Friday, May 22, 2015

The Compelling Example of Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Nancy Leigh DeMoss is engaged!!!!

Nancy, who has never been married and has been faithfully serving the Lord for years as a single woman, made this exciting and unexpected announcement on her Revive Our Hearts website Monday, May 11th.  Upon hearing the news and taking into account Nancy's age (she is 56), I immediately posted a link to her site on my Facebook page with the caption, "Nancy Leigh DeMoss is engaged!  Praise the Lord!  There is hope for us all!"  The news that God has providentially provided a godly husband to a woman who has been single well past the point when most women marry is indeed encouraging, especially to women like you and me who are still waiting, still praying to the Lord for a spouse.  

Now, full disclosure:  I don't agree with Nancy's theology on singleness.  Nancy is a believer in the "gift of singleness", an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:7 that says God assigns singleness and marriage to everyone as gifts, regardless of their desires or efforts to the contrary.  I don't believe that 1 Corinthians 7:7 or any other passage in the Bible indicates that God imposes singleness on anyone (the prophet Jeremiah being the only exception).  I believe from Genesis to Revelation, marriage is declared to be God's design, the reason He created us male and female, established by Him for the good and benefit of not only believers, but all of humanity.  And although not everyone marries, certainly no one is commanded to marry (the prophet Hosea being the only exception), and singleness in Christ is also considered good and honorable in the plan of God, God gives us the free choice to marry, assuming we have the opportunity to do so.  Indeed it is my belief that the lack of opportunity to marry is not the result of God forcing singleness but the result of sin:  the sinful, marriage-dishonoring society in which we live, the sins of others (i.e. men who do not have the gift of celibacy that the apostle Paul had but who neglect to pursue marriage), and our own personal sins (i.e. not preparing for marriage, putting career before marriage, having worldly notions about the purpose of marriage).

How exactly would the “gift of marriage” work anyway?  Can you imagine this scenario?  A man wakes up to find himself mysteriously walking down a slope.  He looks down in shock at his change of attire and thinks, “Who put this tuxedo on me?!  Where am I going?”  Then he looks down the end of the aisle and sees his pastor standing next to a lovely woman waiting for him.  “Whoo hoo!!!!” he exclaims, “God must be giving me the gift of marriage!  All these years I thought God had given me the gift of singleness but, lo and behold, I’m getting married today!  Praise the Lord!!!”  Or what about this scenario?   A woman beautifully dressed in a flowing white wedding gown is standing in front of a church, looking woebegone.   When someone asks her what’s wrong, she sadly declares, “Oh, I wanted to be single for the glory of God.  That’s been my hope since I was a small child.  But for some reason God has saddled me with the gift of marriage.  I’ve never wanted to be married but apparently this is what God wants so I guess I just have to accept it.  Two weeks ago, I broke down and brought this stupid white dress…..”

No, no one gets married that way.  Men and women desire marriage, they prepare for it, they look for opportunities to marry, and when they find an opportunity they take it.  In a way, it’s kind of like finding a job.  Even during times of economic downturns and recessions when work is scarce no one would argue that it isn’t God’s desire for all people to work at some task.  A person having trouble finding a job wouldn’t say, “Alas, the Lord has inflicted me with the gift of unemployment.”

But enough of my rant.   Today I'm willing to set aside my disagreements with Ms. DeMoss.  Ultimately it really doesn't matter if God imposed singleness on us or if He allowed it to happen under His sovereign control we are.  Single, year, after year, after year, with no prospects in sight.  And it seems to me we have a choice how we will respond to this circumstance.  We can grow bitter and angry at God, hate our married sisters and brothers in Christ, and become completely ineffective in our Christian walk as we withdraw, brood, and sulk.  Been there, done that.  We can make marriage a daily, even hourly goal, putting profiles up on every dating website we can find, praying about every single acquaintance we meet, church hopping and attending every singles gathering we hear about, and badgering our friends to introduce us to their mail carrier's unmarried nephew.  How's that working for you?  Or we can do what Nancy did.

