Copyright 1995 by CCM MagazineThe Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone...' - Genesis 2:18He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. - Proverbs 18:22Yada. Yada. Yada. No, this is not CCM's attempt to make fun of God's word or even the whole concept of marriage. No, we're not even succumbing to an annual Valentine's Day single-life depression. What we are doing is wondering if the more than 70% of our readers who are single wish they weren't? Well, if you can't wait to walk the aisle or even if you opt to remain a 'Bachelor-'til-the-Rapture,' here's a few words of truth, wit and wisdom from five musical friends on what they think of living single. Thanks to Rich Mullins, Cindy Morgan, Brian Barrett, Pam Thum and East to West's Neal Coomer for letting us get so personal.
Learning to be Content
A common denominator that ran through the course of conversations and thus became the foundation for these discussions was the issue of contentment. "A lot of people think they are struggling with being content and single, and I think that everybody struggles with being content," says Rich. "You can blame your discontent on being single, or you can blame it on anything else. I don't think that necessarily singleness is any more the cause of discontent than marriage is."
Cindy agrees and adds there's a lot more to being content than simply finding a mate. "The problem is not that we don't have dates, but that we don't have peace in our lives - that [our] relationship with the Lord isn't the number one thing."
As Rich points out, "If you're miserable single, you'll be miserable married. If you're miserable married, you'll likely be miserable divorced. The idea is not to change your status, the idea is to stop worrying about how miserable you are and do something fun - like try to love somebody."
"The thing to do is not get tied up with 'what is my future going to be,'" claims Brian, "but live one day at a time, knowing that God has you exactly where He wants you to be. We have to be content where we are, knowing that God's taking care of us. That's probably what we face the most as believers - we have to truly recognize that God has us here for a reason, and that He is in control."
Pam offers her insight when she shares where she's at in her own life. "I'm learning I have to be who God wants me to be and be real tender and don't let the walls come up. Concentrate on being the best you can be and be ready for whoever comes along your way."
Add to that the fact that Neal says he's never really worried about being single, and so far this forum contains like-minded thinkers. And their consensus on singleness seems to be, you can either beat your head against a wall about it, or accept it and enjoy life, day by day as God gives it. After all, marriage doesn't solve everything.
Rich explains, "I think one of the problems I have with married people and single people on the issue of singleness is people often talk about marriage as if it's a cure for loneliness."
More than not, one of the main purposes of marriage is for companionship. The alternative is being alone. But does that then leave those who are alone, lonely? Not entirely so, Rich continues. "One of the things that I find shocking is when I talk to my married friends, who are very married - they are very happily married, and they're also very lonely. And in the midst of that loneliness they have to deal with somebody else and their loneliness."
Putting God First
As we've learned since day one in Sunday School, there's a vacuum that exists deep inside each person that is made for one person and one person only - and that's not necessarily a mate.
Cindy says, "The whole thing about feeling like the [spouse] is going to make the picture complete...not to use [the Apostle Paul] as the ultimate example but that's who we all go back to when we think about singleness - but Paul...felt like he was fulfilled. And I'm not saying that I think everyone should be single. No, if you want to be single you'll know it. I want women and men, and I'm taking to you and I'm talking to myself too, to feel like their life has a purpose without a mate. And that purpose is fulfilled in Christ and not in one another. A half and a half will never make a whole."
As Pam mentioned earlier, concentrate on being the best you can be and "look inside and say 'Lord I want to be better,' but not look inside and say 'it's all me.' We need to say 'Lord take my personality, and if there's anything I need to work on, reveal it to me. Help me to grow better." There is a place, as Pam says, where confidence grows, where security is found in relationships, and those relationships are ready to become more serious.
"Relationships are hard work,' admits Brian. "The older I get, the more I realize it's gonna take that. To be honest I've avoided a lot of serious relationships because I know what's involved in it, and I knew there was no way I could do that at that point. And so I have intentionally stayed out of that on purpose because I knew there was no way I could do that given the time that I have."
And as Rich said earlier, the focus needs to come off marital or non-marital status and be put squarely onto the pursuit of honest and deep relationships.
"I think people have their priorities," cites Cindy. "I think that people do what they want to do. And I think the proof is in the pudding and the fruit is in the tree - if you spend 13 hours a day working then 'where you put your heart is, there your treasure will be.' A lot of professional women I know that are single don't make any time for personal life."
