Healthy churches have an environment where singles and marrieds cherish relationships with each other, rather than practicing harmonious segregation. But valuing each other only results from understanding the Kingdom role of the other. It is my experience that most married believers do not understand singles in the church. Most marrieds look at singles either out of pity or even as damaged goods; I mean, otherwise someone would have married them, right? It is also my experience that most singles do not understand their amazing place in the church and the gift of God’s grace to them in married folks.
Let me just share some brief thoughts:
A: In the Lord’s estimation there are two categories of singles in a church: “single and intended for marriage” and “single and intended for singlehood.”
Did you know that marriage is the “default” intent for everyone except for those gifted by God to be single? In 1 Corinthians 7:6-7, Paul says that a lifetime of singlehood is a spiritual gift given to an individual by God just like any other spiritual gift, such as teaching or leadership. If God hasn’t given you the grace gift to be single, then you are intended for marriage. So, the singles in a church can be divided into two categories: “single and intended for marriage” and “single and intended for singlehood”. Both singles and marrieds would do well to understand this because it has implications for everyone in the church.
B: If you are single and God has not gifted you for a lifetime of singlehood, God’s plan is for you to marry.
You have no reason to wonder IF you should marry, you should. And if you want your marriage to be your priority when you are married, it needs to become a priority now. So, start preparing yourself to be a husband or a wife, even before you meet “the one.” Spend lots of the time with the Lord growing in your personal spiritual maturity–you are going to become “one flesh” with someone and trust me, it requires spiritual maturity. Spend lots of time with strong married couples learning what a Godly marriage looks like and learning gender roles. Study the Scriptures regarding marriage and gender roles, ask questions of the spiritually mature in your congregation to better understand these things. Prepare yourself sexually. Sexual intimacy with someone now is unfaithfulness to the one you will marry later. Pornography and erotica now is unfaithfulness to your future spouse just like it will be once you are married to them. In other words, start practicing 1 Corinthians 7:4 now. Sort yourself out financially–it is MUCH easier to sort out financial mess when you are single than when you are married. Very likely, singlehood will possess the most discretionary income you will have for a long, long time–spend it wisely. Learn to live on a budget because you will have to when you are married. Pay off as much or all of your personal debt that you can so you don’t carry it into the family you will start. These are some examples of how to prepare for marriage. Go next to “D”.
C: If God has gifted you for a lifetime of singlehood, you should prepare yourself for singlehood just like a “single intended for marriage” would prepare themself for their future marriage. Go to “D”.
D: Singles of both categories should recognize and seize the Kingdom potential of singlehood while they can.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35 says there is a Kingdom devotion singles can have that marrieds simply cannot. This is not a criticism of marriage, but it is a tremendous advantage of singlehood. The fact is, a single can do things for the Kingdom that a married person cannot. For example, there are destinations and settings to which I would take the gospel if I were single that I don’t go to now simply because I’m married. I have responsibilities to my wife and small children that narrow my risk margin on the mission field. There are limits to the time I have in my local church simply because I’m married that would be far broader if I were single. As a married man, I cannot have the evangelistic reach among lost singles as I could if I were single. Singlehood is the opportunity to do unique and heavy lifting for the Kingdom of God. I would not trade my marriage and family for singlehood as this is God’s plan for my life and I love it – but I in the best way possible am jealous of the opportunity singles have in the Kingdom. It is fantastic. Singles, you ought to seize singlehood by the neck and revel in what you can do for the Kingdom! What are you doing for the Kingdom that you wouldn’t be able to do if you were married? How is your Kingdom involvement different than it would be if you were married? If you can’t answer these questions in a while meaningful way, I’d encourage you to reevaluate your stewardship of your singlehood–you are missing out!
E: Marrieds in a church should recognize the incredible Kingdom opportunity of singles and proactively support and facilitate their Kingdom potential.
This starts with looking at singles biblically. They are not to be pitied, but admired; they are available to the Lord and His Kingdom in a way that we aren’t. We have to stop looking at them like something is wrong with them because they are single. Have you stopped to consider they could be gifted for a lifetime of singlehood? If they are, asking them if they are dating someone is as crazy as someone asking you if you are planning on divorcing soon. Have you stopped to consider there is a Kingdom need that only a single can meet and they are meeting it, whether they know it or not, and God won’t bring along their spouse until later? Nothing is wrong with them. Singles are a valuable Kingdom currency being spent by the Lord in a way that marrieds can’t be spent. If we want to think biblically about singles we’ll ask them questions like: “What is God’s call on your life right now when it comes to Kingdom service and what can I do to help facilitate that call?”; “How can I help you do the things for the Lord that you can do because you are single, the things that none of us marrieds can?”
F: Marrieds in a church should become true family to the singles.
Gifted for a lifetime of singlehood or not, singles still need relationships and family. They need their local church to be their primary family. Loving your fellow church members well includes learning to love singles well. Love takes intentionality and effort. As marrieds, let’s love singles well by being intentional to include the form in aspects of our family where we can. Let’s be careful not to ask them questions that are irreconcilable with biblical teaching on singlehood. Let’s protect them from brothers and sisters who are insensitive and unbiblical about singlehood by kindly admonishing said marrieds to understand singles biblically. Just be yourself around singles and let them be themself around you. Let’s not think the married and single brothers and sisters in a local church don’t have enough in common to have close relationship; I mean, have you read Ephesians 4:4-6 lately?
G: Wisdom for relationships between singles and marrieds: In today’s culture of sexual immorality, it must be said – marrieds and singles of opposite genders have no business being friends.
I am not going to befriend the single women of NEHBC. Nicole is not going to befriend the single men of NEHBC. On the other hand, we are both very happy to be the supportive, participatory spouse of the one who is the single’s married friend. So, I’m not going to text single women to see how their day went or drop by their house alone for a visit. But when Nicole says, “let’s invite this single female member along with us to XYZ event,” I’m going to support that 100% and be quite happy to include in our family life this single who has so much Kingdom value and potential. I will gladly visit with and serve the single lady in the context of my family, but I will not relate to her apart from my family. In the married couple, the spouse who is the same gender as the single person is the point person for the relationship between the married couple and the single.