How has Nancy’s response to unexpected singleness been unique and inspiring?  Here are some highlights:

Trust in God

Throughout her adult life, Nancy has placed herself under God’s provision and care, hedging around herself four specific passages in the Psalms:

“The Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not want.” – Psalm 23:1

“Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” – Psalm 34:10

“The Lord will give grace and glory.  No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11

“None of those who trust in Him will be desolate.” – Psalm 34:22

At no time has Nancy ever said her life as a longtime single woman has been an easy task, a cake walk.  She is well-acquainted with the unique challenges of singleness, admitting to instances of deep loneliness and intense longings.  But instead of sinking into despair, Nancy memorized these passages, believing them with all her heart, and they have helped her maintain her bearing.  These passages are powerful.  They reveal a God who is completely worthy of our total trust in Him and whose very nature is to provide all we need to glorify Him and be satisfied.  It is so tempting to view our singleness through worldly eyes and believe that God has forgotten us, or that He is not a God who provides, or that He is incapable of properly caring for us and our needs.  I am so grateful to Nancy that she has not succumbed to that temptation, leaving me a glorious path of total trust and hope in God to follow.

Godly Perspective

Sadly, I have often adopted a worldly perspective on my singleness, believing myself to be a total loser because no man has ever given me a ring.  I have also felt like an abnormal oddball because I’m not having sex, like seemingly every other human being drawing breath on this earth.  But this is a patently unbiblical view of who I am.   Nancy once said, “Whether you are single or married, joy comes from learning what God’s perspective is.  And then accepting that perspective as my own.”

Who am I from God’s perspective?  I am His child, foreknown and loved by Him before the foundation of the world (Romans 8:29-30).  I am doubly owned by Him, both because He created me and because He redeemed me with His Son’s precious blood.  I am not my own, I belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:20).  I am here to reflect Christ to this dark, sin-filled world (Galatians 2:20).  From God’s point-of-view I am not a loser and He expects me to be a celibate virgin since I’m not married (that is as it should be…..not abnormal at all).  Nancy is a great example of a single woman who constantly viewed herself from God’s perspective.  She looked to God’s Word to define her, not society, saying “I’ve come to believe that a lot of frustration with single women….is the result of having a limited perspective. ‘God, lift me up above this limited perspective of this world and help me to see my life as a single woman from your point of view.’”

Godly Focus

I was touched by Nancy’s demeanor and attitude when she announced her engagement.  It was not with the usual sinful bravado that we often see in our culture, “CHA-CHING!!!  Look at my bling!”  Nancy stated in her announcement that her life verse has been “Mary’s response to the angel in Luke 1—‘I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’ (v. 38). My heart's desire in this journey has been only to know and to do whatever would bring Him the greatest glory.”

The beauty of that statement is that Nancy’s soon-to-be change in status has not at all altered her life’s desire:  To bring God glory.  She has focused on bringing Him glory as a single woman and now, there will simply be a change in roles as she focuses on bringing Him glory as a married woman.   This is a reminder to me that ultimately, my goal really is not to be married.  It’s normal to desire that and perfectly fine if I can attain it, but my real goal, my ultimate goal in life is to bring glory to God in whatever state He allows me to be in or puts me in.  Happily, this is a goal that I can live out TODAY as a single woman, I don’t have to wait to be married to glorify God with my life.  Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a shining example of that truth.

It’s not that Nancy has shunned marriage, in fact one of the main components of her ministry has been encouraging women to embrace their God-given roles in marriage and honor the institution that God established.  She has desired marriage just like any normal woman but, as she stated when announcing her engagement, “Marriage simply has not been on my radar.”  Instead of being depressed by that reality, however, Nancy has chosen joy over misery, resourcefulness over despondency.  “Throughout my life, my goal and my greatest joy has been to tell the great redemption Story of Jesus and His love”, she says.  “I’ve often said that my desire was to be a ‘wedding coordinator’—to help the Bride get ready for the Wedding. For decades, I have done that as a single woman, wholly devoted to Christ and His kingdom.”

