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I’m Engaged and Still Not Better Than You

I got engaged this past weekend to the most wonderful woman I have ever met, and am overjoyed that I get to spend the rest of my life with her. After proposing and sitting outside for a little while, we got in the car to go to an engagement party. A few minutes of driving later, Meredith said, “I don’t feel any different, that’s good.” She said how it was good that she felt the same because that meant that we were the same people, despite being engaged. No new personalities overcame us as I slipped the ring on her finger, and here I am, back in class on Wednesday living life as usual.
A trend it would seem in the “20 Somethings” generation of the Church, would be a perceived gap between those who are married and those who aren’t. That marriage is a qualifier of maturity, and thus, those who aren’t married just aren’t as mature yet. This is B.S. Being married or engaged is not a measure of how mature a person is, nor unfortunately, does it automatically make you more mature. It just means that you’ve found someone who you wish to be in a covenant relationship with, while single people have not found someone, or don’t feel the need to be married.
When I first graduated college and started graduate school in a new city, there were multiple instances where I interacted with people my age who had graduated, gotten married and started a job. In several of these encounters, I had the distinct feeling that I was looked at as lesser. I wasn’t as mature as them, clearly, because I hadn’t gotten married, and how could I possibly understand life as well as them? Now, mind you, this wasn’t explicit, but it was there.
How do we fight back against this pretentiousness? If there is one distinct group that feels ostracized in the Church, despite denomination, age, race, gender, and sexual identity, I would say it is single people. If they are newly graduated from college, their married peers may be putting off an air of superiority. If they are a a few years older, they may sick and tired of the “Oh I know the perfect person to set you up with” statements they hear most weekends. If they are middle-aged, they may go into Church and feel more isolated than they can bear sitting by themselves, and in their mind hearing the surrounding people question, “Why aren’t they married yet?”
We’ve got to break the mold in the Church that says married is good, and single is bad. As long as we have this inherent preference in our hearts, single people will always feel like outsiders in a place that should feel like home. Marriage and engagement does not make you more mature, or better, or farther along. It just makes you married.
James Harris

James is probably the 3rd or 4th funniest guy you know. Funny enough to invite to a party; not witty enough to talk about later. Co-Founder and Content Editor of Everyday Exiles, Director of College Ministry at Reynolda Church, EPC, and husband to Meredith. He has a dog named Calvin, a cat named Opie, and a robot vacuum named Alfred.

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