(Warning: This post might seem tongue in cheek or angry in certain cases, but let it go, don’t take it seriously, but at best, take the points I make as something to actually consider. It so happens this post is a single’s look at a married look, at singleness. Too often I hear these myths and being treated like I’m part of some pack that isn’t important (although some would deny this), till I get a kid or a ring on my finger, and it’s getting very old. I know that I do have desires: to give myself to another, to have sex, to share life with someone, raise a family, but that doesn’t make me less or more than a married person. The point being: regardless of marital status, dear readers, what we do with our life, and how we treat others of a different marital status reveals how we view them, and our view of ourselves.)
Singleness can be a hearsay, a burden for some, an opportunity for others. As a Christian single, male and about to turn 36 this year, (yahoo), there seems to be misconceptions about singleness from the married folk, alas, those who’ve been married, and not limited to, since their 20’s, so I keep running across. Why a person gets married early is their own choice, but for Pete’s sake, don’t tell singles who are single longer than you were that marriage isn’t something to rush into. After all, you’re the one who got married early. Not unless you’re trying to teach us something 😉 And if we’re single into our 30’s or 40’s, you should say how blessed you were, and in our since, blessed as we are. NO more comparison, please.
In the church there’s not much going on for singles, the social structure is terrible anyway, especially in the metro areas or small towns. Let’s throw this out here:
If marriage is a symbol of Christ and the Church, why doesn’t the Church offer some better guidance to singles and involve them in the church to meet other singles, maybe not necessarily for marriage, but for community? If marriage is suppose to be this sacred bond, why is there no teachings to guide us into this bond? If singleness is better, than why don’t you teach and offer something to those who are divorced, or a widow/widower, in helping us grow as Christians? If someone wants to argue this in saying, “Well you should be involved more,” etc, etc. I ask you, Why then is the church open more to children, old people, and married people and not understanding of singles, who are, as you say, in a better position? If we’re in a “better position” then why don’t you listen to our opinion more often? Why do you point and say that since we’re single, stay single? I ask you, from that very chapter, since you’re married, do you act as if you weren’t? (1 Corinthians 7:29) Alright, enough of this, time to move on.
So why does it seem as if we’re left out? Well, from my experience, it’s automatically assumed, without words, because we don’t have families, we are not equipped to do some type of ministry in the church. (Although there’s some that can be done, married people are looked to first. If you want to disprove this, please, do so.) After all, if someone can take care of their own family, than they can do ministry in the church and help take care of the family of God. (Although this is a verse about eldership, it is ingrained into our beliefs that transfers to other church positions.) So to kick this off, let’s look at an article provided by a Christian counseling website that talks about the myths of singleness and see how actually, they’re not true, but based off some married peoples’ conception of singleness. I guarantee, you’ll find these “myths” written by many married people about singleness. And I have read these “Myths and truths” before. I won’t mention the site (and I do respect the counselor in charge); they do offer very good help for those who need it, yet it is difficult when I read these “myths” almost everywhere. So here’s the first one:
“Myth: ‘God’s best is marriage. Singleness is second best.’
Truth: According to Scripture, singleness is referred to as the preferred state that allows undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:8,11)”
That’s the myth and that’s their truth. Now I’ll mention the truth from the “single perspective” from my years as a single and study of Scripture. (If anyone ever wants to say more than this, please do so!)
The Single Truth: Our life in Christ is best, regardless of marital status, and the verses mentioned, was written during a time the church in Corinth was having some trouble, and Paul was telling them what can be beneficial for them. During that time, the church was closer as a family then today’s church, and adamantly believed that the end of the world was coming soon. Couldn’t this account for the reason why Paul wrote as he did to the church, more so, in this letter?
Let’s look at these verses and understand their context, please. One thing I’ve found is that when dealing with singleness and marriage, is that the married people love to tell the singles how to be single, and these verses are often used. Anyway, here’s are the verses in their full context (I will also bring other verses from this chapter that question what singles are being taught about their singleness).
1 Corinthians 7:7-11: “I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows, I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.”
Whew! Did you get all that? We finally have the verses that are often left out. See how dangerous it is to only pick the verses to back up what one wants to teach? Always question! Believe me, it saves peace of mind. Gotta move on here due to length, but as I said, here’s the other verses which can cause some good questions to surface, and hopefully encourage single Christians that they’re not doomed, and their hope for anything is in Christ, regardless if we stay single or get married: 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, 25-28, 29-35, 36-40. [concerning verse 28, all Paul wanted to do was spare the unmarried from facing many troubles, but it was still up to the person if they wanted to marry or not. Don’t let anyone judge you if you choose to marry or stay single, even yourself. It seems people are double minded about this chapter, and it can get discouraging. I’ve been there and still at times get discouraged, but it isn’t about what others are telling us, it is what we have decided in our hearts and minds, and it is best to keep that privately with God. Remember that as you finish reading this chapter, what have you settled in your own mind? What do you truly want? Not what someone wants or what others say Paul is writing in this letter. Remember, some of this letter is written by a guy who is trying to help these people during this rough time, and he’s encouraging them to be free from too many worries. But overall it’s basically what we decide and have set in our hearts. This is coming from a single, and on occasion you’ll hear a married person say these things, but not really.])
“Myth: ‘All you need is a mate.’
Truth: The Lord will be your mate if you’re earthly mate chooses to leave. (Hosea 2:19-20”: ‘I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.’)”
The Single Truth: Alright, so there’s the verse. Hosea was a prophet and his message to Israel from God was to come back, like an unfaithful wife, (Hosea’s wife was a prostitute at first, and even after marriage); Hosea married her and their marriage was a representative of God and Israel. Basically God was saying to Israel to come back to him because he loved Israel and that he wanted them to know him and love him as he loved them. So to use this verse in such a manner is taking it out of context. As we know through Christ we have access to God and become like Christ throughout life and into the next one. So if a mate does or has left us, God is there, yes, but there will also be the pain of rejection that will slowly be healed over time, if we want to be healed. We do have a faithful God who loves us and he knows us better then another human being, let alone ourselves. So in this context this verse is correct, but to use it for a single who’s been left out in the cold, is rather… cold. There are more appropriate encouragements. Being realistic, we can’t touch God’s body, or feel his hand on our face at night. We can believe we do though.
So is all we need is a mate? Of course not. There’s plenty of happy content singles out there, in their own ways, but if we are struggling with that desire for a mate, or not struggling with that desire yet have that desire, as believers we are told our priorities in Scripture: seek first God’s kingdom…
“Myth: ‘After your mate dies, you are left incomplete and unfulfilled.’
Truth: As a Christian, you are given complete fullness in Christ even before your marriage. (Colossians 2:9-10”: ‘For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ who is the head over every power and authority.’)
The Single Truth: First off, when a mate dies there will be a feeling of incompleteness and being unfulfilled. I’m not going to lie about that. Ask anyone who’s mate has died. But as Christians our faith can help us through this very difficult time. To deny when one has left the other, can harm us and it denies the love and years we had with that spouse. As Christians, this verse isn’t just about death and marriage, it encompasses our whole life, not before and after marriage, but even includes marriage, and as singles, it includes our singleness, even that loneliness and ache we have on occasion.
“Myth: ‘Since God uses the family to build character, you will never become mature if you remain unmarried.
Truth: Your marital state does not determine maturity. When you become a believer, God took the responsibility to bring you to maturity. (Philippians 1:3, 5-6”: ‘I thank my God every time I remember you… because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’.)
The Single Truth: This can hit home. If being single is the best state, than why don’t we see singles included more in churches, or the church board, or leadership some place? These positions have to do with what? That’s right, maturity. I’m sure we all know that family does not equate maturity. If this is so, than why do those who are immature have a family? This is pretty much a given. And those who are singles can be mature because their focus is what they need to be doing, even while knowing an emptiness. Acknowledging emptiness and continuing on, finding ways to grow with that even when the frustration hits, and even falling down, and GETTING BACK UP, includes being mature.
So what equates maturity? Focusing on the right thing, forgiving ourselves when we stumble and make mistakes, and getting back up, and admitting we have problems, and even admitting that at times we do get lonely as singles, but so do the married folk. Guess what that is called? Life… Let’s deal with that…