At an age where we’re going to weddings every other weekend and running into our Tinder matches in the checkout line at the grocery store, there seems to be lots of pressure to find a life partner. As a born and bred southern boy, I’ve spent my entire life watching couples get married early in adulthood, sometimes even before they’re old enough to consume an adult beverage. Before I go any further, let me put it out there that I’m not dogging anyone who is married, engaged or has these desires; I’m simply acting as a megaphone for us singles who get the pity looks from our peers just because we’re going into our 30’s solo.
There is nothing wrong with desiring a long term relationship or marriage. The bible clearly states in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” God made woman to be man’s companion. Proverbs 18:22 confirms that “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” There is no question about the Lord’s stance of sharing life with another person. However, have you ever wondered if this isn’t the will that God has destined for your life? What if the Lord has called you to a life of singleness?
The Gift of Singleness
When we as Christians talk about the biblical concept of the “gift” of singleness, we are referring to one reference by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:7 where he says, “I wish that all persons were as I am, but each one has their own gift from God, one has one kind, another has another kind.” The Greek word for “gift” here (charisma) is the same word used for “spiritual gift.” (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-31; Romans 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:11-13). Paul’s comment suggests he has a special calling of the Spirit to remain single, something not everyone else shares. The spiritual gift of singleness is not simply the state of being single, since Paul appears to encourage some singles to remain single, while others he encourages to marry.
What’s the Point?
To some, this truth is causing your heart to palpitate but don’t freak out. There is a bigger purpose as to why you might have the gift of singleness – IT’S NOT ABOUT US! As we know, the Lord does everything to point back to Him and to bring Himself glory, Thus, I believe God sometimes calls us to remain single for the sake of the ministry He has commissioned us to do, just like He did with the prophet Jeremiah when He willed him to remain single as part of his prophetic ministry (see Jeremiah 16:2). I also believe that God doesn’t “call” individuals to remain single against their will. Psalm 47:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” So if you feel a pull toward pursuing a relationship, as you delight and glorify the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart, given they are in line with His will. On the flip side, those who desire singleness should view singleness as a spiritual gift.
Do I Have the Gift?
While God’s Word validates over and over that all believers are given one or more spiritual gifts, I don’t know too many people who have ever received a hand delivered letter that defines what their particular gifts are. Rather, we most often find out by trying different modes of service in the context of ministry. The best way to know if you have the gift of singleness is simply to begin directing your attention to service within the body of Christ. Take a season off from dating and pursuing the opposite sex, and devote that energy toward a renewed capacity for serving in ministry. Explore other areas to be committed to and discover new opportunities to give yourself to others. Let’s be clear–The gift of singleness is not a repression or denial of your sexuality. God will give you many ways to express your manhood or womanhood in the context of serving Him. God’s grace will be sufficient for you to be able to serve Him in a way that honors Him.
Is It Forever or Just a Little While?
Again, this is something that isn’t up to us. If you’re going through a long span of singleness, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s forever. The point of all spiritual gifts is to serve the Lord with joy for as long as He gives you that particular capacity for serving Him. In regards to singleness, choose to focus on serving God for the indefinite future, and let the question of marriage take care of itself. Who knows, in a few years, you could start to feel your heart to change direction and begin to desire marriage. That could be a clear cut sign of a new season beginning in your life and it’s okay to prayerfully pursue that feeling. Paul himself makes it clear that even though he encourages the Corinthians to remain as they are in their present circumstances, it is not wrong for a believer to get married (see 1 Corinthians 7:27-28).
Let the Bible’s teaching on the gift of singleness be a reminder to us all that each of us are a valuable member of society, whether we are single or married. Most will marry and have children but God also has gifted some individuals with the special capacity to remain single for the sake of serving His kingdom with joy and satisfaction in an assortment of different ways. All singles, whether they are single for a season or for a lifetime, can know they are complete persons in Christ just as they are and that being single provides a special time of opportunity for building up the body of Christ as God leads in their lives. Praise BE!