A single life need not and should not be a makeshift affair.

The warm evening drifted into dusk. My aunt and I went out on the porch after the dinner dishes had been washed and put away, the kitchen floor swept, the fixtures polished. In two months I would begin college. My parents had raised me with the question, What are you going to do? always in front of me. That night even the summer stars seemed to ask it.

My aunt had a career, a translator-linguist with Wycliffe Bible Translators. And she was single. Was she happy? Or, at least, content? Why had she decided to remain single? As we sat on the porch that summer evening, I asked her these questions.

Did she regret her decision? No, she answered without hesitating. A married woman cannot work as efficiently or with as much concentration as a single woman. Her husband expects certain things of her, and if she has children, they make many more demands. Her time and her interests are greatly divided, and the work—in her case Bible translation—must suffer.

What I heard in church, what we were taught explicitly and implicitly, was quite different from that. God’s best for woman is marriage. She was created to help man and to bear children. However, since there aren’t enough men to go around, a woman should be prepared to accept God’s second best for her. In college, I sat through several lectures about how to keep bitterness out of your life if you were never “chosen,” how to turn the deepest disappointment God could give you—not marrying—into a spiritual victory. (At the same time, you were told not to go out looking for a husband, which was considered unbecoming to a woman.) Only rarely did a speaker admit that God chooses ...

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