Single but Not Lonely Part 1
Feb 1 11:25 AM

Single but Not Lonely Part 1

Feb 1 11:25 AM
Feb 1 11:25 AM

Singleness can feel like the participation trophy in the game of life. The default for the relationally dismayed. The “gift” no one asked for.

That assessment, however, couldn’t be further from reality. And I say that as a still-single man who aspires to marry. All of us experience singleness. And even for those who do marry, more than half will be single again. God cares about our unmarried years. He desires all of us to make the most of them. So what steps can we take to steward these years well?

1. Define Your Gift


The apostle Paul makes an audacious claim. Whereas in Genesis 2 God observes, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18), Paul tells the unmarried and the widows that “it is good for them to remain single, as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:8). Paul, when looking at the new-covenant community, doesn’t see marriage-lessness as a curse, but as a gift. He says, “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Corinthians 7:7).

I’ve spoken to dear saints who desire marriage and do not have the life they expected. If that describes you, God has not abandoned you. You’re not stuck in a waiting room between celibacy and marriage. God desires his good, perfect, delightful will for you right now. James reminds us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17) — and Paul could certainly add, “even your singleness.”

2. Discern the Advantages


What about singleness makes it a gift? What does singleness offer that marriage doesn’t? If we cannot name the advantages that come with singleness, then despite our insistence that singleness is a gift, we don’t have much to offer to those who are living a single life.

Paul puts the advantages of singleness under the phrase “undivided devotion”:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:32–35)

When I read those verses and reflect on the advantages of singleness, I see at least three.



In a world full of distraction, singleness enables us to focus on Jesus “without distraction.” This isn’t to say that we cannot honor Christ if we’re married — God desires married couples to love and serve each other for his glory (Ephesians 5:22–33). But singles can devote themselves to him with fewer disruptions from good but competing desires.

As singles, we’re able to be single-minded. We can focus on honoring our Lord without the complexities of a spouse and children. Quiet mornings with Bible reading and prayer. Ministering to others without being interrupted by naps and diaper-changes. Fellowship without a curfew. Decisions about the future oriented toward gospel good without weighing familial costs. Singleness allows for undivided focus.



“Let me check with my spouse” is probably the most frequent response to an invitation extended to a married member at my church. Singles are advantaged in not carrying the weight of accounting for another person. We can say yes more often.

“Singles can say yes more often.”

When a church member texts me at 11:30 p.m. asking to meet to read the Bible, I can say yes. When a family at the church needs emergency babysitting, I can say yes. When life presents risky, God-glorifying opportunities, I can say yes. Singles’ capacity allows us to flex for the sake of the kingdom.



Paul states his desire for singles by saying, “I want you to be free from anxieties” (1 Corinthians 7:32). Freedom from the obligations of marriage enables singles to do what married people cannot. Whereas marriage is helped by stable routine and clear obligations, singleness provides mobility.

Valuing singleness doesn’t diminish the value or dignity of marriage. Paul wrote both 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesians 5. He can exalt the value of marriage and express his preference for singleness. Singleness provides good opportunities that marriage does not.


Check back next week for Part 2....



desiringGod. Single but Not Lonely. January 28, 2023. John Lee.



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