How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? Is it a chance to get romantic with your honey, or would you rather just bury your head under covers until the leftover chocolate goes on sale?
As Christ-followers, there’s no command saying how we should feel about Valentine’s Day…but we do know that marriage is an important part of God’s plan for the world. That makes Valentine’s Day a good time to look at what the Bible says about love and marriage.
God’s Plan for Marriage
At Riv, we firmly believe that marriage is intended to be between one man and one woman for one lifetime. Now, there are certain cases where divorce is permitted (see Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7), and you should not stay in an abusive situation. But even separation should have the goal of reconciliation.
Why is that? It’s because marriage between believers is meant to be a picture of Christ’s love for the church. This concept is spread throughout the Bible. It shows up in Hosea’s divinely mandated bad marriage. It’s in Revelation 21, when new Jerusalem is described as the bride of Christ. It’s especially clear in Ephesians 5:22-33, where wives are commanded to submit to their husbands like the church submits to Christ, and where husbands are told to love their wives sacrificially, just like Jesus laid down his life for the church.
Think about that for a moment. Your marriage is meant to be so much more than finding happiness and/or sexual satisfaction in another person. In fact, there likely will be times when marriage will distinctly bring you unhappiness. Wives, there will be times when you don’t like where your husband is leading, but you’ll need to submit anyway. (That doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat, but if you two have tried to talk through a decision but can’t agree on it, and if his choice does not violate scripture, then you need to let him have his way.) Husbands, hopefully you’ll never literally have to die for your wives, but there will be times when you have to sacrifice your own interests or plans or hobbies for her sake.
(Is this submission and sacrifice tough? Absolutely. But remember, being married means you get to act out Song of Solomon.)
God’s Plan for Singles
Many people who are not currently married or dating, and especially the “chronically single,” may look at even the difficulties of marriage and still be envious. It’s very easy for singles to feel left out, especially around Valentine’s Day. But that just means it’s important for singles to rely on God’s word for help and comfort.
In 1 Corinthians 7, one of the most famous passages on singleness, Paul describes it as a gift that he actively wishes on everyone. It may not feel like it, but singles have more free time and fewer concerns than married people. They don’t have to worry about their spouse’s bad day at work. They don’t have to fight with anyone about the budget. Singles, then, have more time to serve in the church and community. It’s a lot easier for singles to budget both money and time for a trip with Riv to Monterey, Mexico to help serve the orphans with Back2Back Ministries.
Of course, being single just leads to its own brand of temptations. Loneliness is a big one. But for that again, we can turn to Jesus. As Elisabeth Elliot explains in Passion and Purity:
“Jesus knew human loneliness in its most poignant forms. As a boy of twelve He was misunderstood by His earthly parents. His obedience to His heavenly father caused them grief. In His public ministry He was usually with crowds who came after Him to see what they could get out of Him, or to criticize, cross-examine, attack. With those twelve whom He chose as His intimates there were arguments, misunderstandings, and in the hour of His greatest need, abandonment. Only in the flesh could Christ enter into our destiny, understand our temptations, and be fully Redeemer and Savior.”
Singles, God knows your pain, and He also knows His plan, so don’t waste your singleness feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, remember to use your God-gifted flexibility through your God-gifted singleness to serve both Him and others.