Anyway, I wanted to say a few more things about the issues at hand, especially as they relate to men. Let me first restate something I wrote a little while ago in response to a reader [with a few grammar corrections]:
I am not trying to minimize the heavy sacrifices parents make. They need our acknowledgment and support in that matter. What I am questioning is whether or not they have a right to use their sacrifices to cast aspersions on single people who don't want the hardships of the married life. Because if we are going to open that can of worms, then I can work a similar angle on exceptional people who sacrificed a lot more than most married Christians in order to cast aspersions on married people.I stand by what I said. Marriage is not a call to ministry. It's a gift (Prov. 19:14) and it comes with responsibilities.
What I am saying is let's not throw stones in glass houses. This fracas got started because some marriage mandate folks decided that casual singleness was unspiritual and that people need to get married to be on a higher spiritual plane. The marriage mandators also seem to indicate that men who are single for casual reasons are deficient in their manhood. At least that's how I take their statements. And I say in response that marriage should be entered into voluntarily and not out of some weird sense of religious duty, per se. I find so scriptural support for the latter sentiment.
When Paul gave the Corinthians a reason for not marrying, it wasn't "some of you are gifted for exceptional service." It was, "I want you to be free from concern" (1 Cor. 7:32). It's a very basic, mundane reason for not getting married. No talk of a high-falutin' irrevocable calling. No talk of being marked for marriage or for singleness. Just some practical pastoral advice that was non-binding (1 Cor. 7:27-28).
I want to clarify and perhaps tweak some thoughts, though, in case I'm giving the wrong impression on a matter. I do think that married people deserve special recognition, especially for raising children. We need to give them praise, encouragement and support to keep their family bonds strong. I retract any other statements of mine to the contrary. However, what we should not do is encourage a mindset where marriage and family is based on some selfish desire for status and recognition. If you want to be a spouse and have children to boost your self-esteem, you need to stay a mile away from the opposite sex. Other people's lives are not your stepping stone. Your actions need to be motivated by godly love and the desire to give it.
Moreover, to touch upon what I've already said, we should not diminish the spirituality, maturity, and manhood of those men who chose not to marry for mundane reasons. Not wanting the hassles of the married life is not a spiritual problem. Someone may retort, "Singles are lazy and disconnected from others." Which singles are you talking about? If you are talking about a 24-year-old who is not looking for a job, lives in his parent's basement, doesn't help around the house, and plays the Xbox all day long, then yes, you have a point. But that's a shopworn stereotype. There are plenty of bachelors who are earning their keep, active in their churches, etc. They may not be giving as much of their time and money as others, but they are staying in the game. If you want to engage in spiritual one-upmanship with the bachelors, then watch out. The measure you use will be you used against you.
If you are a married man, do you want to compare your sacrifices and your manhood to the Apostle Paul, who turned down marriage so that Gentiles you like you could hear the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:5)? The desire for female companionship must have meant something to the Apostle, after all, or else why would he have mentioned it? What about those thousands of young, unmarried men that died on battlefields for your freedom? They never had a chance of finding a good woman and raising a family. Or .... what about One who was a man like you, never knew the love of a woman, and yet hung on a cross for your sins? Are you a better man than He was when He was on earth because you're married and He wasn't? It's because of His sacrifice that people are even able to have the privilege of lifting their heads up with any dignity.
Nobody's knocking you because you chose the good life with a pretty spouse, smart kids, and a nice house. Nobody is saying you're less of a man for it. If you're walking in humility with God and in kindness towards others, you'll get no flak from me on that matter. But if you want to hang the "Kick Me" sign on the single man's back, then I'm calling you out on your nonsense. Yeah, you sacrifice, but rest assured, you ain't about to make the new edition of Foxe's Book of Martyrs anytime soon. It's something to think about, dear readers.