The apostle Paul was not an idiot when he wrote 1st Corinthians. However, the way we live our lives would seem to imply that we think he was. In 1 Corinthians 7:8 Paul writes, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” Yet, today, when the God-fearing single person sets foot in a church building (or on a Christian University campus) there seems to be an outrageous amount of pressure to find “the one.” There appears to be some sort of thought process in the church that has directly connected God’s plan for your life with getting married. And the effects are horrendous. This train of thought has created a distorted view of the gospel among God’s people, and has caused many believers to call into question their faith in Christ. As a result, the Lord has placed this blog post on my heart. Whether you’re single or not, please read what I have to say.
For this post I will discuss several lies that single people have either been told, or believe about themselves. As someone who has been single for over 5 years, I think I have adequate knowledge and experience to speak on these things. Also, I understand that I do not know all things that single people struggle with, and I do not claim to know it all either. I hope that this blog post will be helpful for those of you who are struggling to find joy in the Gospel because of your singleness.
Singleness is not a curse.
When I left home for college my mom sent me off by telling me that she thought that I would meet my wife at college. That statement helped spark a great deal of hope within my 18 year old heart. Now, while my mother’s words to me were completely innocent, I developed a very unhealthy thought process. I went into school actively seeking someone to live my life with. But, with every rejection and every failed attempt to start a relationship, I became very discouraged. Eventually I began to view my singleness as a curse.
But, that was a lie. Singleness is not a curse at all. Singleness is actually a great gift from God. And while marriage is a good gift from the Lord, I would argue that singleness is in fact a better gift from God. Paul writes in 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.” So, how does that make singleness a better gift than marriage? It’s actually rather simple. Being blessed with singleness is an opportunity exercise our spirit of self-control, which has been given to us by the Holy Spirit! (see 2 Timothy 1:7) Singleness allows us to live a life of self-control that is completely devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to write about this more in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35:
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 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. 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.”
Singleness is far from a curse, it is actually a great blessing. The life of singleness allows us to be devoted solely to the Lord without any distractions or divisions. While a spouse can help urge you toward the cross, they will also require a certain amount of attention that is directed completely towards them. The single person is free from this anxiety.
There is not “The One”.
I cannot express my frustration with this lie. There is not one person that God knitted in the womb just for you to marry and live happily ever after with. It is a fantasy. The problem with this fantasy is that it demands our hope and faith. When we buy in to the idea of finding “the one”, we are torn apart when we are unable to find that person. We become professional analysts of the opposite sex, judging every personality trait of our “significant other” in order to make sure that we are perfectly “compatible”. But, even worse than that, we begin to question God when He does not provide a spouse.
Let me be very clear with what I’m about to say next. God’s plan in your life is not dependent on you getting married. He has not failed you if he does not provide you with a spouse. God’s purpose for your life is to know Him (John 17:3) and to make Him known (Acts 1:8). The absence of a spouse allows you to be entirely devoted to knowing God, which is far better for your eternity than a spouse could ever be. There is “The One”, but His name is Jesus Christ, not some other person.
You are loved.
One of the worst lies that I’ve ever told myself, because of my singleness, is that I’m not lovable. It’s hard to admit, but this thought seems to always creep into my mind whenever a potential relationship falls apart. I begin to believe that no-one could possibly love me, and this thought process is brought about by the fact that I cannot cultivate a relationship. However, there is not greater lie that I could tell myself.
The truth is that I am loved. If you struggle with the same mindset, you are loved as well. Jesus went to Calvary, took up the cross, and bore our sins so that we might have a personal and intimate relationship with Him. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been reconciled with God; and our broken relationship with God has been restored to what He originally intended for it to be. Whenever your singleness causes you to doubt how lovable you are, remember the gospel. Remember the work of Christ on the cross. Remember that while you were an enemy of Christ, He loved you enough to bear the weight of your sin, so that you might be brought near to Him. There is not greater joy than that.