Young, Single and Christadelphian
Perhaps, as a community, we should re-evaluate how we view the single members of our body.
In the last year, the number of times my singleness has been commented on has grown significantly. In many respects, this is natural. I’m young, just 22, involved in my ecclesia, and many of my friends have recently gotten married. At this point, however, these comments have long ceased to feel like loving curiosity. At any age, they would be hurtful.
Here are a few examples of the remarks I’m referring to. I have been asked by peers and people outside my age group (sometimes by people I barely know) why I am still single. I’ve been encouraged to pursue relationships with some already in relationships. I’ve been pressured to join Tinder. I’ve been told to lower my expectations and standards, or I’ll be single for the rest of my life. I’ve been told I would be a great couple with “so-and-so,” only to find out the only reasons we would make great life partners are “because you’re both single” or “you’re both Christadelphians.”
I’ve tried to understand the motives behind these comments. After all, I know the people saying these things care about me and these comments come from a place of love and a desire for me to be happy. With that mindset, I would like to provide, with an equal expression of love, an additional perspective on how to view singleness.
To say that my brothers and sisters make these remarks from a desire for me to be happy implies a heavy, hurtful message. It assumes that as a young, single sister, I am not happy and cannot be so until I’m no longer single. I highly doubt this is a conscious message, and I don’t think this meaning would even occur to the person stating it. However, it appears that the vast majority of comments about my singleness come from people who are not single. Based on this, I often think that people in relationships tend to view people like me with pity. (I’ve been guilty of this myself.) Because I am single, I must be miserable.
But here’s the thing; I’m not! I’m so far from being unhappy that being viewed as such takes me aback. I have so many loved ones, including family, friends, and brothers and sisters. I don’t lack love in any respect. I’ve got a job I love, hobbies that bring me joy, and most importantly, a life dedicated to serving a God who loves me regardless of my relationship status.
Perhaps, as a community, we should re-evaluate how we view the single members of our body. Maybe when we read Paul’s words on the subject in 1 Corinthians 7, we are too dismissive. Paul writes, “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am.” (1 Cor 7:8 NKJV).
He doesn’t say this out of bitterness, anger, or a dislike for marriage. He actually discusses the beauty of marriage throughout the chapter. His thinking is clearly outlined in the following verses: “But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.” (1 Cor 7:32 NKJV). I understand this passage to mean there is beauty in marriage and in singleness. At no point does Paul indicate singleness as undesirable or pitiable. There is virtue in both situations. Singleness can be a time of undivided devotion to God, just as marriage can form good partnerships to perform the work of the LORD.
Additionally, while the Bible is full of examples of godly couples, it is just as full of examples of people recorded as individuals. Jesus himself never married a mortal woman, as the church was to be his Bride. While I would love to get married one day, that may not be God’s plan for me. Why would someone want to encourage me to be discontented in my situation when they could instead encourage me to serve the LORD in the way Paul indicates singles can? We should encourage all our acquaintances to be content in whatever situation they are in, as Paul says in Philippians 4:11.
Instead of considering singleness as a lesser state, view it with joy.
As a single follower of Christ, I do not need a spouse to serve God. I am grafted into Israel’s vine, perfectly whole in Christ. Because I’m not yet one flesh with a spouse, I cannot be missing “my other half.” My identity is, and always should be, in Christ and the LORD, not in my relationship status. To reduce my persona to merely my romantic relationships ignores my primary identity and purpose.
So, if my objective is to propose a shift in perspective, what changes in thinking do I suggest may be beneficial?
Stop and Take Stock
- Do not assume those who are single are unhappy. Be one who shows phileo love.
- Before commenting on your single friend’s situation, consider whether it will encourage them in their faith journey or rather distract them and cause discontent in their singleness. Additionally, consider what your motivation is for commenting.
- See single brothers and sisters as valuable members of ecclesial families, not as people to be pitied. Include them, and don’t leave them out! I’ve been excluded from social gatherings because of my singleness, and it feels very isolating.
- Encourage single brothers and sisters to seek first the Kingdom of God, not relationships. Help them keep their priorities straight.
If we view singleness as a time of happiness and service, perhaps we will be more encouraging to those members who are single. Instead of considering singleness as a lesser state, view it with joy. If the only marriage I ever enter is as the Bride of Christ, I will be perfectly content.
(Verdugo Hills Ecclesia, CA)
What an incredibly valuable understanding. I would like to add that whilst marriage has many great things to recommend it, it is not always healthy or successful and if one pins their hopes on it being the path to happiness then there are some very real challenges ahead. In the end it is our individual growth and relationship with God that matters …