A Word to those who are Single IV: Satisfied Singles

IMG_0132

What does God require of those who are single? Whether you are a satisfied or struggling single it is God’s will that you be the person He desires you to be for His glory. This means that you submit your life and desires to the Lordship of Christ and walk according to the will of God.

When it comes to those who are single, it was said in the first post in this series “being single means different things for different people. For some, the condition of being single is satisfying whereas for others it is a struggle“. In this post, I will be considering the state of the satisfied single.

I call them satisfied not because they experience spiritual satisfaction and other singles don’t or can’t. I use this designation because they are satisfied with being single and don’t desire to marry. Granted, some who will one day marry may for a time be a satisfied single, but their singleness clearly is not a permanent state. Those who are single and desire to remain single are the satisfied singles. They are individuals that the Lord has granted the gift of singleness. What is the gift of singleness? The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of individuals with this gift as those “who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (). This here describes an individual who voluntarily remains single and abstains from sexual activity by virtue of their gifting from the Lord. The purpose of this is “for the sake of the kingdom“. The apostle Paul stated,

“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” ().

Satisfied singles, you have a gift from the Lord. It is essential that you know how to use it and not waste it. Don’t allow your satisfied state to lead you down a path that wastes and destroys your productivity for the glory of God. Being gifted in singleness is not an excuse to be unproductive for the kingdom of God. Here are three things to keep in mind if you are a satisfied single:

Firstly, don’t let your singleness lead to a life of being a hermit or a recluse. You will naturally be alone a lot of your time, but don’t avoid Christian fellowship, godly friendships and relationships with others. Make it your determined plan to be a faithful contributor to the life of the local church. Faithfully be a part of Sunday worship, make use of the ability to stay longer and chat with the saints after Sunday services. Long to be a part of fellowship during the week in Bible studies or prayer meetings. Don’t remain alone but seek genuine fellowship.

Second, don’t allow your singleness to allow you to behave like a child. In other words, be mature and behave like a responsible adult. Yes you can have fun, but be productive to the glory of God. Being single is not a license to behave with immaturity; rather it is a providential opportunity for extended service.

Thirdly, don’t allow your singleness to lead you in becoming completely independent of others. The temptation of someone who is single is they learn to get through life by themselves. Yes, you are responsible for your own life, but don’t forget that as a Christian you belong to the body of Christ (). You need others to build you up. Single ladies, learn from godly older women and single men learn from godly older men. Don’t function separate from the body, but be a part of it. Remember, your ability to be a satisfied single is a gift from the Lord (). Your gift is given so as to contribute and benefit the body () and who need that to be reciprocated.

12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

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.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

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.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

A Word to those who are Single III: Challenges of being Single

Single - challenges

Sure, being single has it advantages, but it also has it challenges. Those that aren’t single can tend to think that because people are not married they are carefree and don’t have a worry in the world. It certainly is true that singles don’t have the same responsibilities or concerns as married people, but there are unique challenges for those who are single. I believe we all need to be sensitive to this and provide support and prayer for those who are single.

What are the challenges of being single? I think there could be many answers to this practical question, but I will confine myself to two broad challenges that cover many issues.

Sexual Desire

Firstly, there is the temptation of sexual desire (). Sexual temptation is not limited to those who are single, but the temptation singles face is particular to their situation. Sexual desire is natural; however it is God’s will that it take place in the confines of marriage as defined and regulated by God’s Word (; ). Let’s be frank, sex is a gift from God. But sex occurs outside of the marriage between one man and one woman it is sin (sexual immorality). Now all singles (satisfied and struggling) will face the temptation of sexual desire. However, if this temptation becomes too much it is clear that the individual is not gifted to remain single and they should prepare to marry. Here is what Paul said on this matter,

“Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” ().

A few verses later Paul again commends the state of being single (), however, he is quick to say, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (). Paul is not saying that marriage is to be viewed simply as an outlet for sexual passion – it is far more than that. Marriage is an arena for procreation (Gen. 1:28), pleasure (Proverbs 5:18-19), partnership (Gen. 2:18) and productivity (Gen. 1:28). What Paul is saying in this text is that if you are not gifted to be single you should marry. The sexual desires you have are to be fulfilled within the confines of marriage. This does not mean that Christian singles should marry the next available person they find! Discernment and biblical principles need to be applied (more on the criteria of finding a future spouse in a forthcoming post). Furthermore, struggling singles must also deal with their desires biblically (). Sin is never to be excused because of one’s state. This means you are to be pure in thought and deed.

