Tag Archives: 1 corinthians 7

Can I Get a Vaccine for the Season of Singleness?

15 Nov 'INFLIGHT' photo (c) 2011, Person of Interest - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Today I want to discuss a phrase that, to me, is like nails on a chalkboard. It’s one I see thrown around all the time on blogs about singleness, marriage, family, and loneliness. Yes, it’s the dreaded season of singleness.

I have a lot of problems with this phrase. For one thing, it implies something temporary. This too shall pass. April showers bring May bridal showers. That sort of thing.

For another thing, it sounds awfully close to something nasty and unwanted. Flu season. Fever season. Singleness season. Yech!

The thing about implying that singleness is temporary is…well, sometimes it’s not. Some people are going to be lifelong singles. Happy or sad, content or kicking-and-screaming, some people will not get married. Take me for instance: I know thirty-six isn’t old, and I know I may someday still get married if that’s what God wants for me, but trust me–my singleness hasn’t been a season, it’s been an epoch.

Another good reason to avoid implying singleness is temporary is the accompanying implication that everyone should desire to end their singleness. When I hear season of singleness, I hear, just a phase, she’ll grow out of it. It comes across as misunderstanding at best and condescending at worst.

Statistically, maybe a lot of people will end up marrying. But then again, we’re at an all-time high ratio of singles-to-marrieds. Almost half the population is single. Sure, some of them have been married before. Some of them are in long-term dating relationships, or have some sort of committed partnership that, for one reason or another, they haven’t formalized. But the fact is, people are waiting longer to marry, and more people are not marrying at all.

Implying that singleness is temporary, or a state to leave behind, is not necessarily honest and not necessarily helpful. If I view singleness as a transitory state, I’m more likely to:

  • put off embracing adulthood
  • be less responsible with my finances
  • spend all my time craving an end to this “season”
  • focus on my relationship with men instead of my relationship with God
  • require dating and/or marriage to validate my self-worth

This is where the real danger of viewing singleness as a season comes in. If I don’t view myself as a real person until I’ve survived my season of singleness, I’ve missed out on a huge opportunity.

Single people have to make a choice to fully inhabit our present lives. 

We can’t live our lives in a constant holding pattern. We have to seek out God’s will for our lives. We have to learn to build others up, regardless of whether those others are parents, significant others, or friends. We have to leave our future in God’s hands and concentrate on what He’s doing in our present.

Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7: 32-35,

I would like you to be free from concern. 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 this world–how he can please his wife–and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Read that last sentence again. Do you get that? Singleness is not a restriction.

'INFLIGHT' photo (c) 2011, Person of Interest - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

INFLIGHT

Singleness is freedom. Freedom to be devoted to the Lord. Freedom to live in a right way. Freedom from the affairs of this world. Freedom from pleasing anyone but the Lord.

Paul reframes singleness in such an amazing way here. Rather than saying we’re worth less than those who have married and had children, he says we’re free! He says we should have fewer concerns than married people!

Isn’t that an amazing feeling?

So let’s stop looking at singleness as a season, as something to be escaped or inoculated against. Let’s stop acting as if singleness is temporary, something we’ll outgrow. Let’s take a look at where we are right now and vow to thrive here.

We are single adults, and we are free.

Happy Birthday, You’re Single!

12 Oct

Today is my thirty-sixth birthday, and I have something I need to get off my chest.

I hate what people in the church call “the gift of singleness.” They talk about it like it’s a white elephant gift or one step below a lump of coal in your stocking. They call it a gift the same way my seventh grade health teacher tried to convince me my period was a gift. And we all know better than that!

The gift of singleness isn’t a present you open on your twenty-fifth birthday, when you realize all your college friends are married but you aren’t. It isn’t something that arrives in your Easter Basket, when you realize you don’t have anyone to share a huge, clove-studded ham and chocolate bunnies with. It isn’t something you get for Christmas, along with your annual AAA membership and airline tickets to Disney World.

The gift of singleness is sort of like the gift of patience. It’s something you know better than to ask God for. It’s a gift you want someone else to have. It’s a consolation prize.

Or at least, that’s always how it comes across when it’s discussed at church. It’s not something that’s really treated with the Paul-esque glory it truly deserves.

The gift of singleness is described in 1 Corinthians 7. Paul says, “I wish that all men were [single] as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” (v. 7-8, emphasis mine)

Did you get that? It is good to stay unmarried. Paul considers the state of singleness as a state to be preferred. It’s better than being married. In fact, in verse 28, he even has to reassure people, “If you do marry, you have not sinned.” And then there’s the part of that verse that makes me laugh: “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”

So Paul is pretty clear in stating that singleness is better than marriage. He spends an entire chapter talking about this. And yet you know how my Bible describes this chapter? “Marriage.” Excuse me while I take a minute to LOL at this piece of editorializing.

So how does one get the gift of singleness?

I’ll tell you up front that it’s not available at your local department store. You can’t order it from Amazon.com. And to be honest, I didn’t really spend years of my life praying that God would grant me this gift.

It’s something that comes on slowly, at least in my experience. You move forward in your life, worshiping God, watching friends get married and have kids, trying to find your place in the world, making friends, losing friends. Sometimes you spend a lot of time wishing to be married. Sometimes you don’t think about it unless you don’t have a plus one to attend a wedding or other formal event. You pay the bills by yourself and learn to enjoy going to the movies alone (hey, no one talks during the show that way) and probably end up buying a pet.

And somewhere along the way, you realize that you are content with your life. You are happy living with only God as your life partner. You enjoy the fact that you don’t have to share the bed with anyone. You don’t open it like a present. It opens inside you like a blossom.

You’re single. And it’s a gift.

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