And as Neal assesses, those prioritized relationships aren't always simply love interests. "I was never one to try and find that one person to fill a void," says Neal. "Friendships are important to me. I've always tried to surround myself with as many friends as possible. I've always had the assurance in the fact that I was gonna enjoy my friendships, but I would always depend on God to place that person in my life when the time was right."
And that brings this discussion back to the original issue of contentment along life's journey whether traveling it alone of accompanied by a mate - the question remains can human nature find peace along the road? Singles want the stability and security of being married, married folks wish for those carefree days when they had no responsibility. Yet as this forum has discovered, life and love are wonderfully complicated issues that are learned as you go.
"Loving isn't [necessarily] about filling a void," Rich says. "Loving is being open to somebody, being receiving of them, allowing what's going to happen to happen."
What's a Good Date?
"I don't think the first date should be getting all dressed up. I think like going having a picnic or sitting outside by nature. Or going somewhere where you can have fun and really get to know each other. I think in the winter it would be fun to go somewhere like ice skating or a cute restaurant where you can see the snow. Or where friends are around. On the fun side 'cause then you can get to know someone - they're not so stiff."
"I went on a date once [that] was so fun. You know what we did? We went to the Wal-Mart deli. I got to watch 'em grill my bread. We sat there at Wal-Mart listening to the announcements going on. There was a guy named Mike that was having a birthday that day - we saw him, we wished him a happy birthday. Dinner at the Wal-Mart."
"A good date is something that's fairly innocent. I went on a date the other night...it was me and a friend of mine, and two friends of his. Kinda like a double date. We just had fun cooking them dinner. We tried a recipe that he got off the T.V., and it worked - it worked out well. We pulled it off, and they made dessert. Then we got them a Christmas tree, and we played some games. That was fun because you're in three or four different environments, and you realize how people think and act around other people."
"A nice place would be the Sangra De Christi Mountains [in northern New Mexico, southern Colorado]. Go swimming, make dinner, then we would have a campfire."
"A good date for the '90's would be something that's just a little bit out of the ordinary - a play or a musical. Something that you just really feel like you're doing something special. That and then going to a coffeehouse afterwards."
Singles and S-E-X
Single life in the '90's doesn't just entail the struggles of loneliness and contentment...baby that's just the tip of the iceberg. Modern society is very sensual and sexually oriented, and although the sexual revolution may have tapered off, the issue of sex outside marriage remains a 'do-I-or-don't-I' question. This year the True Love Waits campaign witnessed over 200,000 pledge cards planted in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., pledge cards which represented a commitment to abstain from sex until marriage. But in this society, that promise can be difficult to maintain.
According to Song of Solomon, sex is supposed to be a fulfilling thing - wouldn't being so intimate with another human being achieve that wholeness so many singles seek? From our forum, Neal responds, "I heard a pastor describe sex, for a single person, as being more of an issue of rejection. You're being used by that other person, and you're more than likely using that person. Once that experience is over, and they have their needs met..." So what started out as something intended to fulfill, ends up creating more rejection and more emptiness.
But the raging hormones and sexual struggles remain, and how can the average single cope? Rich Mullins releases that tension with a surprising solution. He runs. "In general or from women?" we ask. "Both," he replies. "We live in a society that constantly pumps us with sensuality and then we also live in a culture where our lives are so sedentary. I think a lot of time what we really want more than to kiss someone real hard is to get a good sweat up. So I think exercising really does do something for us that we need done because otherwise sex becomes less appealing."
Another valid point Rich made dealing with the bombardment of Hollywood's influential babe-watch is the other side of the coin. Modesty. "Modesty says a lot for a person. And I really find, ironically, modesty is more attractive than immodesty."
"Are we buying into this?" asks Pam. "We buy into it like [when] we go to a movie and there's all sorts of nudity. 'Well, the story line was really good, they took Jesus' name in vain 15 times, but the story line was really good.' You know, I don't think we're as strong as we think we are. We're human, and when our hormones are raging anyway...man, that's all I need. All that really does is flame that fire. Are we buying into [more than] we can handle?"
"I think there comes a point," says Brian, "where everyone kind of says 'I'm either gonna pay attention to these feelings and give in to them or pay attention to them, knowing that they're valid, but they shouldn't be acted on right now.' There's a right and wrong that's implanted in believers, for sure. We've gotten to where our scales of measurements have been on the world's standards and not God's. Look at the word of God. Ask God what He's telling us about a mate, what they should be like and how they should act. Look to those characteristics."