Eld Chew Chong Kiat
Biblical Instructions re Singlehood
By my estimate, about 2 to 3 in 10 adults in this church are single. Some are single because they choose to be; some desire to be married but have not been provided with a life partner; others are bereft because of a spousal death and some are single again through divorce.
In the time of Christ, in response to Christ’s comment about the unlawfulness of divorce, except for the reason of unrepentant adultery, “His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” (Matthew 19:10) The disciples’ reaction showed their mindset about marriage. Many want a way out of marriage, just in case it does not work out. This is from a sinful and selfish mind. Jesus corrected them and “said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb”, i.e. born incapable of marriage, “and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men”, i.e. by the cruelty of men perhaps to serve the queen, princesses, “and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake”, i.e. voluntarily so that they can serve God without the cares of family. “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (v11-12).
Likewise, Paul said in 1Corinthians 7:7 “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.”
This is the first teaching to the church on singlehood.
1. Singlehood is a Gift from God.
This is not the view of society. A majority are married or attached and the expectation from many is that everyone should have a partner and that it is odd otherwise. But the Scripture speaks positively about being single. Paul speaks of it positively as being a gift in 1Corinthians 7:7. The word “proper” means “that which pertains to oneself”, and the word “gift” comes from the root word for “grace.” Singlehood is a divine enablement. God will therefore give grace to His children who are single to enable them to be holy and content. “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1Corinthians 10:13b)
The apparent stigma of being single is tough in our society. I can sympathize with those who are asked again and again, “Are you attached?” “Are you still single?” I’m sure most of those who ask are well meaning. But still, it can be bothersome at times. Some single people have taken to holidaying overseas over Chinese New Year; others have taken to bringing a fake boyfriend. Such is the “stigma” of being single. Their parents are also under duress from other relatives.
Christians must never think that being single is “second best”. The Bible says that marriage is good and honourable in all (Hebrews 13:4a). But it also says that being single is advantageous. To be married is a gift; to remain single is also a gift and not a second-best one. There should not be a comparison. They are both good gifts of God, to be regarded the same. Don’t let the philosophy of the world spoil you. Don’t feel compelled to be married ‘at all costs’ through speed dating or a dating agency, and especially do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever and this includes staying away from courtship evangelism!
But what if you don’t think you have the “gift” of singlehood and you struggle with loneliness and God has not provided? Does it mean that God is tempting you or that God does not love you as much as those brethren who are married? God forbid! You must resist such faithless thoughts! “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
If you have been single for some time, you already have the grace from God to be single. God never calls His children to a state without His grace. He is faithful. With this grace, you can rejoice as a Christian who is single. In fact, we are all called to rejoice (Philippians 3:1,3, 4:4). Whether married or single, it matters not; we have sufficient grace in every calling to rejoice and be fruitful, holy and contented in God.
Obviously, each of us is firstly called to be single until God changes our calling according to His will, to be married, to be fathers and mothers as well. We must trust in the wisdom and love of our heavenly Father, and rest and abound in our various callings. Every gift and calling is from above, from the Father of lights.
2. Singlehood has advantages.
Paul mentioned two advantages of being single in 1Corinthians chapter 7.
The married man (v33) and woman (v34) have the responsibility to please their spouses to maintain their relationship without displeasing the LORD. They must spend time with their spouses and consider their preferences in each decision. Some have cares of children and burdens of family and extended families as well. All these take time and effort.
A single person on the other hand is spared such cares and can therefore spend more time to witness to others and to serve the Lord and has more resources to devote to God’s work.
Paul was able to spend months and years travelling because he had no family to care for. There are many single Christians who are contributing significantly their time and resources to serve the Lord in the church especially in missions work overseas. Some have chosen to stay single to devote themselves to serve the Lord without the distraction of family.
But there are some single Christians who are unfaithful with the time and resources they have. They live in pleasures and self-indulgence and wantonness of life; some just idle their time away; some hoard their resources; some whine and mourn of their “misfortune” of loneliness. They fail to take advantage of the gift of singlehood. To them I would urge to use the advantages to the glory of God! Time, once gone, cannot be recalled. God will hold you responsible for every gift that He gave, including how you are faithful to the call of singlehood.
Singlehood has its temptations as well as advantages.
3. The Temptation of Singlehood
When God saw Adam, alone, in the Garden of Eden, he said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18) So Eve was created to meet Adam’s need for companionship, to be his helper.
Many single people struggle with loneliness and sexual temptations. God designed marriage as a remedy against such sins. It then begs the question: Is God tempting those who want to get married but are not provided with a spouse?
This is an emotional question more than a rational one. Scripture has a rational reply and we need to use our minds to understand this and not let our hearts lead. The Scriptures say in James 1:13-14 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”
The answer is clear. God is not the perpetrator of the temptation of loneliness. It is the fallen state of man and the lust within him that he yields to and he is fully responsible for his sin. Don’t blame God!
The opposite is true, GOD is good. He gives good gifts to His children, including life partners to some, but He gives to all the fruit of the Spirit of God - temperance, longsuffering (that includes patience) and faith are some of the fruit of the Spirit of God that will help every child of God manage the lust that is in him and the temptations of life.
If the testing of singlehood is part of your calling as a Christian, God will refine your faith as you endure patiently. (James 1:2-4, 12) Never give excuses for yielding to sin and never blame God.
How many young people there are today who have no patience and allow their lust of the flesh to dictate what they should do and thus live in misery of sin and a wasted life! This is the case of many in the world who are slaves to the sin of the lust of the flesh.
Sadly, some Christians also fall into such sins of sexual impurity. Their salvation is questioned, they do not have the assurance of salvation, and they cannot be soldiers of Christ because they damage the armour of God that enables them to fight the good fight of faith.
Remember, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1Co 10:13)
The lonelier one feels, the stronger one feels the temptation to sin. Some commit sins of fornication; some indulge in pornography and self-indulgences and live a double life or give up the faith altogether. Satan succeeds in removing them as a testimony for God.
What is the remedy? “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2Co 7:1) “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:9) We need to fear God and depart from evil.
Some practical ways are:
4. Singlehood is only in the Flesh
Every Christian is married to the Lord spiritually, for marriage signifies the mystical union between Christ and the church, which includes the single Christians.
The Bible speaks of Jesus as the Bridegroom who will one day return to take His bride, the church.
Revelation 19:7 “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”
Hosea 2:19 “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. 20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.”
Isaiah 54:5a “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name..”
Your singlehood is only in the flesh. You are “married” to the Lord as part of the bride of Christ. Remain faithful to Him and do not commit adultery with the world. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (Jas 4:4)
Soon, the Bridegroom will come! Be chaste and watchful and occupying in the business of our Redeemer.
A final word to those who are single:
A final word to those who are married: