Monday, December 31, 2018

God Said So: It's Beautiful to Be Single

A number of pastors seem to have gone with the ways of the world, but in a slightly different sense.

There is nothing wrong with being married, or seeking to be married.

But it seems that many churches, many Christian communities, seem committed to pressuring everyone to get married.

This has long bothered me. I am single, and there is no burden or demand for me to get married.

I am content to be unmarried, to be single, to "not touch a woman", as Paul writes in his First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Ten years ago, I remember meeting with a prayer group every Thursday. The women in that group would spend a bit of time talking about helping me to find a wife. They even wrote my name in their Bibles with that prayer.

I didn't know what to think of that at the time, but I look back on it, and I must say it was presumptuous and arrogant.

Even my parents would intimate that there was something wrong with me because I had no heart, no need for marriage.

This conflict came to a head when one of my relatives was talking about

This train of thought brought in Dennis Prager, who wrote a stinging manifest against those who don't get married:

I would like to make some arguments on behalf of early marriage.

The first and best argument for early marriage — providing, of course, that one meets a good person and believes this person will also be a good parent and/or provider — is that it forces you to grow up.

No it doesn't. I know many people who have married, and they still have immature thoughts and habits. Getting married does not force you to do anything. In fact, there are many married men and women who do not step up to many of life's challenges. They make poor decisions with a limited vision. I know people who have had children, too, and their lack of maturity has not abated.

Prager was wrong here.

There's more. Prager adds that societal pressure induced people to get married:

Why were people throughout history ready to commit to marriage at a much younger age than people today? Only because society expected them to become adults at a younger age than today. Nothing makes you an adult as much as responsibility does. And no responsibility makes you an adult as much as marital responsibility.

Adulthood is about responsibility, yes indeed. But we can embrace responsibility without being married. In fact, Paul writes to the Corinthians that not being married allows adults to take on different responsibilities:

"32But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord" (I Corinthians 7:32)

Even then, God wants us to cast ALL our cares on Him (1 Peter 5: 6-7)

At any rate, the fact that conservative pundits shame people for being single--that is a real problem.

Pastors have done it, too. Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church exhorted his audience mightly: "Get Married!" He then countered the argument "Well, Jesus didn't get married. Paul didn't get married" by stating that they new they were going to die, to be martyred.

Nonsense. That is simply not true.

Where is the Scripture for this command that we must get married? There is only Scripture warning about those who "forbid marriage":

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

Yes, there are the two commands in Genesis to "be fruitful and multiply", but that is under the Old Covenant. Today, under the New Covenant, the issue is not bearing children, but preaching the Good News, that men born dead in their trespasses may be born again and never die.

There is only one pastor who has best ministered to the singles and the single life: Pastor David Jeremiah.

Here are some of the comments which he made in his sermon on this issue (Click her for the two radio broadcasts):

1. Being single is good.
2. The issue that singles have is not with being single, but with all the other church people who insist that they can (or rather should) get out of the single life.
3. Churches ignore the singles in their midst, as most events, activities, and ministries are geared toward youth, couples, seniors, etc.

In his sermon "The Lonely Single", Jeremiah relates the story of a church leader who asked the singles in her church to write about the biggest struggles they face as singles.

Most of the letters identified that their problem wasn't with the single life, but with the perceptions people were heaping on them because of their single life. The conflicts arose because of other church people who insisted on geting them out of "singlehood."

I have been there. My father had said to me: "Don't you want to share your life with someone?"

When I had gotten a new job that I liked, he said offhand: "Now we need to get you married!"

I was shocked about that, and I asked him to explain. He then took it back. As I write this, I want to make it clear that I do not hold any ill will against my Dad. In fact, when I recall "we need to get you rmarried", he said that almost by rote, as though someone had already said that to him.

It's a habit, it's a mindset in the world, especially in churches today, that marriage is a goal which everyone should seek and achieve.

But what does the Bible say? We can start with some explicit passages in the Gospel of Matthew:

"His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. 11But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matthew 19:10-12)

I would submit that there are many of us who have received the Kingdom of Heaven (righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost Romans 14:17) and the great peace and content is enough for us.

There is no need to cut off one's private parts, either. So rest assured!

But let's look at what Paul writes to the Corinthians in full:

"1Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 6But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. 7For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that." (1 Corinthians 7:1-7)

And then

"32But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction." (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

What's really compelling is that Paul considers singlehood better than marriage, not vice versa!

38So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better ... But she is happier if she so abide [as a virgin, unmarried], after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God." (1 Corithians 7: 38,40)

John the Evangelist writes in Revelation:

"4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." (Revelation 14:4)

So, thanks to Pastor David a plenary reading of God's Word, I have received great comfort in remaining single, unmarried.

"The Lonely Single" is an interesting turn of  phrase, since Dr. Jeremiah spends more time assuring single people about their status. Loneliness is not abated with more people in one's life, or with marriage. In fact, two married lonely people will produce ... two lonely married people. In fact, being lonely is made worse when married with someone, because the supposed cure does not measure up or assist the issue.

Loneliness is based on a lie, that you are not cared for. The truth is that we are fully cared for:

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:6-7, emphasis added)

So, God's Word establishes that singlehood is blessed. In fact, passages in the Scripture assert that singlehood is better!

Other Concerns

Yet for me, there were still problems, still upsets for me.

