What’s it like being a single “twenty-something” committed to Jesus in America today? That’s the question I posed during an interview with three single women from our church recently. I think you’ll be inspired by their honest answers…
A Barna Group survey found that four of ten (40%) adults in America claim to be “born again” and believe they will go to heaven when they die. However, the same survey found that those who defined “born again” in a biblical manner (i.e. Satan exists, salvation is through faith not good works, Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, and the Bible is totally accurate, and God is an all-knowing and all-powerful deity who created the universe and rules it today) constituted only 7% of the adult population.
If that figure is valid, and the current population of America is 319 million, that means there are less than 25 million true bible believing Christians walking the streets of our great land. Now, assuming half of them are already married, we’re left with 12 million. And, because half of them are female (and I didn’t include children) that leaves slim pickings for a woman of God hoping to meet a Godly man (or vice versa).
The three women I met with are typical Southern California girls, ranging in age from 24-28, all educated, working full-time, living on their own, and having been in various forms of relationship before coming fully to know Christ as Lord. Here are a few questions I asked along with their responses. Questions are italicized, their answers follow:
How does a Christian woman find a true Christian man in Orange County?
“We’ve tried various things. Church events, softball teams, we’ve even tried online Christian dating. But, online dating was hard because somewhere in the back of our mind dad’s voice was always chiding, ‘Don’t chase men, they need to find you.’”
What do you feel when spending time with married friends?
“It’s a total catch-22, because part of me loves that they’ve found a Godly man, and it even gives me hope that I’ll find it too. But, on the other hand, it reminds me of what I’ve not found, and that can hurt.”
Can you tell the difference between a professing Christian man and the real deal?
“Yes, at my age now, it’s getting easy. Everyone can impress on the first date, but within a couple of hours I can tell if they know Scripture, are really involved in a Bible teaching church, and treat others with chivalry like Christ would expect. It’s even more obvious the moment I meet their friends. It’s that whole show me your friends and I’ll show you the future type thing.”
What do you tell other women who are waiting/hurting in the same way?
“First, that God is bigger than relationships. Second, that this is a season for undistracted devotion to Him. Third, that a true Godly man is looking for a truly Godly woman, so we need to be preparing ourselves.”
Are you noticing any blessings to singlehood that your married friends don’t have?
“Yes, my married friends (many of them) believe that their husband will bring them joy but I’m learning constantly that only God brings joy and I think this will make me a better wife. I’ve also been able to travel the world, doing work overseas, and observing ‘Real life isn’t Cinderella’ which many of my friends who married young haven’t quiet yet realized.”
How can a church properly support single men and women?
“Events where we can meet good guys (smile)! But, honestly just good healthy Christian community where women get in the Word and realize that this is only the ‘pre-life’ and the real life is coming in Christ’s kingdom. And, better teaching, about the role of men and women, marriage, and singlehood.”
THEIR BIBLICAL HOPE
Remarkably, Paul starts 1 Corinthians 7 with the question, “Should I marry?” This is likely in response to the massive sin issue in Corinth, where people are embroiled in all kinds of sexual sin (just like America today). And, Paul writes, “It’s okay to be single.” In fact, it’s more than okay, “It’s good.” (1 Corinthians 7:8) His main point is that there’s a gift of marriage and a gift of being single.
For anyone who is currently single, this truth alone should bring hope – Singlehood is NOT judgment, ignorance, or lack of God’s blessing, it is actually a GOOD thing.
The next time you feel anxious about singlehood or stand an extra spot removed from the altar or hear someone say, “You need to get out there” just pull out your bible and read Paul’s words again, “I say to the unmarried and the widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.” For this period of time, God has GIFTED you with this.
Pastor and author John MacArthur says, “Some of you have the gift of singleness and it’s suitable to you. Some of you are in the condition of singleness though you are positive you don’t have that gift. You are not married and you don’t like it. You are divorced and you don’t like it. You are widowed and you don’t like it. You really need a partner. Nonetheless, in the current state that you are in you must understand the benefits that come to you if only for the short term. I believe that if you are single and you don’t have the gift and your life is as it should be before God, that God will fulfill your desire. Until then, and you don’t want to rush into anything, until then you can enjoy the benefits of being single. For those of you whom God has blessed with the gift of singleness, these are the very principles which make your singlehood so wonderful.”