Nancy and her fiance, Robert Wolgemuth

Displaying Femininity

Nancy displays the qualities that God sees as precious in a woman, the gentle and quiet spirit He esteems.  Somehow she has found a way to strike a balance between elegance and modesty, softness and durability, gracefulness and resilience.  As a single woman, she is by no means a feminazi, a scornfully independent woman eschewing the need of any man……and yet, there is a spiritual toughness about her I have come to admire.  We are bombarded by messages in the media that a lady doesn’t truly become a woman until she becomes a wife and a mother.  The heroine in the Hollywood movie finds her “woman-ness” the moment she melts in the arms of her leading man.  The woman on the Pampers commercial holds up her diaper-clad baby girl, beaming at the child as if she is her whole reason for existing.  Nancy reminds us that we single women are truly women because that is what God created us to be.  We don’t become women when we marry or bear children, and even if that never happens for us, we are expected to display the beautiful distinction, the femininity, God created us to display to the world for His glory.

I am so happy for Nancy Leigh DeMoss!  She has been faithful as a single woman and I’m sure she will be equally faithful as a married woman.  I don’t know what God has planned for me, but Nancy inspires me to be a single woman whose heart’s desire is to bring Him the greatest glory!

© Copyright 2015

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Single Profile: Richard Oldham

Richard Oldham, pastor of Glendale Baptist Church for 57 years in Bowling Green, Kentucky, died at the age of 84 on September 8, 2014.  He was a dedicated, hardworking servant of the Lord whose far-reaching influence and impact were not fully realized until his passing.  Oldham's funeral was standing-room-only as hundreds of people packed the little sanctuary of Glendale Baptist, sharing their memories of him.  Several said he was the greatest man they ever knew. 

Throughout his ministry, Oldham baptized over 6,000 people, mentored over 250 men and women into full-time Christian ministry (he called them "Swordsmen"), founded "Teentime", a youth radio broadcast that has aired in Bowling Green for 50 years, and, as Al Mohler said in a tribute to Oldham, "had many sons and daughters in the faith."

This is all quite remarkable when you consider that Brother Richard, as he was fondly known by his flock, never married and never had children.

What I find so encouraging about Oldham is that he never set out to be single for life.  He didn't take a vow of celibacy, he had several girlfriends early in life, and he was even engaged once.  But after arriving at Glendale, two years after he graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1955, Oldham found himself joyfully consumed with the ministry God had given him there and he willingly set aside marriage and family to focus on his pastoral call.

"The Lord seemed to say, 'It's okay.  I'll take care of you.'  And He has," Oldham once said.

Singleness, even lifelong singleness that is unexpected and undesired, need not be sad, solitary, or purposeless.  No one looking at Richard Oldham's life - seeing the many people he led to Christ and inspired to ministry - would think, "Oh that poor man.  He never married."  Oldham found the ministry of Jesus Christ to be so compelling that he ceased to pursue family life to focus on it exclusively.  He did not despise marriage nor did he think little of it, he simply thought much of Christ. 

Let us pray that God will give us singles that same all-consuming passion for His glory and fame!    

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Encouraging Quotes about Singleness - Part 5

More gems of wisdom about the state of singleness from evangelical speakers and leaders.  Read and be blessed, single sisters!


As singles in Christ, we must combat the lies the world tells us about our single state. June Hunt, founder of “Hope for the Heart” gives a list of common lies singles believe and confronts them with the truth of God’s Word. 

1. Lies about Identity – “I’m nobody’s wife, I’m nobody’s mother, I have no purpose.”

Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

2. Lies about Loneliness – “I need someone to share my life. I feel so alone.”

Hebrews 13:5 – “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

3. Lies about Rejection – “I am not wanted. I must not be lovable.”

1 John 3:1 – “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

4. Lies about Fear – “I will be all alone when I am old.”

Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

5. Bitter Lies – “I am not receiving the best in life. God must be punishing me.”

Psalm 84:11 – “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

6. Lies about Sexuality – “A sexual relationship is the only means to intimacy. I don’t know what to do with my sexual desires.”

Romans 12:1 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

7. Lies about Maturity – “Since God uses the family to build character, I will never become mature if I remain unmarried.”

