God Doesn’t Care If You’re Married or Not

It’s fun to write about being married or single—because that’s about relationships, and that’s about Intense Human Interaction, and what’s more dependably interesting than that? And so I’ve enjoyed writing (and wading through the many, often emotionally intense responses to) You! Get Married! Now!; Looking for Mr. Right? You’re Missing the Point, Missy; Six Tests to Determine If He’s Mr. Right; To Single Women: Men. Don’t. Change.; Surprise (Or Not!)! Men Are SpoiledTop 10 Tips for Becoming an Ideal Husband; What’s In A Word: The Truth Behind Men’s Personal Ads, and others. 

For the record, though, do let me say that I don’t think God cares any more about whether any given person is married than he does about the color of that person’s hair.

This is God we’re talking about here, not anybody’s Aunt Bea or gossipy Uncle Randy. God cares what’s in our hearts. God cares about the state of our morality. God’s interested in whether or not we’re lying, cheating, being unfair, dismissive, arrogant, self-righteous, stubborn, irrational, unkind. That’s the stuff God cares about.

What God cares about is the degree to which we’re accepting his love for us. All  God wants to know is how we’re faring in our central, ongoing challenge to love ourselves as much as he loves us—to love the world  as much as he does.

What God cares about is our relationship with him—not our relationship with that cute guy who works in the graphics department, or with that one girl who works downstairs. Of course that stuff is important; the quality of our lives is largely if not ultimately defined by the quality of our interpersonal relationships. We all know that. But considering nothing more than the state of a person’s marital status as indicitive of the quality of their relationship to God is like determining that you can judge a person’s character based on the make and model of the car they drive.

It’s fun to try and connect people’s characters to the kinds of cars they drive—but it’s not real.

Nobody cares whether or not you’re married. And sure as heck nobody’s opinion of whether or not you’re married should care to you. What you care about is your relationship with The All. In the life of each and every one of us, everything else—everything else—comes after that.

 

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.anunveiledface.wordpress.com lionelwoods7

    1. He only cares how you treat the person you are married too if you are married.

    2. If the marriage becomes and end to itself and become self serving and takes you away from Christ then that is a problem

    3. Paul and Jesus would have had serious problems

    4. The church is built on families no matter how many times James Dobson tells us that.

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    Well said, lionelwoods7! I agree that Paul and Jesus would have had serious problems.

    wisely spoken once again, John…thank you for your clarity!

  • dcwritergirl

    Great posting. I am new to WordPress and would like to know how you get that "add to" bar in every post and the Subscribe in a reader widget. Thanks!

  • http://dasparks.wordpress.com Jesse

    I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one.

    "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24

    To echo lionelwoods7, the church, and society, truly is built upon families.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    So do you think God thought less of Paul for his not marrying? Of St. Francis? Of Mother Theresa?

    No one rule ever applies to everyone. What matters is how you're set with God. And if you're married, it's HOW you're married, not simply whether or not, technically, you are or aren't married.

  • jschepers

    A man living a biblical life without temptation to sexual sin can live a godly single life. If the sexual temptations are so strong that he cannot live a biblical life, he must get married so those needs can be satisfied.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    And thank you, from the president of the Hallmark Company.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    And thank you, from the president of the Hallmark Company.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (Ahhh… who can forget that classic Hallmark card:

    Roses are red

    Violets are blue

    We need to wed

    So I can hump you.

    Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes … )

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (Ahhh… who can forget that classic Hallmark card:

    Roses are red

    Violets are blue

    We need to wed

    So I can hump you.

    Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes … )

  • Candace

    Pfffft. Me too! And great sprays of Diet Coke through my nose to the keyboard and monitor. THANKS, John. You couldn't, like, post a warning first??

  • barryweber

    What?!? You mean you don't think God cares if we have a marriage license issued by the county of residence and approved by the clerk of courts for filing in the great State of Texas (or Ohio, Florida, Vermont, wherever?) You really mean God's not checking to see that the proper fees have been paid, the appropriate blood tests have been taken, and some state-authorized official has affixed his/her signature to said document?

    Oh my..

  • barryweber

    What?!? You mean you don't think God cares if we have a marriage license issued by the county of residence and approved by the clerk of courts for filing in the great State of Texas (or Ohio, Florida, Vermont, wherever?) You really mean God's not checking to see that the proper fees have been paid, the appropriate blood tests have been taken, and some state-authorized official has affixed his/her signature to said document?

    Oh my..

  • http://www.anunveiledface.wordpress.com lionelwoods7

    Sorry wrong echo. I mean "not" the church is built on the Gospel!

  • http://www.anunveiledface.wordpress.com lionelwoods7

    Sorry wrong echo. I mean "not" the church is built on the Gospel!

