These days we marry later and delay starting a family. Through selfishness some North Americans have written off the institution of marriage altogether and have decided on being single. In light of these realities, Christians rightly underscore the goodness of marriage and the family. But on occasion, we emphasize marriage so much that we give the impression that being single represents a lesser state. It does not. It’s OK to be single. It is not just OK to be single, but for those so gifted with singleness, it also represents a much better state of living than does marriage.
It’s OK to Be Single
Being single is the good gift of God for the sake of the kingdom of God which, through the lack of marriage, creates an intense hope in us for our spiritual union with God that many married persons cannot otherwise experience (Matt 19:12; 1 Cor 7:7; Eph 5:32).
In this sense, being single forms a sort of spiritual discipline that creates in us an appetite for God; likewise, for those so gifted, marriage can give us a foretaste of our union with God in Christ. Both manners of life produce effects of virtue, of goodness in us. Yet we must affirm in our context the goodness of singleness since we usually (and rightly) laud the goodness of marriage.
Since marriage points to union with God in Christ (Eph 5:32), then spiritual union is the purpose of marriage. Yet some single people God uniquely gifts so that they can pursue spiritual union with God apart from earthly marriage. For those so gifted, this condition surpasses marriage. And depending on circumstances, those granted the gift of singleness for the kingdom’s sake should abide in the gift to be like Mary (and so have the better portion) rather than search for a marriage partner like Martha (and so have the worse portion).
The gift of singleness
Singleness sometimes better equips one for Christian ministry as a particular gift of God (1 Cor 7:7). In such cases (and there are many), we should laud the gift of singleness, seeing it as a unique contribution in the kingdom of God—one which married persons are deprived of.