I had the pleasure of listening to fellow biblical counselor Lorri Wenderski speak on the topic of Honoring God in Your Singleness at the IABC Conference over the weekend. I thought I would share some of her content and my thoughts on this subject.
Lorri made some very good points that I know single people will appreciate! Best of all, the come from God's Word so they are not her opinion or her perception of reality. She says, "During Paul's day singleness was prized above marriage in the church, so much so the he had to admonish the singles of his day to marry if they were supposed to marry." (1 Cor 7)
If you are single, I am fairly sure that this has not been your experience in the church. While Paul had to compel the singles of his day to marry and not remain single, today singleness is unfortunately considered more of a curse in the church both by singles who wish to marry, and insensitive people who are married. There are no shortage of pitiful looks and stupid comments made by people who apparently think that all people should be married.
One of the things I thought I would comment on was the assertion that some singles seem to believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the aisle. She gave an example of being in in a singles group where all the women complained how much better life would be if they were married, and then attending another function where the women were married and complained how much better life would be if they were single! It seems that our greatest issue is one of contentment more than marital status...
Lorrie stated, "Scripture tells us that we are not to covet the other gifts, and that includes marriage." (1 Cor. 12) I agree with her as I see some single women who desire marriage so badly that it has become an idol in their heart and life. It is all they think about, all they dream about, all they long for and every man they meet is considered potential marriage material. These women do not want to accept that singleness is a gift of God, and that it is possible that they have been given that particular gift. They are angry and can even become bitter as they think and believe that they know better about what is best for them than God does. I found one of Lorrie's examples to be particularly on target when she used Eve to illustrate this point. Eve believed that God was keeping the best from her and that is what led her to eat from the forbidden tree in the garden. Eve believed she had a better way, was wiser than God and so she took matters into her own hands. We all live with the results of her decision today...not so good, 'eh?
I know single women who have also followed Eve's logic and believed they knew better than God about what was best for their lives. These women have married at any cost and have reaped a harvest of misery as a result. Marriage out of the plan of God is a disaster.
How do you know if you are marrying or want to marry for the wrong reasons? The obvious ones are marrying a man who is not a Christian, marrying in haste without consulting important people in your life, or marrying even though your important people implore you not to do it. Marrying as a "last ditch effort," the "now or never" mentality. Marrying out of rebellion or anger toward God determining that you are wiser than He is in your decision making. Something else to keep in mind is that there is no promise in life of a marriage partner.
Singleness is a calling of God, just as any other ministry is. If God has called you to be single He has determined that He will be your Husband and you will live for and serve Him only as you love and serve His Church. Use your single status as Paul did, to serve the Lord (Rom. 12:6).