  • http://www.anunveiledface.wordpress.com lionelwoods7

    Hey Barry, I think God actually does care. Sense he cares about divorce, he cares about mariage. God has always expressed marriage (old and new covenants) in the context of the "legalities" or I would like to say "covenants" witnessed by men.

  • jschepers

    A man properly aligned with God's way of living can be very powerful in spreading the gospel and making the world a better place when he is single. My thumbs up to them. This same man trapped in sexual sin will be weak, be an extremly bad example, and could not help in the epedemic of sexual immorality in this world. Yes I agree this is a problem in this world and he needs strong Godly people to help. If this tempted man gets married, he has a wife to help and then they are a team in strengthening the church and spreading the gospel. Yes, it is that simple. Peace and love everyone. God created you and he loves his children. Embrace the fact that he is your creator and he will bless you.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    Well then, wouldn’t god be a little more concerned with the fact that (I’m assuming for most of us) we live in a country where adultery and lying (in most situations) are completely legal?

    Just sayin’. Not that the single-boy should have much to say on this subject.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    Well then, wouldn’t god be a little more concerned with the fact that (I’m assuming for most of us) we live in a country where adultery and lying (in most situations) are completely legal?

    Just sayin’. Not that the single-boy should have much to say on this subject.

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

    You mean you don’t think God cares if we have a marriage license issued by the county of residence and approved by the clerk of courts for filing in the great State of Texas (or Ohio, Florida, Vermont, wherever?)</blockquote

    Well, Texas, sure. But not those other backwaters.

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

    You mean you don’t think God cares if we have a marriage license issued by the county of residence and approved by the clerk of courts for filing in the great State of Texas (or Ohio, Florida, Vermont, wherever?)</blockquote

    Well, Texas, sure. But not those other backwaters.

  • Live & Learn

    Great post, John. Marriage is a beautiful thing, but it’s not for everyone. Some single people seem to think they have to get married to whoever might be available (good or bad) to please society and the church. But as long as single men and women can remain celibate, it’s really okay to be unmarried. Of course, the apostle Paul says it’s better to marry than to burn, so there’s the litmus test.

    BTW, someone (with a different agenda) brought up the fact that the government gets involved by issuing marriage licenses.

    It is interesting that today there are both church ceremonies and civil ceremonies, but all marriages require a marriage license FIRST to be “legal.” However, at one time, I believe marriages that were solemnized and administered by the church did not need any separate license from the government. Does anyone have some background as to exactly when and why the change happened — especially in the U.S.? (Licensing does have both positive and negative consequences.)

  • Live & Learn

    Great post, John. Marriage is a beautiful thing, but it’s not for everyone. Some single people seem to think they have to get married to whoever might be available (good or bad) to please society and the church. But as long as single men and women can remain celibate, it’s really okay to be unmarried. Of course, the apostle Paul says it’s better to marry than to burn, so there’s the litmus test.

    BTW, someone (with a different agenda) brought up the fact that the government gets involved by issuing marriage licenses.

    It is interesting that today there are both church ceremonies and civil ceremonies, but all marriages require a marriage license FIRST to be “legal.” However, at one time, I believe marriages that were solemnized and administered by the church did not need any separate license from the government. Does anyone have some background as to exactly when and why the change happened — especially in the U.S.? (Licensing does have both positive and negative consequences.)

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    You know, I think you just might be right.

    Anita over on her blog wrote an interesting article related to what you are saying, and she surprised the heck out of me with a new Biblical revelation (for me, anyway). The dude and the chick in Song of Songs (Song of Solomon?), even though they ended up in the sack, were NOT MARRIED!

    http://www.sisterfriends-together.org/gay-okay-se

    I never really cared for the Song of Songs before – too many Christian guys quoting it to me when they bragged about how 'Godly' their marriage was and how the Holy Spirit was giving their sex life a boost. Puh-leese! Breasts like fawns? What's next – thigh's like calves? (Wait a minute… )

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    You know, I think you just might be right.

    Anita over on her blog wrote an interesting article related to what you are saying, and she surprised the heck out of me with a new Biblical revelation (for me, anyway). The dude and the chick in Song of Songs (Song of Solomon?), even though they ended up in the sack, were NOT MARRIED!

    http://www.sisterfriends-together.org/gay-okay-se

    I never really cared for the Song of Songs before – too many Christian guys quoting it to me when they bragged about how 'Godly' their marriage was and how the Holy Spirit was giving their sex life a boost. Puh-leese! Breasts like fawns? What's next – thigh's like calves? (Wait a minute… )

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    And THIS, ladies and gentlebens, is why Christian Beyer is one of my absolute all-time favorite commenters. Just … perfect.

    I READ that piece by the ever-brilliant Anita! Now I'm going to go read it again. I read it too fast the first time.

