A Word to those who are Single I: Concerning Singleness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Internet is filled with various “helps” for singles meeting singles. Among many in society and the church there appears to be this false notion that there is something wrong with being single. This false notion leads to an obsession where people try to mix and match people while disregarding their situation. Sadly, there are a number of silly expectations placed on those who are single and strange conclusions concerning their singleness. It doesn’t help when people look at those who are single and ask questions like, “I wonder what is wrong with that person?” Granted, being single means different things for different people. For some, the condition of being single is satisfying whereas for others it is a struggle (more on these descriptions in a later post).

When it comes to being single, there are different kinds of singleness. There are those who are gifted and called to be single (). There are those who are single but desire to marry. There are those who are single because they have lost their spouse through death or even divorce (). Then there is an additional category where people are single because they elevate celibacy as being most spiritual of states. This final category is unbiblical and to be completely rejected.

Does the Bible address the issue of singleness? Yes it does! In a series of posts I would like to look at what Scripture has to say on this topic of singleness. We will consider the advantages and challenges of being single. Then we will examine some biblical principles for the satisfied singles and the struggling singles. In this introductory post I will briefly look at the condition of singleness and provide some biblical understanding for those who are single.

Many view the single as a poor, miserable and pitied group. Is this fair? I don’t think so. Being single is a valid status, as long as it is in conformity to the principles found in God’s Word. In response to a particular question in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul stated, “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman” (). Here Paul is simply making the point that being single is a valid and commendable option for an individual (cf. ). Of course, this state must be marked by purity (“not to have sexual relations“). This does not mean Paul viewed marriage as inferior to being single. In the very next verse () Paul argues that if someone is not able to remain in the state of celibacy because of sexual temptation, it is better for him or her to marry (see also ). Furthermore, Paul taught that those who forbid marriage are apostates () and in his letter to the Ephesians he upheld the importance of marriage by identifying it as a picture of Christ and the church (). Paul had a high view of marriage but he did not relegate singles to second-class citizens. Both states are honorable if they are in conformity to the Word of God.

Being single is not to be placed in the category of a person with some problem. No, being single is a commendable and valid state whether it is temporary or permanent depending on the situation. History is filled with examples of believers who were single and yet faithful in their service to the Lord, like the apostle Paul, David Brainerd, Amy Carmichael and Mary Slessor. We could also form a long list of those who were single due to the death of their spouse and rendered exemplary service to the Lord. Of course, the greatest of all examples of an individual that was single and most faithful is the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot improve on that!

If you are a Christian and single, don’t despair. Know and understand that your current status can be used to the glory of God. Perhaps you may be someone who desires to marry or you may be content in the situation you are in. In either situation, do not waste your current state on what ifs and activities that are meaningless! Right now you have a providential opportunity to live your life in accordance to the Word of God in a way that a married person can’t. It will be my goal in this series to provide sensitive encouragement and strong exhortation to singles. In my next post I want to talk about the advantages of being single.

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.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

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.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

1 Corinthians 7:25-40

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.

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Published by

Andrew Courtis

Andrew Courtis

ANDREW - Serves as Pastor of Hills Bible Church. I am married to Dianne and we have three children (Kate, Emma and Jack). I was born and raised in Melbourne, moved to Adelaide to undertake theological studies (BMin.), and have completed additional studies with the Australian College of Theology (MATh.). I have served in pastoral ministry in both Melbourne and Sydney and am a qualified school teacher. I am committed to expository preaching and making the word of God known and understood.