Going back to the account of the relative whom I was speaking with a few days ago. He was going on and on about a counsin-in-law. He had a big family, all kinds of work, different jobs and careers, etc. At first, I began to feel jealous. "He has so much for his short time on earth, and where am I in my life."

Right away, I realized that such comparison games are not worth playing. It's dangerous to do that. It is not wise nor worthwhile to do that.

I remembered reading these passages about marriage from Dennis Prager, too:

If you’re 25 and not ready to commit to another person, in most cases — even if you are a kind person, and a responsible worker or serious student — “I’m not ready to get married” means “I’m not ready to stop being preoccupied with myself,” or to put it as directly as possible, “I’m not ready to grow up.” (No job on earth makes you grow up like getting married does.)

That's a load of crap. There are many people I know who are not married and do great things for others. This is really offensive, since it is so patently untrue. People who are single and happy are not preoccupied with themselves. Why? To be preoccupied with oneself invites depression and sorrow. Marriage cannot undo self-centered all that much, really. Just as two lonely people getting married will not rid the two people of their loneliness, so too two selfish people getting married will not rid them of their selfishness. Marriage is the strongest form of affirmation, folks! Whatever you see in someone you are going to marry, expect double of that trait, whether good or bad.

By the way, Mr. Prager, marriage is not a "job". It's a status of life. So is singlehood, thank you very much.

Then there was this passage:

And then there's this video:

Professor X talks about the following marriage premiums:

1. After marrying, men assume a new identity, a rite of passage into manhood, an ethic of responsibility and new meaning
2. Married men are motivated to maximize their income
3. Employers are more likely to promote married men
4. Married men benefit from the advise and encouragement of their wives

Yes, marriage produces these benefits -- or is it exclusive to marriage?

Not at all.

We assume a new identity in Christ Jesus when we believe on Him. He takes us out of our dead selves in Adam, and God the Father places us in Christ Jesus!

Men (and women) can have different reasons for being motivated to earn more money. Some people like business, like working; other people are dedicated to other outcomes and pursuits, and those efforts require more money.

As far employers more likely to employ and promote married men, the issue isn't the fact that they are married. What matters is an ethic of diligence and responsibility. Those features can emerge in all kinds of people for many different reasons, not just marriage.

There is a bit of  the "post hoc, propert hoc" fallacy here. Responsible people are more likely to get married, as opposed to marriage makes people responsible. That assessment is more valid, I believe.

Here's another telling statement I had read from Prager implied that people will not vote for someone who is not married. All these so-called societal callings slip away from someone if they do not get married.

It seems to me that many of these videos are articles are geared more towards saving natural rights, law, and culture. That's important, but these arguments for marriage are not helping. Revival of the Gospel and preaching the Word would make all the difference.

Another concern

Doesn't the Bible call the married life with children a blessed status?


"He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord." (Proverbs 18:22)

And also:

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." (Psalm 127:3)

And then:

"Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

"Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD." (Psalm 128:3-4)

The problem I started to have when reading this: I automatically assumed "So, if I don't have a wife or children, that means I am not blessed?"

That is not true.

Consider Proverbs 18. The same book identifies other ways in which people obtain favor:

"Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

"For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD." (Proverbs 8: 34-35)

and also

"A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn." (Proverbs 12:2)

The issue of "Reward" has everything to do with God, not with getting married or having a spouse:

The first mention of "reward" appears in Genesis:

"After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." (Genesis 15:1)

Our reward, our blessings, our joy are not conditional on marriage.

The Bible never said that, but I just read those passages wrong.

We obtain favor, life, and all good things because of Jesus!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)


Final Reflection

I have shared a lot of ideas and passages from other articles in this post.

These issues have revolved around in my mind for a long time, but the small-time jealousy pushed this issue to the forefront and guided me to pray to God. I needed wisdom about this matter. I needed to get some wisdom, some insight into whatever I was feeling and also to gather some stable, spiritual data on the matter once and for all.

I meditated on those passages about who children are a heritage from the Lord. Then I remembered Isaiah 54:17: "This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord ..." I then noticed, realized that mention of a blessing mentioned in connection with marriage and family is not a blessing exclusive to marriage or family.

What powerful relief we receive as we medidate on God's Word for truth!

Then I remembered Dr. David Jeremiah's sermon on singles and the single life. I found more information about it, then followed up on the passages he had quoted from Scripture.

And everything came full circle to peace once again!

It's a blessing to be single, as much as it is a blessing to be married.

Let us allow God's grace and peace to rule in our lives, in our hearts as the umpire of God's leading (Colossians 3:15).

I can rest assured that I have something--many things, in fact--which married people do not have.

And yet, everything I have is a gift from God, to begin with.

Last of all, I want to return to the key word in the title of this post: "Beautiful."

Paul writes in First Corinthians 7:

"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman." (1 Corinthians 7:1)

The original Greek allows for "It is good for men and women not to touch each other."

At any rate, that word "good" is more than "agathos", but "kalos".

Kalos means "beautiful"! also reports the following meanings:

Usage: beautiful, as an outward sign of the inward good, noble, honorable character; good, worthy, honorable, noble, and seen to be so.
HELPS Word-studies
2570 kal√≥s – attractively goodgood that inspires (motivates) others to embrace what is lovely (beautiful, praiseworthy); i.e. well done so as to be winsome (appealing).

Wow! Attractive, noble, inspirational.

That's not bad at all! It's Good!

It's Beautiful!!

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