By, Isam Itson III
Genesis 2:18 – Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
It is not good for us to live alone. So just because a person is not married does not mean that they should be living in social isolation.
When a couple comes to me for premarital counseling the first thing I do after hearing how much they love each other and can’t live without each other is speak to them about life as a single or unmarried person. Before they get married, I want to make certain they understand what God intended for their life as a single person.
Before we get married we should already be loving our neighbors as ourselves. We should already be honoring God’s love for others. We should already be honoring their dignity as people made in God’s image. We should already be people who graciously and humbly honor each other’s personal boundaries. This prepares us to honor God and one another when we get married.
While we are single most of this takes place in our public life. Even if we have roommates or live with our parents while we are single, we can stay late at work, or study until the library closes, without worrying about who is waiting for us at home.
The real benefit of being unmarried is we have plenty of room at home to meditate and pray with God about the events of our day. We can examine what we did, and said, and thought, in light of God’s word. We have plenty of time and space to review how we are practicing our faith in God. This allows us to make adjustments to our attitude and outlook as we prepare to reenter life in public.
As a single or unmarried person we have more time, space, and energy available to prepare ourselves to more consistently honor God’s love for others, even their enemies, at school, work, and in the church. Unmarried people have more time to discover and pursue the development of their God given contribution to the well being and encouragement of the people they spend their time with in public.
If an unmarried person is feeling especially overwhelmed by catastrophic events or gross personal failure on a particular day, they can retreat with God while they pull themselves back together. They have time to pray, and listen to God, and reorient themselves so that they can respond to the challenges and crises of life in a way that honors God’s love, faithfulness, and authority in their lives. An unmarried person has plenty of time and personal space to prepare themselves to live well with others and to work with others as a vital, contributing member of the body of Christ and their local community.
This was how the apostle Paul writes about it to the church at Corinth,
“I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided.” – 1 Corinthians 7:32-34.
A single person is free to give their time and energy outside of work and family obligations to God, their church, and the work of their church in their local community. The single person is not alone because they are members of the body of Christ. They have brothers and sisters in Christ whom they are free and privileged to meaningfully assist in cooperation with Jesus Christ. Additionally, unmarried followers of Jesus Christ are free to work together with their brothers and sisters in Christ as they serve the needs of the poor and powerless in their local communities.
As I wrote about this subject in the article, Get Another Chair in our series Stepping Up, (https://practicallyholy.com/get-another-chair/) followers of Jesus Christ are meant to meaningfully open their hearts and homes to each other. We cannot fulfill our personal calling as Christians without giving our lives in service to each other and service with each other, like members of a close knit family.
In other words, I want an engaged couple to understand that a Christian marriage presupposes that each person, the man and the woman, are already living a Christian life. They are already following Jesus Christ. The man and the woman are already loving God and honoring God’s love for others in how they spend their time, energy, and resources. They each already have meaningful relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
An unmarried person who follows Jesus Christ, should not be characteristically lonely or empty. Ideally, their life is already rich, full, and whole, though sometimes they may feel lonely or isolated. Even married people sometimes feel alone or isolated, but that will be addressed in another article.
A responsible, unmarried, Christian man or woman, is already helping people help other people in the name of Jesus. They are already thriving in their relationships with God, their brothers and sisters in Christ, and their community at large. They have a growing sense of how God specifically uses them to help others. Mature followers of Jesus Christ are not afraid to be vulnerable. They allow people with different gifts and personalities to help them make what they do in service for others even better. A follower of Jesus Christ who is ready to consider getting married is already working and playing well with others in mutual cooperation and submission to Jesus Christ.
Even if they do not ever get married, their life is already full of peace, love, and joy. They already know that they are vital to the well being of the people around them. And in all humility, they know that the unique contribution of their brothers and sisters in Christ is vital to their most meaningful work in service to others. Like Jesus Christ before he began his public ministry, they are already growing and living in favor with God and others. As single people, followers of Jesus Christ are already deeply integrated into the life and work of the body of Christ in their community at large. They are not alone. Their life is good.
1. How much of your time is spent helping others or preparing to help others in obedience to Jesus Christ?
2. How open and generous are you in helping others and allowing others to help you?
3. What have you learned about yourself from working with other people?
4. How can you make more time to personally contribute what you do best in cooperative service to others?