Loneliness

Secondly, there is the issue of feeling lonely. A married couple has each other to support, encourage, build up, care for and protect. When you are single, it is just you. The reality is, at times being single can be a very lonely experience. For some singles, loneliness is not too much of an issue and they are quite content in not joining their lives with another individual in marriage. If you are single and content in not getting married, don’t allow this to become an excuse to become a hermit and neglect fellowship with God’s people. On the other hand, if you are feeling lonely, make sure you surround yourself with the people of God. One of the gifts that God gives to His people is that He has made them a part of the body of Christ (). You are not the only believer! This is why it is important to be part of a local church that is committed to the Word of God and loves the fellowship of God’s people (). But when you are alone, understand that God knows your struggle (; ).  Look to Him and seek His comfort knowing that He loves you (), is with you () and has you on the appointed pathway for His purpose and your final good ().

Knowing then that being single has certain challenges, if you are considering the option of remaining single, it is important that you discern if this is indeed God’s calling on your life. Remaining single is a gift from God () and though it is a valid state it is not the norm. It is the clear teaching of Scripture that if you are not gifted in this area then you ought to marry (). In the next two posts, I will look at how both satisfied and struggling singles should be living their lives now. Also, the issue of desiring to marry (even though there may not be any options) will also be addressed.

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

1 Corinthians 7:9

But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

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

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

139:1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

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.

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

1 Corinthians 7:9

But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

A Word to those who are Single II: Advantages of being Single

Advantages of being Single

Though being single is not superior to being married (nor is being married superior to being single), singleness does contain certain advantages that marriage doesn’t have. In Paul has a lengthy discussion that provides advantages of being single. This passage can be summarized by two advantages: Less Distress and Unbroken Devotion.

Less Distress
First, being single will contain less distress than those who are married (). Paul states, “I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is” (). What is the “present distress” Paul spoke of? It has been suggested that this may be a reference to a particular famine the Corinthian’s were experiencing, others see this as an anticipation for difficult events occurring before the Second Coming or to other anticipated events of distress. Others like John Calvin interpret this as the incessant harassments believers experience in the present life.[1] Either way, the principal to be drawn from this text is that in the midst of hard times, being single will have certain advantages. However, this does not mean married people should seek to be released from their commitment to one another during tough times – they must remain ().

The fact that singleness carries the advantage of less distress, this of course does not imply marriage is wrong. Paul goes on to say, “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” (). Again, his point is that those who marry will carry additional pressures that a single person won’t. John MacArthur observes,

“Marriage involves conflicts, demands, hardships, sacrifices, and adjustments that singleness does not. Marriage is ordained of God, good, holy, and fulfilling; but it does not solve all problems. It brings more.”[2]

So if you are single, you have a particular advantage in your service to the Lord that a married person doesn’t have. Because you are caring and looking after yourself, you are more able and free to serve the Lord without the distress and pressures of looking after a spouse. While you are single, make use of this providential advantage.

Unbroken Devotion
A second advantage of being single provides the individual with the opportunity to display unbroken devotion in their service to the Lord (). It is easier for single people to give themselves to undistracted service to the Lord because they don’t have the same responsibilities as a married person in caring for their spouse and children. You are able to assist with church events more readily than a married person. You can meet with others for prayer and study more readily than a married person can.

These two advantages don’t suggest that singles don’t experience distress and that married people can’t be devoted to the Lord’s service. The main point here is that there is a huge difference in degree. A single person will experience pressure and distress but the individual is only dealing with their own life. Whereas those that are married are dealing with two lives (and more if there are children).

If you are single, you have a unique opportunity to be free to engage and serve in activities in the Lord’s service without neglecting a spouse or children. You are able to give of your time more freely to the glory of God and the benefit of the church. Whether you are a satisfied single or a struggling single, this season is a providential opportunity for faithful service to the glory of God. Don’t waste your time asking what if questions or spending all your spare hours in immature activities that don’t profit the kingdom of God. Use your singleness to the glory of God! In my next post, we will consider the challenges of being single.


[1] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XX, Baker Books, 2003, 253.

[2] John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Corinthians, Moody Press, 1984, 181.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.