Singles in the Church: The Bride's Sibling Revival
- Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, in the sight of Almighty God, and in the presence of these witnesses here assembled, to unite these single believers together in the bonds of Christ-honoring relationships as joint members of the Bride of Christ.
OK, so maybe there are no vows for single Christians, but does that mean we don't have relationship responsibilities to each other?
Might one of the reasons many churches consider us a ghost demographic be our reluctance to fellowship well within our faith communities? Do we use our singlehood as a relationship crutch, or as a holding pattern until we get married? How many of us impatiently ditch God's mandate for sexual purity?
Singlehood affords us unique opportunities to establish friendships with a variety of people. And yes, one of those friendships may, in fact, lead to marriage. But don't get ahead of yourself! What can single believers do to develop and maintain Christ-honoring relationships, and how can we help each other remain accountable to our Eternal Bridegroom, Christ himself?
Mature Beyond the Meat Market
God created diversity for a reason. Being involved in a community of faith involves cultivating genuine interpersonal connections, which in turn widen our perspectives and help us exercise our spiritual gifts. Singles who impulsively scan the Sunday school classroom for new spousal potential or hover within their own preferred cohort can miss participating in the broader body of believers, which is intended to be interdependent. If you feel isolated in your church, it may have little to do with your marital status.
Unless you're from a culture where your parents choose your spouse, it's only natural for singles to evaluate members of the opposite sex regarding their compatibility as a possible mate. Being biblically discriminating isn't itself a sin. Just don't view every friendship with the opposite sex as a pre-marriage interview.
But how many churches foster just such an environment with their singles programming? We all know which churches have the meat markets where we live. They're the ones relying more on popular culture for inspiration than the Gospel. They can be fun to attend, but be suspicious if your senses get more stimulated than your mind.
Think about it: Our culture strives to gratify lusts and crowns self as king. How can the fruits of the spirit flourish in that mindset? Don't forget that the very elements that characterize happily married people should also indwell singles: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control. God doesn't wrap up these gifts with a bow and give them to us on our wedding day. Why not start applying them now!
Brothers and Sisters
Can we discuss relationships among singles without admitting sexual purity is on life support, even among believers? Carnal perversions assault us and distort our ability to view each other as sisters and brothers in Christ.
Nevertheless, our sibling interconnectedness can't be denied. We're joint heirs (Romans 8:16-17), which puts us on an equal playing field in terms of the value Christ places on us. We're also children of God (1 John 3:1), which means we have the same father. Let that give you pause the next time you're tempted to look at a fellow believer lustfully.
We're also supposed to bear with one another in love, comfort one another, and look out for the welfare of one another (Ephesians 4:1-16). These are all mandates given to us by our Holy Father whether we're married or not. If we can't practice these while we're single, though, what's it going to be like if we get married?
Here again, those of us who place too great a value on our culture will find ourselves at a disadvantage, because few examples of such sibling responsibility manifest themselves in the world around us. For example:
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