Jimmy’s Table PodcastCuriously evangelical. Politically homeless. A dreamer of small things. On this podcast, I am having conversations about the intersection of faith, life, and culture.

The Celebration Of Singleness Over Marriage- Episode #21

I believe we have made an idol out of the nuclear family unit. And we have done so to the point where those who are single are treated as having something inherently wrong with them, as if they were a leper. But far from having something wrong with them, I believe we should celebrate singleness, and see it as a normal practice.

Especially considering the following statistics. According to the U.S. Census, 45 percent of the adult population is single. That is 110 million people! And, 63 percent of the adult population has never been married.

According to some additional data, the average age for a man to get married is 29.8 years, and for a woman, 27.8 years. Such is significantly higher than a century ago, where the average man got married at 24.6 years of age, and women at 21.2.

Should You Get Married or Stay Single?

It’s a question I wrestled with for years. Especially after a broken engagement and long time of singleness until I was in my late 20’s. Such is long enough to make your mother worry.

I’ve also had family and friends who have been single for a long time. Many who a good Christians.

We often treat such folks as somehow defective, and missing out on life. They become second class citizens, excluded from many social circles in America and the church.

Our idolatry of the nuclear family unit in the church has caused us to become suspicious of anyone who is single and over 25 in the church. Yet we never question whether or not someone should stay single or get married. And I think we never question this because we lack a serious theological framework from which to question and decide such things.

I wanna take a moment and reflect on the Bible and the theology of marriage.

God Blessed Marriage

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…”

Genesis 1:28 NASB

We see from the beginning that creation is something that God gave mankind so that he would not be alone and that he would fill the earth.

Marriage Is A Divine Picture of the Gospel in Creation

“… for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church”

Ephesians 5:29-32 NASB

God uses marriage to provide a natural revelation to the world of a picture of what it is like to have an intimate relationship with God. Marriage is part of the Divine fingerprints of God left on the clay of creation.

Marriage Is An Old Testament Construct

Marriage is an awesome and good thing that God created and gifted the world with. But, contrary to Mormon theology, marriage is not an eternal thing. Marriage is fading away.

According to Jesus, in the ages to come, in the new earth, nobody will be married or be given in marriage. 

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Matthew 22:30 NASB

God designed marriage so man would not be alone, but that he’d be fruitful and multiply and fill the world with people. However the  world is now full of people. Billions have been born, and the New Testament sees the ages to come filled with an endless sea of people that will know nothing of marriage in the resurrection. Man is no longer alone, and the world is heavily populated.

The purposes of marriage are ultimately coming to an end. And while marriage is a great thing that God has given to creation for now, it will not be something that endures forever and ever. Adam and Eve have filled creation as commanded. They have been replaced by a Second Adam. And under the reign of the Second Adam, nobody will be alone, as the world will be full.

Eunuchs For Christ’s Sake

Under the New Testament , Jesus talks about the need to be eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of God, and the apostle Paul promotes singleness as being preferred over marriage.  Consider the following verses, which I discuss more fully in my podcast at the top of this page.

“For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

Matthew 19:12 NASB

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7:1-2 NASB

But this I say by way of concession, not of command. Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

1 Corinthians 7:6-9 NASB

But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 NASB

As a church we should celebrate singleness instead of treating singles as lepers. One should be able to live and die as a single without looking down on themselves as somehow living a lesser life that went unfulfilled. While marriage is amazing and should be rightfully exalted, it shouldn’t be exalted at the expense of singles. 

If anything, singleness should be esteemed as the ultimate expression of Christianity, not the family. If we get married, it should only be because we feel called to marriage, not because that’s simply what our default disposition is. We all need to embrace the teaching of Jesus, and to spiritually become as if we were eunuchs.

Eunuchs, in case you were unaware, were individuals who, either through a birth defect or surgical procedure, had defective sexual organs that were unable to enjoy sexual pleasure or reproduce. Jesus teaching on marriage and divorce in Matthew 19 says, spiritually, we all need to be like eunuchs. And as such, requires us to consider the possibility of lifelong celibacy and singleness. Such may be a hard thing to accept according to Jesus, but, He said not everyone is able to accept this teaching.

