Since I am married, singleness may seem like a strange topic for me to be writing about but there are two reasons I am.
Firstly, we don’t have to personally experience something to understand the value of it – e.g. a man can appreciate the value of women without being one of them; secondly, this article has a strong focus towards how married people can be intentional and loving towards single people.
The intrinsic worth of singleness
Contrary to how many people think, singleness is not just a stage of life that will be over at some point – singleness is not like childhood, or the teen years or even your work life. For some people singleness is a permanent life-long state.
Since singleness can and often is permanent, then that must change how we look at it and what better place to start than what God says about singleness. In God’s inspired word, the Bible, Paul talks about how good it can be to be single.
In Corinthians chapter 7 verses 32-34a he says, “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided.”
Paul also talks about how the same is true for women.
Being single often gives people a whole range of opportunities that they may not have if they were married or had kids. It can make many things so much easier and open many doors for doing God’s work unimpeded by the concerns of those who would have to factor in their spouse or children.
Yet, that is not the only good thing about being single – singleness is not only good because of what you can accomplish when single but it is also good because it illustrates something about the Kingdom of God.
Singleness shows that there is more to life than human marriage and points people towards the most important thing in life – relationship with God the creator of the universe and tender loving father for all who trust in and follow him.
It’s not good to be alone but.....
One of the most often Bible passages quoted to support that marriage is God’s perfect plan for everyone is when God says in the Garden of Eden, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” Putting aside the fact that we do not live in a perfect world, God did not actually say - “It’s not good for man to be unmarried”.
Now marriage is a good and God given estate and Adam and Eve were indeed the first man and wife but the problem was not that Adam was single, it was that there was not a single other human being in the whole world!
Adam had a perfect relationship with God – one unmarred by sin and sorrow, and he had a perfect relationship with all the animals – none of them were trying to injure or eat him, yet he did not have a fellow human being to share his life with – he was literally the only person on Earth.
Human beings need other human beings to share their lives with but that does not have to include a spouse. Not only this but in the New Testament we see a marked increase in the emphasis of the Church family over the biological family and that continues to today.
God has put us in our church families and we are commanded to love and commit to them.
One of the most loving things married people can do is to invite single people into their homes and families and thus embody the gospel and the Kingdom of God – where all believers will be united together as brother and sister, daughter and mother, father and son.
We need to get back to the communal idea of sharing life instead of simply all having our little groups that we allow people to ‘visit’ but not really become a part of.
This does not mean we have to all live together in a big commune but it does mean we need to think seriously about how we open our homes to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Marriage is great but not the “solution”
I would be the first person to mention how great marriage is and also how great chocolate is but just because something is great it doesn’t mean it is the perfect solution to anything.
Chocolate is not always the best thing for someone who is hungry and marriage is not the “solution” to someone who is sad being single. Marriage is great but it is also hard work and it comes with its own set of trials and difficulties just like singleness does.
If a person is going through a difficult patch in their marriage where they are particularly exasperated with their spouse we do not simply say – the solution for your frustration and unhappiness is to simply leave your spouse.
Likewise we should not say to a person who is having a hard time being single that the solution for that is to simply get married.
Singleness is not the bad to the good of marriage but instead both states have good aspects and bad aspects and God expects us to serve him by being faithful to what state we are in.
This does not mean that a single person may not desire to get married but it does mean that if they do get married they are trading one lot of benefits and difficulties for another.
God has created both states of marriage and singleness so let’s recognise the value of both and build each other up in whatever state we find ourselves, always looking towards what really matters – loving God and loving each other as we eagerly await his promised return!
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrap-booking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.