I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a life without being married…and having a family. The expectations growing up were that I would go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, have babies (although I don’t think my parents specifically stated that the married and babies part had to happen), get old, retire, die…or something like that. As a result, I believe I have a misguided perception that everyone else wants the same thing. My apologies…I really mean no harm.
Interestingly enough though, 44% of all US residents 18+ years old are single (I’m not sure if that includes divorce or not). In particular, I live in an area that has been labeled one of the top cities for being single. Furthermore, the number of dating websites has gone through the roof. With all that said, there might be a lot of singles out there, but we’re all trying to match them up so they can join the “married” club…and I’m not sure that it’s right or necessary. In this week’s message at my church, we talked about the benefits of remaining single (if we feel called to remain single) as well as the qualities we should be looking for in a mate (should we feel called to marry). If you are single, I encourage you to listen to the entire message – click HERE.
1 Corinthians 7:8, Paul writes, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried.“
Paul also writes that it better to marry than to burn from passion, but if we stay on this notion of remaining unmarried…what are the benefits of remaining single?
1. Less Stress
1 Corinthians 7:26-28 says, “Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”
The crisis he references is a time when Christians were being persecuted. It was thought that you’d be in a better position to deal with these types of persecutions alone than to also worry about a wife and children. We don’t necessarily have the same types of persecutions to deal with today, but the theme of the message still holds true. There’s also something much worse than being single…being married to the wrong person – the later would be much more stressful!
2. Less Distractions and Conflict
1 Corinthians 7:32-35 says, “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs —how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.“
Singles should be asking themselves if they are single because God has a unique plan for them that will require them to be single. Paul suggests that if you are single, that you may live a life with undivided attention to the Lord…assuming you aren’t out partying or looking for a partner (which I think does create distractions and conflict). My husband will openly tell you that prior to meeting me, he was single for two years of his life…and rather content with what he thought was God’s plan for him. Then I came into the picture and he obviously felt as though God was leading him in a different direction.
More times than not though, at least amongst my single friends, “we” are all looking to find the “love of our life.” When I wrote that, I had to laugh because I remember being single and being rather impatient about finding love. However, if we’re supposed to find “love,” we’ve got to sit back and wait because God is never in a hurry (his timing not ours, right?). In fact, there’s a couple of myths that need to be dispelled:
- Myth #1: God chooses a mate for us. Yeah…not so much. God doesn’t really care who we marry.
- Myth #2: God has designed one perfect person for us. Just imagine if this were true…you accidentally marry the WRONG person, and you screw up the entire universe. Geesh, wouldn’t that be a disaster!
Now that that’s out of the way…and assuming that you still want to get married (remembering of course that it’s perfectly okay to remain single), what should you be looking for?
A. Spiritual Compatibility
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?“
Theoretically, this one makes sense – if you can’t connect on a spiritual level, how do you find common ground long term? Granted, plenty of people go against this one…but refer back to the first item under remaining single…it’s less stressful if there is spiritual compatibility. For those that are dating an unbeliever or non-believer…we call this missionary dating because the believer tries to change their partner’s mind about faith. It doesn’t always work out, but you knew that already.
B. Similar Plan and Purpose for Life
Amos 3:3 says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” I think this is sometimes why you can be out with your significant other….see a man and woman together, and wonder “how did he end up with her?” Don’t lie – you know you’ve done it. I think the only reasonable explanation is that the two had similar plans and purpose for their lives (okay, so I’m sure there’s another explanation, but just go with it for the sake of argument).
It’s why those conversations about where you live, what you do for a living, where you see yourself in 10 years, etc. type of conversations are so important before you walk down the aisle. I’m sure that the “lion could lay with the lamb,” but this is the exception not the rule. Your values and God’s calling for you have to be aligned or at least overlap. Otherwise, I go back to the first benefit of remaining single…less stress. If left unresolved, you can expect regret, resentment and anger towards your partner. Nobody wants that.
C. Personal Compatibility
Dating websites eat this one up and will often ask a gazillion questions such as:
- What type of family dynamic did you grow up with?
- Do you want children? If so, how many?
- What is your highest level of education?
- What are your hobbies?
- Where do you enjoy spending vacations?
- Sexual preference/sex drive?
With all of that said, if you’re single…REJOICE (this is his plan for you…right now), REVERSE (reverse the energy you’re spending on finding a mat and reconnect with God) and RELAX (if God does lead you into marriage…great, but be content with life right now).