Over the past few months we have been discussing marriage. We have learned that God has purposefully defined and designed marriage as a loving covenant between one man and one woman who raise their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). We have spent much time discussing marriage, but does God have a message for those who are unmarried? God has a message for the unmarried: While being single can be challenging, it provides an opportunity for undivided devotion to the Lord.
The Challenges of Being Single
God has provided marriage to be a blessing to men and women and to the entire world. While most people live a married life, all people at one time or another are unmarried and some other people remain unmarried their entire life. While a person is unmarried it is important to be aware of certain challenges that come with singleness: self-control, loneliness, and expectations.
The Challenge of Self-Control
The first challenge is the challenge of self-control and the primary area of self-control is in sexuality. God clearly states in the Bible that human sexual expression is only blessed in the confines of a marriage between one man and one woman. Being thus set forth by God Himself, all sexual expression by a single person is sinful. Therefore the challenge is for the unmarried to be completely abstinent in all forms of sexual expression. Remember that while you may not have a spouse to cheat on, you always have a Lord to sin against. Keep watch over yourself.
This is why Paul writes that for people who “cannot exercise self-control”; “it is better for them to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9). For those who remain unmarried, the answer to the challenge of self-control is to remember that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you…you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19:20).
The Challenge of Loneliness
Another challenge is the challenge of loneliness. The Bible says, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). Most married couples find their spouse to be their friend who will help them fight against loneliness, but what about someone who is single? Whether it is a holiday or just an average night of the week, a single person may struggle with loneliness and the discouragement of not having someone close to them to help them fight against loneliness.
The answer to the challenge of loneliness is to first remember that you are a child of God. With the Holy Spirit residing within you, you always have a trusted friend and helper in Jesus. It is also important to be connected to a local church where you will find loving people who can help you.
The Challenge of Expectations
Another challenge is the challenge of expectations. These expectations could come from yourself or expectations placed upon you by others. You might have had expectations of being married by a certain age and that has not happened yet. Maybe you have a parent or a friend who seeks to place on you unrealistic expectations that burdens you.
The answer to the challenge of expectations is to remember that, as a Christian, you ultimately answer to God alone and not to anyone else. God is the One who created you and gives you your identity. You are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph 2:10). God expects you to be His and “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). The only expectations that you should be concerned with are God’s.
The Blessing of Being Single
A quick recap is necessary at this point. First, marriage is good and a blessing. Second, singleness is good and a blessing. Third, the married should not belittle the single and the single should not disparage the married. While being single can be challenging (self-control, loneliness, expectations), it provides an opportunity for undivided devotion to the Lord. What this means is that the primary advantage that a single person has over a married person is that they do not have the daily responsibilities of meeting the needs of a spouse and children which allows them more time to focus on their devotion and service to the Lord.
If you are single and desire to be married, prayerfully submit that request to God and devote your life to Him in all things. If you are single and do not have inclinations to marry, consider the blessing of undivided devotion to your God and Savior Jesus Christ.