Philippians 1:6 – “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

“For a long time I thought of Psalm 37:4 as the single person’s verse of hope. How many times have we heard this verse quoted to or by a single person and interpreted as, ‘If I just get close to God, then he’ll give me what I really want – a husband!’

We might think that if we give God our obedience and interest and compliments, we can get what we want from him in return.

But delighting in God is not a way to get what we want from him. This is manipulation and bribery. Genuine delight has no ulterior motive, no additional demands.

If we see this verse as a formula for getting what we want from God, we’re settling for much less than what God is offering. God wants to change what we want. He wants to free us from the slavery of wanting what will never completely satisfy us. He wants to give us what he knows will completely satisfy us forever: himself.”

- Nancy Guthrie

"Are you making the most of your days? Someone may say, 'Well, I don't really want to be single. I was hoping to be married by this time.'

I understand. But are you making the most of your singleness in the meantime? Are all of us making the most of every opportunity for God's glory?"

- Alistair Begg

“Christianity’s founder, Jesus Christ, and leading theologian, St. Paul, were both single their entire lives. Single adults cannot be seen as somehow less fully formed or realized human beings than married persons because Jesus Christ, a single man, was the perfect man (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22).”

- Tim Keller

“Womanhood is a call. It is a vocation to which we respond under God, glad if it means the literal bearing of children, thankful as well for all that it means in a much wider sense, that in which every woman, married or single, fruitful orbarren, may participate – the unconditional response exemplified for all time in Mary the virgin, and the willingness to enter into suffering, to receive, to carry, to give life, to nurture and to care for others. The strength to answer this call is given us as we look up toward the Love that created us, remembering that it was that Love that first, most literally, imagined sexuality, that made us at the very beginning real men and real women.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, from her book “Let Me Be a Woman”

“Satan convinced Eve to believe that God wanted to restrain her from developing her potential – her godhood, if you will. Eve believed the lie.

Today, Satan uses similar strategies to dissatisfy us with God’s will. The single girl seeking a mate asks, ‘How can God be good? If He were, He’d bring me companionship. Doesn’t He know how lonely I am?’

Let’s return to the story in the garden of Eden. Notice how Satan focused on a restriction and used it to blind Eve to God’s blessing. Yes, there was one tree she could not enjoy, but presumably there were hundreds she could. Did Satan point out the many trees she was permitted to eat from? Hardly. He focused on one negative, and Eve forgot God’s generosity and grace. So it is today. Satan will urge you to focus on one issue, one aggravation, one restriction.

So, I must ask, do you doubt God’s goodness? Are you fully prepared to agree that His will is perfect and acceptable? If He denied you the pleasure of marriage, would you feel ripped-off?”

- Erwin Lutzer

“…Jesus is ‘the beauty of all things beautiful.’ When we Christians reflect that beauty by the way we think and act (or don’t act) upon bodily passions, the world takes notice. That is, the single person who waits for marriage to express his or her passion promotes the gospel, as does the married couple who so passionately love each other. The world notices these things. The world notices the pure girl who won’t. The world notices the Christian couple married for sixty years who still enjoy each other’s friendship…..Pure passion – held in check or rightly expressed – is a promotion of the passion of Jesus Christ…’s the gospel in its most tangible/touchable/visible form.”

- Douglas Sean O’Donnell

“Some of you may never marry or you may be so far from it right now that it is not a helpful strategy to encourage you toward it. If that’s where you’re at, then the Bible has even better news for you! In Ephesians 5, Paul explains the nature and purpose of marriage. Toward the end of his teaching he boils down everything he’s written with a summary statement: “I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). In other words, everything the Bible says about marriage is not ultimately about marriage at all. God made marriage to point people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Husbands and wives exist to reflect the saving purposes of Christ for his bride, the church. Marriage is an arrow that points to the reality of Christ’s love for the church. Marriage is a shadow whose substance is the saving purpose of Jesus.

This means that though you have legitimate, God-given sexual desires, you do not need marriage in any essential way. Marriage is wonderful, and it’s important. But the primary reason God created marriage is to picture for us the gospel of Jesus. If you see and grasp the target, you don’t need the arrow. If you have the substance, you don’t need the shadow.”

