In the church today there seems to be an assumption that if you’re a young person who is single, it’s only for the time being and that everyone is pursuing marriage. It’s understandable that people assume this sort of thing, after all, statistically, the vast majority of Christians will end up getting married at some point – but this idea can result in singleness being looked down upon as if it is inferior to being married. This subtle attitude can be very harmful and downplays what is in fact a gift from God, and a wonderful opportunity to serve him. Let’s think about a few points surrounding the area of singleness.
Resist the urge to idolise marriage
“We tend to compare the lows of singleness with the highs of marriage.”
Marriage is a beautiful gift from God, designed to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church, however, it’s easy for single people to adopt an unrealistic view of what married life is like. Similarly to many other areas in our lives, we can slip into a “grass is greener on the other side” mindset, and imagine the eradication of many of our problems as soon as we settle down with a lifelong partner in marriage.
However, we only need to speak to honest married couples to learn that while marriage is wonderful, it also presents many difficult challenges. I’m not qualified to write on those, but I would encourage you to read and take advice from someone who is, such as Tim and Kathy Keller who have written a very well-respected book called ‘The Meaning of Marriage.’
The point I am making is that holding an unrealistically high view of what marriage will be like, can too easily lead to idolatry. A way of combating this mindset is to understand that singleness is a gift.
Don’t waste the gift of singleness
It might not come as a surprise to you that singleness is a gift, after all it offers benefits that marriage doesn’t, such as more free time, more flexibility, and arguably more capacity for meaningful friendships. However I think it’s important to emphasise just how highly the Apostle Paul speaks of singleness.
In 1 Corinthians 7:7, while discussing the topic of marriage, he writes “each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” There is no hierarchy here, he doesn’t elevate marriage as a greater gift than singleness. In fact, he goes on to say after this: “to the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.” (verse 8, ESV)
We need to get rid of this frame of mind that marriage is the goal and singleness is just the journey of seeking a partner. The season of singleness is a wonderful opportunity to use the time, resources and friendships God has blessed you with, to glorify him. If you’re single, think about how you’re spending the free time afforded to you and the finances that you don’t yet have to factor a spouse or children into. Are you building intimate God-glorying friendships? Are you wholeheartedly serving your local church?
It goes without saying that there is nothing wrong with wanting to marry, but there is a danger of being so consumed with that desire that you neglect the opportunities you have while you are single. Don’t waste the gift of singleness.
You are exactly where God planned you to be
A comforting truth to consider regardless of circumstances, is that currently you are where God planned for you to be. Your current well-being, employment status and relationship status is as God intended, and we are promised in Romans 8 that in all things he works for the good of those who love him. That is a wonderful foundation for our trust, he doesn’t make any mistakes and his timing is perfect.
My prayer is that we would fix our eyes on him, and enjoy the gifts he has blessed us with, while using them to glorify him. If you are single, that is one of those gifts. Don’t take this season for granted.
To hear more on the topic of singleness, listen to the latest episode of the On The Table Podcast