Have you ever heard parents tell their kids, “someday you’ll grow up and have a wonderful husband/wife.” Or, “God has someone special for you!” Have you ever felt the pressure some people in the church put on a young adult to, “Settle down and get married”?
It’s very common for parents, church leaders and others to want to see youth do what many Christians think is the “successful thing”…graduate from high school, go to college, find a potential mate, graduate from college, get married, serve God together and live happily ever after!
There are problems with this thinking, though, and many youth today know that such a scenario is not always the reality! Divorce is extremely common, many teens are living in single-parent families, and maybe even more difficult, many are living in blended families. The practice of marrying by age 21, 23, or even 25 is not as common as when your parents married. In fact, marrying by age 25 is becoming less and less frequent these days! Take a look at how the age at first marriage has risen during your parent’s lifetime, even during your lifetime!
Median age at first marriage
2005 27.8 yrs. 26.5 yrs.
2000 26.8 yrs. 25.1 yrs.
1990 26.1 yrs. 23.9 yrs.
1980 24.7 yrs. 22.0 yrs.
1970 23.2 yrs. 20.8 yrs.
1960 22.8 yrs. 20.3 yrs.
Right now in the U.S. there are 61 million single adults over the age of 18, one fourth of all adults in the nation! This is almost double the number and percentage of single adults when your parents were about your age. People are postponing marriage for many reasons including: finish college, get a masters degree, get a good start in a career, buy a house, develop their abilities and talents and others.
The “Gift of Singleness”
I don’t know about you, but I never heard anything about the gift of singleness while growing up in a Christian home. In fact, my dad was a pastor! Certainly I would have heard something about this if it was in the Bible! But I didn’t! What does God’s Word say about this, anyway?
The “gift of singleness” is found in at least two places: Matthew 19:11 and 12, and
1 Corinthians 7:7. In Matthew Jesus explained the three reasons that kept a person single:
1. Some people were born without the ability to have sex
2. Some people were castrated in war and had this ability taken away
3. Some people chose to remain single to serve God
Regarding the gift of singleness, Jesus told people that “not everyone can receive or accept serving God as a purpose for staying single. It is for those to whom the capacity to receive it has been given.” In other words, it is a GIFT! Singleness can be a gift for life, or can be chosen for a period of time to develop one’s identity, character and direction before marriage.
In 1 Corinthians 7:7 Paul agreed with Jesus’ teaching about the gift of singleness. He said, “I wish that everyone was as I am (single). But each person has their own gift from God. One has this gift, another has that gift.” It is clear in verse 8 that Paul was single when he wrote
1 and 11 Corinthians because he said, “to the unmarried and the widows, it is good for you to stay single as I am.” So, singleness is a gift and marriage is a gift.
As a pastor to young adults and single adults for 21 years, I have known several people who had the gift of singleness! These people usually had four things in common:
1. They were not bothered by staying celebate
2. They were content being single and not having a romantic relationship
3. They gave little thought to marriage
4. They found great satisfaction serving God in their spare time
What Can Be Good About Being Single?
Jesus was a single adult! Jesus lived his life on this earth for 33 years unmarried! Have you ever thought of Jesus as a single adult? In the Jewish society in which he lived, parents chose a marriage partner for their kids and they were married by the time they were 18 years old! Yet Jesus lived well into his 30’s without a wife and children.
You may have never thought about the advantages and benefits of singleness, whether for a period of time, or for life. Here are some benefits I learned from others while pastoring adults who were single or single-again (divorced or widowed):
Benefits of Singleness:
1. Travel without needing a spouse’s permission.
2. Move without “ “
3. Spend money “ “
4. More time to serve God
5. Work on preparing to be a healthy marriage partner
6. Does not have the stresses marriage brings
7. More freedom to develop close friends of the same/opposite sex
8. More freedom and flexibility to develop abilities and talents
9. Do not have to be concerned about marrying the wrong person, or at the wrong time, or for the wrong reasons. (many people do)
10. Develop your spiritual life the way you want to
11. Keep the apartment/house the way you want it!
12. Cook and eat only the food you want!
13. Keep the bathroom door wide open!
The best and probably most important advantage of being single is the benefit of developing you! Many adults marry before they should and have not taken the necessary time to mature spiritually, relationally, emotionally and financially before entering into a lifetime commitment. They don’t have a complete understanding of the roles and responsibilities of marriage. Because of this, the marriage has much difficulty and sometimes does not last.
Many people think marriage completes us. I think some people confuse the word “complete” and “compliment.” Marriage does not really complete us, only compliment us. (sometimes it does not even do that!) Colossians 2:10 says “we are complete in Him.” Christ completes us, not marriage.” I have found that it is more important to BECOME the right person for marriage than to FIND the right person for marriage.