Singleness: Why Me?
When I told my home group I had been asked to write an article on singleness, their first suggestion was to start with a selfie and my phone number – “That should do the trick!” I was struck that everyone in the group was single. Some were dating, some would like to be dating, some had reached middle age without marrying and Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) was an issue for at least one. It’s worth reminding ourselves that every human being experiences singleness. Some will marry, and half of them then experience singleness again when their spouse dies. So, while the issue may have a particular resonance for those with SSA, it is relevant to everyone – not least single Christians.
Getting a Biblical Perspective
The Christian norms that formed the basis of British society a hundred years ago have gone and have been replaced with a permissive “You can do and be whatever you like, provided you don’t hurt anyone” – no great surprise given that much of the church has also abandoned Biblical Christianity. Christians who hold to a Biblical worldview, as we do in TFT, find ourselves on a collision course with society – we are exiles in our own land (except of course – this earth is not our true home). For this reason, it’s worth stating some Biblical truths about relationships:
• Men and women bear the image of God (Gen 1:27)
• Sex is reserved for marriage – the lifelong commitment of one man and one woman (Gen 2:24)
• Being married and being single are of equal value (1 Cor 7:36-38)
• Sexual relationships are not essential for a meaningful life (1 Cor 7:8)
Christians look to the living Word of God – the Bible – rather than to YouTube, Instagram or reality TV to know how to live. To help us think about what it means to be single, we will first consider a Biblical perspective on this life, then we’ll think about how blessed we are and finally apply a few practical thoughts.
Take a moment to read Revelation 21. In verse 4, every tear will be wiped away. No more death, mourning, crying or pain – the old order (including singleness and marriage) will pass away. It is going to be amazing: the measurements speak of perfection, the jewels of magnificence, the glory of God will be its light. We will be satisfied beyond our wildest dreams: no longer will there be any curse (Rev 22: 3a). This is our destiny - for eternity! Our life on earth will be a mere blink in comparison. Eternity is going to be good, very, very, very good! This is our hope; this life with all its trials and tribulations, with its blessings and joys, with singleness and marriage is but a prelude. Eternity will be amazing, satisfying, fulfilling. No more struggling, dysfunctional relationships, loneliness, longing or fear. The point of this is not that we “grin and bear” this life in the hope of a better eternity – but that true fulfilment in this life and the next, is found in Jesus Christ. If we seek fulfilment in work or ministry or relationships or marriage – we will be disappointed. Only in Christ will we find our deepest longings met.
Count Your Blessings
When Satan tempted Eve, his tactic was to cast doubt on what God had said and focus on the one prohibition he had given (Gen 3). His tactics have not changed. We are bombarded by messages telling us about what we don’t have and why we need those things: how much better our lives will be when we get them. It is the root of materialism. It’s also the root of our dissatisfaction with our relationship status, our sex lives and our churches. We believe, consciously or otherwise, that God is with-holding from us the very thing that would give us fulfilment and pleasure. For those of us who are same-sex attracted, this can take on an added dimension: “Lord, I accept you don’t allow same-sex relationships – so make me straight so I can get married and not be alone.” We can idolise marriage or seek a “special friend” - the pseudo marriage.
As Christians, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit – we therefore have everything we need to be content and fulfilled. I know it often doesn’t feel that way: we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). When we begin to focus on what we have in Christ, then what we don’t have in this life pales into insignificance.
Let me finish with some practical thoughts:
• Being single can be hard and lonely. So can marriage.
• Be deliberate about building Christian friendships with people who are not same-sex attracted.
• If your church is poor at caring for single people, reach out to a couple of single people and encourage them. Set the example – don’t wait for another to take the lead.
• Enjoy the freedom and the simplicity of the single life – see the benefits not just the challenges.
• Serve the kingdom – some of my deepest friendships are with those I’ve served alongside.
• Practise hospitality (1 Pet 4:9) to other singles and to families. To avoid disappointment, do so without expecting a return invite.
• Be an encourager. I marvel when I see families arriving at church – mum, dad and three small kids in tow, all dressed, fed and in reasonable order. I struggle to get myself there. How do they do that? Tell them they’re doing a great job, compliment the kids.
• Engage with the children in your church – listen to them, talk to them, know their names. It gives their parents a break – and you a different perspective.
• Pity parties tend to only have one attendee.
Remember, you can eat of every tree in the garden except one. Enjoy what you do have: eternity is going to be amazingly wonderful. Therefore, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12: 1b-2)
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2019 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend.