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The gift of singleness
As with any state in life, singleness must be met with thankfulness, just as we must be thankful for cancer or wildfires or Barak Obama. God assigns us every phase of life, and it is not an accident.
The following is a guest post from Will Drzycimski, one of our essay contest winners. (Writing Prompt: “Is singleness a gift?”) The views expressed in these essays do not necessarily reflect the views of Dominion Dating.
For various reasons and by various means, the teaching that singleness “is a gift” has got about in the Christian church. Like many other things that have got about, like your teen-aged son’s pet bull snake, this has been the cause of much excitement, most of it not good. —Douglas Wilson, November 25th, 2020
There are very few pastors, especially in these raucous times, who are not afraid of their congregants. In contrast, Douglas Wilson could care less about addressing the sin and shortcomings of the church in general. One would think that leaving home, finding a job, seeking a wife, getting married, and having children would be a simple matter. Even pagans do it. But Christians have become complacent, and today we are seeing the final gasps of a Christianity-for-show religion that results in little else than a short, fuzzy, spiritual experience on Sunday mornings. Alas, battles for the culture are won and lost in the church, and much of the church hasn’t recognized this. How did we get here? Should we not be thankful for everything, including singleness? And what’s the whole point in the first place?
An Analysis of the Trajectory
When a young man or woman find themselves looking at a wide, frightening world in front of them, their first question is “Where will I go to college?” This helpful catch phrase immediately pushes back the execution of long-term plans, tough decisions, and spiritual growth to a distant place roughly four years into the future. At the end of this time, the only certain guarantee is a hopeless mound of student loan debt. Thus dunked in ice water, the best anyone can do is get any job available for the immediate purpose of keeping the respiratory orifices above the water line. Unfortunately, some few select geniuses imagine that going back to college might be a good idea. Maybe something will click. But most consider marriage as a luxury item that is not a financially responsible lifestyle choice, especially if fornication isn’t a big deal.
Men enjoy the lack of required responsibility, and women are enslaved to the workforce, where their years of childbearing fruitfulness and beauty pass quietly by. At this point, both sexes have misplaced their priorities to the extent that we only know how to work the system and survive. Anything beyond this involves too much effort. The modern church, lacking a thirst for truth, has therefore conveniently invented a new idea, called the Gift of Singleness. Any policy addressing the real issue would turn down business, after all.
As repentant Christians, we must look at the situation biblically. Is the state of singleness truly a gift? Vaughan Roberts points out, “When Paul speaks of singleness as a gift, he is not speaking about a particular ability that some people have to be contentedly single. He is speaking rather of the state of being single. For as long as you have it, that is a gift from God, just as marriage will be God’s gift.” Put another even more striking way, “A three-year-old is single, and that is a gift to everyone, in pretty much every direction” (also Doug Wilson).
1st Thessalonians 5:8 commands us to “Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” As with any state in life, singleness must be met with thankfulness, just as we are also commanded to be thankful for cancer or wildfires or Barak Obama. God assigns us every phase of life, and it is not an accident.
In his blog article “Singleness as Affliction”, Doug Wilson defined the difference between singleness and celibacy, two key terms that are rather carelessly handled these days. Celibacy refers to a single person embracing the work of furthering the kingdom as a responsible adult, free from the sexual temptations that distract a normal person. Therefore, the pursuit of celibacy without kingdom work is called laziness. Celibacy is often claimed by those exercising a show of bitterness and victimhood to excuse their marital status.
Singleness should be remedied, but in the interim, the opportunity to accomplish things difficult for a married person should be seized. God does not make mistakes. Singleness, even for a brief period, should be a time of thankfulness, contentment, and intense productivity–while keeping a sharp and intentional eye out for a spouse.
The Purpose of Marriage
A reflection for Christ and the church**
Marriage presents us a tangible example of the covenant relationship between Christ and His church. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the church, and the husband is likewise the head of his wife. Christ loves the church, having given Himself up for her, and so also must husbands love their wives as they love their own bodies. If this was a simple and easy task for husbands, there would be no need for Paul to point out the necessity of accomplishing it.
As the church is subject to Christ, so also ought wives be subject to their husbands in everything. Our culture would advocate such roles of authority being interchangeable or wrong altogether, but Scripture goes so far as to say that a woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness, which puts a significant responsibility on the man. It is difficult to find a man capable of such a task, and it is likewise difficult to find a woman willing to put herself under a man’s authority in this manner.
In looking for a spouse, priorities need to be set straight. Too often, men seek out a wife before seeking a God-assigned mission for their future families to follow. Women tend to attach themselves to a man whom they can love instead of a man whom they respect. Love will quickly follow purpose and submission within the bounds of a Christian marriage seeking to glorify God. But submission to the husband’s lead will not have an easy time in a relationship jumping headlong off a cliff of spontaneous and uncontrolled love. Christ did not die for us because we were so irresistibly lovable. He chose to love us while we were yet sinners, entirely unattractive, and deep in rebellion.
Man has a task—but he needs a helper.
Man is tasked to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it; ruling over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth. The husband cuts down trees and flips dirt over and drains marshes and builds houses and establishes churches. The wife fills the house with family and food and nurture and gives life to the next generation of eternal souls.
A man cannot do this by himself. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” The husband and wife, equally yoked in their zeal for the Lord, will accomplish much. As faithful Christians, they will also be steadfast in their covenant of marriage. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
The excellent wife looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Therefore, her husband will not lose sleep over how his wife executes her matriarchal duties and can thus focus his attention to other things. His heart trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. The family who is united in the Lord can thus hold significant sway in the culture and society. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. Without his wife, this would be impossible.
Fulfilling creation mandate
God has directed us to be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth and subduing it alongside the miniature bearers of God’s image that we have sired. We have been given rulership over everything created on the earth, a task impossible without raising offspring who have a vision to further God’s kingdom.
At a basic level, this requires a wife to be fruitful, something shunned as a tremendous burden within our society. But in God’s mind, children are gift of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Receiving children from the Lord is cause for great rejoicing. He makes the barren to abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!
Conclusion: Is Singleness a Gift?
We live in exciting times, and the knowledge of the teenage son’s pet bull snake loose about the house is indeed comparable to the knowledge that the church is no longer preaching truth. This has come about by its pandering to our sinful natures instead of calling for repentance. As Christians, we need to look at the situation from a Biblical perspective, entirely separate from the pagan ideas floating around the pond. As can be seen in God’s design for marriage, it is a worthy goal to obtain, in all thankfulness along the way. With it, we can better reflect Christ’s love, accomplish our God-assigned mission, and fulfill the creation mandate. Though singleness can be operated upon as a gift, to willingly neglect the marriage covenant is to neglect our task of glorifying the Lord to our fullest ability. He who finds a wife finds a good thing–and obtains favor from the Lord.