We can see the apostle Paul also picked up on this theology in his letter to the Corinthians. While handling some scandalous issues in the church, the topic of marriage, singleness, and sexuality was brought up. The sum of Paul’s teaching on the matter is quite simple: Marriage is awesome and a gift given to us by God, but while you have freedom in Christ to choose marriage over being single, you should be like the apostle Paul, and embrace singleness in order that you might serve the Lord without distraction. For in the kingdom of God, singleness is to be preferred over marriage.

Reasons To Stay Single And Not Get Married

Ultimately, the gospel frees us to freely choose to get married or to be single. But if you choose to be single, that is an awesome thing that we should rejoice and celebrate over. You are not a second class citizen for choosing to be single. You can have a fulfilling life without getting married and having kids. And you can have that because of Jesus Christ.

So if you are considering whether or not to get married one day or to remain single, let me give you seven reasons why I believe it might be a good idea for you to stay single.

  1. Because you want to serve the Lord, and set yourself apart for a special work that requires the level of attention only a single person can give.
  2. If you are currently single, be happy being single, and be prepared to stay single for a long season, or the rest of your life.
  3. If you are divorced. Especially if you have multiple divorces. You may not realize it yet, but God may be calling you to a life of being single instead of being married.
  4. If you are a widow. Only get married if you really feel the desires to be married.
  5. If you have a lack of sexual desire, then you probably should not get married. Being married is more than just having a roommate and someone to help pay the bills. Sex is part of marriage.
  6. If you are wrestling with same sex attraction, then you should consider the teaching of Jesus to be a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of God.
  7. You don’t feel called to be married. Simply put, if you do not feel that calling and such doors are not opening up to you, then do not feel any pressure to try and get married. Celebrate being single, and rejoice in such a decision. Embrace your calling.

Leave a Reply

  • Hi Jimmy,

    Some remarks on this statement of yours: “If you are wrestling with same sex attraction, then you should consider the teaching of Jesus to be a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of God.”

    I just want to point out that:

    1. “Same-sex attraction” is a euphemism, and it’s better to use biblical terminology i.e. “same-sex lust”.

    2. The biblical prescription for someone who struggles with lust – be it heterosexual lust, homosexual lust, pedophlic lust, porn addiction – is not celibacy or being a eunuch. The freedom that Christ offers is total and complete (John 8:36), we just have to learn to appropriate our identity and freedom in Christ. I know this is true from my own experience.

    The fundamental issue today is that the majority of churches have not been successful in ministering freedom to strugglers of all stripes (e.g. lust, porn addiction, drug addiction, alcoholism, depression). They then assume this is the “normal Christian life” and tried to reinterpret Scripture through their eyes of unbelief.

    You might be interested in this post which discusses these issues in great detail from a Scriptural perspective: http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=58125



    • Hey John,

      Thanks for writing, I appreciate your thoughts.

      1) I am perfectly fine with using the term “same-sex attraction” as I am with “same-sex lust.” I don’t think one idea or phrasing here is any more correct. People are tempted in a lot of different ways. And folks struggle with those things. Even after conversion, we may continue to experience the temptation associated with a wide variety of lusts, be it with same sex or opposite sex attraction… or any number of issues. What the causes of those temptations are can be complex. Part of it can be biological and associated with the Fall, that predisposes us to certain temptations that others never experience. Some of it can simply be things we expose ourself to that eventually work their ways into our hearts and minds.

