Friday, 2 December 2011

How Should Singleness Be Different For Christians?

"I say secure your undivided devotion to the Lord." (1 Corinthians 7:35). This is what Paul wants unmarried men and women to be doing with their gift of singleness. He wants them to be undividedly devoted to the Lord. This is what a genuine Christian singleness looks like, it is a life undividedly devoted to loving and serving our Lord Jesus.

Yet there is a world of difference between this, and the growing emphasis on singleness in our culture. Singleness for a Christian is to be radically different to the breed of singleness that is rife in our culture. A few years back, John Piper was asked a couple of questions on how singleness ought to be different for Christians and what questions the single Christian needs to be asking themselves. Here is what he said:

How should singleness be different for Christians?

I don't think that a lot of the singleness that we see happening today is designed to increase devotedness to the Lord. That's what Paul said it should be. He said that the problem with marriage in crisis situations that he found himself in was that it would distract a person from full devotion to the Lord.

Well, when I look around at the kind of secular singleness we see today, that's the last thing on many singles' minds. "I'm keeping myself free from the entanglements of marriage in order that there might be a more radical focus on and devotion to Jesus Christ"—that kind of thinking is not what is dictating the change of statistics in our culture.

No, it's probably almost the reverse. Many people are afraid of commitments and relationships, and many people are eager to stretch their wings and do their own thing. And then maybe later, when they've traveled the world and done lots of things that satisfied them, then maybe they will lock in to somebody...maybe.

So there's a lot of the independence and a lot of desire to satisfy their own immediate desires, which has nothing to do with what Paul was talking about, namely, increased devotion to the Lord.

How would you challenge a Christian who has these selfish desires?
I would say that singleness is a gift for as long as you have it. Some people God means to have it for a lifetime, and some people God means to have it for a season. But while you have it, consult the Scriptures to see how you can maximize the freedoms of singleness for the glory of Christ, because there are advantages to being married, and there are advantages to singleness when it comes to serving Jesus.

And I would just encourage Christian single people to ask, "For this chapter in my life, while I am single, what is it about my singleness that could make me especially fruitful for Christ?" And then I would encourage them to give themselves to that.