Reality shows come in all shapes an sizes. Some involve risk and danger, some involve competition, some involve talented musicians, and others involve somehow-famous thirty-somethings. I’ll admit that I often find them entertaining and occasionally inspiring. Reality shows are not sinful in and of themselves, but they do cause a dangerous unrest in our culture, particularly in the realm of “romantic” relationships.
There appears to be a general unrest amongst younger people due to their desire to be like these reality stars – brave, macho, talented, attractive, rich, etc. Because of this, there is a significant amount of singles that I meet and know who cannot be satisfied with what God has blessed them with and impose these sanctions on potential spouses. Of course, reality shows aren’t the only factor, but speak largely about the cultural shift we are experiencing. People always want a better job, a nicer house, a more precise talent, and a better-looking spouse. For those who do not know Christ, we can expect this at some level; for those who know Christ, there must be greater wisdom.
As culture teaches young single folks that they can never be satisfied with their “lot in life,” there must be a ferocious battle against stagnation. We must trust Jesus with what we have and what we may or may not eventually have. Younger Christians should seek older Christians who are willing to invest in them, gleaning invaluable advice in the process. Do not let the pleasures of this world press upon your pursuit of joy in marriage.
If I could give a few pieces of advice, I would plead with the singles of this generation in the following ways:
1. Take Responsibility – Look, we all know that video games can be fun and even a rare form of male bonding, but the fantasy has to take a backseat to reality. I have known so many guys who will play sick so that they can skip work in order to play their new game. Additionally, there is a propensity to stay up too late and not be prepared for work, school, or another appointment. Just because you aren’t out late getting drunk or staying the night with a woman doesn’t mean that you are being responsible. Take everything you do seriously and with real preparation not because of men, but because of the One who provided you the task (Eph. 6:6; 1 Cor. 10:31).
2. Seek a Bride – Notice the order of these tips – responsibility, then seek a bride. The Bible is clear that singleness is a gift from God, so if you are called to singleness, don’t waste ladies’ time. For the rest of you, join them in not wasting ladies’ time unless you are seeking a real covenant with them. I am not a hardcore proponent of “kissing dating goodbye” but I also am not a supporter of “dating for fun.” God did not create inter-gender relationships to have some ethereal scenario that is beyond friendship but less than marriage. If it is not leading anywhere, kill it. God has something much bigger for you than temporal attention. Seek a woman with the heart of Christ out of your own heart for Christ. Marriage is a beautiful picture of the gospel (Eph. 5:22-31) and we should not play games with that.
1. Be the Standard – This may sound weird coming from a guy who so elevates male leadership in these things, but here’s the point: you will attract a certain type of man based on your actions. There will always be sleazeballs with poor intentions, but a good Christian man will notice a good Christian woman. When the gospel informs decisions, things tend to come together. When I started dating my wife, the criteria that got her a first date was not that she was pretty (even though she is), smart (even though she is smarter than me), or even her particular personality (which is a perfect balance to mine); I was attracted immediately to her open love for Christ and reputation among those whom I respect and love. Let your integrity be of utmost importance, portraying the wife that God calls you to be (1 Pet. 3:1-4) and let God bring the right man when the time is right.
2. Lower Expectations – Most women have an innate desire for security, and rightfully so. However this plays itself out in two ways: 1) “I’m going to work hard and make money ’cause I don’t need no man!” or 2) “I’m going to wait for a man who is on a trajectory toward wealth so that I will always be taken care of.” The truth is, God has called your husband to be a leader and he should be able to provide, but financial security causes even the best of people to make bad decisions (Prov. 23:4). I know many Christian men who are working hard at work and pursuing Christ earnestly who struggle weekly to pay bills. Is this an ideal situation? Of course not! But do not let living paycheck to paycheck be a deterrent when you find a man who loves Christ.