By Not Known
Being single can be hard. Everyone else seems to be happily married and aunties and uncles keep asking the over 30s when they are getting married. Singles can feel out of place in a church that is mostly programmed around family activities.
Against this background it is refreshing to read 1 Cor 7. Paul, like Jesus, was single and he cheerfully prizes the life of the unmarried Christian.
As a general rule, Paul says that Christian should learn the art of contentment with whatever state they are in (vv 17- 24). He applies this to religious status and employment, but especially to marriage. The single person can be thankfully contented with the freedom and opportunities of singleness.
Paul does not denigrate marriage. He recognises that there are people who should get married and do so soon (e.g. vv7b, 36-38). However, he clearly prefers that others should share his single state (vv7a,8, 38) and even that widows should remain single (vv39- 40)
Paul gives two advantages of being single. Firstly, he has a sense of an imminent crisis (vv26&29). We don’t know what crisis he had in mind, but he does see it as a time for people to stay as they were. A crisis is not a time to be preoccupied with wedding plans. Secondly, eh is conscious that single Christians can give themselves more fully to Christian service. They have greater flexibility in time, cost less to support and are able to be 100% devoted to the Lord’s service. Compare that with a married person whose attention is divided (vv32-35).
About half our congregation are single. It’s good to remember this and watch for ways to make church single-friendly. This does not mean that the church becomes a dating agency. Rather we can provide space for singles to ‘belong’, to enjoy the company of other people and to be accepted as they are. Those of us who are married can extend hospitality to singles by including them in our family activities. In turn, we will find joy from the stimulation that they bring to our families.
So, let’s recognise that being single is a positive calling from God. Let’s pray that our singles will seize the opportunities and know the joys of their calling.