Singleness and relationships – part one

Some time ago, I had a debate of sorts with a friend on the topic of being single and being in a relationship. As each benefit of singleness was listed during that conversation, I replied, perhaps annoyingly, with a counter point on the benefit of being in a relationship. Here, I will assume that relationships are entered into with the view of potential marriage. So essentially I’m looking at “singleness versus marriage” and considering how each of these may help or hinder us in following God. Needless to say, writing on the topic doesn’t mean I’ve properly learnt these lessons, whether in singleness or in relationship!

Knowing God as sufficient

1. In singleness – my friend’s point was that romantic love is frequently idolised and portrayed as the panacea to life’s problems. Singleness helps us to learn to rely on, and find our sufficiency in God rather than a significant other, in times of trouble, in times of loneliness.

True, Disney and most grown up movies are filled with happily ever afters that come after true love is found. True too, that songs like Frozen’s Love’s an Open Door implies that there will be no troubles when you’ve found true love – “say goodbye, to the pain of the past, we don’t have to feel it anymore, love is an open door!” To be fair, the guy turned out to be a scammer, and my sister learnt from this movie that love at first sight is silly because “you don’t even know them”! Or the Chinese oldie 至少还有你 that implies that romantic love alone will suffice, even if it means giving up everything else – “如果全世界我也可以放弃,至少还有你值得我去珍惜…” As much as I find the songs catchy and the singing delightful, the worldview here obviously contradicts the writings in Psalms and other parts of the Bible that emphasise on trusting in, and finding shelter in the Lord:

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. – Psalm 62:1-2

2. In relationship – my argument was, that the same lesson of finding sufficiency can be learnt in relationship. Similar to how a single person would need to avoid idolising relationships, a person in relationship needs to be conscious not to put the other person before God. Take for example, the disastrous way in which Samson in Judges, a man filled with the Spirit of God, pursued love and his relationship with Delilah, rather than holiness and obedience to God. Even in good marriages, we need to first seek God’s kingdom, and live with the awareness that our time on Earth is temporary.

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. – 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Also, whilst being in relationship does come with companionship, and someone to discuss the mundane details about your day that no one else wants to hear about, it doesn’t solve the problem of loneliness. There are always times when you have conflict, or wish the other person was there, but they can’t be, or just aren’t there. If God is truly our God, the unrealistic expectations that another person will always make you feel better needs to be corrected with an acknowledgement that only God is our joy, and fulfils our heart’s desires.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. – Psalm 28:7

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6 Comments

  1. As long as you have realistic expectations of relationship I don;t really see it as a problem. I do not think that devotion to god is meant to get in the way of normal life. As with any aspect of life, relationships can distract you from the path of god. But I do not think this is a good enough reason to avoid relationships as you could use this argument about millions of other things in life that are potential distractions.

    Reply

    1. I don’t see one to be inherently problematic compared to the other either. Devotion to God means that God is a consideration, and the most important consideration, in anything you do, any choices you make. You could consider that as getting in the way of normal life? Or see it as influencing daily life in a positive way, giving it direction. I agree that anything can be a potential distraction, and I think it’s good to be conscious of that, rather than avoiding every potential object of idolatry (money, career, entertainment, things like that) altogether.

      Reply

  2. Sister, your argumentation is very plausible. The thing I agree the most is that we should never put someone before God for He must always be our first priority. The most important thing is to ensure we are walking in the will of God regardless of we are single or in relationship. If God wants to we to stay in single for a while, just be contented to live alone; if God wants to end our singleness, he will bring the right one to our life and we just thankfully accept that. As long as it is in accordance with God’s will, we can find sufficiency and live a meaningful life.

    So what we need to do is to seek “his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well”(Matthew 6:33)”. I like the saying from one my friends on Facebook -“dance with God and he will let the perfect man cut in” Of course, it is also possible that God’s will is to let us live as a single for whole life. But he surely he will take care of his children and give us sufficient grace to face singleness. As Christians, we should rather being single in the will of God rather than in a relationship against God’s will.

