We live in a highly sexualised society which puts a great value on romantic relationships. We hear about them in the movies, on television, in magazines, and in every form of social media.
We can feel tempted to think that if we are not in a romantic relationship then we are somehow incomplete. Yet this is not how God sees things.
In fact, Jesus himself speaks of singleness and celibacy and as a special gift of God! Referring to these people as 'eunuchs', he encourages those who have been given this gift to embrace their calling:
Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it (Matthew 19:12).
St Paul, too, encourages people to embrace the single life and even highlights advantages of being single. People who are single, he says, are spared the ‘troubles’ that come with marriage and family (1 Corinthians 7:28), and so can devote themselves more fully to God’s work. St Paul writes:
An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided (1 Corinthians 7:32–34).
Through these passages, both Jesus and St Paul are telling us being single is a legitimate vocation that is pleasing in the eyes of God. Yet, of course, life as a single person may not always be easy. For many of us, it may not be the vocation we 'want' or would 'choose'. We may feel lonely, sexually frustrated, or deeply long to have a spouse and children of our own.
Yet Christ calls us to set our eyes on him and to lay our requests before him with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). This might mean praying that God gives us a spouse to share our life’s journey with, or maybe it means finding contentment in the single life. Either way, we can focus on the good gifts God has given us, seeking first the kingdom of God, and serving those around us in love.
- CTICR statement Human sexuality: three key issues summary and background
- ‘Being single … a calling not a failing’ by Emma Graetz in The Lutheran, published on the LCA website
- ‘Single again but never alone’ by Dr Vic Pfitzner in The Lutheran
- 'Dwelling in God's Word: A study on being single', a bible study by Pastor Levi Graham, republished with kind permission of The Lutheran
- ‘Complete in Him’ YouTube talk by Lutheran, Laura Davis (30 minutes)
- ‘The Beauty of Chastity: Reclaiming Sexual Virtue’ conference paper by Dr John Kleinig
- ‘Four things God says to Singles’ online article
- ‘Courtship Matters’ YouTube lecture with academics Leon and Amy Kass (1 hour)
- ‘The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfilment While Keeping Your Clothes On’ by Dawn Eden