Many of us in the modern world regard marriage as something of a capstone in human experience. The ideal, we think, is to marry, have children, buy a home, and live the good life. The fact that so many gay and lesbian couples want to marry shows how much marriage is idealized in our culture. Marriage is a sign of being socially accepted. A sad consequence is that single people sometimes feel like second‐class citizens, especially in the church.
It wasn’t always like this. For roughly the first 1500 years of Christian history, singleness was the ideal and marriage was thought to be a second‐class. The ideal Christian did not marry and have children, but stayed a celibate single and (usually) went live in a convent or monastery. Celibate singles were considered to be the best kind of Christian.
On this Sunday when we talk about marriage, I hope we recognize that marriage is not the baseline human experience. The baseline human experience is actually singleness. All of us are born into this world as single people, and even if we marry, many of us will also die as single people. In fact, 44% of American adults are single. So let us remember that singleness is normal. Let us remember that the Christian church was founded by a single person. And let us remember that even though some of us might be married for most of our life, others of us will be single for most or all of our life. In some ways singleness defines the human experience more than marriage does.
- 1 Corinthians 6:19 - 19