I am writing a few posts on the important subject of singleness. Fellow Biblical Counselor Lorri Wenderski presented a workshop on being single at the IABC Counseling Conference this past weekend and I am using many of her comments and conclusions here. This is a very important topic for us to examine, as many people in our churches are unmarried for any number of reasons.
It has been a good many years since I was a single woman, but I have several very good friends who are single and I both listen to and observe what church life is like for them. A few do the “Singles Ministry/Group” and would agree with Lorri’s conclusion that too many of them are more of a dating service than a place where people meet to study and learn of God.
Lorri says, “Often the singles are on the periphery of church life, more on the outside looking in.” An excellent point she made is that in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and the early church the singles were not set apart, they were a vital part of serving Christ and in serving the church. Their meetings were not scheduled or organized around mini-golf or social activities, they were constantly about the business of the church and the Kingdom of God. They were also not “segregated” or relegated to some obscure part of church life as can happen today.
Paul was a single man also, and wished all men could be as he was (1 Cor 7:7) so they they could be devoted to the service of the Lord. The single people in the early church were leaders, and they were committed to following Paul and promoting the ministry of Christ. They did not allow their singleness to limit their ministry, in fact their singleness enhanced their ministry opportunities!
I have a friend who is able to go on mission trips all over the world because she is unmarried and has no dependents. She has been to China several times and is now headed to Haiti to serve those still displaced and hurting from the earthquake. She does not spend her time in frivolity and silly entertainment, every aspect of her life is focused on how she can serve and glorify God by how she lives her life.
But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (NASB)
Paul states that singleness is a gift. It enables you to focus on ministry as your first love.
Before Paul, there were women who followed Jesus and supported him and the disciples. They ministered to their needs of food and finances (Mary and Martha), and women were there at not only the crucifixion but also tended to His body after death (Matthew 27:57). Jesus esteemed these women and appeared first to them when he was risen (John 20). They were in the upper room and joined the disciples in prayer (Acts 1:14). At Pentecost they too were filled with the Holy Spirit as they were in the same room!
Singleness is not a curse and it is not a problem. Rejoice and be glad that God has called you to such a place of service. It is once again about your heart, beloved. If you view being single as a negative, ask yourself if you are being ungrateful to God. As yourself if you are currently fulfilling God’s calling on your life. Are you living right now in a way that fulfills your present calling of singleness? If not, repentance is in order and a reorganization of your heart (first) and then your life.