In our rush to defend marriage and push purity to teenagers, we have often done more harm than good.
We’ve made getting married the ultimate goal for everyone, instead of a part of the journey for some. We’ve told a generation of young adults that if they just love God a little bit more, He will bring them their future spouse.
Albeit unintentionally, we have made God nothing more than a spouse vending machine and turned marriage into idolatry.
In focusing our efforts on telling them to wait, we’ve forgotten to help teenagers and young adults rest. We haven’t told them to just live in the moment God has placed them.
This story from Grace for the Road is a story that is more typical than we often admit. In it, she describes slipping her purity ring off her finger, not as some statement or rejection of purity, but because she’s done waiting.
I lived like I was waiting for something.
And that’s why I slipped off my ring that day. It wasn’t that I wanted to sleep with people – I haven’t. It wasn’t a slap to True Love Waits, or to anyone who wears a purity ring – saving sex for marriage is good and is His design.
I just didn’t want to wait anymore – didn’t want to live like I was waiting on anyone to get here.
I already have Him … and He is everything.
Married or not, we find our everything in Christ. Not in a husband or wife. They make wonderful spouses, but terrible saviors.
In a way, they are like the Old Testament temple and priestly system. (Stick with me. If Solomon can compare his beloved’s hair to a flock of goats, I think I can safely make this one.)
In Hebrews 8, the writer is speaking about the priest offering a sacrifice and Moses having specific instructions for constructing a tabernacle. These things were important, not because they were the final goal, but because they were pointing to something beyond themselves.
They were, as Hebrews 8:5 says, a shadow – a mere reflection of the true substance. which is the heavenly temple and Christ’s one-for-all sacrifice.
Similarly, spouses are shadows of the relationship we all yearn for in Christ. They are a lovely shadow, but a shadow nonetheless.
We are made for relationship and community. That is partially reflected here on Earth in our relationship with our spouse. It’s one of the most common analogies used to compare with Christ and the church.
But, as Jesus explains it in Matthew 22:30, in the resurrection, we won’t marry or give in marriage. The need for the shadow will have passed. The perfect light will be present.
Marrying my wife and starting a family with her is one of the greatest blessings God has given me, but that does not mean the single Christian has less than me.
In my wife, I have a lovely shadow that pictures for me the perfect relationship every believer has in Christ. While the single person does not have that shadow, they can have One who brings ultimate satisfaction.
He is the One to whom we should be pointing everyone – male or female, married or single. If we urge them to chase the light for the sole purpose of seeing the shadow, we have sent them in the wrong direction.
We are asking them to bypass the greatest thing for a lesser good. And that in some ways is a much more dangerous thing.
Good is often the most formidable enemy for the best in our lives. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, “Brass is mistaken for gold more easily than clay is.”
Intentionally or accidentally, we must not teach that if one has found the treasure that is Christ, they must be waiting for something or someone else.
While cherishing any shadows God gives us along the way, we must never wait for them. But instead, we all must constantly chase the light.