Being Single In A Married World

This originally appeared as a weekly devo on whillschurch.org.

What exactly does an old married guy know about being single? I know a few things. Like the biggest complaint from single people is how their married friends treat singleness like a disease.

How do they do that?

By trying to match them up with their “other single friend.”

By asking ‘how old are you’ to make sure they aren’t past the marrying age.

By thinking and actually saying out loud ‘One day God will bring you the right one.”

I’ve done it. It’s easy for us married folks to do. It’s not that we think of singleness as a disease as much as we love being married (at least half of us do) and we just erroneously believe that everyone should be married.

It doesn’t really require all that careful of study to realize from the Scriptures that singleness may just be a hiring calling than being married. Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 speaks pretty bluntly about the whole situation.

Paul says that those who CAN stay single, should. He also says if you can’t stand the fires of passion – get married. Paul’s larger point was that single people can be fully focused on Kingdom work, not divided in their hearts. A married person will always have a divided focus.

Let’s be honest – who is more likely going to sell everything and move to a place like Brazil or the Philippines to do mission work: a married person or a single person? A single person. Married people have to be concerned about the other person and kids if there are kids in the mix.

Single people? Listen to God. Obey God. Rinse and repeat.

Married and married with kids? Listen to God. Debate with spouse if what was heard was really from God. Convince kids that what was heard was from God. Discuss with in-laws that what was heard was from God. Prepare to obey God. Try to obey God. Re-convince spouse to obey God. Obey God. Argue with spouse/kids/in-laws rest of life.

I’m not sure when it happened but somewhere along the way in the church, being married got elevated as the ‘more holy’ status. Single became the scarlet letter that needed to be fixed in a person. Never mind the fact that Paul said the opposite. And singles got lost in the fog as well thinking their singleness was a time or license to do what they wanted when they wanted.

For us married folks, I’d simply tell us that being single isn’t wrong. Being married isn’t God’s norm or will for everyone. It isn’t a disease to be cured or a condition to be fixed. Being married doesn’t make us any more closer to God.

For single folks, I’d simply exhort you to leverage your singleness for the Kingdom of God. You are in an incredible position to have a huge impact on our world. Get after it! Take ridiculous risks. Make us proud.

But what if your single and you don’t want to be single? I’m going to unpack all of this a bit more on Sunday (and throughout the series) but let me leave you with this thought. Maybe one day marriage is on the agenda of your life, but maybe it isn’t either. But larger than that – maybe being single or being married isn’t the real point.

Maybe the point is to just be in the moment God has you. Fully obedient. Fully engaged.

The two most important and prominent people in the New Testament were Jesus and Paul – both single. Did either one of those guys want to be married? Did they struggle with loneliness?

I don’t know. I do know they lived in a world even more “marriage-centric” than ours today. The pressure for them to marry and have kids had to have been around 500 times more intense than we have today. Yet Paul and Jesus lived every moment of their lives being in the moment God had them. Fully engaged. Fully obedient.

That’s actually not bad advice for married people either.

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