The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote a number of years ago on singleness, a stage of life that I’ve been in for a long time but which will be changing for me this month. If you remember it, then I pray it’s a helpful reminder to you. If you haven’t read it, then I encourage you to consider the value of marriage and singleness and the role they both play in the body of Christ.
To the married people: Single people tend to be lonely. How can you encourage and include the singles in your life? What can you learn from them?
Whenever I lead a premarital preparation class (I don’t really like using the phrase “premarital counseling”), I use a curriculum based on the book The Meaning of Marriage by Pastor Timothy Keller. If you are looking for a book to learn more about Christian marriage, or to use as a devotional with your spouse, I highly recommend reading the book. It is honest, insightful, and it points the reader to the true joy and hope found in marriage.
One of the chapters in the book is entitled, “Singleness and Marriage.” Most engaged couples I work with find it interesting that there is a session on singleness in a marriage class. However, the point that the author makes is very helpful. Sometimes we have a tendency of overvaluing marriage. Many cultures socially demand marriage by saying that one’s status and hope are tied to family and heirs. While that isn’t so much the case in America, we train our children that a “happily ever after” life includes a fairy tale romance, and even in Christian circles, we try to find excuses for singleness, as if that isn’t an appropriate or normal life to live.
The Bible says that there is great benefit to singleness. The Bible also says to “be fruitful and multiply,” and it exalts marriage as a very special institution. So which is it? Keller asserts that both singleness and marriage are acceptable and honorable lifestyles, because our ultimate joy is not found in our marital status. It’s important for single people to remember that Christ is their ultimate hope and joy, so that they don’t despair in their singleness. And it’s important for married – and engaged – couples to learn and be reminded that their spouse will not be able to fill the deepest needs of our heart. Only Christ can ultimately satisfy and bring peace.
I Corinthians 13 is the famous love chapter. If you go to a wedding this year, there’s a good chance you’ll hear it there. You may also hear verses from Ephesians 5. What I find fascinating about both of those texts is the contexts in which they are found. Paul is teaching on relationships within the Church, the Body of Christ. The love described in I Corinthians 13 is for everybody, married and single people! It’s the love we demonstrate to one another as Christians. It’s the love that Christ loves us with! Ephesians 5 talks specifically about marriage, and marriage is indeed a most beautiful thing. But those verses explain that it’s only beautiful because it points us to the love relationship that Christ has with us, the Church, His Bride.
Whatever your marital status – single, married, divorced, widowed – remember that your ultimate joy, satisfaction, and hope are found in Christ and Christ alone. Pray for the engaged couples in our congregation as they prepare for their special days and the lives that they will share. Pray for the single people in our congregation, that they would be comforted by the fulfillment found in Christ. And pray for our married couples, that they would see Christ as the Head of their home and the One who ultimately holds them, and all of us, together.
In Christ’s Love,
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