We all start off our lives single and in this article, as well as in the Bible, this means unmarried. Facebook profiles use “single” in a different way, meaning “not currently in a relationship”; in addition they do not assume sexual inactivity for the single person, though the Bible does.
The Bible makes it clear that singleness is a gift which all Christians have unless or until they receive the gift of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:7 ). Recognising each as a gift means that whether we are single or married, we can trust that God is in control of our situation, and will use our circumstances for our good and for the good of others.
Being single allows a Christian to serve the Lord in a way that is impossible for the married person. Paul writes:
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.
Jesus tells us that some people remain single “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12 ). For some people this may be for a period of time, but for others the single state may be life-long. Some people recognise that they have been set apart by the Lord for singleness for a specific purpose e.g. being a missionary or fulfilling a caring ministry in a situation where marriage would be difficult. For many single people God seems only to reveal his plans one step at a time – and there is no certainty that they will remain single for a longer or shorter phase of their life. God may open up new circumstances. Finding oneself single may be difficult at times but we must remember that that those who give up anything “for the sake of the kingdom” will be rewarded many times over, both in this life and in eternity (Matthew 19:29 ).
Being single allows you to live a life of undivided service to the Lord. In fact, the whole church is blessed when a single person serves God and the community in this way. Mark describes his experience as a single man:
I have often experienced the well-intentioned pressure of family and friends, who assume, often without saying so, that singleness is abnormal and should be avoided at all costs. Yet, as someone who has led a chaste life, I know that I would not have been able to achieve the many things for God that I have, if I had been married with a family. I have experienced times of loneliness (though married people can be lonely too). However, I have learnt the importance of trusted and godly friends and with this provision, my single life has been very fulfilling. No life outside God’s will can fulfil. The important thing is to find contentment in the situation in life to which God has called us.
For a committed Christian, being single with all its freedom, if that is God’s calling, is not a gift to be given up lightly.
- 1 Corinthians 7:7 “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”
- Matthew 19:12 “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
- Matthew 19:23 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[a] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”