service.

    One thing I’m curious about is the context of Paul’s letters which you reference in this post. What “distress” do you think he’s referring to in 1 Corinthians 7:26? Do you think maybe it’s the recent transition of power to Nero (at the time he wrote this letter) or possibly the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70?

    What parallels from Paul’s “distress” do you think we can draw upon in today’s world?

  9. I agree in large part with what you said. But I would make these points. In our churches today, other than a wedding ceremony and a marriage license, what exactly does marriage mean? Not too much, I’m afraid. Who defines marriage anyway? Does man define it with pomp and circumstance or does God define it with a sexual union? Also, marriage and family have become idols because of the church’s disrespect for people who have the spiritual gift of celibacy. To put things in perspective, the wedding at Cana Jesus attended is the only one recorded in the Bible. Plus, there is no mention of a “family” as we know one today. On the other hand, there are countless references to celibacy and many examples including Paul, Jeremiah, Joseph, John the Baptist, Nehemiah, Anna, Martha, Ruth, and Christ himself. Other than the Virgin Mary and exhorting young people (mostly girls) to save sex for marriage, when is virginity ever mentioned in church? Have you ever heard of an abstinence conference for adults? Have you ever heard of a Protestant conference on celibacy that has nothing to do with homosexuality? I haven’t. I do agree that marriage should be a metaphor for something greater, the marriage between Christ and the church. But when compared to the eternal nature of celibacy and Christ’s concerns, it is a metaphor for something much less.

  10. I enjoyed this so much and it echoed what I blogged about a few months ago. The selfish card gets thrown at singles so often, and yet many people marry for no better reasons. I think there’s a double standard in what is expected of singles versus couples.
    Thanks for getting my mind spinning 🙂

    1. Absolutely! …I admit I felt a little timid after readers reacted to the word “idol” that I used, but I recently heard a Tim Keller sermon in which he did the exact same thing (refer to marriage as an idol in our culture), so I felt vindicated.

  11. Superior spirituality and moral character are irrelevant to finding a husband. Christian colleges are no different.

    It’s not about virtue but looking great and figuring how to manipulate guys through flattery–and then not scrupling to use this your advantage like a southern belle. Apply your makeup just right and dress perfectly. Then lay on the charm like nobody’s business.

    So much for the “Morally Superior” Matron! Vanity and Flattery aren’t extolled as virtues in the Bible to my knowledge.

  12. Just happened to stumble upon your piece. Good stuff, thanks for writing.

    The theme of “marriage as idolatry” is one that seems to be catching on with people, especially people our age. For the record, I celebrate that. It may be the start of undoing many harmful ideas we were taught about marriage and human relationships in general. At the same time, I can’t get that Boomer voice out of my head that says it’s all just an outworking of “generational narcissism.” Despite their “generational hypocrisy” (see what I did there?), I sometimes wonder if they’re right.

    A lot of us are, well… messed up, kinda damaged in those ways (among other ways), and it makes me wonder if we’re not just spiritualizing our mid-twenties ennui. I don’t know. I find I have to put such speculations aside and just live.

    1. I’m curious if you mean “people our age” to mean those in the church, or not.

      I imagine that there could be generational narcissism at work *generally*, but I truly don’t see that being the case for a lot of my single peers *specifically* (rather I would see outworkings of lengthy educational endeavors, cross-country moves, etc). Also, millennials view marriage differently from our parents because marriage itself (and what it’s supposed to accomplish) has changed. (I blogged a bit about that here: And, I think our generation is marrying *very carefully* because a lot of us grew up in the generation of common divorce (“us” not including conservative Mennonites, of course).

      To your last point, perhaps there could be spiritualizing of ennui, as you said (and I could be at fault for that at times), but as I re-read this blog written two years ago, I remember the pain and passion from which it was birthed, pain upon recognizing the difficulties and loneliness of acquaintances of mine who could be described as sexual and relational “outsiders.” In my mind as a writer, the blog barely had to do with marriage, but instead with the cultural outworkings of marraige idolatry within the community of the church.

      1. Yes, those within the church. (Pardon me for not being clear.)

        Also, I don’t mean to imply that *you* were spiritualizing your mid-twenties ennui back when you wrote this. I’m just thinking aloud more generally, as sometimes I find myself doing, or almost doing, that very thing. Maybe there *is* a bit of narcissism within me (generational or otherwise). Wouldn’t negate the truth of whatever truth I happen to find, but still.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that I haven’t totally broken free of old mindsets. Like, I hear what you’re saying (and agree completely!), but it runs counter to what I absorbed growing up, things deeply ingrained. There are criticisms I still fear, voices I still take to heart, even if I shouldn’t.

        Again, I think you wrote a fine piece.

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