It has been said for many years that the “ground at the cross is level”, which rightly points out that no human being is outside God’s ability to redeem for His glory. Unfortunately, there can be an implicit message that churches may send that the ground isn’t “quite as level” for those within our flocks who are single. It can be easy to forget that crowds during worship services make singles vulnerable to feeling isolated and somehow deficient as a human being.
Sam Alberry, author of the book “Connected: Living in Light of the Trinity”, discusses how churches may be undermining the biblical teaching of singleness in a recent video published by the Gospel Coalition. Alberry believes that churches undermine singleness by coming off with the belief that marriage is the ultimate goal of the Christian life and that if you are single, especially after age thirty or forty, that you are a loose end that needs to be tied up. This is very evident within the church in America, where very few pastors are single.
What is forgotten in this discussion is that the beauty of the gospel can be seen in BOTH marriage and singleness. Marriage and singleness are God-ordained means that point to the gospel of Jesus. In marriage, we reflect the shape of the gospel in that promises are made to each and therefore reflecting the commitment of Christ is His church. In singleness we reflect the sufficiency of the gospel because our lives are testament to fact that the one marriage we cannot do without is the relationship we have with Christ. This is why singleness is a wonderful way of testifying to the supremacy of Jesus and that our relational and sexual longings only serve to point to our deepest longing: To be in a fully realized union with Christ Himself.
This does not demean marriage, but in efforts to protect the dignity and sanctity of marriage, the church sometimes is guilty of making an idol of marriage. Therefore it is important that we remember that marriage has been created to point beyond itself toward Christ’s marriage with His broken but beautiful bride. While singleness and marriage are both temporary, Christ’s commitment to His children is permanent.