The messages we hear all around us in society are often that marriage is temporary, restrictive in its monogamous nature or confining in its unconditional commitment. On the other hand, often the Church’s message is that God’s love is nowhere more visible than in a marriage. The first set of messages is a lie. The second, an oversimplification.
Paul’s position on the freedom to be single wouldn’t have been appropriate in the Old Testament. If you take a look at Genesis, you see that from the very beginning God made man as a relational being. And still He allowed Adam to feel the initial sting of loneliness: “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him,”’ (Genesis 2.20). Even in the perfect pre-fall conditions of Eden, Adam is alone and feels it enough to mention it. Thus, in that perfect paradise, Adam was the first single person. To feel alone in your single status is not a sin, nor is it the result of the fall. Adam was alone in perfect paradise, and sin had yet to make its entrance.
I recently read an article in a Christian magazine about singles who were polled and ranked themselves on a happiness meter. No one scored as “extremely unhappy”. And even the “somewhat unhappy” category wasn’t chosen. Everyone scored themselves as “fairly happy” or higher. This is an interesting finding, and I would guess that those singles polled didn’t tell the whole truth. In fact other research shows that 40 per cent of single non-Christians report that they regularly feel depressed. Some even reported feeling severely depressed.
It’s possible that Christians are happier than non-Christians, but could it also be that Christians feel less able to admit to being unhappy, because they feel they ought to be ‘content in the Lord’? Research from the UK Office for National Statistics shows that just more than 68 per cent of people who live alone consider themselves happy. Compare this figure with the near 73 per cent of people who cohabit or are in same-sex relationships, and over 78 per cent of married couples who call themselves happy.
Research conducted by Single Christians has shown that one of the factors that make people in a relationship happier is age. For people aged 18 to 25 there is no difference in happiness between those with or without a relationship. People over 25 are happier with a partner than without, and that is even more the case with people over 45. It also appears that those with a lower education have more difficulty as singles than those with a higher education. Revealing that you’re not exactly happy with your singleness is still somewhat of a cultural taboo.
In order to change, in order to be truly motivated, you’ve really got to want something different. And your motivation is often linked to the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction you feel with your current situation.
This extract has been taken from Dare to Date by Aukelien van Abbema, available today. To get 10 per cent off this book head to www.spck.org.uk and enter discount code ‘dare2017’.