Better Put a Ring On It! — Being Single Shouldn’t Just Be A Phase, It Should Be Where We Learn To Love God First

Posted: June 25, 2015 in 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 7:1-40 — The single life. It is often idealized. It is often ridiculed. It seems to be a fleeting place. We have been talking the past few days about marriage (sexual relations in marriage as marriage is biblically defined, and marriage between a believer and a non-believer). Now, today, we talk about being a single, unmarried Christ follower. In our culture, single life in some ways is idealized where you are free to do whatever you want, whenever you want, sleep with whomever you want. In some ways, it is ridiculed because singleness is considered a phase that we go through and not an end to itself. Those who are single are often seen as people who are unwilling to make a commitment, unwilling to grow up and settle down, people that screwed up their marriage in the past, people who got screwed over in their marriage. Singleness is seen in general as a waiting period rather than a permanent state of being. It is the road to the destination of marriage. If a person is single, does that make them more useful or less useful to the kingdom of God? If a person is single should they see themselves simply in transition to marriage (either into marriage for the first time or a transition from one marriage to their next and hopefully final one)?

When I think of people who cannot stand being single and just seem to get married to end loneliness instead of allowing God to bring them the person they are intended to be with, I think of missed blessings. There are so many people out there, including me in my past, who define themselves by the fact of whether they are in a relationship or not. That was me until I was in my early 40s when my second marriage fell apart. When my first marriage ended after 12 years, I jumped right into my second long term relationship which involved living together for a year and then being married for 9 more years after that. I was not until I was in my early 40s that I was truly single, truly alone. I did not react to it well. I thought I had to be in a relationship at all times. I defined myself by whether I was having sex or not. Access to sex was the defining rule of my life. It took those six years of singlehood to make me realize that relationships do not define me, sexual relations do not define me. It is God who defines me. It was not until I met Elena that I learned that a relationship can be more about friendship than sex. My other relationship were about putting up with or accepting things just so I could have sex. With Elena, I finally found someone who, as my mother told me many years ago, that I could be best friends with outside the bedroom as much as we were inside the bedroom. The point that I am trying to make through this self-revelation is that being single is not necessarily a curse. It is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, it can be lonely. Many people naively think that marriage will solve all their problems. Marriage will note solve loneliness. It will not solve self-esteem. It will not solve sexual temptation. It will not solve our deepest soul needs. It will not give you personal value. Marriage itself does not hold the magic elixir. Marriage only works when you have two people that are self-aware and are confident in their value in God. Marriage can be good then, really good. When we come at marriage from a standpoint of seeing that we are fully valued by God in our ownselves, we do not overburden the marriage to be the answer to all our problems.

Singleness can be so amazing in this way. It can such a time of spiritual growth. It can be a time of selectivity. It can be a time where we realize that the world will not explode because we are not in a relationship. It can give us confidence in ourselves and who we are in Christ. In some couples, you sometimes wonder if the man or woman’s faith is dependent on the faith of the spouse (i.e., they do not have a full fledged faith of their own). During singlehood, we can learn that our faith is our own. We can learn that we are individually beautifully and wonderfully made. Being single can often times mature our faith in Jesus Christ because He is our relationship. Being single is not a bad thing for us in maturing our faith. It can teach us things about ourselves that we need to work on before we marry or marry again. It can be that crucible time of our lives where our impurities are revealed to us by God and then burned away through the work of the Holy Spirit. If you are single, celebrate where you are. Don’t waste the time you are single. Use it to allow God to mold you into the spiritual warrior that He wants you to be.

We must also realize that when we are single God may have us right where He wants us. Sometimes, like I said above, it can be a time of self-examination and self-revelation but it can also be for a wider kingdom purpose. In singleness, we cannot be so concerned about getting married again that we miss the ministry opportunities that are before us. God may have us remaining single for specific ministry purpose. Let us be aware that God may have us right where He wants us when we are single. Because God has placed you in singleness, let us take advantage of every opportunity to serve Him while we are there. God may have you single so you want miss opportunities to become a missionary in a foreign land which would be way more difficult if you were married. God may have you single so that you will not miss the opportunity to go into full time ministry. These things can happen in married life but it requires the two people in the marriage to be called together. There is no such thing as a preacher being not to full time ministry without his wife being called also. So, if you are single, the decision process to follow God’s call is a lot simpler. You have the freedom to follow God wherever He leads you. This may be why he has you in this place in this moment in time. Marriage, home, security is not the ultimate goals of life. The American Dream is not the ultimate goal in life. Serving the Lord is our primary reason for being. Marriage is God ordained yes but it is a cherry on the sundae not our reason for being. When we are single, we have an amazing opportunity to define the future rules of our life. When others succumb to the need to be with someone for being with someone’s sake, they then begin to fill their lives with things and people that will prevent them from doing God’s will for their lives. When we are single, we can say that I am going to pay off all my debts, I am going to live modestly, so that I can follow God’s call on my life and be available for whatever He has in store for me. Then along the way, if I find a spouse who is of like mind then God will put them in my path. Anything less is a waste of time and a delay. We are called to love God first. If we don’t get that right when we are single, we may never find the relationship in our spouse that God intended for us.

Singleness does not mean we are less useful to God. It can be a time of greater usefulness than when we are married. Don’t see your singleness as wasted time. See it as God’s time to work you and mold you into His mighty warrior. See as the time to love Him first. See it as time to arrange your life so that you can follow His call first. It is funny that when we put Him first, He inevitably will bring you the spouse that you need to move forward together in serving Him. If more of us used our singleness as our time and opportunity to love God first, to serve Him first, then maybe just maybe there would be more Christ centered marriages that go the distance.

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