From the earliest moments of our lives, we’ve been programmed to think of certain things as normal or acceptable while anything else isn’t. Often the question “What’s wrong with (him or her)?” isn’t asked because they are sinful, but because they aren’t “normal.” There is a big difference between the lifestyle of someone who is defiantly disobedient to God’s word and someone whose pursuits in life are just different from my own or who simply cannot be “like me.” Consider the single Christian …
The Bible does not teach that being single is wrong and doesn’t insist that being single is a character flaw. Marriage is to be held in honor among all (Heb. 13:4), but being single isn’t automatically dishonorable. Some great servants of God were single. Paul, Jeremiah (Jer. 16:2), and Jesus were all single. Others such as Elijah, Daniel, John the Baptist, and Timothy appear to have been single. Widows were often single for many years (consider Anna—Lk. 2:36-37).
Jesus said that some refrain from marriage for the sake of the kingdom (Mt. 19:11-12). Paul gave advice to the unmarried and to the widows encouraging them to remain single if possible (1 Cor. 7:7-9). He explained that the single person can, in some cases, be more productive for the Lord because they are not burdened with marital obligations and concerns (vv. 32-35).
Marriage isn’t for everyone, nor is it required at a certain age. Some put off marriage for very good reasons. They have a job that would create difficulties, they have a goal to finish their education, or they don’t feel they are ready for the commitment. Some are looking for a marriage partner who will help them serve the Lord. Some have no desire to be married. Some are single due to a life circumstance such as losing a mate to death, divorce, or abandonment. Some are single because they are not free to remarry.
Being single is not intrinsically wrong, and the single Christian can be a great asset to the church. But, as with marriage, there are spiritual challenges that should be understood.
• Loneliness can lead to sin. God instituted marriage because “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Please note that the circumstances required a mate, and God provided her. Sometimes people are so lonely they make a marriage choice that is destructive. If choosing a friend is important (1 Cor. 15:33), how much more so when a mate?
• Being single can also lead to selfishness. He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom (Prov. 18:1). Paul warned of apostasy and noted selfishness as one of the paths leading to apostasy (2 Tim. 3:2).
• Being single is also challenging because sexual impurity is the culture we live in.
• Finally, even though happiness and being happy is the mantra of our day, don’t buy into the lie that God wants you to be happy more than He wants you to be holy.
Being a Christian “single” can be rewarding if you choose to live godly. Be content in your circumstance (Philp. 4:11), and set your mind on things above (Col. 3:2). Use your time to develop in your faith and in good works. Be an encourager to others. Bring your friends to Christ through your faith, character, and knowledge. Understand that you can remain in that state (1 Cor. 7:24-26) and that in that state God can use you in powerful ways.