      2) To make it clear as I might have been a little fuzzy on the issue – I believe we are ALL called to be eunuchs for Christ’s sake, whether it be as singles, or individuals who are married. Our identity is to be grounded in that of a eunuch. How that works out may be different for different people and where they are in their life. This is true for singles, folks that struggle with homosexual lusts, divorcees, widows, and even married folks. Yes, Christ offers us complete freedom. But that doesn’t mean everyone is called to be married. And if anyone is struggling with homosexual thoughts and desires and temptations, then they should find their freedom as being a eunuch and practicing celibacy as they continue to bring those temptations before the Lord and offer their lives as a living sacrifice to Him. As a practical matter, I would not encourage such a person to get married until they have sufficiently wrestled with that issue in their life.

      Thanks for sharing your link, I’ll be sure to read through it and check it out. I’ve not been on Sermon Index in a few years.

      God bless,


  • Hi Jimmy hope you and your family are doing ok. I read this blog after reading your latest. It’s been encouraging to me. I’m almost 30 and am single and it’s viewed very suspiciously and makes you feel isolated. One of the worst things is when churches penalise single people on away trips by making them pay a single supplement on a room! No wonder most of us don’t go! Thank you for reminding us that singleness is also a good thing and the ultimate goal is to become more like Christ whether we’re married or single. Blessings Shelly

  • Thanks for pointing this out!

    I’ve only been in churches where being single was the same as being a leper. Once you get to around 25 that is when they tell a man they should “find a wife” and the women “you better get married before it is too late to have kids.” Even if not explicitly stated (though sometimes it is to people) there is the underlying notion that parents with children are far more important to the life of the church. Father’s and Mother’s day are celebrated IN church. I really do have a problem with this. For some that day is very painful, maybe they never met anyone, maybe there is an infertile couple, maybe their mom is a nightmare. The Church shouldn’t be having a party on father’s and mother’s day! Also when the pastor only says positive things about his life in relation to either their spouse or children. What about BEFORE your spouse or children? Was anything good in your life then? Because it doesn’t sound like it, and therefore it sounds like anyone not like you is not as “blessed.” Sometimes pastors honestly don’t know they are singling out single people but it happens really frequently. Then of course is the fact that if you are female and 30+ you probably won’t meet anyone. I say this because usually the 30+ females are seen as “too old,” even by men in their own church, and even if they are attractive, fit, and can take care of themselves. The men who are 30+ are busy trying to date the 20 year olds. No joke. I’ve seen it so many times. The 40 year old dude who is with the 25 year old. But, when you are told the only use for yourself is making babies, and there are more girls than guys in the church in general you go for the 40 year old creeper, thus perpetuating the problem.

    Then there is the whole women should not be educated thing that happens in church. This goes along with the barefoot and pregnant is your sole purpose in life. I’ve had men tell me I’m terrible for going to school (literally) supposed Christians saying this. But how else can I even think about getting my own apartment?!!! And it isn’t 1910 anymore, the dynamics and cost of living have changed so that even if I was married I would need to work. That is really frowned down upon though by some people depending what denomination you are in.

    Single people also are not allowed to be leaders. I’ve been to two churches where it is pretty obvious they don’t let singles lead ANYTHING. Sure, they can volunteer to “assist” but be a leader? No. And this isn’t in any way shape or form being the senior pastor. Forget that Paul himself was a single man and spread the gospel. Nah… he wouldn’t have been qualified enough to lead a small group that basically regurgitates the Sunday message, or form a social group, or anything else. Nope gotta leave that to the “marrieds” which basically sends another message to singles that you are NOT QUALIFIED. Even if you are really good at organizing, or could lead something, nah… forget it. You aren’t married, you aren’t having sex, you have no kids, you are UNQUALIFIED! Go into the “children’s” pile since you aren’t an adult yet.

    The American church needs to wake up, and grow up if it wishes to retain any members. Churches in most cities are skewed with more females than males, more professional people working (of both genders) and less nuclear family. You can’t spend all your finances on children’s church and leave behind the main demographics at many churches!

    It is sad and sick that churches will spend thousands for a vacation bible school each year for K-6 (and lets face it- how much of that do they honestly remember!?) and ZERO on singles. ZERO! If they cared about singles as much as they did married couples or children they would put their money where their mouth was.

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