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
1 Corinthians 7:1-2 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you are a widow. Only get married if you really feel the desires to be married.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.