  • in love with wisdom

    i believe God loves us without question. i believe in miracles, and i know he helps ppl and has much grace amen. i am living proof of that. but does he care if we are married or not? will he help you get married?? i dont think so. just because the bible says it is good to be married and you should if you cannot contain yourself does not mean God is gonna come running to your aid in that. i think a love life is like in the x-men series when gambit told rouge ,"life is random " yes…i think love lives for ppl are random. personally i believe that all men or most of them even the Godly ones want a skinny whore so bad they are hell bent on doing what it takes to get it. i use to think a man would love me for who i am and i had hope. but see i dont care for faith much anymore i care for wisdom to have that faith if you get what i mean. meaning; i dont wanna believe in something if i am not suppose to! if i have to help myself out then i just hope God guides me. but like i said, just because it's a good idea to marry does not mean God is gonna have you marry. i think people and the churches are so obsessed with marriage that they give you this false hope that looking for someone means you don't trust God . But i say at the age of 29 and i have been single most of my life i beg to differ that God has that plan for me in my life. i think sadly we are all on our own. I know it says to not be unequally yoked but not many ppl who are saved are single. i dont think you get your hearts desires on everything. i think we need to start taking the whole scripture and asking the Holy Spirit what he means when he says this not just getting all giddy and running with it!!!

  • in love with wisdom

    i believe God loves us without question. i believe in miracles, and i know he helps ppl and has much grace amen. i am living proof of that. but does he care if we are married or not? will he help you get married?? i dont think so. just because the bible says it is good to be married and you should if you cannot contain yourself does not mean God is gonna come running to your aid in that. i think a love life is like in the x-men series when gambit told rouge ,"life is random " yes…i think love lives for ppl are random. personally i believe that all men or most of them even the Godly ones want a skinny whore so bad they are hell bent on doing what it takes to get it. i use to think a man would love me for who i am and i had hope. but see i dont care for faith much anymore i care for wisdom to have that faith if you get what i mean. meaning; i dont wanna believe in something if i am not suppose to! if i have to help myself out then i just hope God guides me. but like i said, just because it's a good idea to marry does not mean God is gonna have you marry. i think people and the churches are so obsessed with marriage that they give you this false hope that looking for someone means you don't trust God . But i say at the age of 29 and i have been single most of my life i beg to differ that God has that plan for me in my life. i think sadly we are all on our own. I know it says to not be unequally yoked but not many ppl who are saved are single. i dont think you get your hearts desires on everything. i think we need to start taking the whole scripture and asking the Holy Spirit what he means when he says this not just getting all giddy and running with it!!!

  • James Neary

    What a load of rubbish. The first 3 words of your title 'God doesn't care…' is a load of rubbish for starters. Of course he cares. Where have you got your Biblical evidence that he doesn't. I agree that he is concerned with our character and wants us to grow in our identity in Him, but he doesn't care if we're married! Why the heck did he create relationships with a man and a woman in the first place! Adam and Eve were the first type of human relationship with God revealed in his creation. Surely this idicates importance. Marriage is used to represent our relationship between Christ and the Church. Surely our experience of marriage and our ideas of it communicates the love and intimacy Christ has for us!!!!! It also says it's not good for a man to be alone. Then came along Eve

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    But…Adam and Eve weren't married. There were no ministers around or justices of the peace or cruise ship captains. Vegas hadn't even been thought of yet. But if the first sin was eating the forbidden fruit….then they must have been able to keep their hands (and other things) off of each other. Which would suggest that eating the forbidden fruit changed things.

    So is marriage a byproduct of original sin? At times it sure feels like it. ;)

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    But…Adam and Eve weren't married. There were no ministers around or justices of the peace or cruise ship captains. Vegas hadn't even been thought of yet. But if the first sin was eating the forbidden fruit….then they must have been able to keep their hands (and other things) off of each other. Which would suggest that eating the forbidden fruit changed things.

    So is marriage a byproduct of original sin? At times it sure feels like it. ;)

  • Latoya

    Christian,

    I beleive that Adam and Eve WERE married. its just that being married before the fall of man has different requirements than after it. You wouldnt have needed 'ministers around or justices of the peace or cruise ship captains' since GOD was definitely there.

    So i guess i would say marriage AS WE KNOW IT is as a result of sin…much like everything else in life anyway.

  • Latoya

    Christian,

    I beleive that Adam and Eve WERE married. its just that being married before the fall of man has different requirements than after it. You wouldnt have needed 'ministers around or justices of the peace or cruise ship captains' since GOD was definitely there.

