#2 – You’ll find someone eventually, just be patient.
Anytime I hear this, my instinct is to reply ‘how do you know?’ For a lot of ppl this statement will turn out to be true – but not for all people.
There are three main problems I see with this.
First is that I don’t think it’s a good idea to make promises to people that you won’t or in this case can’t keep. This is something that is beyond your control – God is the only one making this decision.
The second thing that is a problem is the conversation that flows if I do ask the question ‘how do you know?’ The answer is going to be something like a list of all my great qualities that make me worthy of being married, and making marriage something that is based on worth doesn’t seem like a good idea to me – but more on this next time.
Thirdly – and I think this is my biggest issue here – is that this, for some people, is an invitation to live a life in waiting. Waiting for marriage to come along and solve all our problems. Maybe this seems like a big jump but I think there is a certain part of us that is already living this way so it doesn’t take much to justify it. But we can’t live life waiting for our circumstances to change, we need to live and serve God NOW.
In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul describes singleness as gift. Interestingly the Greek word he uses – carisma (charisma – literally ‘grace gift’) – is the same word he uses in chapter 12 about spiritual gifts.
Singleness is a gift. How do you know if you have the gift of singleness?? Are you single right now? If you’re single you have the gift! And that doesn’t mean your situation won’t change, but right at this moment you have a ‘grace gift’. I think its important to work out, just like all other gifts from God, how do I use this to serve him, my church, and my Christians brothers and sisters. Sometimes its hard for single people to see their singleness as a gift, and I actually think the best people to remind us of why it is, and encourage us to use it to God’s glory, are our married friends.
And hopefully at the same time we can remind you of the gift that marriage is and encourage you to be married to God’s glory.
Always for Jesus’ fame.
Now, I realise I am a smug-married-with-kids but let me just say, “spot on”.
The only advice I have for people on this issue of waiting to get married is to ask them if they believe God is in charge. If they do then I remind them simply that if and when God wants them to get married they won’t be able to do anything anything to stop it. In the meantime, do they think they can do a better job of sorting it out than God?
Great little series, Kate.
thanks David :)
thats a great question actually. Its always good to be reminded and encouraged to trust God’s good and pleasing and perfect will & to acknowledge that by worrying about it we are doubting his will for us.
i would like to clarify that i never said being married-with-kids makes you smug (however *insert witty tongue-in-cheek comment about being English here* )
Actually I thing we single folk let our married friends down by not being open about this kind of thing and not helping them to know how to care for us. When I am finding it particularly hard being single the instinct is to run to my single friends for comfort – which is not a bad thing to do, but it takes away an opportunity for my married friends to care for me. We often think they can’t comfort us but sometimes they might actually be the best people to talk to
yup, when I was single my favourite place to be was the homes of married friends, usually older than me.
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“In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul describes singleness as gift. Interestingly the Greek word he uses – carisma (charisma – literally ‘grace gift’) – is the same word he uses in chapter 12 about spiritual gifts….Singleness is a gift. How do you know if you have the gift of singleness?? Are you single right now? If you’re single you have the gift!”
Actually, this is an erroneous understanding of 1 Cor 7:7. The phrase “gift of singleness” was invented by the editors of the Living Bible (now the NLT) in the 60’s and it has since been removed. In 1 Cor 7:7 Paul is referring to the fact, like himself, that some people are gifted such a way that they choose to remain single (ie. for the sake of the kingdom, as Christ said in Matthew 19). In verse 8-9, he further affirms that to stay single or marry is a choice you make voluntarily, but that you should marry if you “cannot contain”, sexually (which would apply to most people).
A little bit of impatience isn’t a bad thing, as a matter of fact, it’s perfectly natural. As the entire chapter illustrates, our sexual desires have been designed by God to motivate us towards marriage.
thanks for sharing your thoughts :)
the phrase ‘gift of singleness’ may have been invented in the 60’s but there is no denying that Paul was referring to singleness as a gift. 1 corinthians 7:7 says
I wish that all people were just like me. But each has his own gift from God, one this and another that.
