Now, just the word singleness conjours up may different images I’m sure. I’m guessing for a lot of girls aged 10-30 (and probably over and probably a lot of men as well!) it’s a hugely negative thing. Why? Because we are so often told by the media that its normal to have a partner – or to at least be really wanting one! I’ve really tried but can not think of a poisitve single person in the media. It isn’t seen as ‘normal’. As Christians we believe that the Bible is God’s Word and what is in it is from Him and totally true. So, why is it that so many Christians seem to ignore:
I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.
1 Corinthians 7:7-8
Now, obviously this has to be taken compltely in context, and I am not trying to say that marriage is bad at all, because it isn’t biblically worse than singleness. They are both equal. However, I think that it is very true that in many churches today the prevailing view is that singleness is what happens before you find ‘the one’. It’s not a situation that people are expected to stay in much longer than their 20’s (and I do realise that I am only in my early 20’s!). This is expressed in so many different ways! I have lost count of the amount of times that I have been told people that “it’ll be my turn to get married next”. Where’s their proof?! People, and I’ve noticed it in married people and single people, seem to just assume that marriage is for everyone and that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t think like that.
The way many churches are set up can quite easily back this view up. For example having a 20 & 30’s group can actually give the impression (and it easily does give the impression) that if you over the age of 39 then you are no longer expected to be part of that group and in fact you should be in a relationship and participating in areas of church life more appropiate to your age – i.e. families
I’ve struggled with this for quite a while now in varying measures. It is hard being made to feel (99% of the time at least unintentionally) like I should be married, and should be expecting God to provide someone soon but I’ve known that there is no Biblical promise.
But, recently I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve been thinking about my future, and the areas that I think God might be leading me in. There really have been times when I have gotten freaked out by the fact that a marriage and God’s will might clash (which is ridiculous I know!) But even thinking about not being free to be able to go and serve God wherever he might call me has been really difficult! This has led me to really pray about the issue quite a lot, and I’ve ended up having a lot of conversations with single Christian friends quite randomly which have been so helpful. And now, I think that I am in the place where I can actually whole heartedly say – “Yes I am single. No, it isn’t second best. It may last my entire life, it may not but either way I am happy with that. I am happy to be freed to serve God in places which I couldn’t if I was married. Whatever my situation my only aim is to serve and glorify God – whether that being single and more able to travel, or married and serving in a very different context.”
It has taken months to get to this situation to whole heartedly say that. This does not mean that it is easy in any way shape or form, but I know that the God we serve is good and He has a very definite will for me and I am happy to completly submit to that. If the Bible says that singleness and marriage are equal then why should I say different???