February 22, 2023 Samuel Lindsay

Advantages of Singleness

Advantages of Singleness

Last time I wrote about discovering the gift of singleness. I recommend going back and reading what I said, if you haven't already, because it sets the scene for our continuing look into this topic.

So let's say you have ascertained "Yes, I have the gift of singleness, I am content to remain unmarried." Now what? What is the advantage? How do I use this gift?

Well, once again the the Lord lays the groundwork through the apostle Paul. We are given the principles that we then apply to our specific circumstances, hopefully with heavenly wisdom.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (Jas 1:5).

Paul himself shows us an example of applying this wisdom in the circumstances of the Corinthian church. It seems the church was going through a hard time, possibly a reference to persecution, and Paul gives some advice on how to apply the principles to the engaged (i.e. betrothed) couples in light of what was going on. We don't need to get into the details of that here, but it is worth seeing the way he works through it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Then in 1 Corinthians 7 we see why singleness is advantageous:

"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" (1 Co 7:32–35).

It basically comes down to divided attention and other resources. It is no sin to be concerned for a spouse with all the effort and attention that requires, but it does mean that you are not free to use that effort and attention elsewhere.

If I could make a rather crude comparison: when you get a pet you have additional responsibilities and costs and emotional investment. This can be a good and positive thing, but there are a trade-offs. You can't go away at the drop of a hat because you need a pet-sitter. You can't spend that money for pet food on other important things. You can't sleep-in because the cat is needling your face to make you wake up and feed them...

People weigh up the options and often choose to take on additional responsibilities because they think overall the benefits outweigh the investment cost.

The much more high-value human relationships have an investment to benefit ratio as well, and one of the considerations that Paul brings to bear is the way that marriage will occupy a fair chunk of life resources that you can no-longer use in pursuit of holiness.

Married people are working to please the Lord and seek holiness in the midst of their relationship and changing nappies and providing for their families and so on, however these good things crowd their lives in a way that single folk are free from. The single's pursuit of holiness is less encumbered by such anxieties and so you are free to be more dedicated in seeking to please the Lord. Your attention can be less divided.

You will usually still have the burdens of providing for your own needs and whatnot, but your flexibility will often far surpass the married person. Paul used this flexibility to go on extended missionary journeys proclaiming the Gospel and planting churches. That may not be your gifting, but it raises the question, how can you use your gifting with undivided devotion to the Lord?

It should also be said; the gift of singleness is not necessarily a lifelong gift - you could loose a spouse, or it could be that you end up marrying later in life. But wherever you are now, love God with all of your mind, body, strength in whatever martial status you have, then do the same again if that situation changes.

So in summary, the single person is free from the anxieties that married folk have, so you can be "anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord..." and "how to be holy in body and spirit" (1 Co 7:32-34) because your interests are less divided. Find joy in the particular way that you are enabled to serve the Lord.

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain" (1Co 15:58).

Samuel Lindsay