Singleness…A Gift Or A Curse?

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

On a blog about marriage, I believe it is fair to ask the question: “Is marriage better than singleness?” Why does this question even come to mind? Well, as a single man, myself along with many other single friends are faced (on a fairly regular basis) with questions from well-meaning friends and family such as “are you married yet?” or “Don’t worry, God’s got someone for you” or even the occasional well-meaning offer to “help” us find someone.

As well-meaning as these people are, there are subtle implications which slip into the mind of singles upon hearing such things. Many times, because of a strong emphasis on marriage (and rightfully so…to some degree), singles might begin to feel like “second class citizens” because we have not yet had the opportunity to enter the glorious covenant relationship between a man and a woman designed to give us a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

It is also very easy to get the impression as a single person that life doesn’t begin until marriage does, or that we can never be as effective in ministering to the Body of Christ as singles, as we could if we were married. As a single person, one who is desirous of marriage and family, it is easy to slip into the mindset that singleness is a curse. This then only tends to lead to discontentment.

But is this really true? Is singleness a curse?…or could it be a blessing? Should we as singles focus on finding a spouse? Or should we be focused on something else? God brought these questions to me a few weeks ago through a very familiar passage of scripture…

1 Cor 7:27 says “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.”

 

What exactly is Paul saying here? Is He saying that singles should not marry at all? No…in the next verse he says that it is no sin if a  person marries. Also, the incredible discourse which Paul gives in Ephesians 5 clearly indicates that Paul is not saying “don’t ever marry” in this passage.

So what is Paul saying? I believe what Paul is saying here is that for those of us who are single, we should not make the “goal”  of pursuing marriage what drives us in life. There are unique ways in which a single person can minister to the body of Christ, which might be more difficult for the person who has the responsibility of marriage. Here are just a few of many examples:

  • A single person can give far more financially to the church and to others in need because he or she doesn’t have the financial obligations that come with having a family.
  • A single person can devote far more time to mentoring a boy or girl who does not have responsible parents in his or her life.
  • A single person can much more easily take care of the children of a couple, to allow them to have a much-needed date night.
  • A single person does not have the time obligations of a family, and can therefore minister to others with much more spontaneity.
  • A single person can travel to any part of the country, or even the world to preach the gospel at a moment’s notice without having to think through how such a drastic move might affect their spouse and children.
  • A single person can be imprisoned, yea even martyred for Christ without having to think about leaving behind a widow/widower or leaving young children as orphans. (The Apostle Paul was a great example of this).

So is singleness really a curse? Or a gift? While marriage is a wonderful thing, and there is nothing wrong with desiring it…and looking forward to it, marriage shouldn’t be the driving force in our lives. Instead, we should be looking forward to those opportunities to minister which are made easier by not having the responsibility of a family…and allow God to lead us into the glorious institution of marriage…when HE is ready.

I understand that most of those who are reading this are probably married, so here is how this can apply to you. You can be used of the Lord to encourage singles that you know to  be content in the state in which they are in…using it as an incredible opportunity to minister in ways which the responsibilities might limit them in the future!

Comments

  1. I have seen many stumbling stones placed before single adult women by “well-meaning”, but oblivious believers who ask the very questions you mentioned in your article. One of my adult children has been negatively impacted by such as these. Contentment in the state in which we find ourselves is a biblical principal that we all need to practice so that we don’t fall prey to the “grass in greener on the other side” syndrome. May God open the eyes of all of us to exercise discernment in what we say to others so as to not place a stumbling stone before them to breed discontent.

  2. This is beautiful, thanks Chris. Although I am myself married, I remember all-too-clearly what it is like to be a single Christian!! Interestingly, I am from a Catholic background, and we recognize singledom for ‘the sake of the Kingdom’ as having the potential to be even more holy than marriage (when lived out well, of course!) because it is a reflection of things to come, as there will be “no marriage in Heaven”…interesting thought anyway!
    Love the reflection, thank you. :)

  3. Hi Louise

    You are very right. I find that if im not careful, I will fall into the grass is greener meantality in just about every area if my contentment is not Christ. This the area of singleness seems to be no exception. It must be a daily, yea hourly decision to find our contentment in the only one who can ultimately satisfy.

  4. Hey Clare,

    Thats interesting to hear how the way you grew up kind of tended to elevate singleness over marriage. The point is to elevate neither (since one state can beautifully illustrate Christ and his church, and the other has the potential to allow one to dedicate themselves more fully to serving the body), but rather to encourage contentment in whichever stage God has us in. Contentment can be a daily struggle, but Christ is the only way through which we can attain it.

  5. Beautifully said Chris!! And this contentment is something we must stride for in every area of life, not just in our relationships! We must learn to be content with our jobs, our house, our ministries, ect! Thanks for this encouragement today!!

  6. Claire Wright says:

    Hi Chris, I completely agree. In fact, I think in many ways I misunderstood the teaching, as I am now studying for an MA in Marriage and Family at a Catholic Institute, and they talk about singleness (whether temporary or permanent) in the same way as marriage, as just a different facet of the same vocation to love and display Christ’s love in the world. The point isn’t whether one is more important than the other, but that whatever vocation you find yourself called to, you must live it out to the full!
    And Louise, well said! It is so easy to look at someone else’s life and vocation and think the ‘grass is greener’. But to be truly content in your own place in life that God has called you to, that is true holiness. :)

  7. Amen, Claire. When I was in my single days, before Christ called me to Himself, having a boyfriend and getting married was my sole goal in life. I thought that when that happened I would live happily ever after – big surprise when that is not at all what happened! Too many of our young girls/ladies still buy into the Prince Charming fairytale.

  8. Seriously Speaking says:

    well for a man like me that is hoping to meet a good woman this time around after my wife of 15 years cheated on me which i was a very caring and loving husband that was very much committed to her as well, and i feel that i am very much being Cursed since i don’t consider it a Blessing being alone all over again.