    So i guess i would say marriage AS WE KNOW IT is as a result of sin…much like everything else in life anyway.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Hey, good point. Maybe, in some small way, you and John might be in agreement here. Seems like that touches upon what his post was saying.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Hey, good point. Maybe, in some small way, you and John might be in agreement here. Seems like that touches upon what his post was saying.

  • Joy

    I agree with what I think you mean – that whether we're married or not isn't the be-all-and-end-all to God – it's not how we're defined (that would be about being in Christ) and there shouldn't be pressure to be married (internal or external).

    But I think in a literal sense God does care about our lives, and marriage-or-not is not a tiny thing is it… we're not talking, 'God please get me a parking space' (unless all you married people have been fibbing and there's really nothing life-affecting about sharing your life with someone! you seem to think it's quite deep and life-affecting stuff in other posts…).

    There's surely a mid-ground somewhere in between believing God has nothing else to do but sit around match-making, or thinking God doesn't give a monkeys what we're up to with our human relationships, what they are, or whether we even have any.

    Also…(sorry, I'm on a roll here!)…solid marriages can be a great force for good – for whole societies, for communities, for looking out for inadequately cared-for kids, for parenting – I don't think God wants every Christian single. It's good to have Christian families around (especially the ones who invite me round for tea!).

    As for no-one else caring about whether we're married or not, you really haven't met my mother have you…!!

  • Joy

    I agree with what I think you mean – that whether we're married or not isn't the be-all-and-end-all to God – it's not how we're defined (that would be about being in Christ) and there shouldn't be pressure to be married (internal or external).

    But I think in a literal sense God does care about our lives, and marriage-or-not is not a tiny thing is it… we're not talking, 'God please get me a parking space' (unless all you married people have been fibbing and there's really nothing life-affecting about sharing your life with someone! you seem to think it's quite deep and life-affecting stuff in other posts…).

    There's surely a mid-ground somewhere in between believing God has nothing else to do but sit around match-making, or thinking God doesn't give a monkeys what we're up to with our human relationships, what they are, or whether we even have any.

    Also…(sorry, I'm on a roll here!)…solid marriages can be a great force for good – for whole societies, for communities, for looking out for inadequately cared-for kids, for parenting – I don't think God wants every Christian single. It's good to have Christian families around (especially the ones who invite me round for tea!).

    As for no-one else caring about whether we're married or not, you really haven't met my mother have you…!!

  • Joy

    ps. for those who are interested in the history stuff…to answer a point above, re-legality and marriage:

    in England, Parliament passed the Clandestine Marriages Act/Hardwicke Act, in 1753, which made it obligatory for all marriages to take place within the Church of England with various rules about residency, parental consent, and publicity of the marriage. (you can see the advantage of insisting on public consent being given…).

    The Marriage Act of 1836, permitted civil ceremonies and made the registration of all marriages compulsory.

    Prior to all this, for ‘commoners’, marriage was something locally recognised with family/friends celebrating with you and then you lived together as married. no paper-work or registers.

    All quite recent really! :0)

  • Henry

    Your declaration scares me.

    What that means ,Eve is a part of Adam ?

    Listen ,so many times people get kidnapped by satan and they don't know.When you get to far from God you're kidnappenaped by satan. you become spiritually .addicted If you're in drug you can't quit. If you're in prostitution you can't quit .If you smoke you can't quit etc. that some forms of kidnapping…

    If you really looking to understand why you need to change contact me back. if you don't care ,don't mind me.

  • Henry

    Your declaration scares me.

    What that means ,Eve is a part of Adam ?

    Listen ,so many times people get kidnapped by satan and they don't know.When you get to far from God you're kidnappenaped by satan. you become spiritually .addicted If you're in drug you can't quit. If you're in prostitution you can't quit .If you smoke you can't quit etc. that some forms of kidnapping…

    If you really looking to understand why you need to change contact me back. if you don't care ,don't mind me.

  • Henry

    Your declaration scares me.

    What that means ,Eve is a part of Adam ?

    Listen ,so many times people get kidnapped by satan and they don't know.When you get too far from God you're kidnappenaped by satan. you become spiritually .addicted If you're in drug you can't quit. If you're in prostitution you can't quit .If you smoke you can't quit etc. that some forms of kidnapping…

    If you really looking to understand why you need to change contact me back. if you don't care ,don't mind me. I have a full comprehension of the man and the will of god for man….

  • Henry

    Your declaration scares me.

    What that means ,Eve is a part of Adam ?

    Listen ,so many times people get kidnapped by satan and they don't know.When you get too far from God you're kidnappenaped by satan. you become spiritually .addicted If you're in drug you can't quit. If you're in prostitution you can't quit .If you smoke you can't quit etc. that some forms of kidnapping…

    If you really looking to understand why you need to change contact me back. if you don't care ,don't mind me. I have a full comprehension of the man and the will of god for man….


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