The way society and the church lift up stories of love and marriage is beautiful . . . but it is also dangerous. Dangerous, I mean, for the way many young single people have come to perceive love. The truth is that the desire for romantic love is good. But the overemphasis on the “need” to fall in love makes it easy for us to idolize that goal over the desire to follow God.
This is an issue we must discuss as a community. Because although it may seem like a burden that primarily affects young—and not-so-young—single people, it’s rooted in the thoughts and actions of an entire culture. While I want to believe that my faith in God is all I really need, the world has trained me that being in a romantic relationship is the only thing that will make me truly happy.
I am 21 years old and I have never been on a date.
What did you feel when you read that sentence? I’m guessing you felt sorry for me. But I am not looking for pity. I only mention this to demonstrate to you your own reaction. You see, whether we admit it or not, our culture has taught us that the single life is pitiful.
What is worse is that I too have adopted this strange intuition that if only I were to fall head over heels in love, then all my days would be splendidly happy. In fact, I believe this so strongly that not only do I have a great desire to date, to fall in love, and be married—but this has become something that consumes my thoughts every single day.
To desire this sort of intimacy is a beautiful expression of the capacity to love in each of us. But the sin I commit is allowing that desire to take a greater precedence in my life than my relationship with Christ.
It only makes sense that we believe something is wrong when we don’t fall in love. Because that is what we have been fed. Disney princesses. Hallmark classics. Nicholas Sparks novels. “The Bachelor.” A church designed primarily to serve families. The question “Have you found a guy yet?” And the well-meaning “You know, he’s nice. I should set you up with him!”
The world around us—including the church—has taught us that this is how we should think. To be truly happy, goes the lie, I must first fall in love.
What I really want is for my desire to serve the Lord to consume me first and foremost, and only then my desire to fall in love. But the culture I live in will never encourage me to do so.
So where do we as a community go from here?
What I am asking of the church is this: continue to remind us that the desire for love is good. Continue to pray that single people will find strong Christian spouses. But please, build us up in our faith more than emphasizing the importance of falling in love by your words and actions. I want to love God more than the desire for love. But amidst the world’s powerful impressions, I need your support.
About the Author
Mariellen Hofland is a student at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. She is a member of Fairfield Christian Reformed Church, Fairfield, Calif.