Identity. There are so many things to say about this subject but at the core, regardless of your marital status, your identity is about you as an individual. Period.
Girlfriend, fiancé, Miss, Mr., single, taken, wife, or hubby — identity is not about statusdom. There is nothing wrong in wanting those things but they do not matter in the Kingdom. When we check into heaven, there isn’t a box to tick for martial status. We will stand before God as individuals, accountable for our own lives. There won’t be one of those awkward moments like at holidays when someone makes a joke about it being their spouse’s fault, which is not completely a joke, and everyone chuckles uncomfortably — there won’t be those moments. There won’t be spouses.
Matthew 22:30 (MSG)
At the resurrection we’re beyond marriage. As with the angels, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God.
A long time ago a friend of mine mourned this. She said it would be no kind of heaven if they weren’t married. She would give up the awesome glory of having all our needs met by the Creator who loves us to keep that little prefix before her name. She would rather be in union with her husband, under his authority than the Lord’s. I think this perfectly illustrates why there aren’t those kinds of relationships in heaven.
This year my flatmate introduced me to the pleasures baseball. As I write this I’m watching a pitcher throw against the team he played for earlier in the season. My neophyte mentality thinks about loyalties and how hard it must be to invest in a new team but then I remember each player carries their own stats with them from team to team.
We are all individuals in a team game.
What matters in the Kingdom is behaviour. How we carry ourselves, deal with the things God gives us. Behaviour can grow or destroy relationships. And it’s not just what you do, sometimes it’s what you don’t do. Zachariah was muted for questioning God but Mary was blessed for her response, an expression of joy and acceptance. She chose to trust the Lord, she chose to have a healthy relationship with God which is what He craves from us. It’s why we were created. Through the eyes of God, identity is about quality relationships not stops along the board game of Life. The Creator of the Universe chose a single virgin. Just saying.
A healthy identity combats selfishness. Which, essentially, is this whole deal. It isn’t wrong to want to be married, but obsessive behaviours, replacing our eternal soul’s intimate relationship with God for the fleshly and inconstant intimacy of another, is wrong. It’s sinful. God is not a wish-granting genie; he is not a spousal vending machine. He does not give us what keeps us from Him though we often make what He gives us a barrier.
Matthew 6:30-33 (MSG)
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Once you are securely on the path of discovering who you are as an individual get ready for the hard work. God will ask if you are willing to put aside what you want for what He wants. Maybe it’s in a big way, maybe so small you only realize years later, but we are all at some point asked to lay our identities on the alter as Abraham laid out Isaac.
Through our faith, we will be made strong in relationship with Him. In the meantime, these are all mirrors of ways we become more intimate in our relationships on earth. Trust, strength, belief, faith, courage, love — all of those are testing moments and when each individual succeeds, you grow closer together. Your team wins.
If your journey as a single Christian is like mine, some day God will ask you another question. He will ask if you will be satisfied being single your whole life. Don’t lie. Tell Him the truth. I can’t promise what He’ll do with your answer. I’m pretty sure there won’t be a knock on your door and someone down on one knee; you may even remain unmarried. But I can say being honest with God is always good. Deepening your personal relationship with God is always good.
Because in the end, that’s all we really have.
And it’s a beautiful thing.