January 16, 2010
The Gift of Marriedness?
Either way, it's not remotely flattering.
There was an anonymous comment to my last post about how hard it is to feel flattered when people say, "You must have the gift of singleness." My response was that I suspect there are more married than single who believe there is such thing as a gift of singleness.
A few years ago, a coworker turned 40, and she was having a hard time dealing with the fact she was still single. We had lunch for her, and another coworker - a mother of 6 - began to lecture the guest of honor about the gift of singleness. I was at the other end of the table and couldn't hear much of the conversation (if you could even call it a conversation) but I saw the look on the birthday girl's face. Her expression spoke volumes - and the more pained her expression, the more enthused Mother of 6 was about driving her point home.
Really, can you imagine suggesting that there is a gift of marriedness? I know people who have been married multiple times, so clearly they don't have anything you could call a gift of singleness, but I wouldn't say they have a gift of marriedness either. I wouldn't even suggest such a thing to friends who have been married their entire adult lives.
I understand where the idea comes from. It's from 1 Corinthians 7, one of Paul's more rambling passages. One time I heard a pastor say that Paul had a tendency to chase rabbits because while there are many passages where Paul writes eloquently and to the point, there are other passages where it's more a stream of consciousness. I Corinthians 7 strikes me as a stream of consciousness.
Don't get me wrong. The words he wrote in this passage are absolutely true and have given me comfort in my own life, but parts of it leave me scratching my head. Verse 7, the verse that gives us the idea that there is a gift of singleness, is one of those parts we still can't make up our minds about. "I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that."
For crying out loud, could the man have stayed on point long enough to explain what he meant?
Is he talking about a spiritual gift? Like lots of other people, I've gone back and forth about the answer to that question for years. At this point in my life, I don't think he is.
Whether married or single, I believe our lives are a gift from God. In that sense, yes, singleness is a gift, as is marriage. Whether married or single, we learn over time how to adapt to the life God has for us. If you're married, you learn how to live with your spouse, and if you're single, you learn how to live alone. Many will learn how to do both in their lives. Whatever the case, as we learn to adapt to that life which God has for us, as followers of Christ, we learn how to be more like Him, because that is the ultimate goal God has for all of us.
So take the advice of Anonymous. Compliment her on her shoes or her hair. But please, don't tell her she has the gift of singleness.