Though being single is not superior to being married (nor is being married superior to being single), singleness does contain certain advantages that marriage doesn’t have. In 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 Paul has a lengthy discussion that provides advantages of being single. This passage can be summarized by two advantages: Less Distress and Unbroken Devotion.
First, being single will contain less distress than those who are married (1 Cor. 7:25-31). Paul states, “I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is” (1 Cor. 7:26). What is the “present distress” Paul spoke of? It has been suggested that this may be a reference to a particular famine the Corinthian’s were experiencing, others see this as an anticipation for difficult events occurring before the Second Coming or to other anticipated events of distress. Others like John Calvin interpret this as the incessant harassments believers experience in the present life. Either way, the principal to be drawn from this text is that in the midst of hard times, being single will have certain advantages. However, this does not mean married people should seek to be released from their commitment to one another during tough times – they must remain (1 Cor. 7:27).
The fact that singleness carries the advantage of less distress, this of course does not imply marriage is wrong. Paul goes on to say, “But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that” (1 Cor. 7:28). Again, his point is that those who marry will carry additional pressures that a single person won’t. John MacArthur observes,
“Marriage involves conflicts, demands, hardships, sacrifices, and adjustments that singleness does not. Marriage is ordained of God, good, holy, and fulfilling; but it does not solve all problems. It brings more.”
So if you are single, you have a particular advantage in your service to the Lord that a married person doesn’t have. Because you are caring and looking after yourself, you are more able and free to serve the Lord without the distress and pressures of looking after a spouse. While you are single, make use of this providential advantage.
A second advantage of being single provides the individual with the opportunity to display unbroken devotion in their service to the Lord (1 Cor. 7:32-35). It is easier for single people to give themselves to undistracted service to the Lord because they don’t have the same responsibilities as a married person in caring for their spouse and children. You are able to assist with church events more readily than a married person. You can meet with others for prayer and study more readily than a married person can.
These two advantages don’t suggest that singles don’t experience distress and that married people can’t be devoted to the Lord’s service. The main point here is that there is a huge difference in degree. A single person will experience pressure and distress but the individual is only dealing with their own life. Whereas those that are married are dealing with two lives (and more if there are children).
If you are single, you have a unique opportunity to be free to engage and serve in activities in the Lord’s service without neglecting a spouse or children. You are able to give of your time more freely to the glory of God and the benefit of the church. Whether you are a satisfied single or a struggling single, this season is a providential opportunity for faithful service to the glory of God. Don’t waste your time asking what if questions or spending all your spare hours in immature activities that don’t profit the kingdom of God. Use your singleness to the glory of God! In my next post, we will consider the challenges of being single.