Singleness: A Blessing or a Curse?

By Fern Horst

I used to think that singleness was about the worst lot in life a person could have. I don’t think it helped that I read every Christian romance novel I could get my hands on. It all seemed so wonderful that I couldn’t imagine what an awful thing it would be to end up…single!

After a number of years had passed and with them a few romantic disappointments, I was forced to take a second look at singleness…and at some of those novels. I began to look around me at some of the single people I knew and I began to wonder. What about Sarah? She’s as faithful to the Lord as anyone I know, why hasn’t God “rewarded” her with a mate? And what about David? He certainly doesn’t seem to be one who is deserving of singleness. After all, hasn’t he chosen to go to that remote mission field for the Lord’s sake? Of all people, doesn’t he “need” a wife?

I realized that the undercurrent message of many of those Christian romance novels was a lie. After all, not every sweet and wonderful person ends up with a “happily ever after” walk down the aisle. Romance obviously isn’t the beautiful ending to every difficult situation. And a wedding isn’t the reward for those who trust God and wait on Him for His perfect timing. As warm and fuzzy as these concepts are to us, they just aren’t true.

Rather than adopting the perspective of romance novels, even Christian ones, we would do better to find God’s perspective in verses such as these:

But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. (I Corinthians 7:32-35)There be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (Matthew 19:12b)

Evidence from these verses show that some of the most faithful of God’s people choose singleness and celibacy “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake”. I know of one single pastor who says that he never chose singleness; rather, he chose ministry and has realized that a wife and family would not fit well into the situation and calling God has given him. Singleness has been a blessing in his life, not only for him, but for those he has been called to serve.

I’ve also come to realize that not all tender-hearted, motherly-type women are chosen of God to have children of their own. Listen to Amy Carmichael’s words: “Perhaps because there are so many perishing for lack of love in a world which can be hard and cold to birds which have no nest of their own, He wants some mother-hearts to be free to make nests for them.” Amy* lived from 1867-1951 and chose a lifetime of celibacy in order to serve the Lord in India. She became mother to many children who would otherwise have been temple prostitutes. She is a literal example of these verses in Isaiah 54:1:

Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.

The single man is not to be left out on the blessing. Isaiah 56:5 makes this promise to the single men who “choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant”:

Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

So, is singleness a curse? No! Only when we indulge in self-pity because we are single or use it for selfishness. Is it a blessing? Yes! When we choose to use it “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake”, whether it be for a season of our lives or for a lifetime. You may be saying as I often have — “But I didn’t really choose this!” No, but perhaps God has, for your blessing and for the blessing you will be to many. This is where the true rewards of trusting Him come…not in a spouse, but in a blessing deeper and far more wonderful than any earthly relationship could ever be. Won’t you trust Him for the blessing He chooses to give you?

*Amy’s story has been told by Elisabeth Elliot in the book, A Chance to Die. Visit the bookstore to find out more about this book, as well as books written by Amy Carmichael.

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