Sure, being single has it advantages, but it also has it challenges. Those that aren’t single can tend to think that because people are not married they are carefree and don’t have a worry in the world. It certainly is true that singles don’t have the same responsibilities or concerns as married people, but there are unique challenges for those who are single. I believe we all need to be sensitive to this and provide support and prayer for those who are single.
What are the challenges of being single? I think there could be many answers to this practical question, but I will confine myself to two broad challenges that cover many issues.
Firstly, there is the temptation of sexual desire (1 Cor. 7:2, 9). Sexual temptation is not limited to those who are single, but the temptation singles face is particular to their situation. Sexual desire is natural; however it is God’s will that it take place in the confines of marriage as defined and regulated by God’s Word (Gen. 2:24; Heb. 13:4). Let’s be frank, sex is a gift from God. But sex occurs outside of the marriage between one man and one woman it is sin (sexual immorality). Now all singles (satisfied and struggling) will face the temptation of sexual desire. However, if this temptation becomes too much it is clear that the individual is not gifted to remain single and they should prepare to marry. Here is what Paul said on this matter,
“Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:1-2).
A few verses later Paul again commends the state of being single (1 Cor. 7:8), however, he is quick to say, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9). Paul is not saying that marriage is to be viewed simply as an outlet for sexual passion – it is far more than that. Marriage is an arena for procreation (Gen. 1:28), pleasure (Proverbs 5:18-19), partnership (Gen. 2:18) and productivity (Gen. 1:28). What Paul is saying in this text is that if you are not gifted to be single you should marry. The sexual desires you have are to be fulfilled within the confines of marriage. This does not mean that Christian singles should marry the next available person they find! Discernment and biblical principles need to be applied (more on the criteria of finding a future spouse in a forthcoming post). Furthermore, struggling singles must also deal with their desires biblically (1 Thess. 4:3). Sin is never to be excused because of one’s state. This means you are to be pure in thought and deed.
Secondly, there is the issue of feeling lonely. A married couple has each other to support, encourage, build up, care for and protect. When you are single, it is just you. The reality is, at times being single can be a very lonely experience. For some singles, loneliness is not too much of an issue and they are quite content in not joining their lives with another individual in marriage. If you are single and content in not getting married, don’t allow this to become an excuse to become a hermit and neglect fellowship with God’s people. On the other hand, if you are feeling lonely, make sure you surround yourself with the people of God. One of the gifts that God gives to His people is that He has made them a part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). You are not the only believer! This is why it is important to be part of a local church that is committed to the Word of God and loves the fellowship of God’s people (Acts 2:42). But when you are alone, understand that God knows your struggle (Psalm 139:1-6; 1 John 3:20). Look to Him and seek His comfort knowing that He loves you (1 John 4:10), is with you (Matt. 28:20) and has you on the appointed pathway for His purpose and your final good (Rom. 8:28).
Knowing then that being single has certain challenges, if you are considering the option of remaining single, it is important that you discern if this is indeed God’s calling on your life. Remaining single is a gift from God (1 Cor. 7:7-9) and though it is a valid state it is not the norm. It is the clear teaching of Scripture that if you are not gifted in this area then you ought to marry (1 Cor. 7:2, 9). In the next two posts, I will look at how both satisfied and struggling singles should be living their lives now. Also, the issue of desiring to marry (even though there may not be any options) will also be addressed.