A lot of the bone I have to pick with the way people try to shame black women in particular for our single status and women in general for declining marriage rates has to do with the secular perspective attached to such screeds in the blogosphere, in media and popular culture.
Despite the fact that men and women spend upwards of $500 million on dating online trying to find love (though some may be looking for less than that) and shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” make it seem like there is a way to control how long a woman is single, there is no controlling when you will meet an appropriate person for you.
I had to learn this the hard way. A lot of really stupid dates and a ton of Match.com and EHarmony.com fees later, I gave it to God. I had prayed about and meditated on everything else in my life related to work, life and tragic twists in my personal life, but not love.
In November, Jennifer Marshall wrote an inspirational blog for Christianity Today about why single women shouldn’t give up on marriage. The subhead was “Frustrations with men and the institution (of Marriage) are real, but shouldn’t obscure our hope in what God is doing.” Here’s a little more of that, pegged to Kate Bolick’s cover story, “All the Single Ladies” in The Atlantic:
Bolick seems to have resolved the sense of being betwixt-and-between by demoting marriage. In her book, marriage should no longer enjoy pride of place as the basic building block of society and the relationship that harmonizes the needs of men, women, and children like no other.
In other words, if experience doesn’t match up to the ideal, toss out the ideal.
But should we give up on an ideal just because it hasn’t worked out for us personally? That might make sense if marriage were an ideal simply because the majority, the powerful, or forces such as evolution or economics made it so. The unique status of marriage, however, is timeless. God ordained it as the basic institution for ordering human relations.
To esteem that ideal is not to dismiss singleness as second rate. Kate Bolick’s hunch is right: Our current status isn’t “provisional.” We’ll gain a better perspective on our circumstances, though, not by downgrading marriage, but by taking a higher view of what God is doing both now and in the long run. Amid the tension between circumstances today and longings unfulfilled, joy can come only from the confidence that a purposeful Author has a grand design for our lives.
Whatever one’s personal belief system, it seems to me that if we apply the same faith and hope for our futures as single women to what appears to be a truism about relationships, it will help steady us against a strong current of anti-single woman rhetoric. There is nothing to do, there is nothing else to be. We are enough as we are, and everything else is nonsense.