Top 10 questions on singleness

This is part of our summer series, Complementary, at The Well on Tuesdays at 8pm.

After many conversations with many of the singles in our Young Adult ministry, here are the top ten questions I’ve gotten, along with some Biblical responses.

1. Is singleness less holy?

No. Paul and Jesus were both single. You can’t get more holy than that.

2. Is marriage less holy?

No. Many of the Apostles, including James, John, and Peter were all married to Christian women (1 Cor. 9:5). The author of Hebrews said, Let marriage be held in honor among all (Heb. 13:4). Marriage is a holy institution created by God himself (Gen. 1:18-25), meant to display the gospel truth of Jesus’ sacrificial love for the church, and the church’s joyful submission to Jesus (Eph. 5:32).

3. How is singleness a “gift”?

Undivided devotion. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul says that singleness is a “gift from God”, and then explains why. In marriage, your primary responsibility is the home. You have to divide your evenings and free time between family time and ministry time. For singles, your ministry focus and responsibility isn’t divided like that. You can have what Paul called “undivided devotion” to Jesus and ministry. This is why Paul preferred singleness; he had way more time and flexibility to commit to reaching the lost every day and every night.

Not only that, but he could freely enter into very dangerous situations without having to weigh the risks for his family, and his call to protect and provide for them. Sometimes God gives people a gift of incredible self-control and a lack of sexual desire in order to set them up for unique, lifelong ministry as a single person.

4. Is it wrong to date, or look for a spouse?

No. Sometimes Christians wonder if it’s okay to date and look for a spouse, or if they should just wait for God to bring them one. Proverbs says, He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Pr. 18:22). Looking for a wife is a great way to find a wife. How you look for a wife, or a husband, matters though. Looking for a spouse at church or church events is a great idea. You want to marry someone who is involved in church and active in ministry. Actually get involved in community and ministry to serve others, build healthy friendships, and as you develop those friendships you can prayerfully consider others who might be worth deepening a relationship with.

Here are a few posts to help think through godly friendship and dating:

5. How long should you date before marriage?

Tough one. The Bible doesn’t answer this directly because dating wasn’t a thing in the Bible. But, since the purpose of marriage is to display the gospel of Jesus to the world, you should marry someone who shares that same vision for marriage. So how long do you date? Long enough to see that they have faith in Jesus and believe what God’s word says about marriage. Not just what they say about it, but being able to watch their life to see if it aligns with their words. If they love Jesus, and love God’s word, and their life shows it, they would make a great spouse. On top of that, you should ask, “Do I want to serve this person for the rest of my life?” Because that’s what you do in marriage. So give it enough time to see if you really want to spend all of your days serving this person, forgiving this person, and loving this person.

6. How do I know if I’m ready for marriage?

Read and examine. Read God’s word to know God’s design and intention for marriage. Then examine your life to see if you are growing toward what marriage requires. Essential to marriage is the idea of the “two becoming one” (Gen. 2:24), so that means you are ready to break off from being dependent on your parents and take responsibility for yourself and your family.

More specifically, here are some helpful posts on the unique callings of husbands and wives:

Paul says that it is “better to marry than burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9). If you can’t exercise self-control, and struggle with strong desire for the opposite sex, and a longing for marriage, you should pursue marriage. Your burning passions aren’t meant to drive you to porn, they are meant to drive you toward holy marriage. Stop putting off marriage and settling for culture’s shallow substitutes for intimacy. Instead, examine your life and see how you can start preparing now, and move in that direction.

7. Are there wrong reasons to wait to get married?

Yes. Our culture in the United States is moving further and further away from God’s vision for relationships, intimacy, sex, and marriage. Every year the average age of first marriage in the United States goes up, while cohabitation during dating becomes more and more common. Pornography has become an acceptable alternative for satisfying our intimacy because the sinful tendency of our hearts is to want pleasure without commitment. With that considered, there are definitely wrong reasons to wait for marriage.

8. Will I always be single?

Maybe. Even if you desire to be married, there’s no guarantee that you ever will be. This might be because of your own personal issues, or it might not be. It might be that you are bitter and jealous, that you repel people because of your selfishness, or your laziness and lack of work ethic is unattractive. Examine yourself. Ask some close friends, and have the humility to receive what they say.

Or, it could be that you are following hard after God, submitting your life to him, growing in godliness, and God just has not led you to a suitable godly spouse yet. It might be that God is wanting to do something in you, or in your future spouse, that is a patient, long-term work that will prepare you better for marriage. Or, it could be that God has other plans for you. The key here is to ask God for wisdom, and trust that he will give it generously in his timing as you seek his will (Jas. 1:5).

9. How do I handle waiting?

Prayerfully. It is not a sin to be single and desire to be married. It’s not wrong to pray for a spouse. In fact, that’s exactly what you should do if you desire marriage. Remember though, that “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Pr. 16:9). Pray that God would lead you to a spouse, someone you want to serve and follow Jesus with for the rest of your life. Pray that God would mature you and help you grow into the kind of person who would be a godly husband or wife. Pray that God would comfort you and strengthen you in times of loneliness or temptation, and that your life as a single Christian would be a display of the sufficiency of Jesus to the world.

 

10. Can you marry the wrong person?

Tricky question. If you’re not married, you can definitely decide to get married for the wrong reasons or to the wrong person… except once you both say “I do”, they become the right person since you just made a covenant to love them for better or worse until death parts you. Once you say “I do” and enter into the covenant of marriage, then the “two become one” (Gen. 2:24Eph. 5:31Matt. 19:5) and they are now the right person for you. So again, you want to be wise with who you marry.

Marrying someone who doesn’t love Jesus or believe what the Bible teaches about marriage, just to cure your loneliness, will end up bringing misery on you. For instance, Proverbs 21:19 says it is literally better to “live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman”. And Proverbs 31:30 says that “charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”.

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