- Heath Lambert

“….a friend sent me a card with the following anonymous quote: Lord, I am willing to receive what You give, to lack what You withhold, to relinquish what You take, to suffer what You inflict, to be what You require……If you are single with no prospects of marriage, can you say, ‘Lord, I am willing to lack what You have withheld’?

I was almost thirty-four when I got married, so I know something of the loneliness of adult single life. And even after marriage I struggled with discontentment at our son’s soccer or basketball games because I was at least ten years older than the other parents around me…..I readily recognize that the circumstances I deal with are minor compared to what many believers experience. But I do want you to know that if you struggle with discontentment, I’m right there with you.

Whatever situation tempts us to be discontent, and however severe it may be, we need to recognize that discontentment is sin. That statement may surprise many readers. We are so used to responding to difficult circumstances with anxiety, frustration, or discontentment that we consider them normal reactions to the varying vicissitudes of life……When we fail to recognize these responses to our circumstances as sin, we are responding no differently from unbelievers who never factor God into their situations.”

- Jerry Bridges, from his book “Respectable Sins”

“Singleness has been a noble and courageous path for ministry ever since Jesus and the Apostle Paul chose it ‘because of the kingdom of heaven.’ It is no sign of weakness to want to be married. It is normal, and it is good. The courage comes when you sense God calling you to singleness (for this chapter of your life) and you accept the call with zeal and creative planning for His glory.”

- John Piper

“If you’re single, live a cross centered life……May the reality of what God has done for you continue to be the most captivating thought in your mind…..and may the truth of Christ’s death for you always be the most precious treasure in your heart.”

- C.J. Mahaney

“No matter whether you are single or married, your earthly marital status is not your primary identity.”

- Elyse Fitzpatrick

Indeed, our identity in Christ is our primary identity as Christians. It cannot be gained or lost by a change in marital status. Christ is the foundation that we can build our lives upon. 

“A single Christian woman is to live her life in a way that reflects her complete dedication to God. As one who is unmarried, she has the privilege of undistracted service to God and caring the ‘the things of the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 7:34). Every day a woman is single is another glorious day to serve God wholeheartedly and without distraction. Her singleness is her ‘green light’ from God to go all out in service to others.

Is singleness a reality for you today, dear woman of God? Although you may desire to be married, ‘let not your longing slay the appetite of your living….Accept and thank God for what is given, not allowing the not-given to spoil it’.

‘Miriam, what advice do you have for single women?’ Imagine an interviewer today asking this question of Miriam, one of God’s super-singles of yesterday.

Perhaps Miriam would simply say, ‘Devote yourself to ministry.’ Based on the Bible, Miriam appears to have viewed her singleness as an opportunity to give herself fully to ministry. As a result she blossomed into one of the Bible’s strongest female leaders (Micah 6:4).”

- Elizabeth George

“‘I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it.[The King James Version puts it better: "And they that use this world as not abusing it"] For the form of the world is passing away.’ (1 Corinthians 7:29-31 RSV)

Paul is saying here that single life makes it easier to maintain the proper priorities of life. These priorities apply to all, whether you are married or single, if you are Christian. You ought to face life differently as a Christian than you would as a non-Christian. You ought to see things differently; you ought to have different value standards. Whether you are married or single that should be true simply because you are a Christian. But there is the clear implication in all of this that it is easier to do that if you remain single.

‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not in the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.’ (1 John 2:15-17 KJV)

This is what Paul is calling us to. What are you living for? Surely it has got to be more than to have a pleasant home and a retirement plan and cram your sunset years with a few activities you were unable to get in before you die. Christians are not to live that way because they have opportunity for fulfillment far beyond this life. If you do not have time to get in all the pleasures and enjoyments here you will have lots of time beyond. That is what the apostle is saying. We do not have to try and cram it all into one brief episode. What awaits is so exceedingly fantastic and beyond description that to give oneself fully to the pursuit of the things of God here is a much wiser choice than to waste one's whole existence on secondary levels of activity and involvement. It is easier, he suggests, to do that if you remain single, and many people have made that choice.”