Beginning in 1 Corinthians 7:25 Paul provides a few reasons why singlehood is a good thing:
#1 The World is Difficult – Vs. 26 “I think then that this is good in view of the impending distress that it is good for a man to remain as he is.” Paul wrote these words under impending persecution from Nero and for the next two hundred years Christians would be savagely persecuted. In America today, we may not CURRENTLY suffer such hostility, but in many nations around the world Christians do. And, in our growingly “Post-Christian” nation (only 7% evangelical) Christian opposition is imminent. As we’ve seen in politics and media, true Christians who stand up for true biblical truth lose jobs, lose business, lose promotions, lose friends, lose family, lose court cases, are disallowed at certain schools, and not invited to parties. Jesus knew that emotional bonds could be weakness, or even an idol, when confronted with opposition and thus demanded, “He that loves mother or father more than me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37). The reality is that a married person carries yet one more temptation to deny Christ under duress, while a single man or woman is free from this burden.
#2 Marriage Causes Tension – Vs. 28 says, “If you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin should marry, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.” What is a trouble of life, or literally “of the flesh” which Paul mentions? “The trouble” is living daily with another sinner. Two sinners underneath the same roof, no matter how much they love one another, are still sinners and will experience controversy, anger, impatience, selfishness, lies, cheating, pride, carelessness, and pain. In 1969 when divorce law recognized “irreconcilable differences” the wheels fell off the marriage train in America – 50% of marriages end bad, children across the nation are confused about which house they’ll be staying at each weekend, domestic violence warps hope, men call themselves women and women call themselves men, people are hurting, lustful, flat out confused, and millions of people wish they’d never been married at all. Solomon was inspired by the Holy Spirit when he wrote, “Houses and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” (Prov 19:14). Without God, marriage simply doesn’t work. With God, it comes with immense blessings, but is a LIFETIME commitment, requires massive work, patience, and complete self-denial. The single man or woman is free from this burden.
#3 Marriage Ends at Death – Vs. 29 says, “Brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had non; and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy as though they did not possess.” I believe it was a man named CT Studd who famously wrote, “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” And, that’s precisely Paul’s point – Yes, it’s good to love another, to have children, to buy a house, and even put up the white picket fence, but keep in mind that it ALL turns to dust, and then comes eternal glory or eternal judgment. Paul would write a second letter to the Corinthian church reminding them of this truth, “Look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18). It is VERY natural for married people to focus on earthly issues, but single men and women are free to set their mind on heavenly realities.
#4 Service Without Distraction – Vs. 35 “And to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” The Greek means literally to, “Be without carefulness” or be free from anxiety. If a single person has their mind set on eternal things, the natural outcome will be to fulfill eternal objectives. Single people can go where they want when they want and follow the bold call of God to change the world unto His glory. Married people have heavy responsibility and often children to care for, thus they are limited in their opportunity – A husband who does not provide for his family is anathema in the site of God. A wife who does not respect her husband and raise her children to love the Lord is in outright disobedience. The Puritans held the family in such high regard that it was called, “The Little Church.” Thus a Pastor was unqualified to serve in the “Local Church” if he did not first lead well in the “Little Church.” The reality is that married people must put their FULL ENERGY into family while the single person can put their FULL ENERGY towards gospel pursuits across earth.
Marriage is a wonderful God-given gift. So is being single. Three single women from our church have joy in their single-hood because they trust the truths of Scripture and God’s plan over their feelings or earth’s lie. To my knowledge, none of them view single-hood as a lifetime gift from God but all of them consider it a seasonal gift, not to be taken for granted, nor leaving them a “second-class” Christian. In fact, one of the girls chimed up just before we ended the interview and said, “I’m tired of authors telling us Christian girls to ‘wait’, instead they gotta tell Christian gals to ‘live!’”