As an unmarried person, you have distinct opportunities to grow in your faith and to make a substantial contribution to the kingdom. In fact, the season you’re in has the potential to be the most formative period of your life. How can you best honor God in this time?
Many Christians wonder if they should move toward marriage or embrace the kind of single life the apostle Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 7. In order to evaluate your situation, ask yourself two questions.
QUESTION ONE: Have I Been Stalled?
Popular American culture tends to discourage marriage; implying people can live a more exciting, fulfilling life by remaining unmarried. Even Christians with the best intentions often drift into a single lifestyle marked by recreational relationships, hyper individualism, consumption and leisure. Following this cultural path, it’s no surprise some Christian singles find their lives stalling out to loneliness, a series of broken relationships and a general lack of purpose. Those who find themselves in this cycle need to pause and reflect on how to become intentional rather than passive with regard to the single life.
QUESTION TWO: To What am I Called?
In the scriptures God calls adults to follow one of two callings—either a path to Biblical marriage or a life of celibate service (Genesis 2, 1 Corinthians 7). The best way to honor God in your singleness is to be intentionally set apart for His purposes, recognizing that His call to both marriage and singleness is much different from the popular single culture because it includes a commitment to absolute purity, active engagement in Christian community, and faithful stewardship of your talents and resources. It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s worthwhile. God’s ultimate desire for each of us is freedom in Him through His Son. If we look to anything other than Christ to satisfy us—whether single or married—we end up in the same place… unsatisfied and enslaved to sin. Placing our identity in Christ takes effort and energy—an intentional lifestyle. We must lay everything at His feet… how we spend our time, where we are searching for fulfillment, whether our relationships are God-centered and God-honoring, and what our ‘next step’ is in order to walk with Jesus more closely. Singles who cultivate such qualities find it easier to discern if God is calling them to biblical marriage or celibate service.
Dr. Al Mohler of Southern Seminary explains that celibacy means sacrificing the companionship of marriage, the pleasures of sex and the blessing of children for your entire life without being bitter about it. In that context, serving God in celibacy makes full engagement in the body of Christ—giving and receiving fellowship – vitally important. It is not a “consolation prize” for those who haven’t yet found a spouse – but a purposeful life devoted to serving others as worship and “being Jesus” to others.
Marriage and Family
Singles who don’t feel called to celibacy should pursue a Biblical marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33) with hopeful preparation. While one may not know how and when they will marry, they can become intentional about eliminating roadblocks. They can remain faithful in purity, stewardship, and community. They can also take initiative and pray purposefully for a good marriage despite living in a culture that dishonors marriage. For men it means moving beyond passivity and taking the initiative to “leave and cleave” (Genesis 2:24) and to “find” a wife (Proverbs 18:22). For women, it means preparing for marriage in prudence (Proverbs 19:14), in purity (Ephesians 5:1-5), in community (Titus 2:3-5 and Ephesians 4:11-16), and in prayerfulness (Matthew 7:7-9 and Matthew 21:21-22).
Whatever the circumstances of your life, you will only find purpose and fulfillment in Jesus Christ. As you break away from a self-centered culture that often leads to stalled lifestyles, freedom is waiting for you. Honor God in the way that you live now, in hopeful pursuit of either celibate service or a God-honoring marriage. So ask God to begin making the answers clear: To what am I called? Am I finding my identity and freedom in Christ? Or am I trying to find it elsewhere?
Recommended Books -Available from the Faith @ Home Center
Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen (by Candice Watters) makes the case that a biblical marriage is an honorable pursuit; one that women can help nurture along. Her book helps women see how they can “live like they are planning to marry.”
A Guy’s Guide to Marrying Well – Boundless.org has put together a short, practical guide for men to help them become proactive about whether, how and who to marry. (Available as a free download at www.boundless.org/guys)
You and Me Forever: Marriage In Light of Eternity (By Francis & Lisa Chan) In the same way that Crazy Love changed the way we see our personal relationship with God, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity A book meant to “radically shift the way we see one of our most important earthly relationships: marriage.” Whether you are single, dating, or married, this book will help you discover the adventure that you were made for and learn how to thrive in it.
MarryWell.org is a relationship service that goes beyond providing a list of matches through coaching resources for those serious about pursuing a Christian marriage.
Boundless.org webzine offers young adults encouragement to live abundantly as singles while seeking God’s best in either celibacy or marriage.
Going Further – Church Support
Life Groups: Authentic Christian community and mentoring is available through Riverview’s Life Group ministry. Contact our Life Groups pastor Michael Beene at [email protected] for more info.
Pastoral Counseling: Pastors are available to counsel those who would like more Godly wisdom on this issue. Please call the church office for more info: 573-348-3515