Jerry Maguire Ain’t Jesus

Christianity has a uniquely high view of both singleness and marriage. But we lowly humans have a hard time with paradox. We tend to elevate one over the other.

Depending on where you stand, everyone around you might be obsessed with singleness or with marriage. Take a glance at our surrounding culture, for instance, and you’ll see a lot of disparagement toward marriage. The single life—the unencumbered, free-to-be-me life—is better. 

But glance at church culture, and you’re likely to see an obsession with marriage. Marriage is the goal. It’s the gold standard. It’s varsity. People in the church are constantly trying to “fix” their single friends by playing matchmaker. It’s no wonder why so many singles in the church feel marginalized. 

Both the marriage-disparaging and the marriage-obsessed crowds are tempted to believe in something I call the “eharmony myth.” It’s the idea that once you find that perfect person, you’ll find ultimate happiness. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with eharmony, per se. My beef isn’t with the dating apps (not all of them, anyway) but with the myth that marriage leads to happiness. You know the famous scene from Jerry Maguire, right? “You complete me …” Well, it sounds romantic and wonderful. But that kind of pressure is too much for another human being.

The truth is that romance and marriage will never satisfy the deepest needs of your soul. The loneliness, insecurity, and boredom you experience as a single will not be remedied by marriage. Unhappy single people become unhappy married people.

And while we’re at it, let me let you in on a little secret: You always marry the wrong person.

First of all, the person you married is a sinner. The person you are so infatuated with was so bad that Jesus had to die for them. And pretty soon you’re going to figure that out, and it’s not going to be fun. If something in them was so messed up it took Jesus’ blood to fix it, you don’t think it might cause you some mild irritation? 

Second, psychologists say that even in a lifelong, monogamous marriage, a person is married to at least five different people over a lifetime. People change! So even if you married the right person at the beginning, as time passes, they’ll change. And you will, too. So that right person suddenly becomes the wrong person. (Or maybe you become the wrong person!)

The eharmony myth—that happiness in marriage depends on finding the perfect person—isn’t just an annoying mistake. It’s damaging. It leads to terrible captivity and fear. Those who believe it are either terrified they will never find the right person, or (if they’re married) terrified that they married the wrong one.

It’s time we all ditch the eharmony myth.