By Jimmy De Los Santos
No doubt you stopped at the title of this blog and thought to yourself, “That’s a title fit for Valentine’s Day.” I hope the blog helps during this season that can be a joy for some and melancholy for others. At the very least, I hope it gets us thinking about the decisions that we make when we decide to be single for the Kingdom of God. After all, doesn’t the Bible tell us that some of us will be gifted with Singleness?
You may appeal to 1 Corinthians 7:7-9 as the passage where Paul designates “Singleness” to be a gift. I would make the appeal that isn’t what Paul meant by this. There is a huge difference between having God’s grace upon you to be able to live in a state of singleness to His glory and some type of charismatic gift that gives you the power to be single in perpetuity.
I would ask you to study the entire chapter in context and I believe you will find that Paul is advising wise decisions be made when it comes to being married or staying single. All I am stating here at the beginning of this blog is that “singleness” is a modern concept that Christians have adopted into their philosophy for various reasons. The questions I want to tackle are, “Is this God’s will?” or “Is this man’s imposition or rule?”
Is Singleness God’s Will
Recently, I went to Half Price Books and found a stack of books I wanted to buy. It didn’t feel right to buy so many so I divided the stack in 2 and took a picture. I sent this photo to the Elders in my church to help me in my decision. They took too long to respond, and I made the decision on my own. When they finally did respond they agreed with the choice that I had made, but then asked if I had spent my bookstore money. (Side note: I am going to the G3 Regional Conference this week and they always have a great bookstore.) My reply to them was simply this, “My wife didn’t give me an allowance on books, so…..”
If you’re a listener of our Podcast you know that Henry and Chris are married, and I am not. This is the beauty of singleness; nobody is going to be upset with how much I spent at the bookstore. In all honesty, I’d rather have their problem than this freedom. I broached this subject at the onset of this section because you may ask, “What right does this single man have to write about relationships or, in this case, non-relationships?” You may be right; I may not have the right to speak into your life about this decision you have made. But I would appeal to my single state as a life’s worth of experience in the area. If that really isn’t good enough for you, let’s go to God’s Word.
Then Yahweh God said, “It is not good for man to be alone: I will make him a helper suitable for him.” LSB
Oh no, here comes the patriarchy!
I kid, but not really. Today’s modern culture looks at that verse and only sees one thing: the Bible says that woman was made for man. The item ignored in that passage by the elite evangelicals of today is the fact that man needed the help.
Woman wasn’t created for man’s consumption, she was created because it’s not good for man to be alone and he needed help in his covenant of works, taking dominion over creation. The feminists have it wrong, God intended for woman to help man in his endeavors. We can tackle the subject of how man has abused this position, but I’ll save that subject for another day.
God performed the first wedding soon after Eve’s creation and then He instituted the first one flesh union. God is the initiator of the natural order of things and His will for this world. As we read scripture it is quite easy to see God’s will for humanity was to have dominion over this world as captured in Genesis 1:26. The one flesh union of man and woman was intended by God for that endeavor.
Does this mean that I believe that singleness is sin? By no means. We will cover some of that in a bit, but I want to make this point clear, God’s intent for us was to flourish, be fruitful and multiply. He always intended to show His glory through the provision He shows as we take care of this home and all its inhabitants.
Haven’t things changed since the New Testament? Let’s go to scripture once again.
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
I wanted to make sure I included the context lest I be accused of lifting a verse out for the purposes of my thesis. I simply want to point out that Jesus doubled down on the Creation narrative and supported the original purpose of the one flesh union. He did this even to say that what God has started, man should not separate.
That brings me to my next question.
Is Singleness man’s will or imposition?
If God’s will is for man and woman to come together and become one, then why do so many people today desire to not marry? Or, at least why are they waiting until later in life?
According to statistics, the median age for a man to marry in 1950 was 22.8 and women married at an average age of 20.3 years old. In comparison, 2010 showed an increase in age to 28.2 for men and 26.1 for women. According to theknot.com, that average has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. In 2020, they reported the average age for males was 33 and for women 32. Of course, these are statistics in the United States, but that is the context I am writing in. Why has the average age of marriage increased by 10 years for men and 12 years for women in the span of 70 years?
