Scripture’s View of Singleness

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in Laura McGee | 0 comments

Scripture’s View of Singleness

Part 1 of V on Singles Ministry in a Couple’s Culture Church

48.6%.  That’s the number of singles currently living in the Triangle, according to the US Census Bureau.

Does that surprise you? Shock you? Make you shrug your shoulders?

This means that the “single-married divide” in RDU is surprisingly small.  Yet our churches are dominated by married couples and singles too often feel relegated to the sidelines.  Why is that?

This question prompted our counseling center, Bridgehaven Counseling Associates, to create a series of blog posts to address this very issue. called “Caring for Singles in a Couples Culture”.

Why did our counseling center address the topic of singleness in the church? Because of the number 48.6%. If we want to win the Triangle for Christ, the church needs to stop considering just families in the ways that they minister to their congregations. Almost half of our population is single and we need to intentionally minister to them in order to expand God’s kingdom in the Raleigh-Durham area.

So we asked an important question during the breakfast:  What does Scripture say about singleness?

Scripture’s View of Singleness

Matthew 19:1-12.  In Matthew 19:1-12, Jesus responds to the Pharisees who came to test him with a question about divorce.  Jesus answers by affirming the original intent of marriage as stated in Genesis 2:24, and restricts the cause of divorce to “marital unfaithfulness.” To this response the disciples were left thinking Jesus’s restriction on divorce made questionable the wisdom of getting married at all.  Jesus responds by saying his teaching on marriage was not for everyone and then states why some are not married.  In vs. 19:12, he says, “For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven.”  For the Jewish audience who would be hearing Jesus’s words, marriage was not only the norm, but essential to all of Jewish culture.

The point we want to make from these passages is that not only did Jesus seems to loosen the grip marriage would have in the church age he was ushering in, but he outlined two broad reasons for people being single:

  1. One is by Circumstance. There are situations one is born into or things that happen that would make marriage difficult or impossible.  We think this would include the possibility of both physical and emotional reasons.
  2. The other reason would be by choice,   He gave the option of one forgoing marriage for the reason that remaining unmarried benefited the kingdom of heaven, likely through some special form of service.

1 Corinthians 7.  In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul says that, “…It is good for a man not to marry.”  In this chapter it is generally understood that Paul is speaking to the concerns of the Corinthians during some form of persecution.  We think Paul counsels about marriage and singleness specifically related to current circumstances the Corinthians were facing, but that he also offers his personal opinion and bias from his on gifting standpoint about the benefits of being single.  Paul says that, “those who marry will face many troubles in life.”(Cor. 7:28)

Anyone who is married and those who counsel married couples know exactly what Paul is talking about here.  He goes on to talk about the advantages of being single, which we think he meant to apply in all times.  “I would like you to be free from concern,” he says.  “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs, how he can please the Lord.  But a married man is concerned about the affairs of the world – how he can please his wife, and his interests are divided.  An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the affairs of the world, how she can please her husband.” (1 Cor. 7:32-35.)  Paul is offering his personal wisdom in the situation, but he is clear that it is his opinion and not a command from God. He indicates that one is free to choose to seek marriage or remain single, and that one is not sinning or being foolish by either choice.

Paul has clearly chosen to be single because of the call on his life, but he acknowledges that each state of life is a gift from God. Rather than thinking of the gift of singleness as only some special ability to be contently single, it is better understood that the state of singleness is a gift of grace from God – in the same way marriage is a gift of grace from God.  Both are uniquely but equally a gift of God’s grace and love.  With this view, one may consider whatever state one has in life to be God’s gift of grace for them specifically and for that specific time in their life.

In our next blog, we will discuss the next question we asked: How does the church look at singleness?

For additional resources on this issue:

Keith Clement and Laura McGee are pastoral counselors at Bridgehaven Counseling Associates, which exists to provide excellent, Christ-centered counseling to individuals, couples, and families in the Raleigh-Durham area. Please contact Keith (kclement@bridgediscusshavencounseling.org) or Laura (lmcgee@bridgehavencounseling.org) if you would like them to speak to your church or small group on this issue.

 

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