Single – Should You Pursue Marriage?
Reggie Jacob, Director of Young Adult Ministry
As an unmarried person, you have distinct opportunities to grow in your faith and to make a substantial contribution to the Kingdom. In fact, the season you’re in has the potential to be the most formative period of your life. How can you best honor God in this time?
Many Christians wonder if they should move toward marriage or embrace the kind of single life the apostle Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 7. In order to evaluate your situation, ask yourself two questions.
QUESTION ONE: Have I been stalled?
Popular American culture tends to discourage marriage; implying that people can live a more exciting, fulfilling life by remaining unmarried. However, there is an equal tendency in Christian circles to non-verbally communicate the message that if you’re not married, you’re not finished… not complete. Single Christians can veer off into the ditch from either side of the road.
One side is characterized by a series of unhealthy, recreational relationships that foster hyper-individualism, consumption, and pleasure. The other side of the road creates despair, apathy, and a feeling of inadequacy because you haven’t “arrived” yet (meaning married). Both sides of the road can lead to stalling out, which hinders progress on the journey towards being the person God has called you to be. Those who find themselves in either ditch need to stop and consider how to become more intentional about being single.
QUESTION TWO: To what am I called?
In the Scriptures, God calls on all people to follow Him. In following after the risen Jesus, adults have the opportunity to do that with a covenantal partner (marriage) or with a covenantal community (the local church). The best way to honor God in your singleness is to be intentionally set apart for His purposes, recognizing that His call to both marriage and singleness is much different from the popular single culture because it includes a commitment to absolute purity, active engagement in Christian community, and faithful stewardship of your talents and resources. Singles who cultivate these qualities find it easier to discern if God is calling them to biblical marriage or celibate service.
Celibate Service – Dr. Al Mohler of Southern Seminary explains that celibacy means sacrificing the companionship of marriage, the pleasures of sex and the blessing of children for your entire life without being bitter about it. In that context, serving God in celibacy makes full engagement in the body of Christ – giving and receiving fellowship – vitally important. It is not a “consolation prize” for those who haven’t yet found a spouse, but a purposeful life devoted to serving others.
Marriage and Family – Singles who don’t feel called to celibacy should pursue a biblical marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33) with hopeful preparation. While you may not know how or when you will marry, you can be intentional about eliminating roadblocks. You can remain faithful in your purity, stewardship and community. You can also take initiative and pray purposefully for a good marriage, despite living in a culture that dishonors marriage. For men, it means moving beyond passivity and taking the initiative to “leave and cleave” (Genesis 2:24) and to find a wife (Proverbs 18:22). For women, it means preparing for marriage with thoughtfulness (Proverbs 19:14), in purity (Ephesians 5:1-5), in community (Titus 2:3-5), and in prayer (Matthew 7:7-11).
Whatever the circumstances of your life, you can find purpose and fulfillment as you break away from a stalled, dysfunctional culture and choose to honor God in hopeful pursuit of either celibate service or a God-honoring marriage.
Pastoral insights from Kurt Bruner, The Center for Strong Families
GOING FURTHER – Resources
Living Single by Dr. Tony Evans
Single and Satisfied by Dr. Tony Evans
Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen by Candice Watters
A Guy’s Guide to Marrying Well – A practical guide for men to help them become proactive about whether, how and who to marry. (Available as a free download)
MarryWell.org is a relationship service as well as a great online resource which includes blogs and articles.
Boundless.org webzine offers young adults encouragement to live abundantly as singles while seeking God’s best in either celibacy or marriage.