Let’s be honest. It is downright difficult to be a single adult in the world today, even more so as a single Christian. We are bombarded with images of couples around almost every corner: from movies, television shows, books, walking down the street, Facebook status changes, and even within the church. There is an unspoken yet very tangible sense that if we are not in a romantic relationship of some kind, particularly one leading towards marriage, that there is something wrong with us.
For those singles who have never been married, it is hard to stay pure of heart, mind, and body when the world around us is throwing sex and sexuality at us constantly. For those who have gone through the pain of separation or divorce, it takes time to heal and pick up the pieces, but often times well meaning friends and families pressure to “forget and move on” too soon. For those who have lost a beloved spouse to death, the pain of losing our beloved is only doubled by the emptiness, the void, the silence that we feel in every aspect of our lives.
If you are a single, no matter what your circumstances or situation, I highly recommend Dr. Jeffrey Brown’s Single & Gifted: Making the Most of Your Singleness. This well-written book is easy to read–I read the entire book in just one sitting–and written in a conversational style that is encouraging and refreshing. Dr. Brown contrasts the views of the world with the Biblical view of love, relationships, and relying on the Lord in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. The book is not preachy and touches on what really matters to singles, things that many who are married have forgotten.
As a single, never married Adventist Christian quickly approaching the age of twenty-eight*, I am grateful for the Biblical insight and encouragement I found in Single & Gifted. Over the last four years, I have been struggling with my singleness. While the majority of the time, I am fully content with how the Lord has been and is currently leading my life, there are moments when I feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness.
God has created us social beings. In Genesis 2:18, “the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”” And it is natural to long to share a close intimacy with another human being. However, marriage is not always an option and the Lord wants us to know that it is alright not to be in a one-on-one relationship with another person. It is more important to be in a one-on-one relationship with Him!
What is often annoying and/or painful for adult singles is the misunderstandings that those who are married have towards us, the unsolicited “advice” and attempts to “set us up” with someone, the all-too-often sting of the “wait on the Lord” comment as if we are not already doing so, or the implication that something is wrong with us for not yet finding a mate. Quite a bit of the salt on our wounds come from family, married friends, and even the church. For example, there are a plethora of sermons addressing married couples and families with children as well as activities and ministries geared towards families.
Many singles find ourselves overlooked within our local congregations or placed in awkward situations in which the conversations around us are solely focused on issues pertaining to married life and/or families with children… areas many singles may not be able to or inclined to participate in, depending on our individual circumstances and reasons for being single. These and other little things, most of the time done unintentionally, perpetuate misconceptions surrounding singleness that imply that singles are immature, incomplete, and/or flawed human beings.
The book touches on these misunderstandings and says there is a great need to move beyond the seven common myths regarding singleness.
- Singles are immature. As if marriage and having children somehow magically transforms an individual into a “mature” adult, which we all know is not the case.
- Singles are incomplete. There is a misconception in society that being married is normal and being single is… abnormal.
- Singles are unstable. This myth implies that singles are restless and makes it difficult for singles to be taken seriously at work, in society, and even within the church.
- Singles are damaged. If someone never marries, is divorced/separated, or widowed and does not remarry, we wonder what is wrong with them.
- Singles are dangerous. Married couples may find singles a threat to their relationship and exclude singles from social gatherings.
- Singles are inconsequential. Without knowing the statistics of singles, many assume it is an insignificant amount who are single so singles don’t matter.
- Singles are unacceptable. Being single and over the age of 25 has come to be viewed as unacceptable.
According to the Scriptures, there is nothing wrong with being single. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, the apostle Paul addresses the very issue of singleness verses marriage.
I want you to be free from the cares of this world. The man who is not married can spend his time working for the Lord and pleasing Him. The man who is married cares for the things of the world. He wants to please his wife. Married women and women who have never been married are different. The woman who has never been married can spend her time working for the Lord. She wants to please the Lord with her body and spirit. The woman who is married cares for the things of the world. She wants to please her husband. I am saying these things to help you. I am not trying to keep you from getting married. I want you to do what is best. You should work for Him without other things taking your time.
—New Life Version
Basically, as Dr. Brown puts it, “Ultimately, the Bible is saying whether we are single or married, each one of us must be singleminded! We must not lose sight of our purpose for being.” Our purpose is to do the Lord’s work, because time is short. In this regard, being single can be a blessing in that a single person can more readily apply themselves to the work of the Lord than those who are married. Therefore, we should not allow misconceptions, insensitive words, and the attitudes of others make us feel as if something is wrong with us. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being single.
And those of us who are single know the pain and trials that exist. Being a single Christian in the world today, which applauds sexual promiscuity, is extremely difficult with many temptations and snares. It is more than just staying pure of body through abstinence. Dirty jokes at work, innuendos on television shows, sex scenes in movies, sensual advertisements, sex headlines in the tabloids at the grocery store cash registers, sexual violence reported on the news… it is literally everywhere.
How does a single Christian stay pure of heart and mind? And what does a single Christian do with the feelings of loneliness, longing, and even sexual desires? For singles, especially as we progress to our late twenties, thirties, and beyond, this is not just a challenge. This is a war that we fight every day of our lives, a war we will have victory over only through the power of the Lord. We can take comfort from knowing “…He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5) and strength in the promise of Exodus 14:14, “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace”.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Our confidence in You is strong and firm. We are thankful that our situation is no mystery to You. Calm our spirits with that thought. Show us how we can not only accept our single state, but flourish in it. There are unique difficulties we live with – misunderstanding, times of intense loneliness, distinct feelings of rejection, and very real temptations most people can’t possibly imagine.
But we are confident You will use even these troubles to mature our walk. We do so desire to glorify Your name and to minister to others in an authentic and meaningful manner. Encourage us by opening doors of opportunity, then make us sensitive to You and bold in faith as we step through those doors to serve others who need what we can provide.
In the strong name of Christ. Amen.
Charles Swindoll, Singleness
To anyone who may be struggling with being single, I highly recommend Single & Gifted. This book covers how to survive as a single and turn singleness to your advantage; hope for those desperately seeking someone; how to cope with being alone; coping with marital separation; a guide through relationships; sex and the single person; differentiating love and infatuation; surviving as a single person; and coping with the grief of the death of a spouse.
At the time this article was written, I was approaching my late twenties, single, and never dated. After putting my singleness in the Lord’s hands and gradually learning to be content even if it was His will that I should be single forever, He led me to the other side of the country where I met a wonderful man who is now my husband. Isaiah 26:3 says: “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
When we place our trust completely in the Lord and allow Him to guide our lives, He will bless beyond what we dream possible. For some, the Lord may be saying: “Soon but not yet. As hard as it is, please be patient a little longer.” For others, He may be saying: “I have greater things in store for you, my Child.” Whatever His plan for your life, know that you can always trust the Lord to guide you.