Making an Idol of Marriage

You don't graduate at the altar

This weekend, I’ll be attending FCLNY’s symposium on contemporary feminism. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing from Erika Bachiochi and Eva Feder Kittay. On Thursday, I’ll share highlights from your discussion of the names we give to older women.

I greatly appreciated this thread on twitter from Grant Hartley. I’ll put the first tweet below, and then compile several of his comments in the thread as a blockquote.

Grant went on to say (condensed a little by me):

When Christians proudly share that married people are statistically happier, healthier, wealthier, and live longer than unmarried people, we are often left wondering how we will survive, or if our lives are worth it.

When Christians speak glowingly and at length about how “nothing can mature character like marriage,” we are often wondering if we will ever be taken seriously or seen as mature.

Marriage is not “the most profound relationship there is,” or at least, it is not so simple. When Jesus looks for an image to describe the epitome of human love, he chooses sacrificial friendship (John 15:13), which is open to all. Marriage is a kind of friendship.

That unmarried people are statistically less happy and healthy, poorer, and live shorter lives owes much to the structural un-livability of celibacy in our communities, rather than being unmarried itself.

Grant is right, not just about celibate gay Christians, but about anyone who is single. It’s common to frame marriage as though it’s a “graduation” into adulthood—as though everything that comes before marriage is a dress rehearsal.


In my book, Building the Benedict Option, all my strategies for creating community are meant to be applied over the scale of the next two weeks to two months. Wherever you are, you’re called to sacrificial friendship here and now, not after you hit some future milestone.

When we look at how we arrange our schedules, our neighborhoods, our laws, there has to be room for friendships to be taken every bit as seriously as marriage. There is no limit to the gift we can make of ourselves—our calling isn’t circumscribed by a ring.

Where have you seen someone place a friendship at the heart of their life?

Where have you seen friendship treated as a second-class relationship, relative to romantic relationships?

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