It’s a boy-meets-girl world.
We crave tangible affection. We crave it in different ways. Oftentimes, we crave a love that is romantic – long-walks-on-the-beach and long-talks-after-dark romance. Sometimes (oftentimes) we crave it so much that it becomes an ideal. Or an idol. This isn’t a new conversation.
We have expectations for the way our lives should run based on what we observe. We grow up, we go to school, we get a job. And somewhere along the way, we expect Mr. or Mrs. Right to come along. That’s how it happened for our parents, our grandparents, many of our friends and relations. Love happened. You might expect to meet in college, or during your summer job, or at a work party. You expect that somewhere along the way, maybe after a few duds, it will happen for you.
But sometimes it doesn’t. Either it doesn’t happen when you think it will, or it doesn’t happen at all. Not everyone finishes out their life happily in romantic love.
We’ve all grown into these expectations. When our circumstances don’t line up with our expectations, we begin to worry. If I don’t have a partner, something must be wrong with me. I must not be doing something right. As a result, we have incredible young single men and women believing they’re not enough, saying self-degrading things like they’ll be a crazy cat lady or a 40-year-old virgin – “forever alone,” like one popular meme. They’ve stopped seeing value in themselves because someone else hasn’t seen it.
And that ain’t right. Our value shouldn’t be found in that.
I’ve had a lot of interactions with single Christians, having grown up in a Christian environment. It’s implicitly part of the Christian algorithm to get married. If it wasn’t, churches wouldn’t have marriage retreats and Christian Mingle probably wouldn’t exist. In my opinion, this mentality causes desperation and devastation. If I’m not in a relationship/married by now, then something must be wrong with me. Christian men and women become desperate for companionship, and bad stuff happens when someone is desperate.
It seems to me that the church shouldn’t spend all its time and resources on those who are married. Marriage retreats and relationship self-help books have their place, but there’s only one kind of love that the church should be stressing above all others.
Agape might sound like “friendly” love. Or “friendzoning,” if you will, because it implies a brotherly love. But what else does it imply? Unselfish. How often do we pursue romantic love to get something out of it for ourselves? In all honesty (and speaking from experience,) our need for romantic love rarely comes from an unselfish place.
There’s a reason agape has those three main definitions (I’ll get to the fourth one in a second.) Agape is vertical, horizontal, and plural. Agape reflects the love God has for us. Agape reflects the love we then show to others as a result of God within us. Agape should be present in all our personal relationships.
Agape is how we should live our lives. I know it’s impossible for humans to be completely selfless, but what would an agape world look like? Single men and women would not feel desperate, needy, or “forever alone.” They would be filled with agape love. That love would overflow into every pore of their lives.
The world would be a love feast.
What the heck is a love feast?
Who doesn’t love a good meal? Even better, a good meal shared with the ones they love? A shared meal directly correlates to companionship. What if we lived in a world where churches hosted meals, not specifically for the married or the single, but for everyone. An agape feast!
I am not married yet. I would love to someday be married and have children to raise with the love of the Lord. Marriage has sometimes (often) become an obsession for me (you should see my wedding board on Pinterest.) I yearn to live my life with someone by my side – a husband, a father, a companion. I will not find that by being desperate, by swiping through a dating app, by going to a singles’ group thinly veiled as a 20-something church group.
I’m well aware that I am not promised a happy marriage. None of us are promised romantic love.
Do you know what we are promised? Agape love. If you need a reminder of that, read John 3:16.
God does not promise us romance. To think that our end-goal as a Christian is romance cheapens the idea of love. God has promised that we have a bridegroom in Christ. A husband or wife is merely a bonus – and if you are privileged enough to have one, you’d better treat them as one of the greatest gifts you’ve been given. Marriage is a gift from God, when it’s rooted in agape. But He gives other gifts that are equally as valuable.
Set your heart on things above.
And go forward in agape.