- Ray Stedman

"God is sovereign over who gets married and who doesn't. And He can be trusted to do what is good for those who hope in Him."

- John Piper

"God did not intend that all should get married, therefore, it is not failure or a mark of defeat to remain unmarried. It is a special calling of God......we might group under this classification those who are simply never asked to be married. Whatever the circumstance may be, something beyond their control has made it impossible for them to marry. Again this is not unanticipated in God's thinking. He finds room and place for such; they are not excluded from his grace and his activity.......if you fall into this classification, then be content with it, receive it, accept it. Accept your circumstances fully -- do not fight them, or resent them; do not constantly battle against the solitary life and feel embittered. Accept it, receive it as men receive gifts from God everywhere......single life need not be lonely, boring, unrewarding, if it is committed fully and unreservedly to Jesus Christ. It can be a daily adventure of dedication and achievement that surpasses anything possible to those who are married."

- Ray Stedman

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, not sits in the seat of scoffers. – Psalm 1:1

Are you the single woman who finds herself alone because you refuse to enter into the hook-up culture that is considered to be enjoying a healthy sex life?

Let’s face it. The ‘blessed man’ is someone who just doesn’t fit in. He doesn’t go where everybody else is going, and he doesn’t run with the ‘in’ crowd; he doesn’t laugh along with the latest raunchy viral video. Frankly, it is easier and oftentimes a lot more fun to conform rather than to chart a course that goes against the grain. But if we don’t have the strength to refuse to conform, we will never find the happiness Psalm 1 talks about or enjoy the security it offers.”

- Nancy Guthrie

“Marriage, sorrow, rejoicing, possessions, and pleasure all have a proper place in the Christian life. In fact, each is a part of God’s provision for life here. But human relationships, emotions, possessions, and pleasures become sinful when they dominate thought and behavior, and especially when they detract us from the Lord’s work. We are to hold marriage in the highest honor (Heb. 13:4), to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep’ (Rom. 12:15), and not despise earthly possessions. Our ‘heavenly Father knows that [we] need all these things’ (Matt. 6:32). But we should not overvalue those things, knowing that they are passing away.”

- John MacArthur, from his commentary on 1 Corinthians

“The feeling of loneliness is tied to the desire for intimacy with God, and that desire is often misunderstood as merely a desire for a spouse.

We often believe that marriage will fix us and make us feel whole, that a husband will provide comfort, security, and love. This way of thinking will ultimately bring us disappointment and failure. In counseling I have seen the devastating results of believing that loneliness can be resolved through marriage.

All women were created for a deep spiritual relationship with God that cannot be satisfied though marriage and children. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to desire marriage – not at all. Marriage is a great blessing from God, and allows you to serve God by serving your spouse. Yet if your motivation is to cure your loneliness through marriage rather than through a loving relationship with God, your loneliness will follow you into marriage.

With God, whether you are single or married, your happiness will never have to depend on another human being. Jesus alone provides the strength and power to live a rich, productive, and purposeful life.”

- Joan Kulper, from the book “Women Counseling Women: Biblical Answers to Life’s Difficult Problems”

“In our culture we have certain things that we simply don’t know how to handle: nuclear reactors, inflation, pornography, and perhaps the most confusing of all, single people.

Single people. What an enigma! Those unusual creatures without wives or husbands. What do you say to them? How can you carry on a conversation with people who are so deprived and socially amputated? Do you pity them? Encourage them? Ignore them?

Once, before I was married, I took a trip to visit my old alma mater. I saw a lot of old friends. Their response to my still-matelessness was amusing.

‘Haven’t found the right one yet?’ they’d inquire. ‘Gee, Max, I’m sorry.’ (As though I’d failed at life.) Some were more tactful. ‘How’s your social life?’ (What they really wanted was a scouting report.)

Others had pity on me. Several put their arms around my shoulders or gently took my hand (as though I were terminally ill) and confided, ‘God has one waiting for you, Max. Don’t be afraid.’

I know people mean well. But, honestly….is bachelorhood really a disease? Are life and meaning found only at the marriage altar?

