Written by Peter Blanch
The following is a shortened version of an article that I came across some years ago. It’s written by a Christian lady who is single, about singleness. With nearly half of today’s adult population being unmarried, surely we need to read and think about how singleness is a status equal to being married. I hope you find this article as helpful as I have.
Much has been written in Christian circles about singleness. The objective is usually either to chide the married population for their misunderstanding and segregationism or to empathise with the unmarried population as they bear the cross of “Plan B” for the Christian life, bolstered only by the consolation prizes of innumerable sermons on I Corinthians 7 and the fact that you can cut your toenails in bed. Yet singles, like all believers, need scriptural critique and instruction seasoned by sober grace, not condolences and […] pious platitudes.
John Calvin’s secret to sanctification is the interaction of the knowledge of God and knowledge of self. Singles, like all other sinners, typically dismiss the first element of the formula [knowledge of God], and therein lies the root of all identity crises.
Can God be any less good to me on the average Tuesday morning than he was on that
Monumental Friday afternoon when he hung on a cross in my place? The answer is a resounding NO. God will not be less good to me tomorrow either, because God cannot be less good to me. His goodness is not the effect of his disposition but the essence of his person—not an attitude but an attribute.
I long to be married. My younger sister got married two months ago. She now has an adoring husband, a beautiful home, a whirlpool bathtub, and all-new Corningware. Is God being any less good to me than he is to her? The answer is a resounding NO. God will not be less good to me because God cannot be less good to me. It is a cosmic impossibility for God to shortchange any of his children.
Warped theology is at the heart of attempts to “explain” singleness:
- “As soon as you’re satisfied with God alone, he’ll bring someone special into your life”—as though God’s blessings are ever earned by our contentment.
- “You’re too picky”—as though God is frustrated by our fickle whims and needs broader parameters in which to work
- “As a single you can commit yourself whole heartedly to the Lord’s work”— as though God requires emotional martyrs to do his work, of which marriage must be no part.
- “Before you can marry someone wonderful, the Lord has to make you someone wonderful”—as though God grants marriage as a second blessing to the satisfactorily sanctified.
Accepting singleness, whether temporary or permanent, does not hinge on speculation about answers God has not given to our list of whys, but rather on celebration of the life he has given. I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is his best for me. It is a cosmic impossibility that any- thing could be better for me right now than being single, The psalmists confirm that I should not want, I shall not want, because no good thing will God withhold from me. My identity is not found in my marital status but in my redemptive status. I ‘m one of the “haves,” not one of the “have-nots.”
“Are you seeing anyone special?” a young matron in my home church asked patronisingly. “Sure,” I smiled. “I see you and you’re special.” OK, my sentiment was a little less than kind, but the message is true. To be single is not to be alone. If someone asks if you are in a relationship right now, your immediate response should be that you are in dozens. Christian growth mandates relational richness. The gospel is not about how much I love God (I typically love him very little); it is about how much God loves me. My relationships are not about how much friends should love me, they are about how much I get to love them. No single should ever expect relational impoverishment by virtue of being single. We should [throw ourselves into] loving people— to initiate, to serve, to commit.
Let’s face it: singleness is not an inherently inferior state of affairs. If it were, heaven would be inferior to this world for the majority of Christians. But I want to be married. I pray to that end every day. I may meet someone and walk down the aisle in the next couple of years because God is so good to me. I may never have another date and die an old maid at 93 because God is so good to me. Not my will but his be done. Until then I am claiming as my theme verse, “If any man would come after me, let him. . . ”
In 1998 when Paige Benton wrote this article she served on the staff of the Presbyterian Church in America’s Reformed University Fellowship at Vanderbilt University, where she also served as a university chaplain.