Singles and the Church
Dear BPCWA worshipper, I wrote about what was covered at the Family Seminar in some recent pastorals. Families are important because one of the reasons that God ordained marriage is to have godly seed for His church and work. However, we must also remember that God has also called some to singlehood as well. While God has set some apart to marriage to glorify Him in that estate, He has also set apart some singles to glorify Him for His work’s sake. So, to set things in the right and complete perspective of both groups in the church, it is also important to cover in this pastoral God’s purpose for singles in His church and work on earth. A single in church recently rightly pointed out that there has hardly been any godly example in the past that showed what singlehood is about and how it is used as a witness for God. It is an exciting time moving forward for this to change through the right biblical understanding and living, particularly of those called to singlehood.
Singlehood is ordained by God and must not be despised, but treasured. Parents, adults, elderly, and children, all alike, must not be influenced by the world in this matter of singlehood. It is not for man, tradition, or culture to unilaterally dictate an individual’s estate of marriage or singlehood. Just as marriage is a calling, so is singlehood, “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches” (1Cor 7:17). Singles must not loathe singlehood. It is God’s appointment, and hence it is to be treasured as Paul did, “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I” (1Cor 7:8). God chooses, and one who sees what God has willed for an individual as undesirable is despising God’s sovereignty, let alone His wisdom for your life. While marriages are intended for God’s work, we must keep in mind that marriage is God’s intent only for this present life. It is but a temporary arrangement of God to fulfill His plans for His church to have legitimate issue for godly seed for the church through companionship and love that reflects Christ and His Bride. There will be no marriages in heaven. We will all be singles in eternity. Ultimately, both singlehood and marriage are God’s means for us to fulfill our purpose of being His witnesses, and hence both are honourable estates.
Singlehood is for God and His church. Roman Catholics forbid their priests and nuns to marry in order to serve the church. This is contrary to the Bible which warns of those who will “forbid to marry” (1 Tim 4:3). However, this does not mean that God does not intend some to be single, whether or not they are called into the full-time ministry. Both are meant to serve God’s purposes in His churches. 1) Singlehood is a gift from God. When speaking about marriage and singlehood, Paul says that “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” (1 Cor 7:7). Paul was glad to have this gift of singlehood. Gifts are always meant for God’s church, Christ’s Body. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (1 Cor 12:18). If God ordains it, He is pleased with it. Putting it together with the analogy of the body, the single must see God’s purpose for singlehood in the church in the right light. There is marriage and there is singlehood – differences of administration and diversities of operations, “but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Cor 12:5,6). 2) Singlehood is to edify the church. To the Christian who is endowed with the gift of singlehood, as with any other spiritual gift, the Christian who is given a specific gift must consciously “seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” (1 Cor 14:12). If you are a single, will you seek to be the excelling example for other singles who need such an example one day? Be that person, but not for the purpose that others may praise and glorify you. Be that person so that others may glorify the God that you serve in your singlehood. When it comes to singlehood, there is no ambiguity why God has given that gift. The single is supposed to be concerned “for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord” (1 Cor 7:32). The one who has received that gift – just as with every other spiritual gift – must then “minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet 4:10). When we put all this together, we see that in God’s wise plan, while marriage is to raise godly seed for His church, singlehood too is ordained by Him for His work’s sake. Realising this, singles must then be good stewards of their singlehood in accordance with His will!
So, the single’s care is simply to be Christ’s servant. “Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant” (1 Cor 7:21, 22). To those who did not want to be bond servants, Paul simply said “care not for it” ie do not be preoccupied about wanting to be free. And if freed, it is also to serve God! Are you preoccupied with wanting to get out of being in the state of singlehood? Care not for it! Care only about what you can do for God in this state. The care singles should have is to fulfill your purpose that God intended for your singlehood. Focus on that and be the example that is sorely needed in churches today about what singlehood can be, as meant by God for the Body of Christ!
With these Biblical perspectives established, we shall see the roles singles have in the Body of Christ next week. May God grant us singles who like the Apostle Paul, godly witnesses who treasure and are good stewards of this gift of God for His church on earth.
Yours in our Lord’s service,