"Arrgghh! I'm ashamed to be single!"
Well, maybe we don't actually put it into words, but many unmarrieds feel that way. Millions of us are so embarrassed about our unmarried status that we're afraid of appearing in public by ourselves. We feel like lepers, and we haven't even done anything wrong.
In the United States, morals have become so upside down that it's actually more acceptable to live with someone without being married than it is to be single and on your own. There's this phobia about not being half of a couple. Going to social events alone makes you feel ashamed to be single.
That's odd, because there are nearly 96 million unmarried and single people in the United States, or 43 percent of the population age 15 and over. That's hardly a minority, is it? Of that total, 63 percent of us have never been married, according to UnmarriedAmerica.org. The ratios are comparable in other countries as well. So why are we so self-conscious about it?
While the Christian Church has always promoted marriage for procreation, the apostle Paul recognized that some people should get married and some shouldn't. (1 Corinthians 7) That advice seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.
Most churches don't know how to deal with single people. Clergy and church officials still seem to have the mindset that the "natural" plan for everybody is to get married and have children. That even holds true in the Catholic Church, which forbits its clergy to marry! The unintentional effect is that this makes many unmarried believers ashamed to be single.
I'm sure you've also had to deal with your parents, who want grandchildren. Their generation may also believe that marriage is natural and that singleness is not natural or normal. They may even be embarrassed about a daughter or son who is in their 30s or 40s and not married.
In business, executive promotions are sometimes based on whether a male is married (even though that's never mentioned), but singleness can actually help a woman get promoted because male superiors conclude she would not have to split her time between her career and her family.
Outside of the United States, the culture may dictate that it is honorable to marry and enlarge the extended family. In Asian and Spanish-speaking countries where adult children traditionally care for their aging parents, it is almost scandalous to be middle-aged and unmarried.
It's hard to escape your culture. All this pressure makes us singles feel as if we're doing something wrong even when we're not.
In most cultures, anyone who doesn't neatly fit into "the way things are supposed to be" risks being ostracized. It's painful, but it's a fact of life.
Television shows and movies hold out the ideal that marriage is best for everyone. In the 1970s, they touted the notion that women can "have it all", a successful career and happy family too. Reality proved that we only have so much time in a day, and the buzzword of "quality time" proved to be a myth as well.
The boomerang effect of this in the 1990s was that many women chose to stay home and raise their children. Unfortunately, this is no longer the 1950s, when one paycheck met all family expenses.
Commercials promote engagement rings, sitcoms feature wacky families, movies end up happily ever after with boy getting girl. Unmarried men or women are frequently portrayed as misfits, bumbling along through life, self-conscious and ashamed to be single.
Wedding dresses continue to look like princess gowns; some even include a tiara. Marriage is held up as that perfect state in which both man and woman enjoy problem-free bliss.
Recently I read an article about men and women in their 30s who said they enjoy being single. They said they enjoy the freedom of spending their money as they please, setting their own schedule, not being responsible to anyone but themselves, and being able to sleep with multiple partners.
Huh? That last one got me. It reveals a shallowness, selfishness, and lack of understanding of what life is all about. It may no longer be "cool" to be moral, but it has always been right and always will be.
The main reason for refusing to believe in Jesus Christ is arrogance: We want to do what we want. But Christianity is a life that expects more from you than you expect from yourself. It promises to not only make you a better person, but to allow you to live forever--with God.
Don't be proud to be single for the wrong reasons. Investigate Christianity. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Stop being immature.
It's hard to be your own person, especially when lots of voices are shouting at you to be somebody else. But who says there's something wrong with being single, who, that is, that we're required to obey?
Being single can be a temporary state, in which you're waiting to find the right spouse, or it can be a permanent state. Either way, you shouldn't be ashamed to be single. Even if you want to be married, you still shouldn't feel ashamed to be single. We have the mistaken notion that there's something "wrong" with us if we haven't gotten married. We act as if we have a major defect that makes us unworthy. We're ashamed to be single and we have no reason in the world to be.
Marriage hasn't happened for you yet, and maybe there are some steps you need to take to help things along. You may need to get more aggressive in meeting potential spouses, and that can be scary, but as I've often said, the odds of Prince (or Princess) Charming coming to your home out of the blue to rescue you are slim to none.
You may need to work on some personal habits that are turning people off. Sensitive friends will be happy to point them out, without destroying your ego in the process.
Most important, you may need to work on your self-esteem and self-confidence to rid yourself of the idea that you're unworthy.
You'll find many resources on this site to help you in the single life, but most of all, I want you to go away from here absolutely certain that God loves you as an individual, precious in your own right, regardless of whether you wear a ring or not.
Never feel ashamed to be single. Instead, remember that you are a cherished daughter or son of the loving God of the universe, in the unfolding process of becoming the person he wants you to be.
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