What Does the Bible Actually Say about Being Single?
- Hope Bolinger Author
- 2021 26 Aug
What does the Bible say about being single? I can tell you, from firsthand experience, that what the Bible says about singleness often runs contrary to what culture tells us ... and sadly, what the modern church tells us. Many single Christians often feel ostracized, demoted to second-class citizens in the church, and forgotten. But the Bible actually encourages us to be single if we can and aren't overrun by passion.
So in this article let's explore what the Bible says about singleness, how it conflicts with what the church says today, and how we can move forward in reconciliation efforts in our churches with singles. Let's dive in.
What Does the Bible Say about Being Single?
What does the Bible say about being single? We've often heard people in the church—often those who are married or in a relationship—flippantly say, "Well, singleness is a gift. Enjoy it." To which, we emphatically want to reply, "Then why aren't you single?" But the Bible has a lot of positive things to say about singleness. So let's dissect what does the Bible say about being single, passage by passage.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35: "I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord."
Lesson one: Singleness gives our undivided attention to the Lord. Relationships divide it.
Allow me to explain via an example. Do you ever have a friend who, when single, would have so much time to spend with you? He or she would drop anything to grab coffee or go on a hike with you. Then, they got a girlfriend or boyfriend. Suddenly, you never see them.
The same thing happens in untempered relationships in the church. People find they have to juggle much more when they have a significant other. This isn't to say that married folks can't serve God well, but they'll have more obstacles in doing so.
Lesson two: We can't take our spouse with us to heaven as, well, our spouse.
This isn't to say that marriage on earth isn't worth it. Obviously, God blesses marriages and says man shouldn't be alone (note that alone can also mean without community. We'll address this hot button issue in a moment). But Christians often get so wrapped up in the future wedding that they forget we only stay married while we live on earth.
1 Corinthians 7:7-8: "I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do."
Lesson three: Both Paul and Jesus (Matthew 19:11-12) encourage singleness.
Not everyone can remain single. We can probably think of people we know who burn with passion so much that they simply MUST get married. It often explains why many Christians will rush the wedding date because they simply cannot wait.
But if you can wait, and have received the gift of singleness/celibacy, you have ample opportunity to have a laser focus on God, serve more, and more have opportunities to spread the love of Jesus to the community.
Now that we've established what the Bible says about the gift of singleness, let's explore the often hurtful lies the church (and culture) can perpetuate about singles.
Lies the Church Perpetuates about Singleness
I'd recently posted a PSA on Facebook about some of these hurtful things the church says. I remember one commenter said something along the lines of, "It's crazy how my teeth are automatically set on edge whenever I read the words, 'Dear Single Christians,' because I automatically assume they're going to tell me what I did wrong to deserve my singleness." So let's explore some hurtful misconceptions the church has about singles.
Misconception one: Singles did something to deserve their singleness.
Whether latent or blatant, many people who marry in the church hold this belief about their brethren and sisters who have not yet found their equally yoked partner. Although sometimes, yes, sin can lead to consequences, I can guarantee in most cases, it's just because the dating world is awful, and finding a husband or wife is significantly harder to find than, say, a few decades ago.
Not only does this lie completely disregard the fact that God gives the gift of singleness, but it makes the single person feel as though they deserved some sort of punishment for a past transgression. In one group I'd left, a married person posted that if girls lost 15-30 pounds, they could finally win the affection of a man.
Misconception two: Singles are second-class citizens.
Again, blatant or latent, churches often gear their activities, groups, and events toward families and married couples. The church doesn't often know what to do with singles, so they will cram them into one small group or begrudgingly allow them into an activity—but rarely will ask the opinion of a single person on spiritual matters. Churches often place married people, especially married people with kids, on a pedestal.
Misconception three: God has a "soulmate" for everyone. Singles simply aren't believing enough in him, and so he has withheld the husband/wife from them.
Singles, tell me if this sounds familiar. "You're idolizing relationships, and that's why God isn't granted you one." "You need to trust in God more." "God has someone for you."
Married people don't often want to sit with singles in the hurt, so they say flippant statements like this to change the subject. The truth is not all singles will find someone, and most singles don't have a lack of trust in God.
How Can We Heal?
We can start by looking at what Scripture actually says about singleness. What does the Bible say about being single? Wonderful things, and we should treat it as such rather than treating our single friends like they have some sort of contagious disease.
We can also heal by churches making events and groups more single-friendly. The nuclear family dynamic may be the ideal in the church, but we don't always see that happening within our congregations. Divorces happen, people lose their loved ones, and some people simply haven't found their significant other yet, and they may never do so.
We heal by helping the least of these that we have hurt. And trust me, if you ask any single person in the church if they have been hurt by the church, I can almost guarantee the answer will be "Yes."
So we start by opening the doors, opening our hearts, and opening our ears to listen.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Fernando Brasil
Hope Bolinger is an acquisitions editor at End Game Press, and the author 21+ books. More than 1400 of her works have been featured in various publications. Check out her books at hopebolinger.com for clean books in most genres, great for adults and kids.