Singleness Is Not a Curse
“A healthy church is a married church,” my pastor at the time said. I can only guess at the meaning behind the statement. I think the intent behind the statement was: it is good when a church has people in it who want to get married. But, I began to think “does it make a church unhealthy if you have people who don’t have a desire to get married?” I looked over at a single older lady. She wore a displeased look. I admired this older woman and wondered how she felt after the comment. She desired to marry, but had become content either with or without marriage. Before she was saved, she had two marriages that ended in divorce. She wanted to get married now that she was in Christ. After church, I thought about other singles. I thought about other singles. I wondered if our emphasis on marriage leads us to forget to care for those who are single?
Marriage is a good thing. It is an honor. “Marriage is to be held in honor among all,” (). But, one can honor marriage while single. In fact, there are many advantages to being single. Paul writes in , “But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided.” Not being married means one can focus more fully about the things of the Lord. Married couples must avoid thinking something is “wrong” with someone who is not married or someone who has no desire for it. In fact, we should spur them on to devote their lives more fully to the Lord.
We also need to be careful because some will have the desire but won’t get married. If you are married, seek those who are single and come alongside them. Be transparent! Help them to see not only the upsides to marriage, but also the downsides. These are excellent discipling opportunities to share with singles. Don’t treat singles like they are second-class citizens. Singles are more than baby-sitters. They have other gifts and talents to serve the church. Get to know them outside of their singleness.
If you are single and want to get married remain content. Remember: the Lord is your joy and satisfaction. Being married does not cure the yearning for satisfaction. Don’t let marriage become an idol. Your significance does not come from marriage. Your significance and purpose comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. The church sometimes can highlight so many benefits to marriage, but we also must highlight the benefits of being single. Singles, remain content in the Lord.
Having “single” attached to your name is not a disease or a curse. It is actually a blessing. It means you have the opportunity to be wholly devoted to the Lord. You do not have the distractions present of a spouse or children. If you want to be married, continue to pray that the Lord’s will be done as you wait. If you do not want to be married, pray for those who are married. Don’t be ashamed of being single. Devote your time, talents, and possessions even more to the Lord. Seek out opportunities to minister to those who are married or others who may need to be served. May our joy and purpose be found in the Lord and not in our relationship status.
4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (ESV)
7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God. (ESV)