I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife (1 Corinthians 7:7-11)
As Vickie went through the final stages of her illness, one of the thoughts that crossed my mind, was the reality of being single again. Singleness, I felt I could handle, because after all, I was single before I got married. But this time was different, more than just the difference of 20 years. This time I would have two children, two teenage children, to rear. Things are quite different: The cooking isn’t as good as it used to be, but none of the three of us seem to be starving. Because of my time constraints, I have my little routines, for getting household chores done. Friday mornings I put the bed linens in the laundry and clean linen is laid on each bed for the kids to put on. And without fail, Jonathan will complain that his bed didn’t need changing. My philosophy, after a week it gets washed whether it needs it or not. Brooks, complains that there are no females round the house to understand, and I remind her that Short Stuff (our dog) is a lady, and she can talk to her.
There was a young man who took a short cut home late one night-through the cemetery. And he fell in an open grave. He called, he tried to climb out. To no avail. There was no one around to hear his cries or lend a hand. So he settled down for the night in a corner of the darkened grave to await morning. A little while later another person came the same route through the cemetery, taking the same short cut home and fell in the same grave, and started clawing and shouting and trying to get out just as the first had done. Suddenly, the second fellow heard a voice out of the dark corner of the grave saying, “You can’t get out of here.” But he did!
We can do, whatever we put our hearts and mind too.
It is easy to look at the writings of Paul and to know that Paul prefers all Christians to be single. I wish that all men were as I am. It wasn’t that Paul had anything against marriage. Paul just wanted everyone to give undivided attention to the Church and to their relationship with God. When we look at the inner circle around Jesus, everyone of them was single. When Jesus came by the Sea of Galilee and invited Peter, Andrew, James and John to be disciples. Four single fisherman? Must be something wrong with them. Some were widowed, others never married. Peter had been married because Jesus healed his mother-in-law. Philip had been married because he had daughters who were prophetesses. We know that Paul at one time had been married because he was a member of the Ruling Council. But, by the time that Jesus calls, they are all single and able to drop everything and follow Jesus.
The number of single people in our society is increasing. Young people are waiting longer to get married. Widowed people are living longer. And some people are opting to never marry.
This is a problem, because our society has a prejudice to being single. unfortunately, I think that some of the difficulty arises from misunderstanding God’s word. The Christian thing is to be married, that is why churches are so family oriented. But God doesn’t care whether you are married or single. With God, it is an individual relationship.
Visiting one time in a home where the husband had died, I visited with the wife and her two married children. One daughter was married to a man who was an Elder in a very conservative congregation. When I arrived at the home, an Elder from our congregation was leaving after paying his respects. He was a young man about 30 and was married, but had no children. The son-in-law, took me to task, about why this man could be justified as an Elder in the church. He is much to young, 30. While married, he has no children. He doesn’t qualify to lead the church. My simple response was, “I hope Jesus doesn’t find out that He is not qualified to lead the Church.”
It is alright to be single. There is nothing morally unacceptable about being single. It doesn’t make you a homosexual. It doesn’t mean that you are so ugly no one wants you. It doesn’t mean that anything is wrong.
It takes a special person to live single just as it takes a special person to live married. Loneliness can be a problem, but many singles have a great support group of friends who are generally single like themselves. Even with children, a single parent gets lonely and needs the companionship of other adults. This is where the church is very important to the single person. Parents Without Partners, One Parent Families, etc. Paul mixed no easiness on the issue of sex. You’re not married – no sex. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
The key I think is for society to stop making single people feel like second class citizens.