Scriptures

Practical Singleness Lesson 3

Introduction

Single-Minded Singleness Has Its Advantages (Part 2)

Jesus is for life not just for Christmas! If your single you need to know that getting married is a real option but a lifetime commitment but in the meantime and you may not be aware of this, God is actually preparing you for marriage if you so desire. Please read 1 Corinthians 7:36-40 where we will discover Paul’s fourth advantage for being single.

4. Singles have the option of marriage.

‘In the case of an engaged couple who have decided not to marry: if the man feels that he is not acting properly toward the young woman and if his passions are too strong and he feels that they ought to marry, then they should get married, as he wants to. There is no sin in this. But if a man, without being forced to do so, has firmly made up his mind not to marry, and if he has his will under complete control and has already decided in his own mind what to do—then he does well not to marry the young woman. So, the man who marries does well, but the one who doesn’t marry does even better. A married woman is not free as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, then she is free to be married to any man she wishes, but only if he is a Christian. She will be happier, however, if she stays as she is. That is my opinion, and I think that I too have God’s Spirit.’ 1 Corinthians 7:36-40

This is a particularly difficult paragraph because the Greek is ambiguous and it’s impossible to know for sure whether he’s talking about a marriage arranged by a parent or a voluntary one between a man and his fiancée. I believe the man in view is the fiancée of the virgin, who is considering the possibility of marriage with her.

These verses then summarise what Paul has already taught. In my estimation, the best English translations of these verses are found in the ESV, NRSV, and NLT. I will provide the NRSV rendering of 1 Corinthians 7:36-38,

‘If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancée, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancée, he will do well. So then, he who marries his fiancée does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.’

Paul’s point is that an engaged couple is free to decide whether to marry or to remain single. Everyone likes to have the freedom to choose, so here Paul leaves the choice up to the believers. Both options are viable and permissible.

In 1 Corinthians 7:39-40, Paul concludes this chapter and his section on marriage and singleness with these words:

‘A married woman is not free as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, then she is free to be married to any man she wishes, but only if he is a Christian. She will be happier, however, if she stays as she is. That is my opinion, and I think that I too have God’s Spirit.’

Paul wants to leave the topic of marriage, divorce, and remarriage with an emphasis on his two most important thoughts: marriage is for life and Christians should only marry Christians! Married people and singles both need to come to grips with these points.

He is envisioning the ideal circumstances; death is the only condition that frees a person for remarriage. Even then the freedom is not total, for a believer is to marry only another believer, whether it’s a first marriage or a second!

That doesn’t mean simply that one must marry a person who believes in God; rather, it means the potential marriage partner must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I would also urge every widow, or widower, to only remarry a spouse that is at least a spiritual equal. The truth is, there are many excellent reasons to not marry.

‘I would like you to be free from worry. An unmarried man concerns himself with the Lord’s work, because he is trying to please the Lord. But a married man concerns himself with worldly matters, because he wants to please his wife; and so, he is pulled in two directions. An unmarried woman or a virgin concerns herself with the Lord’s work, because she wants to be dedicated both in body and spirit; but a married woman concerns herself with worldly matters, because she wants to please her husband.’ 1 Corinthians 7:32-34

Being Single Allows Us To Do Many Things We May Otherwise Not Be Able To

1. Serve others more.

There are many ways in our lives in which we can serve God, people and society. While single we have more time to devote to service outside a relationship.

2. Focus on building a more solid foundation in our relationship with God.

This needs to be a key part of our lives.

‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you’. Matthew 6:33

God loves us and wants us to put Him first and He also wants the best for us, including for our love lives!

3. Develop skills for that future relationship.

We each have our own strengths and weaknesses, including those skills needed in a marital relationship. Whether they are physical skills like garden work, home DIY, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., or emotional and spiritual skills, we all have areas we can improve for when the right time comes.

While being in a relationship leading toward marriage or being married is a great blessing from God, being single can be an immense blessing as well.

Keep this in mind as you travel through the next days and months wondering when you will meet that special someone and be thankful for the time you have been given to draw closer to God and prepare yourself for him or her.

Someone conducted an unscientific survey asking a number of Christian singles,

‘What is important to you or what do you like about being single?’

The majority of responses had to do with the aspect of independence, the ability to have a flexible schedule/life, to spend money as desired, and to have time alone. While their ‘independence’ played an important role on the positive side, the people surveyed were also quick to mention a small degree of sadness associated with being on their own.

So, how can we, as singles, use what we enjoy most about our lives to honour God, to live radically for Christ, and to embrace life to the fullest?

Seize the day, seize whatever you can. ‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand Seize the day, pray for grace from God’s hand. Then nothing will stand in your way Seize the day. Carolyn Arends

In Our Schedule

I love being able to determine my own schedule. I can do, or not do, whatever I want, when I want. This may sound selfish especially to those who have many more obligations to family, job, and church but with this independence also comes spiritual responsibility.

Paul tells us,

‘I would like you to be free from worry. An unmarried man concerns himself with the Lord’s work, because he is trying to please the Lord. But a married man concerns himself with worldly matters, because he wants to please his wife; and so, he is pulled in two directions. An unmarried woman or a virgin concerns herself with the Lord’s work, because she wants to be dedicated both in body and spirit; but a married woman concerns herself with worldly matters, because she wants to please her husband.’ 1 Corinthians 7:32-34

As a single, it’s easy to think solely about myself, but if I do I would not be abiding by God’s Word and not seeking ways to please the Lord. I could try to argue with God, as I have at times, that I desire a relationship and have waited a long time, I deserve to have things that I’ve worked for, and I need ‘my’ time.

However, these arguments are not convincing when talking to the Son of God. There are many ways to please the Lord with your time; it takes an open schedule, an open mind and an open heart but we always need to remember that as with all blessings from God comes great responsibility.

‘You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love’. Galatians 5:13

Your First Thoughts

Please write down your own thoughts on this part of the lesson whilst they are fresh in your mind.

Evaluation Questions

These questions are designed to help you think through the topic discussed so that you may have a true view of yourself.

1. What do YOU like about being single?

2. Why would it be beneficial to YOU to remain single?

3. Would it be beneficial to YOU to enter a relationship?

4. Would it be beneficial for your MATE for YOU to enter a relationship with them?

5. Are you aware that YOU have the option of marriage?

6. How would entering a relationship affect YOUR ability to serve others?

7. How would YOU ensure that entering a relationship wouldn’t affect YOUR relationship with God?

8. In what ways would be beneficial for YOU to remain single so that YOU can develop skills for that future relationship?

9. How much would entering a relationship impact YOUR daily schedule?

Next Class

Single-Minded Singleness Has Its Advantages (part 3)

We will discuss: The advantages of being single in our finances, our time alone but also in areas where we can get involved with our local congregation.

Next Class Preparation

Please read Hebrews 13:5 / Matthew 6:19-20 / Mark 10:21 / Proverbs 3:9-10 / Ecclesiastes 4:6 / Psalm 90:12 / Matthew 14:23 / Luke 22:40 / Mark 4:10 / 1 Peter 2:16 / Ephesians 5:16.

Back To Practical Singleness Lesson 2

Go To Practical Singleness Lesson 4

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'"

Matthew 22:37

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