1 Corinthians 7:32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world, how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
Paul amazes me in this passage. He truly believes it’s better to be single than married. From my understanding he pretty much says, get married if you just can’t take celibacy any more. If your members are burning. He looks at marriage as a last resort type of thing. And I’ve always received his message as coming from a person called to celibacy. So, yea, marriage would be out of the question if that’s your calling. But what about the rest of us? Can those of us who feel called to marriage, yet who are single and have been single for some time, truly say its better to be single? I think in this generation there are many singles (myself included) who are called to both seasons of life for a rather lengthy period of time, whether it’s by choice or by default (i.e, God’s divine will, or a result of a fallen world). Statistics confirm that our generation is getting married later than previous generations. In 1970 the average age for a first marriage was 22, now its 26 (Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults: Life-Giving rhythms for Spiritual Transformation). Looking around my sphere of influence, I’m prone to think it’s older than that. More people are focusing on careers, travel, achieving their dreams, etc. before making that lifetime commitment. More people are also shacking up, incarcerated, or involved in the homosexual lifestyle.
A couple of years ago, one of the women in my church gave me the crazy look when I told her I was 28 and single. “Wow, some would call you an old maid!” I wasn’t offended, as I knew she was a 50-something who had been married since her 20’s to the love of her life. He was the first and is perhaps the last man she will kiss in her lifetime. She, like many others from her generation, settled down young, raised her kids with her friends and now has grandchildren. My mom is 50 and she is waiting on grandkids.
It’s a different time and a different day. So, do Paul’s words still apply? I’m an avid believer that the word of God is absolute truth. It is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, etc…However, Paul himself admits that his view of singleness stems from his calling. “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that”…
So what is God’s word to those of us who are only called to singleness for a season? I believe His word to us is not “it’s better to be single”, but, “it’s better to be content”. I say this because I have friends both married and single who view the opposite state as being better. I believe that that is because they are each faced with the challenges of their individual seasons and therefore can not fathom the other’s state as being worse. I think God has structured both seasons as having the exact gifts the other season is lacking. Therefore when in one season, the other season seems so much better. The grass is always greener, as they say…But in truth, if we are dissatisfied with our current state of life, we will be dissatisfied once the desire of our heart is met (Christian 101).
Once upon a time I desired a certain job position. It had a higher salary, required a higher skill level, and had a better management team and professional environment. I finally obtained that position and within a few years desired something new. I’m sure you can think of something you waited for and waited for
and waited for and finally received it, then after a certain time period you longed for more.
Instead of longing for more stuff, we are to long for more of Him (Christian 102). More of His intimacy, His fellowship, His voice. Even though we know this in our head, for some of us, this proves to be harder in a season of singleness. After all, we’re not WRONG to desire marriage. We feel in fact, CALLED to it. Yet that is for tomorrow. The truth is, today we are called to be single. Today we are called to be content. Today we are called to be His.
For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Great post Nicole! It kind of goes along with the “morning reflections” I read this morning entitled “Be Careful of What you Ask For; You May Get It!”