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Are You ‘Called’ To Be Single? Sean McDowell Shares What the Bible Says

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Composite image. Screenshots from YouTube / @Dr. Sean McDowell

Have you ever wondered if you had the “gift of singleness”? In a recent video, author and professor Dr. Sean McDowell explains how Christians can know whether or not God has “called” them to be single.

“How do you know you are called to be single?” asked Sean McDowell. “Here’s an answer you might not expect.”

RELATED: Sean McDowell: Scripture Is Very Clear About God’s Design for Sexuality

Sean McDowell: Your Gift Is Where You Are Now 

The idea of having a certain “gift” from God to either be single or married comes from 1 Corinthians 7, where the Apostle Paul discusses singleness and marriage. In verses 7 and 8, he says, “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.”

Because of this passage, some people have gotten the idea that God bestows either the gift of marriage or the gift of singleness on his followers and that believers must live with whichever one of the gifts God has assigned to them. 

This view, however, is not the one that Sean McDowell takes. McDowell, who is associate professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, said, “If you are single, you are called to be single. If you are married, you are called to be married. I don’t think the Bible teaches that God has a unique call for us to be single or to be married.” 

We do not need to determine which calling is on our lives before we decide whether or not to pursue a relationship, says McDowell. “I don’t find that in the Scriptures. Rather, as Christians and human beings, we can chose to be single, or we can choose to be married. Both are gifts for the body of Christ. The real question is, whatever state I am in, can I be content? And can I use that state as a gift for the church?”

Author, professor and speaker Dr. Christopher Yuan, shares McDowell’s perspective. In a 2020 interview with ChurchLeaders, Yuan explained why his view shapes his belief that the word, “celibacy,” is unhelpful. 

“I don’t ever use the word ‘celibacy,’” said Yuan, “because it’s associated with a lifelong, chosen vocation, and I simply don’t find that in Scripture…but singleness is, and I want to tell people, ‘Do not plan out your future.’ You’re called to be single today, but who knows what tomorrow may bring.”