Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Single Life: A Challenge to Overcome or a Blessing to Receive?

Is there something wrong with being single? Should Christians rush into marriage?

In many churches, the message from elders, pastors, and even (for singles) our friends and family suggest that if you are single, it’s a status that needs to change. I have heard this question, to myself as well as to others: “Why aren’t you married yet? Pastors like Pastor John Hagee have exhorted their congregation bluntly: "Get Married!" He even suggested that individuals in the Bible who remained unmarried did so because they were prepared for martyrdom. Even Pastor Joseph Prince of New Creation Church has shared that the married life is better.

Even mainstream conservative pundits like Dennis Prager emphasize marriage, describing the institution as a necessary and proper rite of passage, or the best way for men to maximize their manhood, income, and social status.

True, married people live longer, make more money, etc. However, these are spurious correlations. Marriage does not automatically produce these results. This “marriage makes you better” argument is a "post hoc, propter hoc" fallacy. A work ethic, a sense of responsibility, a diligent outlook for the good of others besides oneself define manhood, or more importantly adulthood.
Employers hire married people because they display more consistency and integrity in their work, perhaps. Men (and women) can have different reasons for earning more money besides the rearing of children. Responsible people are more likely to get married, as opposed to marriage makes people more responsible. Some people like business, like working; other people are dedicated to other causes which require more funding. These benefits are not exclusive to marriage!

“But even the Bible calls marriage a blessing—Won’t I miss out?”

The Bible does consider married life blessed:

"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)

Does that mean if I don’t get married, I won’t find a good thing or obtain favor?

Not at all! Proverbs identifies other ways in which people obtain favor:

"Blessed is the man that heareth me [Wisdom, a type of Christ appearing in the Old Testament], 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)

Favor and reward have everything to do with God, not with marriage. 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)

Indeed, children are a heritage from the Lord, but all of us can receive all blessings through our spiritual inheritance in Christ Jesus:

 "In righteousness, you shall be established … this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me" (Isaiah 54: 14,17)

This pronouncement should settle the matter:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”

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

Finally, what does the Bible say to singles and about the single life? Is there something wrong with not being married?

In Genesis, God commanded Adam and Eve, then Noah and his family to "be fruitful and multiply.”

This exhortation occurs under the Old Covenant. Today, we live under the New Covenant.

Let’s consider what the New Testament shares on the matter of marriage or the single life.

In Matthew 19:10-12, Jesus relates that there are those who choose not to marry for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. Many believers who have received the Kingdom of Heaven (righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost Romans 14:17) are content and see no need to marry (and there is no need to castrate oneself, so take it easy!)

The Apostle Paul’s statements to the Corinthian Church this matter are the most informative:

“It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”

How about that? Yet “good” in the King James Version is not adequate. The Original Greek has kaloswhich means “noble, beautiful, inspiring!” 

Paul also writes:

For 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 7:7)

Paul preferred the single life. But it was his preference, not God's commande. Thee statement “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” – that is from God!

What are the benefits of single status, according to Paul?

"But 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: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife." (1 Corinthians 7:32-33)

Married people will have more burdens, more concerns to consider in their lives. Many people need to recognize this when going into marriage. No matter what standards the world has laid out (or rather, abandoned), marriage is a full-on commitment for life. Those demands will change a person’s status, outlook, and outcomes for good.

“And 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 7:35)

In fact, Paul considered the single life better!

“He that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.” (1 Corinthians 7:38)

Our standard on the single life must be God’s Word, not preachers’ sermons or pundits’ articles. So, why is it that so many pastors, preachers, churches, and teachers are promoting the message to their congregations that singles should get married?

Stay tuned for the next article.

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