(θέλω δὲ πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἶναι ὡς καὶ ἐμαυτόν ἀλλὰ ἕκαστος ἴδιον ἔχει χάρισμα ἐκ θεοῦ ὁ μὲν οὕτως ὁ δὲ οὕτως)
The ‘this’ and ‘that’ gifts he is talking about is singleness and marriage. As i said in the post, i don’t think the ‘gift of singleness’ necessarily means single forever, although for the sake of the kingdom, it will for some.
The reasoned i mention that singleness is a gift, is because i think while we are single we should exploit our singleness for the sake of the gospel. Its hard to do that if you believe that being single is a burden and that God is withholding from you. Better for us to get on board with what Paul is saying – our singleness is a gift that gives us unique opportunities to serve the kingdom.
“In verse 8-9, he further affirms that to stay single or marry is a choice you make voluntarily” – I’m still thinking this comment through but at the moment I disagree because i wouldn’t say i am voluntarily single.
Properly translated, the Greek phrase is not “this and that”, as in two different things. It’s more of a “so on and so forth” phrase, referring to an indefinite number of things. We each have a different gift of God, and Paul was most likely referring to his fortitude with sexual “containment”, in keeping with the context of the verses before and after verse 7. Historically, this was known as “the gift of celibacy”, not “the gift of singleness”.
Yes, you must remain celibate for as long as you are single and make the most of your situation — and this is easier for some who are so gifted. Realistically, over time most people will not “contain” themselves, and so Paul is recommending that people get married (v. 2-6, v.8-9) and have legitimate sexual relations within marriage.
Refer also to 1 Cor 7:25-26, where Paul makes it clear that his recommendations to remain unmarried were for the sake of the “present distress”. Advice to stay single was for the sake of temporary expediency and to give liberty to those who would like to remain single in order to do kingdom work.
at the risk of getting to involved in a Greek discussion –
Greek has two small particles used for comparing or contrasting two ideas. The particles are μὲν and δὲ which you will notice appear in the vs 7. In English, the use of these two words equate to our use of ‘on the one hand’ and ‘on the other hand’. This is smoothed out into better sounding English by using ‘some’ and ‘others’.
The word οὕτως means thus, or in this way. So a literal translation would be on the one hand thus, on the other hand thus.
Given this I believe ‘this’ and ‘that’ is the most accurate translation. I also think that ‘the gift or celibacy’ and ‘the gift of singleness’ are the same thing.
I would like to clarify that i am not anti-marriage. I believe both marriage and singleness provide unique opportunities to serve God and that they are both χάρισμα. But I’m not married and so I can’t comment on how to do that as a married person. I also don’t think that just because you are single now doesn’t mean you will be single forever (although it might for some people)
Really I just want to help people to see that they are not single because God is withholding good things from them, and that there are good things about being single. The main aim of the game is to exploit our singleness for the Jesus’ sake – for as long as we are able to.
What do you think the ‘present distress’ is that Paul is referring to in vs 25-26?
Both are valid thoughts on the issue I think.
Now I Know that my greek is not that good so i’m not going to comment too much on it but as I read through my interlinear greek-english text I couldn’t help but notice the main drift of Pauls argument To abstain from sexual relations outside of marriage! This is evident in both the first few vs of Ch 7 as well as vs25-26. To do this is part of what it means to live a holy life.
In the question of ‘celibacy v singleness’, Paul doesn’t really use either – at no place does he explicitly say if he is single (and I’ve heard debate that he may have been a widower). In Biblically based Christian thought, Celibacy and singleness are not oposing ideas but rather Singleness = Celibacy.
In my view, as a guy who was single for a number of years and is now married, I can see that God has used my varied stages of life for HIS GLORY. God has allowed me to be single and to be married and I view both stages as Gods plan for my life.
In Short, what i think we can say is that God will use our relational state no matter what it is, does that not mean that being single is a gift and being married is a gift!I’ve had the joy of experiencing both gifts.
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Great thoughts! It’s interesting to me to see the overlap between thoughtless comments to singles and thoughtless comments to childless married couples. My husband and I have been infertile for ten years, and our version of this statement is “You know, as soon as you relax and stop trying to have kids, it’ll happen.” Yep, I definitely have never once relaxed over the last decade! Le sigh. People often don’t understand the effects that their (sometimes) well-intentioned remarks have. Thank you for being part of the educating process.
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