Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Single Christian

     People are single for various reasons, whether widowed, divorced, or never married. Many are simply waiting to find that special someone with whom they are willing to spend a lifetime, while others actually choose to remain unmarried. In almost every congregation of the Lord’s church, single Christians can be found in each of these categories.
     While all eligible persons have the “right to take along a believing [spouse]” (1 Cor. 9:5), keep in mind they also have the right not to! Regardless of social expectations, the Lord has not made it a requirement for everyone to be married. Jesus, our Master and perfect example, was a single man, as was Jeremiah, Daniel, and Paul. There is no mention in the Bible of the following individuals having been married: Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, John the baptizer, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus and his sisters, Stephen, Barnabas, Silas, John Mark, Timothy, Phoebe, Titus, Apollos, and many more. Others, such as Ezekiel, Hosea, Naomi, Ruth, Jesus’ mother, Lydia and more, became (or at least appear to have become) “single again” after marriage. Being unmarried, therefore, is not only acceptable, in some cases it may even be preferable (cf. 1 Cor. 7:7-8).
     Marriage, in and of itself, does not guarantee a fulfilling and happy life, as evidenced by the many disillusioned married couples and the alarming divorce rate! If we expect to be happy in heaven, and there is no marriage in heaven (Mark 12:25), where is that happiness going to come from? True joy comes from within, regardless of external circumstances. It was a single person who said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). One must never let singlehood keep him/her from living a faithful and fulfilling Christian life, eagerly serving in God’s kingdom.
     Unmarried people are not a special class of needy individuals in the church to be pitied, ministered to, or entertained. Being spouseless is not an impediment. The mere fact of singleness does not automatically render a person “needy” or eliminate that person’s own responsibility to serve others (1 Tim. 5:3-16). Singles ought to be seen as a dynamic force in the Lord’s body to be appreciated and utilized. Every congregation needs an effective “singles ministry,” which means keeping our unmarried members involved in active ministry (1 Cor. 12:12-21).
     To help singles cope with the inevitable pressures of the single life, the following is suggested. (a) Realize you’re not the only one. Singlehood is a reality for a lot of people, including many great men and women of faith who have gone on before us (Heb. 12:1). (b) Keep your eyes focused on Jesus, who lived a meaningful and productive life as an unmarried person (Heb. 12:2). (c) In overcoming self-pity and loneliness, remove yourself from the center of your life as Jesus did (1 Cor. 10:24). (d) Stay keenly involved in the Lord’s work (1 Cor. 15:58). (e) Develop close relationships with your spiritual family (Eph. 2:19). (f) Appreciate the blessings of singleness and the opportunities that would otherwise not be afforded (1 Cor. 7:25-35). (g) Trust in God (Psa. 37:3-6). (h) Learn and embrace contentment (Phil. 4:11-13). (i) Pray regularly (1 Thess. 5:17). (j) Commit your life totally to the Lord (Eccl. 12:13).
     Married or single, the challenge is to accept your circumstance in life, be content, and use your unique situation to the glory of God (1 Cor. 7:24; 10:31). Even if your marital status happens to change, your contentment and usefulness to God should not.
--Kevin L. Moore

*Adapted from the author’s The Single Missionary (2002).

Addendum: I hope this article is not viewed as the insensitive ramblings of a clueless and unsympathetic married person. While I am no longer single, for the first 34 years of my life I was, and these thoughts were developed through my experiences as an unmarried Christian and single missionary. I am all too familiar with the feelings of loneliness, sexual frustration, not fitting in, and other challenges faced by singles in the church. The article conveys principles that were helpful to me during those single years. 

Related PostsCross-Bearing: the Cost of DiscipleshipSingle Missionary: Sarah AndrewsSingle Missionary: Roberta EdwardsSingle Missionary: Joy Allen

Related articles: Wes McAdams' “Marriage Won't Make You Happy,” <Link>; Cristena Cleveland, “Singled Out: How Churches Can Embrace Unmarried Adults,” <Link>; Ethan Renoe's "Not Waiting Till Marriage," <Link>; Jack Dodgen's “Changing the Way We View Singles" <Link>.     

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