The Gift of Being Single

Alone. Who wants to be alone? Remain alone? Be alone for the rest of your life?  Even the thought of remaining single can cause us to become anxious. A feeling of panic may arise: “I don’t want to remain alone. I want a husband, a wife, a family.” In despair, many choose to marry someone who doesn’t serve God. Some are even willing to give up their own faith just to be married. The important thing is just to have a spouse. What a heavy price to pay! Is this kind of thinking correct? Is a life without a spouse or family worthless? Can I only be truly happy if I have my own family? But God wants us to be married, doesn’t He? Didn’t God, at the beginning of the Bible, say that it is not good for man to be alone? Does this mean that being single is second best?

Unfortunately, many have this attitude. Many singles struggle with the idea of not being married, or go through an identity crisis: “Why am I even here? What purpose does my life have without a spouse and children?” Some isolate themselves. Perhaps their best friends are all married, and they are the only ones who are still single. They may feel rejected and have low self-esteem. Anxious thoughts arise: “I will grow old alone and die alone. I miss out on so much in life because I have no one to share it with.” Bitterness sets in. Even in church, everything seems to revolve around marriages, families, and children. Other peoples’ expectations and assumptions are also difficult to deal with; the pressure is intense. Parents, wanting grandchildren, think that being married is the only way to happiness and keep dropping hints. Well-meaning friends think they need to set you up with someone. Then we also put pressure on ourselves because we would like to have our own children.

Why is God punishing me? What did I do to deserve this fate?

Is being single a punishment from God? The Bible refutes this idea. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:8, “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am.” Paul was also single and knew what it all entailed. In 1 Corinthians 7:35, Paul talks about the advantage of being single: “that you may serve the Lord without distraction.” According to Paul, being single has its advantages because it allows us to serve God wholeheartedly without distractions. Paul felt that this was the path for him, and he embraced being single without reservations. 

Paul did not have an identity crisis. He knew he was an instrument in God’s hands and wanted to live for His glory. His mission was to proclaim the gospel, lead others to Christ, and strengthen the believers. He was not lonely. He had friends, travel companions, and many spiritual brothers and sisters. He had no fear that his life was without purpose. Every day in the service of the Lord was a reward. His heart was free from bitterness. He had a deep assurance that God knew exactly what was best for him.

Spurgeon once said: “If there was any situation that would be better for you than the one you are in, then God’s love would have already placed you in it.”

Of course, it is important for God to give you clarity for your path. Yes, it may take many prayers, struggles, and tears. But if God has determined this path for you, perhaps only temporarily, then He can help you to gratefully accept it. If God wants you to take this path, it can only mean that He wants to use you for specific tasks. You have very different options than a married woman with children or a husband who has obligations to his family. What is your role? You have the freedom to spontaneously visit brothers and sisters or the freedom to take on a particularly time-intensive task in the community, to be absorbed and find fulfillment in it. Have you ever thought about what the Lord expects from you? Or do you think you need to throw yourself into your job or pursue a career?  Or to take every opportunity to travel to somehow make up for your “loss?”

When I thought about singlehood in this way, I came across some words that I had never consciously noticed before. It says in 1 Corinthians 7:7, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.” Is being single a punishment from God? This verse says the opposite. Both marriage and being single are a gift, a special gift from God. You may be thinking, “Marriage – yes, that’s really a gift from God! It would be so easy for me to say that.” Don’t speak too hastily. Don’t you know of marriages where the spouses are at odds with each other or where neither have time for the cause of God? Do you know what your life would be like if you were married? In contrast, you may know singles who are real role models, committed to God’s work. If you need someone, they are there! You can always count on them.

If both happen in the Lord, marriage and being single are a gift of grace. The question is: How do we use this gift? Ultimately, we all live before our God and are accountable to Him. Life on earth passes so quickly. Marriage is also temporal (see Matthew 22:30). Both will stand before their Creator, the married and the single person. There will be no more differences.

Jesus says in Matthew 19:11-12, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”  Jesus states this! Can being single still be considered a second-class condition? Certainly not! Being single can be the better path because one gives oneself completely to the work in God’s heavenly kingdom. This attitude ennobles the state of singleness and makes it something very valuable.

Paul is quite right when he writes in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please Him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible” (NLT). 

God wants to use you to build His church. Do not withdraw! That is not what Christ wants. God wants to use you to serve, to encourage, and to seek to help others. Give your future to God, and He will meet your innermost needs. Give Him your feelings and thoughts, your will and your expectations. Learn to be grateful and content in your Lord.

Do not tell yourself that you are worthless. You are valuable in God’s eyes. He loves you. Give God the right to control your life.

Markus Schmelzle

Pforzheim, Germany

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