There is beauty in living life as a single. You are only accountable to God, you have freedom to go wherever you want to go and do whatever you want to do. When I was a teenager no one told me life as a single could be so beautiful. I was always under the impression that a major goal in life for everyone was to get married. How did I get there? Even when we are older and see family members after a longer period of time one of the first questions they ask is if you are seeing anyone! I know plenty of people who dread this moment. And then there are those constantly trying to set their single friends up as if they were incomplete or broken if they weren’t actively pursuing another for the purpose of marriage. Why must we force our friends to enter into a life-binding commitment with another sinner; a commitment that we know they will enjoy, but also get hurt, disappointed, and see more of their own sin from?
When I think back to my childhood I often see how I blindly took on what society and culture gave me as far as belief systems and goals in life. The most interesting shows on TV usually involve relationships beginning, in trouble, or ending. Am I to believe my life won’t be interesting unless those things are taking place in my personal life? We are drawn to the drama of sexual relationships, but I’m not sure why.
Even churches would preach things that I would just take as truth without really thinking about them and one of them was the norm of being married. Especially in the Christian circles I grew up in most people were engaged or married in their early 20s! As soon as 3-years-old children are talking about marriage, maybe not as seriously as those older than they are, but they know that marriage is a part of life. Do we ever tell our children that life as a single is also a valid option for them? Marriage may seem the norm, but in America today 43% of adults are singles! Is this a bad thing?
I am married and have been for almost 5 years. I love marriage, but I also know that remaining single would’ve been a perfectly fine option for me as well. While marriage has its blessings and challenges, singleness has a whole other set of blessings and challenges too. Going from single to married is a trade off and something that should be thought through.
Mike and I have talked about what we would do if the Lord chose to take one of us early and the other was left on earth. I believe Mike would probably remarry. This is not good, bad, or indifferent. This is simply what I think he would be inclined to do. I do not think I would remarry. I am not saying I wish I was not married or that I regret my decision. I am truly happy being married and believe the Lord has this for me for specific reasons. Mike and I are better together than we would be if we were apart. Still, I must be honest with myself and say that what I have shared with Mike I do not want to share with another. If the Lord took Mike early in life (which I do not wish with even an ounce of my body), I know that I would not enter marriage again for several reasons. Without the intention of discouraging marriage I must admit that one of my reasons comes from Paul’s writings in Scripture in I Corinthians 7:32-35:
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.”
While married a person is unable to fully concentrate on the affairs of the Lord. This is not to say a married person could not serve and worship the Lord whole-heartedly, but there are certain responsibilities that a married person must attend to. As a single your only responsibilities are to the Lord and yourself. Some might see this as selfish and others might see this as foolish. You may argue with something I say, but no one can really argue with Scripture. Paul writes in chapter 7 how marriage brings distress in one’s life that can be avoided, and that he truly believes those who remain single are more blessed. (I Corinthians 7: 28, 39-40) Marriage is something that God created and ordained, but I do not believe He intended it for all people. I do believe He cherishes the relationships He has with His children that are single in a special unique way. He has their attention and life all to Himself.
The most beautiful examples of single life to me come from monks and nuns. I have spent many hours reading their writings, orders and rules, and have visited with a few nuns and brothers for extended periods of time. While many people have a tendency to romanticize the life of those fully devoted to the Lord “professionally”, there is true beauty to be recognized. Some might believe this kind of life to be lonely, but their communities are lovely and become family. They are fully given over to the Lord’s will in their life, available in every sense of the word, and are supported by those who understand them fully.
Please do not misunderstand me in this brief reflection. Marriage is a wonderful institution the Lord has created and there are blessings and challenges that come along with it. Singleness is a wonderful life the Lord has also created and it too has blessings and challenges that come along with it. Both lifestyles are full of community, responsibility, and accountability. Both lifestyles have groups of people who can understand you and sympathize. What I want to share is simply that life as a single can be just as beautiful and just as celebrated as life as a married. My hope is that our children will know that life as a single is perfectly acceptable and can be God-given just as much as life in marriage. For those of you single and struggling being single, I pray you take comfort in Paul’s words. You are freer to devote yourself to the Lord. You are freer from distresses in this life that come from marriage. And you have the potential to be more blessed from remaining just as the Lord created you, single.