Singles’ Dilemma

7 03 2010

Several weeks ago I had a conversation with a single man in his early forties, a man I would call a casual friend – we get on OK when we encounter each other, and I enjoy his banter.  He’s not a Christian and he knows exactly where I stand in life and he often pours out his heart looking for comfort in this crazy world. I appreciate him and accept him for what he is.

On this occasion he was pouring his heart out about the absence of anyone that he could settle down with. He has had various girls or partners (mostly relatively short-term). He’s at a point in life where he’d like to settle down but here he finds the dilemma.  If he goes out with younger girls they want to party and go to clubs and stay up late. He’s past that. He  works hard and wants to be in bed at a reasonable hour. So younger women are out as far as he’s concerned. But then there are the older women who are still single – and this is where it gets difficult for him. For most of the women that he knows have lived the promiscuous lifestyle that he’s lived and in his language, he’d rather not have ‘used goods’.

Now you may consider that total hypocrisy but there is another point that goes with it. How, he reasons, can I be sure that if I settle down with this one woman who has been having ‘relationships’ all over the place, that she will stay with me and not stray off to someone else and I’m left hurt and rejected and paying her money?

So here we have this crazy dilemma in the Western world in particular. On one hand the media encourage and portray as normal a lifestyle that includes sex with whoever you like and whenever you like, but on the other hand there is this inner yearning for security and settling – and never shall the two meet!

Since I last wrote there’s been yet another report that has emerged that started out, “Increasing numbers of couples are choosing to live together rather than to get married,” but then goes on to document in detail how cohabitation rarely lasts for any length of time. Having said that it noted that of those that ended, 61% ended in marriage and 39% broke up. Marriage is still the preferred option. Unfortunately we then go to divorce statistics and see there is a high failure rate in marriage. What a dilemma for today’s young people, searching for stability.

On the subject of breaking up (divorce) my boss, Jesus, said something very astute when the legalists of his day were questioning him about why God allowed divorce in the Law. He said, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.” (Mt 19:8) In other words, if your heart is so set on breaking up and you are so hard you cannot receive help, counsel, and guidance, and so hard you cannot change, then of course parting is the only option.

I was put in mind of all this last night, watching Piers Morgan interviewing (if that is the right word) Simon Cowell.  Simon acknowledged his past relationships and acknowledged the relation that he has at the moment which looks like it might go somewhere more permanent. Yet along the way he expressed his fear of a ‘permanent relationship’ not being able to be permanent. He is just like my friend.

I also happened across an article about Debbie Reynolds whose first husband, Eddie Fisher, was lost to Elizabeth Taylor. The article observed, “Fisher, now 81, a self-confessed former drug addict, has been married five times and battles illness alone. Taylor, 78, had seven husbands… Debbie, now 77 had two more marriages, both ending in financial disaster.”   Oh yes, these can be treacherous waters!

Now there are no guarantees in life, but as I have watched life for quite a long time I have concluded that all that we have been considering of the way the world works, doesn’t work!  The above examples may be extreme examples, but they are simply ‘bigger pictures’ of what is common in our society.  I wonder yet again, how long it will be before the world wakes up to this? There are some hopeful signs.
I further conclude that God’s design as observed in the Bible does work the best. It can be summarised as:
1. Don’t make sex the foundation of a relationship – keep it until you have entered into a lifetime commitment – anything less, the figures tell us, works for failure.
2. Once in such a lifetime committed relationship, hold on to that concept – that it is for life and you will be committed to your married partner and will do anything and everything you possibly can to make sure it works – including learning to give and take, learning to say sorry, learning not to insist on ‘my’ way, and learning to do everything to look after and bless your partner. Therein, strangely, is fulfilment.
Those may look restrictive in the modern environment but if you want stability and security, they work – which is clearly more than can be said for what is going on all around us! You make your choices and you live with the consequences!
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