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!