In last month’s blog, Reasons for Prolonged Singleness Part 1, I introduced the current series wherein I will be covering a number of reasons that people get stuck in prolonged singleness.
As I have shared in previous posts, I was very afraid that God had called me to singleness even though I had a deep desire to marry. I struggled for a long time trying to understand what his will for me was – marriage or life-long singleness outside of a religious vocation.
Recognizing my calling to marriage was the first step for me (see my blog post, “The Vocation Awakening”). The next piece of the puzzle was embracing the fact that I was made incapable of marriage by others, as Jesus explained in Matthew 19. Rather than being sad or hopeless, this knowledge gave me an understanding of what was going on. It helped me to see that God wanted to assist me with the issues that kept me single.
There are a number of reasons that thwart a person’s ability to marry. This blog post is going to discuss how a lack of knowledge regarding one’s calling to marriage can hinder his or her ability to get married. The fact that it took me so long to decipher God’s will for me regarding marriage is sad, but not unique.
A Hidden Truth
The fact that there is a universal and natural call to marriage inscribed into the very being of each human being is made plain in the Scriptures and Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) (see Matthew 19:10-12, CCC §1603). Unfortunately, I had to research, investigate, and probe all the Church’s scriptures and documents to discover this.
When I would talk with various people or clergy, the response I received is that they honestly did not know if I was called to marriage. Some people would say that I was called to singleness.
Honestly, I am not angry or bitter. I am merely saying that we must do better. And I want to improve the way forward for the generations after me. I want you to have this information right up front: you are called to marriage (CCC §1603). God than calls certain people to forsake marriage to follow his son (Matthew 19:10-12, CCC §1618).
We are now facing a generation of people for whom the dating and marriage landscape has drastically changed. There are less marriages occurring. Knowledge of dating basics are even obsolete (see blog post, “Anatomy of A Date Part 1”). Is it any surprise that people do not know they are called to marriage, that it is their God-given vocation?
How Did We Get Here?
In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Saint Paul tells us the following:
“Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences. They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the invocation of God in prayer.”
This prophecy in 1 Timothy speaks ahead to a time when heretics will condemn all marriage as evil; these were the Encratites, the Marcionites, and the Manicheans. (see “1 Timothy 4:3,” Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 Edition, accessed April 27, 2022, http://haydock1859.tripod.com/id230.html) Many Saints and Church leaders fought tirelessly to quelch these heresies that have arisen. Nonetheless, I proffer that a remnant of them remains today in our modern culture.
The Greek word for “forbid” in verse three is kōlyontōn, which is taken from the root kolazo. This word can also mean prevent and hinder. (see “1 Timothy 4:2; Strong’s 2967,” Bible Hub, accessed April 27, 2022, https://biblehub.com/1_timothy/4-3.htm)
While there are no formal edicts telling people men and women not to marry each other today, singles are hindered and prevented from marriage.
This occurs each time a person is told to accept they are called to singleness when they have not discerned the renunciation of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. It occurs when marriage is not promoted, emphasized, and encouraged, resulting in people failing to enter their God-given vocations.
There are various reasons this occurs. However, one is a residual Platonic, Manichaean, or Gnosticism influences warned about from so long ago. (see Mary Healy, Healing Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World (Huntingdon, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2015), 62) From these, a false asceticism has developed which has viewed marriage as something not to be pursued, something that not everyone is called to, and that it is often better to be alone than married to a suitable spouse. These ideologies are in direct contradiction to the Magisterium, which is the true teaching of the Catholic Church.
Thus, it is imperative to know and embrace the legitimate and genuine vocation with which you were born. It is essential to recognize that error has affected many people’s perception of your calling, influencing their viewpoints, counsel, and comments. It is vital that you look to the Magisterium to ascertain the fullness of truth regarding the calling of marriage.
Once you have done this, you will be free to pursue marriage because you know it is what God has called you to. You will know deep down that God wants marriage for you and will help you get there.
Knowing the truth of your calling is essential to overcoming prolonged singleness.
I encourage you to ask God to show you the truth about this as well. Research the scriptures in this blog post, as well as the sections of the CCC. God tells us in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you things great beyond reach of your knowledge.” He is waiting to assist you.
Next month, we will continue exploring reasons for prolonged singleness. The next reason we will look at is prior wounding and family of origin issues. These issues are varied and significant in the role played at keeping people single.
Julieanne M. Bartlett All Rights Reserved Copyright 2022