1 Corinthians 7:8-9, 32-35
“To the unmarried and the widows, I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
To single, or not to single – that is the question.
The first Christmas after graduating high school I asked a young lady to marry me. I felt the urge to merge – one hormone calling to another hormone – infatuation with the idea and privileges of marriage. Already in ministry, my fiancé began to experience the life of church leadership. Soon I was issued an ultimatum, the ministry or her. Well, I have now been in ministry over 40 years. Hurt – yes, blessed – definitely! God had someone in my future.
In today’s society, relationships are a big swirling vat of choices, life experiences, and human emotion. Some choose not to marry because; they don’t need the drama, they’ve witnessed horrendous breakups from trusted family or leaders, they’ve been hurt, or they can’t find that perfect person to meet their needs. Some are single because of the death of a spouse. Some are single because they have left a marriage or have been left. Single by choice or single by circumstance. What about being single?
The apostle Paul gives some guidance in I Corinthians 7. His main concern here has to do with correcting any wrong thinking about reasons to get married or to avoid marriage. Nobody should choose one over the other thinking it inherently more spiritual or more honoring to God. Those choosing to remain unmarried should make that choice based on the gifts God has given to them specifically. Those who choose marriage, or who are already married, however, should continue to honor their marriage commitment.
Being single does not mean being alone. You can interact with family, church, school, work, and hobbies. Paul speaks bout seeking God first in that most important relationship. When one focuses on serving God and serving others, the often self-absorbed mindset of single or married people now changes to a more outward focus on others. JOY –Jesus, Others, Yourself!
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- What are your thoughts and experiences from being single and how to they compare to what Paul says here?
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?
Jim Sellers, Minister of Music and Sr. Adults