First of all: I hope my writing is not [all] about me. Whatever I write, I write in the belief (and often knowledge) that I am not the only one who feels or thinks a certain way. I write both for the people who feel and think similarly and to honestly share a perspective with those who don’t. I usually don’t want to–or feel it necessary to–state an explicit list of my general personal beliefs.
However, I realize the popularity of my posts about one of my topics–singleness and marriage–has caused some confusion (to say the least). Some people are under the impression that I am “against” marriage, think people should not get married, and/or that I personally wouldn’t want to get married. Plus, some have also suggested that if I do get married, I will have to redact some of the things I have said.
All of these statements are simply not true. The phenomenon that people come to believe any of these statements about my writing is probably similar to the way people can come to believe that feminists, by advocating for women, are against and/or hate men. In actuality, feminism supports the equality of all (see The 10 Worst Myths About Feminism Debunked). Similarly, speaking on behalf of single people and to our culture about unhealthy idolization of marriage does not mean I am against marriage–it means I am for people and for healthy relationships. Because of this phenomenon, and especially because I do not want what I have to say to be dismissed so erroneously, I feel the need to be explicit.
Whatever I write, I am writing on the foundation of two beliefs:
- Every person has the same intrinsic worth and value. (See All People Hold All Doors for All People)
- As Christians, our central call comes from the two greatest commandments (love God and love neighbor). (See Happiness is Not the Point and Our Idolatry of Marriage).
Many of the ways our churches and culture approaches marriage flies in the face of these two beliefs, devaluing people who are not married or setting marriage as a central life goal. That’s what I have written about.
I have never written anything negative about marriage itself. I have written a good deal about damaging religious and societal attitudes about marriage. I believe these attitudes are damaging to people who are not married and people who are married. In most of the pieces I write about marriage, I usually make the distinction between attitudes and marriage itself. Here’s a few examples:
- Our Idolatry of Marriage: “Please know that none of what I’ve written below is meant to say ‘marriage is bad’ or that it’s wrong or sinful to desire or seek marriage. If you want to read about how great marriage can be or how it can be a fundamental part of life, then there are plenty of places where you can read about that… but I’m not going to repeat what others have already said.”
- An Open Letter About Maturity (and Marital Status): “I do believe there are certain factors that tend to encourage growth, and if those are present in marriage, they will encourage growth. However, those factors occur in many contexts, not just in marriage. Otherwise, it would be true that only married people are mature and all single people are not. In reality, there are people all across the maturity spectrum—married, single, and in between. I want to tell you my ideas about what these maturity-encouraging factors are. I hope it spurs further discussion and encourages us both to seek growth in our individual contexts.”
I have actually written some positive things about marriage. Unlearning some of the unhealthy ideas about marriage has also involved realizing some beautiful things about marriage. Examples include…
- Bearing Witness to One Another’s Lives: Discussing Susan Sarandon quote about marriage: “We all need other people to witness our lives for us. We need people to see us live our lives and acknowledge we are living them. People to help us connect the dots from one season to the next–to know we exist, have existed, and will continue to exist.”
- He Won a Gold Medal–And My Heart: “[My infatuation with Evan Lysacek and ice-skating] gave me a beautiful image for what is possible when two well-matched and capable people combine forces.”
- Unlearning “Christian” Marriage: “If I marry someday, it will be in full knowledge of the freedom I have to make that choice. I will marry someone who wants to partner with me in our already progressing lives. If I don’t marry, I will continue my life as an already complete person. I am grateful to be getting to know the God who makes that kind of redemption possible.”
Furthermore, a large part of my audience are people who are married or have been married. I don’t know the numbers exactly, since I can only tell the number of people who are reading posts. I can’t tell who is reading them, unless people make a point to tell me. And several of my married friends and readers have expressed their appreciation of what I have to say, whether it relates to feelings and experiences from when they were single or helps them to realize ways unhealthy views of marriage have threatened their own relationships (marriage and otherwise).
I write about a lot of other things besides marriage and/or being single. Many of my posts about marriage and singleness are my most popular, probably because they are the least like what anyone else is saying. But I write the majority of my posts about other topics that are also personal and important. While these other posts are not always my most popular, they are often the posts with which others deeply identify, and these dear readers are gracious enough to take the time to tell me so. Here are a few of my favorite posts about other topics:
- Returning to Trauma (Especially for Those Going *Back* to Boston)
- How Stubborn is Your Paradigm?
- Beware of the Easy Life How-To
- Naked Vulnerability
People assume my advocating for people who are single and for healthy conceptions of marriage means that I’m against marriage. I mentioned earlier this is similar to people assuming that feminists advocating for women are against men. I think these assumptions arise because they’re easier. It’s a lot easier to say of feminists, “Well, they just hate men,” than to face the possibility that there are attitudes and actions entrenched in our culture that demean women. It’s also a lot easier to say of me, “Well, she just thinks marriage is bad,” than to consider that some of the “the ways we do things” regarding marriage are harmful and unhealthy. It’s a lot easier to make blanket statements than to acknowledge complex situations.
If you’re ready to engage the complex, then please, do keep reading.