Jesus suggested that singleness is more than acceptable. In fact, Jesus called it a gift (Matthew 19:12); not for everybody but for a few. A gift that encourages ‘undivided devotion to the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 7:35). Perhaps, then, a single Christian should not be regarded as one who is spiritually impotent but as one who is gifted. I was grateful for my ‘gift’ of singleness. Later God chose to replace my gift with a wife. I’m thankful, and I’m still serving him. But, believe it or not, it is possible to be content and come home to an empty apartment.”

- Max Lucado, from his book “On the Anvil: Stories on Being Shaped Into God’s Image”

“Please understand, I’m not opposed to marriage. I believe it to be a God-given, sacred institution; one that is blessed and encouraged by Scripture. I just wasn’t compelled to make it part of my personal journey. And in the fifties, I can tell you, not to marry was deeply criticized by the general Christian community. I was the first person in my extended family who chose to remain single. It was a hard row to hoe, and I’ve often wondered where I would be now had it not been for the allegiance and love of my father. If he ever in his heart preferred marriage for me, I never knew it, and he never criticized me for choosing the path I did. Would that every girl had a dad like mine.”

- Luci Swindoll (sister of Chuck Swindoll), from her book “I Married Adventure”

"I would say that singleness is a gift for as long as you have it. Some people God means to have it for a lifetime, and some people God means to have it for a season. But while you have it, consult the Scriptures to see how you can maximize the freedoms of singleness for the glory of Christ, because there are advantages to being married, and there are advantages to singleness when it comes to serving Jesus."

- John Piper

"It may surprise you that the Bible refers to both marriage and singleness as gifts (1 Corinthians 7:6–7). Your sexuality and your singleness (temporary or permanent) are gifts from God.

Now maybe you think that singleness is not a good gift — kind of like getting an ugly knitted sweater from a frumpy aunt at Christmas; so ugly that you wouldn't even dream of re-gifting it. Or maybe you wish the gift came with a receipt so you could exchange it for the one you really want. But whether or not you're happy about being single, it's important for you to understand that though this gift is given to you, it's not given for you. The gift is ultimately for the church. God gives gifts so that we might faithfully steward them "for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7). Therefore, as long as you hold the gift of singleness in your hands, the Lord wants you to steward it for the for the benefit of others."

- Mary Kassian

"...the Bible gives us a very compelling vision for the joy of singleness and devotion to God that seems to me to be neglected by and large.....we’re all single before we’re married, and how we live as singles has great impact on how we subsequently live as married folks."

- Thabiti Anyabwile

As part of an article on Boundless, a question was asked to an older single woman who had never married and was involved in ministry. The question was, “How do you know you are called to singleness?” This was her response:

“I am happy to respond from personal experience as well as much reading I have done on this subject. However, I certainly claim to have no solid answers. I only know where God has led me thus far, and the grace he has given me. I'm pretty sure I could start a small library with my thoughts on this subject, so I will try and keep my response as brief as possible.

Apart from a direct word from God, I am not convinced that anyone can know they are called to permanent (lifelong) singleness. Those in the Catholic faith have the clarity of a mandated vow of celibacy to accompany their call to full-time ministry. Protestants do not have such a clear choice. Of all the Protestant singles in full-time ministry who I have read or know about personally, all have a desire and hope for marriage, but for one reason or another it has simply never worked out (yet). But they have also come to the realization that their desire for marriage is one more thing that gets to be laid on the altar of living a surrendered life. They have also discovered exceptional grace to live life with much joy in undivided devotion (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).

Singleness is one of those things (for me anyway) that requires acceptance of the grace God gives you for today and not worry about whether you'll have it for tomorrow, next year or the next decade. Seasons of life change. I believe that one can live in obedience, acceptance and contentment for the present season, trusting God to prepare them for other seasons as they may come. God rarely (if ever?) gives us a spotlight into the future.

However, I understand wanting to know. I questioned God ceaselessly in my late teens and early twenties till I realized the answer he was giving me was "Trust Me and wait." Still, it might be a good exercise to take a look at the motives behind a question like that. What are we really asking? How would our life change depending on the answer? First of all, the fact that this person is even asking this question shows a seriousness about discipleship that is noteworthy. Most young people shudder at even the mention of permanent celibacy and certainly don't get anywhere near asking God about it!

