There are Worse Things Than Being Single!

On July 27 of this year, John Stott became one of those “just men made perfect” when the Lord took his soul to be with Him, leaving only his physical body resting in the grave until that day in which he will be “raised up in glory,” “openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment,” and “made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.” Shortly after his death, Christianity Today posted an article by Al Hsu discussing Stott’s choice to live his entire life on earth as a bachelor. I thought the article was significant because it reminded us that both marriage and singleness are good. The following two paragraphs summarize the article well:

We must never exalt singleness (as some early church fathers did, notably Tertullian) as if it were a higher and holier vocation than marriage. We must reject the ascetic tradition which disparages sex as legalized lust, and marriage as legalized fornication. No, no. Sex is the good gift of a good Creator, and marriage is his own institution.

If marriage is good, singleness is also good. It’s an example of the balance of Scripture that, although Genesis 2:18 indicates that it is good to marry, 1 Corinthians 7:1 (in answer to a question posed by the Corinthians) says that “it is good for a man not to marry.” So both the married and the single states are “good”; neither is in itself better or worse than the other.

There was a time in history when singleness was exalted as a “higher plane” of living the Christian life. If one was truly to be holy, it was thought that it could only be accomplished in a monastery, nunnery, or in a life of singleness as a parish priest. The Reformation, however, reminded us that the Bible teaches that marriage is good, sex is a marvelous gift to be shared between a husband and wife, and that the Christian home was an ideal place to pass on the truth of the Gospel to the next generation.

However, today there are some who have fallen into the opposite error. Although it may not be directly stated, there are those who strongly imply that to fulfill God’s plan on the earth one must be married, and have a house full of children (although there is absolutely nothing wrong with a house full of children since they are a blessing from the Lord, and I freely admit that I appreciate the four children that have been entrusted to my care). I still remember visiting a particular church (which will remain nameless) and after introducing my wife and my two youngest children to one of the elders at the door, he asked somewhat condescendingly, “Is that all?” (I must admit that at that moment I was very aware of the remaining sin in my life as I related to this man who seemed to have the inside knowledge on how many children should reside in my home.)

After being a shepherd of God’s people for 30 years, and spending many hours counseling hurting people, I sometimes want to shout from the housetops, “There are worse things than being single!” I have seen far too many people who are so desirous of being married that they “settle,” instead of “choosing” their marriage partner.

God gives great freedom to His people when it comes to choosing a marriage partner. The Bible makes no mention of race concerns, age concerns, social status concerns, or citizenship concerns. He speaks of only a few things that are mandatory when a Christian considers marriage:

(1) Christian marriage is to be between a man and a woman. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) I am not here to argue…I can only state what God said.

(2) Christian marriage is to be between people who are Biblically single. “And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’” (Mark 10:11-1) “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)

(3) Christian marriage is to be between two Christians. “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39)

If you are a Christian single, and God has not providentially brought someone into your life that fits into these three categories, I would encourage you to continue to wait on the Lord. God is truly Sovereign and is working for His glory and your good, and can be trusted to supply your need according to the parameters that He has set down in His Word. (One of my theological heroes, John Murray of Westminster Seminary, did not marry until he was 69 years old, so it is never too late. By the way, the Lord also blessed that marriage with two children.) And, remember, there are worse things than being single.

HT: The Aquila Report

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2 Comments

  1. Renee, Lindsey, and Lauren said,

    August 23, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    A hearty Amen to this post. This may come as a surprise to singles, but I have witnessed marriages that although the couple is married, they each live a single life within their marriage.

  2. Sandra A. said,

    August 25, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Amen, brother. May we each do what God has led each of us to do, whether that be singleness or marriage.


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