It’s Not What You Think

So, on Sunday, there was a panel at church discussing singleness and all of the side dishes that are served up with it. The panel was really great and they had a lot of good things to say. I couldn’t help but feel like the people were naturally defensive or that as they clarified statements they weren’t having to remind all of the listeners that they are humans. Why? Well, frankly because the whole world is set up for groups of two or more. And because there is all this pressure for single people to get married. And because married people are somehow ‘complete’ or some-nonsense. And because everybody is always trying to set them up with someone.

I remember once when I was working somewhere before I was married, a friend told me that someone asked them why I wasn’t married and the friend then told me a bunch of reasons they conveyed and asked if I agreed with them. Some of them, yes. Some of them, no. But really, what I wanted to say, was ‘what does it matter? Why can’t I be single and that be that. Why does anybody make it their concern that I’m not dating somebody?” Because, seriously, it’s not only fine to be single (and now that I’ve written that word about fifty times, I am again reminded about how much I despise that term…it’s not like I’m now a double), it’s better.

What?

Better?

Yeah, check it out…..

1 Corinthians 7
Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband…But this I say by way of concession, not of command. Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am.However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry….

…Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk, And so I direct in all the churches. Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.

…Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called. Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you….

…But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

So, what is Paul trying to tell us? He’s saying that it’s better to remain solely focused on the things that really matter, the things that are above, the things that have eternal value. When you are married (as I am) you are distracted from the uni-focused life and must think about your spouse and how to ensure harmony in the home.

Before I was married I could put in sixty, seventy, eighty hours at the church and the only thing that was damaged in the end was my bleary eyesight. Now, I am fettered, by a husband, a baby, making meals, and all the trappings of married life. Good things? Yes (and Paul does not say they are not good). But was I of greater impact in my church family and in the world when I didn’t have all of these things? Absolutely. I wish that people would have been able to see all of that instead of wondering if they knew someone who’d be ‘right for me.’

Let’s stop acting like married people are complete. Let’s stop thinking being single is some kind of holding pattern until they all join us on this side of the unity candle. Let’s not give them pity. It’s not wanted. And it’s not appropriate. Let’s be thankful there are people living single lives, for the glory of God.

[steps off soapbox. sits down.]

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    • Molly
    • September 4th, 2007

    Preach it!
    MISS YOU!

    • Tawnya
    • September 4th, 2007

    Excellent words Kim. Our pastor has actually been preaching on this passage in I Corinthians so it’s interesting to have you post about the things he’s been addressing too. Thanks for your fresh perspective. I’m sure many out there reading appreciate.

    • Ripped from the Headlines
    • September 6th, 2007

    Thanks for this post, as you know based on our MANY conversations; I feel this pressure to become “complete”. There is a bit of sympathy and sorrow people seem to feel for you when they find out you are single. Like life must be so sad. Yes, at 27 I am starting to feel panicked and nervous that I am no closer to being married than I was at 20, but I try very hard not to let it bother me. I just have to trust that God has a plan for me greater than I could ever imagine. Thanks for pointing out what the bible says about marriage.

    • the Burgess family
    • September 7th, 2007

    You’ve got a good point! It has always been interesting to me how nobody ever talks about singleness like this. I probably wouldn’t think about it either except that my mom tells me about how people pressure her about being single. How annoying (and sometimes hurtful) that we don’t check our priorities in this area against the Bible better!

    • Lori Stucky
    • October 11th, 2007

    Preach it sister!!!
    I really had no intentions of getting married and for that very reason; I could give ALL my time to ministry. But, I didn’t have much choice in the matter, now, did I?
    We love our husbands and kids, but can’t help being a wee bit distracted by the workings of daily life. My single friends don’t face all of that…they just face the scrutiny of those of us who aren’t.

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