Could it be that parents influence their children to wait for the “right time?” Some parents will use the “financially stable” argument to keep their kids from making that leap. Others will simply say that you aren’t adult enough to make that type of decision. Some are bold enough to entice their kids with the college party tour and tell them they must experience life before making such a huge commitment. Whether it is the parents’ advice or the decision of the adults in question, the question to be asked is are we trusting God with all our ways and acknowledging Him in that decision?
While I am not advocating the marriage of teenagers, I would say that historically the age of marriage was a lot younger than what we see now and with the knowledge that God intended for man to be fruitful and multiply, I would venture to say that the intent from God’s perspective was to marry early because there is a limited amount of time for that fruitfulness to occur. Marrying in your 30’s severely limits the possibilities of having very many children.
I want to shift the focus away from age, because that’s only one aspect of how man’s will overshadows God’s intent in the area of singleness and marriage.
Let’s discuss how men and women choose their mates these days. Forgive my naivete when it comes to this, but I’m not sure if it’s swipe right or left when rejecting or choosing in whatever application is being used these days. But we now have a lot of data to examine in determining what those in search of a relationship are using as their criteria for matching with someone.
Frontiers in Psychology published an article in September 2019, publishing findings of the data of over 1 million dating app users. We don’t have the space or time to go over all the items in the article but some things that stood out to me were “mobile device type” and “height.”
Who would have thought that the devices we employ would make a difference in our choices for the person we match up with? The data suggests that there is an increase of 8.9% in effective matches when the device the participants use is the same type. I suppose this is what perpetuates the iPhone vs Android division in our culture today.
Next is one that is dear to me, not just because I am of Zaccheus stature, but because it really goes to show the superficiality of the “choosing” process. I’ll quote the article:
“Height has been shown to have an impact on multiple facets of dating choices. The literature suggests that taller men have a higher chance of generating initial interest among women, that heterosexual couples where men are several inches taller than women are happier, and that shorter men are likely to marry later in life.”
In a 2010 blog entitled, “The Big Lies People Tell In Online Dating,” OkCupid outed men for lying about their height. They stated that almost universally men added 2 inches to their height in their profiles.
You might have a smile on your face right now as I have ventured into comical territory, but I want to ask a serious question, “Why do men feel they need to lie about their height to even raise some initial interest in their profiles?” It’s simple, they understand what women are seeking and this goes to my point, we are using worldly standards to choose who we match up with.
Let’s take a look at what scripture has to say.
6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:6-7
Why should we take a standard that God rejects and use that to find a mate. My point is that the world has engrained an idea in the minds of men and women as to what a perfect mate is supposed to be, but that isn’t the way God looks at things.
Besides that, as Christians we know that no one is perfect, we are all flawed and sinful individuals. Only Christ can justify an individual and present him righteous before the Father.
Still, that man that is out there, single and waiting is waiting for the mate that will be the help that he needs in his endeavor to glorify God in all they do together.
I am hoping this helps, but I want to make a last point. The catalyst for this article is scripture. I know that there are some that read this article and think, “This guy is just bitter and is lashing out because he hasn’t found anyone.” I am not going to deny that I have felt the sting of rejection at times, and neither will I deny that I have been affected by the standards set in my own mind influenced by the world and thus have probably rejected what was possibly a good choice. Both of those things are true of me, but that isn’t the catalyst for this article.
I’ll let you read the passage and then we can discuss.
10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” ~ Matthew 19:10-12
I believe there are people out there, (Christians), who read this verse and say to themselves, “This is what I will do – I will make myself a figurative eunuch for the kingdom of heaven, it’s a noble thing.” The problem is that these persons may be using this scripture as the excuse to not fulfill God’s command to be fruitful and multiply and to take dominion.
They aren’t involved in any heaven expanding ministries but have resigned themselves to the fact that they will be single their whole lives. They have set impossible standards for their ideal mate, never understanding that, in their position as “help sufficient,” that mate can do great things for the kingdom, in God’s will and timing of course.
I don’t doubt there are people out there that are truly doing the work of the Lord and being married would hinder that work. That’s biblical. All I am saying is that, if you have made the decision to be “gifted with singleness,” search your heart and make sure the motive is pure and that you haven’t just given up on finding someone who fits a worldly standard.
If you find you have been using a worldly standard to make that choice and that is what has hindered you, stop, repent, ask God to make a mate attractive to you because they are Godly and equally yoked to you and your union will glorify Him.
And, yes, I am writing this for all my Godly brothers out there who need you to open your eyes to how Godly and loving they can be, even if they have to do it while looking up to you.