30 and Single? It's Your Own Fault
Once upon a time, Debbie Maken found herself still single at 28 and growing in her discontent. She was "dating-wearied, lonely, depressed, frustrated, and, yes, terrified of the future." Finally giving herself permission to feel these tough emotions, she took the exit ramp from her church singles class, gave a fresh look at what the Bible says about singleness and marriage, and finally realized she had to get serious if she was ever going to get married.
|Getting Serious About Getting Married: Rethinking the Gift of Singleness
by Debbie Maken
Following the path afforded by her ethnicity (she's Indian), she signed up with an Indian Christian Web agency to find a suitable suitor and, aided by her parents' watchful care, started e-mailing a man in July 2001. By that October, they were engaged. Now happily married and the mother of two young girls, Maken drew a mapin the form of her book, Getting Serious About Getting Marriedto the Land of Marital Bliss. She hopes to prevent her daughters and countless single women across the country from having to experience any more "unnecessary protracted singleness."
Maken starts with a relatable description of many single women's experience: Singleness is easier to see as a grand adventure in your 20s, an unfettered time to figure out who you are and what path God might like you to take through life. Without a spouse, there's more freedom to travel and take risks, minister and invest in a burgeoning career. But, as Maken describes quite well, this can start to lose its luster around the 30 milestone. In later chapters, she addresses the well-meaning advice handed to singles in Christian circlessuch as "just wait on the Lord to bring a mate to you" or "Jesus is all you need"and deftly explains some of the erroneous thinking and theology surrounding each. At her best, in passages such as these, Maken gives platitude-battered single women needed permission to admit, "I'd like to get married, and that's okay."
Unfortunately, these bits of trend-spotting and balanced synthesis are drowning in a sea of shame and blame. Maken seems to think a vast majority of singles view their solo status as a special gift from God (a stance I've seen in only a fraction of the thousands of e-mails I've received as a columnist for ChristianSinglesToday.com, a CT sister publication), a notion the very subtitle of the book urges them to reconsider. Based on this assumption, she spends the lion's share of the book arguing a case for marriage. Unfortunately, she doesn't stop there; she also makes a case against adult singleness, going so far as to call it unbiblicaland marriage a "biblical mandate" for all but the few who have been called to full-time kingdom work that makes family life impossible (a la biblical singletons Paul, Jeremiah, Barnabas, and John the Baptist) or who have a medical condition that makes them unable to perform marital "duties."
Her case for marriage as God's will for all believers rests largely on the story of Adam and Eve. Maken argues that since God said it wasn't good for Adam to be alone and then solved that problem not with a brother or friend or neighbor but with a spouse, that must mean every other person throughout the course of history is God-designed to be married. She backs this up with a basic dismissal of Paul's extolling singleness in 1 Corinthians 7, pointing to the unique historical context as a reason his words aren't still valid today.