Is there any group of people within the Jewish community or, at times, even the Messianic Jewish community, whose family status is as much discussed as those who have “married out”? I think that those who have not married at all run a close second.
Remaining single and celibate is not such a Jewish thing to do, at least in the eyes of many of our family and friends. Whether conscious or unconscious, the expectation is that every good Jewish boy or girl will grow up and help ensure the survival of the community by having children—Jewish children.
People who don’t know us but are looking to make conversation often ask, “So, do you have a family?” If we answer, “Yes, I have a mother, a father, a sister, a brother-in-law, a niece and a nephew,” the person is likely to look confused before clarifying, “No, I mean, do you have a family of your own?” It’s not that she assumes we’re adopted and our parents, siblings, etc. are someone else’s family. She wants to know, are we married and do we have children.
I am very blessed to have parents who are not only Jewish but believers in Jesus. They never felt I was less for remaining single, or fearful that I would be incomplete if I never had children. They understood that God didn’t need my help to ensure the survival of our people and that soon enough believers would be in heaven for all eternity, where it would not matter whether we were single or married.
Even so, I sympathize with my single counterparts, some of whom have chosen to be single and others who have not. Some do not care much what others think, but some have been deeply wounded by those who are closest to them. One woman told me how she had decorated her home for the holidays, only to have her mother ask her why she would go through the trouble when “there is no one to see it.”
Single people are not “no one,” nor are we incomplete unless or until we marry. But some of us have had that mentality so deeply ingrained that it is difficult to feel content without a spouse. If that is you, maybe the following will be helpful:
First of all, you may be single but you are not alone. Far more people are choosing to marry late or not at all.
Second, you are in good company. Yeshua never married and He was perfectly fulfilled! He had a wonderful network of friends, including an inner circle of intimates, both male and female. Children were drawn to Him and He had a great impact on them.
Third, whether we are content is something that we must decide, whether or not we are married. Wherever we go, guess what? We take ourselves along. So if you are discontent while single, you would bring that lack of contentment into a marriage. But learning the lesson of 1 Timothy 6:6 (“Now godliness with contentment is great gain”) will stand you in good stead whatever state you’re in.
Fourth, Yeshua really wants to be THE love of your life and He is the only One who is best qualified for the job. Just ask your believing married friends if their husbands or wives can take the place of Yeshua. What, you wouldn’t dream of asking such a question? Because it’s wrong to suggest that any person could take the place of God? So why then do we sometimes allow ourselves to believe that the perfect man or woman would be the solution to the problems or sadness in our lives?
Maybe the next time a relative or friend of the family asks, “So…are you seeing anyone special?” you can answer yes, and that you hope that some day he or she will see Him too!