But back to the motives. We would like to imagine that if God said, "Single forever!" we would be able to breath a sigh of relief, write off all the hassle of romantic relationships or even the hope thereof, and go on our merry way of serving Him completely without another backward glance. But if His answer is "Marriage!" what would change? Are you going to abandon your desire and focus to live a life devoted to God to begin seeking high and low for Mr. or Miss Right? Or will you remain committed to God's call on your life, serving Him wholeheartedly until such time as he sees fit to bring your mate into your life?

A more pertinent question for your correspondent may be, "God, am I allowed to date?" If so, then he or she should be asking who, when and how. If not, then pray for the needed grace and a God-centered focus. God truly desires to counsel us in these things. Who better to counsel us in areas of the heart than the Lover of our souls and the Creator of our entire beings, including our hormones? And who better to choose a mate for us than that same loving, heavenly Father?”

“Everything in our culture – books, movies, recreational pastimes – tend to push the idea that sex and romance are the ultimate pursuit. Even our evangelical churches – though in reaction to the demise of family life and the alarming escalation of divorce in our country – have overemphasized family life to the point that singles feel out of place. Many single Christian women have received from the church what feels like a loud-and-clear message that their singleness is ‘something to be fixed.’

What does our life guide, the Bible, say? First Corinthians 7:40 declares that it is better to be single than married. Better! Shake yourself loose from the ideas of the world around you and look to God’s Word to see the single life described as an assignment, a calling, and a gift.”

- Barbara Hughes, “Disciplines of a Godly Woman”

“A single woman might say, ‘I have no household. I need to get out and about so I can find a husband and get a household!’ It’s true that a single woman may have more discretionary time for socializing, but it’s not true that she does not have a household. Nor is it true that she can neglect it and suffer no ill consequence. Every woman has a household – even if she is the only one in it. A Girl-Gone-Wise cultivates habits, routines, and priorities to keep her home life in order. This happens long before she is ever married. Home is not all she has, but it is what she does first.”

- Mary Kassian, from her book “Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild”

“Your marital choice is crucial, but it will never define you. If you are a believer, God – not your marital status (or marital happiness or frustration) – defines your life. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Let the pursuit of marriage be one of joy, one you undertake with your closest eternal companion – God Himself – walking with you.

You’re not trying to replace God by finding your perfect match – that’s desperation. You are already perfectly loved and looking for someone who can help you grow in and share that love – that’s security. Christians should never be defined by the word desperate. We are well loved, well cared for, adored by the One who knows us best, and secure in His acceptance, love, affirmation, and purpose.”

- Gary Thomas, another great quote from his book “The Sacred Search”

"God is sovereign over who gets married and who remains single, and He can be trusted to do what is good for those who trust in Him: 'no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly' (Psalm 84:11). God rules in these affairs and we will be happiest when we bow to His inscrutable ways. I am sure that it was not always easy for Paul to be single but, as he himself wrote, 'I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content' (Philippians 4:11).

I cannot stress this point enough: if there is contentedness in being single then we must not look at single people as being broken. God has His plan, will and way for each of us."

- Doug Van Meter, pastor of Brackenhurst Baptist Church

“There is a significant portion of the adult population in America that is single. Almost half of all adults in America are unmarried. And consequently what Paul has to say in these verses (in 1 Corinthians 7) is not a side note. There was once a time in our society when it might not have spoken directly to as many people, but now there are as many unmarried people in America as there are married people. So what Paul has to say here is of great importance.

Marriage is an institution established by God, it is the norm for most. And marriage is a great blessing for those who enter into it. But it is not required, it is not obligatory for every believer. If one is not married today sometimes even the church begins to look and say, ‘So what’s wrong with you?’ And sometimes people look in the mirror and they ask themselves, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ Well, that’s not the perspective of the Apostle Paul.”

- Steve Lawson, from his sermon “Single-Mindedness”

"A bad marriage is far worse than the most lonely instance of singleness."

- James Dobson