    Here wish sister you one day can meet Mr Right that God has preserved for you. And then you will enjoy a God-blessing marriage. Even if God want you be single for whole life, you can still be a great servant of God and live a life glorifying God and edifying people. Excelsior! :)

    Reply

    1. Hey, thanks for your encouragement. I think here you’ve summarised the topic well. Haha I think instead of just translating you can write your own thoughts somewhere and translate that! :) Thanks too for adding the verse on seeking first the kingdom of God. May God help us as we seek to do so.

      Reply

  3. Ha,I feel translating argumentation somehow is more interesting than translating stories :)

    单身和恋爱(1)

    前段时间,我和几位朋友在单身和恋爱的问题上有过一场辩论。在交流的过程中,单身的好处并逐个列出了。而我则列出了恋爱的相应好处,当然,可能有些烦人。我假设这里讨论的恋爱有着发展为婚姻的可能。所以实际上我关注的是“单身与婚姻”的关系。当然,我写这个话题并不意味着在单身和恋爱的问题上我已经做得很好了。

    认识上帝就足够

    1. 单身——我朋友认为浪漫的爱情常常会被人们盲目地当做解决人生问题的万能药。单身能够帮我们在遇到困难和面对孤独时学会依靠上帝,在他那找到满足,而不是在某个重要的人那寻求帮助。

    的而且确,迪斯尼和许多电影成人电影都充斥着这样的情节:当双方找到真爱后,他们就从此幸福的生活在一起。诸如像Frozen’s Love的Open Door那样的歌曲都在暗示我们:一旦找到真爱,一切烦恼都会烟消云散——“别了,痛苦的过去,我们不会再有这样的感觉,爱是一扇敞开的门。”公平地说,这个男的原来是个骗子,就连我的妹妹也从这个电影中认识到了“一见钟情”的愚蠢。因为“你根本就不认识他们呢”。那首中国老歌《至少有你》也在暗示只要能得到浪漫的爱情,失去一切也在所不惜——“如果全世界我也可以放弃,至少还有你值得我去珍惜。。。”尽管我认为许多歌曲非常吸引人,唱起来也很动听。但是世俗的观点终究和《诗篇》和圣经中的相关经文相违背。因为圣经告诉我们要信靠神,并在他那寻找庇护。

    我的心默默无声,专等候神;我的救恩是从他而来。唯独他是我的磐石,我的拯救;他是我的高台,我必不都很动摇。—诗篇62:1-2

    2. 恋爱——我的论点是,在恋爱中我们一样能学习寻找满足的功课。和单身者需要避免盲目崇拜恋爱相似,一个正在恋爱的人必须要清楚的认识到不要将任何人摆在神之上。士师记的参孙就是一个很好的例子。他被神的灵充满,但却没有过圣洁的生活,也没有好好顺服上帝。相反的,他用极其错误的方式追求大利拉,给他带来了悲惨的后果。即便是在一个成功的婚姻中,我们依然需要被追求神的国放在首位。我们必须清楚地认识到我们在地上的生活是暂时的。

    弟兄们,我对你们说,时候减少了。从此以后,那有妻子的,要像没有妻子;哀哭的,要像不哀哭;快乐的,要像不快乐;置买的,要像无有所得;用事物的,要像不用事物,因为这世界的样子将要过去了。——林前7:29-31

    此外,恋爱未必能带来好的伴侣关系。孤独的问题不会因为你找到一个可以和你讨论日常琐事的人就能解决。这些话可能没人想听。你总会有遇到麻烦的时候。那时你需要有人可以在你身边帮助你,但是他们要么不存在,要么刚好不在那。如果神是我们的神,那种“另一个人可以让你变得更好的想法”就应该被纠正。因为这是种不切实际的想法。我们应该认识到,只有神是我们的喜乐,只有他能使我们心中的期望得到满足。

    耶和华是我的力量,是我的盾牌,我心里依靠他,就得到帮助;所以我心中欢乐,我比用诗歌颂赞他!——诗篇28:7

    Reply

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