Hey, single sister, have you heard this one?
“Don’t worry if you’re single. God is looking at you right now and saying, ‘I’m saving this one for someone special.’”
(Groan.) Or how about this one?
“If you’re still single, it’s because God’s not ready to share you yet.”
How cutesy-poo. And lame. Or perhaps you’ve heard this one.
“Being single doesn’t mean no one wants you. It means God is busy writing your love story.”
I know they are kindly intended, and I probably found them inspiring when I was 20, but these sugary-sweet, trite singles clichés just don’t cut it anymore. Look, I’m fighting to be sexually pure against an onslaught of worldly temptations and my own burning desires. I’m battling loneliness, bitterness, and envy. I’m clinging to my eternal identity in Christ while Satan taunts, “You’re not a wife, you’re not a mother, you’re NOTHING.” Hence, I need much more substantial encouragement than, “Jesus wants to give you a big ole kiss!” And besides, God never promises that every single will be united with someone special or that He’ll personally write a love story for each of us. Furthermore, marriage was His idea – He’s not at all threatened by His people having spouses.
Many well-meaning Christian friends and family realize these little sayings aren’t sufficient to encourage singles so they try to come up with more “biblical” reasons for our singleness. They say things like,
“God wants to grow you spiritually before you get married…”
Which seems to imply that those who are married are already spiritually mature or that marriage is the reward you earn for reaching spiritual perfection. Or….
“You’re single so you can have more time to do the work of the Lord….”
Because married people don’t do any work for the Lord at all.
"Honey, it's always darkest before the dawn of the wedding rehearsal."
No, as undoubtedly sincere as they are, when friends try to tell you why you’re single they usually end up putting their proverbial foot in their mouths. That’s because God doesn't reveal the reason to us. That doesn't mean, however, God has nothing to say on the subject.
In Matthew 19, responding to the Pharisees’ question about divorce, Jesus said, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Upon hearing this, Jesus’ disciples said, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” They were probably expecting Jesus to vehemently defend the goodness of marriage but He shocks them. He describes three reasons a person might remain single:
1. “There are eunuchs who have been so from birth…” – this describes a person who is unable to marry due to a birth defect.
2. “…there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men…” – Jesus is specifically describing men who had been castrated (as was the ancient custom for those who served kings and queens in palaces) but it could also refer to singleness due to circumstances beyond your control. For instance, singleness because no one ever proposes marriage.
3. “…and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” – These are people who deliberately choose singleness to devote themselves to the Lord’s kingdom.
The disciples were probably familiar with the first two scenarios, but this was almost certainly the first time they had ever heard of the third. To the Jews of the time, marriage was the only blessed and righteous state of an adult. Barrenness was a cause for shame and singleness was abhorred (Isaiah 56:3-5). Jesus reveals something incredible here – that even though God made us male and female, even though He gave us compatible body parts and complementary roles, even though He instilled in us the desire to be united one to another, and though He surely intended for most people to marry (to populate the earth among many reasons), there is a place for singleness in God’s kingdom. Paul expands on this truth in 1 Corinthians 7 saying, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.”
In other words, singleness is good. It is not a curse nor is it a punishment for sin. It is not an indication God doesn't love you or that He has forgotten you. It is not proof that God isn't sovereign. It is not evidence of your lack of faith. It is neither a tragedy nor an accident. This would seem to be contradictory since the Bible also declares marriage to be good, but it’s not a contradiction. Singleness is a proper station to display Christ to the world, an effective avenue to please and worship God, a valid means of sanctification, and an honorable status among God’s people.
Now, I understand your frustration, single Christian woman. You never desired to be single. Neither did I. Given the choice, I never would have deliberately chosen singleness. And I don’t know why God either chose it for me or allowed it to happen to me. God may never answer my question, “Why?” But it comforts me, sometimes even thrills me, to know God looks at my unmarried state and says, "It is good."
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