“I want to pursue you — meaning I’d like to be exclusively committed to you.” I cannot lie. Those words were sweet to hear after nine years of singleness.
He changed his mind three days later.
Satan hates marriage and has attacked it from the beginning (Genesis 3:16). He hates godly romance and endeavors to seduce us away from it — through porn, pride, or a thousand other means. He hates the God-given beauty and intimacy of sex and wants us to take it outside of its God-ordained context (Hebrews 3:14).
But Satan also despises the content single person. Devoid of casual encounters and “flirtationships,” the life of a content single Christian looks strange in a sex-driven culture and points to satisfaction and greater intimacy in Christ alone.
When singleness is new or prolonged, it’s easy to view God as the god of keep-aways rather than as the God we see in Scripture. Faced with that temptation, we need to examine some of the lies we’re tempted to believe about our singleness.
“If only I were more attractive.”
In today’s world of photoshop, it’s so easy to think, “If only I were more attractive, I’d be married by now.”
Do you think your lack of culturally defined physical attractiveness can thwart the creator of romance? Whether it’s a not-so-flat tummy or a not-so-symmetrical face, a lack of muscle or a lack of height, God knit you together (Psalm 139:13). He did not fashion the hue of your eyes, mold your lips, and form every other part of you so that someone other than him could make you feel worthless.
God did not make you mainly to be pleasing to the eyes of created, faulty beings. He intimately pieced you together by and for himself: to behold him and worship him, to love him and trust him (Deuteronomy 6:5). “Love the Lord your God” is not a burdensome commandment; it’s the culmination of what we were woven together for.
Perhaps behind our desire to be more attractive is a subtle hunger to be independent — to not solely depend on God’s gracious provision and timing. God knit you together, he writes your story, and if you love him, he gives and withholds for your good.
“I must have done something wrong.”
Whatever sins you’ve committed in the past (alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, emotional impurity, envy, vainglory) and whatever your current struggle, if you are in Christ, there is no condemnation and nothing that can separate you from the good gifts he has for you (Romans 8:1, 32) — including the ultimate gift, himself.
When we entertain these lies like the two above, we subtly make our singleness about us and how we want our lives to go. We assume something must be wrong with us instead of looking for how God might use our singleness to his glory.
Many of us want to know the future so that we can rest in our knowledge and not our creator. We desperately want assurance that we’ll have someone to cuddle in the winter, someone to build a home with. We want to know that one day we’ll have a wedding day and a wedding night and a firstborn child. The truth is, we don’t and can’t know. But God does, and he calls us to rest in that — in him.
So, if we’re tempted to believe lies like these in our singleness, what should we remember instead?
Singleness Is a Gift
If you are single today, it is a gift for today, and today brings enough worry of its own (Matthew 6:34). You may get married a year from this day, or you may still be single five years from now. Either way, it will be a gift.
It is true that God said “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). But in our haste to point to this verse, we can write off the biblical figures who embodied godly singleness, Jesus chief among them (he’s been awaiting his bride for centuries!). We can also overlook the importance of intimacy in communities apart from romantic relationships. We are not islands without a church body.
We overlook that “every good gift comes down from the Father of lights, in whom there is no shadow or variation due to change” (James 1:17). “Every good gift” includes today’s assignment and its marital status. God never forsakes his sons and daughters (Hebrews 13:5). Surely he hasn’t abandoned you now in fresh heartbreak or prolonged singleness.
Singleness Is a Struggle
That singleness is a gift doesn’t mean it won’t be a deep and difficult struggle for many. In God’s eyes, in fact, some of the best gifts he gives to us are struggles (1 Peter 1:6–9; Romans 5:1–5). Struggles are gifts teaching us to look nowhere else but him for our needs. Gifts teaching us that his timing is perfect. Gifts revealing more of him to us. That’s what struggles are.
It’s easy to look everywhere except God in a world obsessed with of love and sex. But recall that the world of deadened consciences is more starved for intimacy than ever, despite its seemingly endless supply of erotic affection.
In the midst of the struggle, we must strive to cultivate thankfulness and trust in the Lord (Psalm 107:1; Proverbs 3:5-6). A good basis for doing so is to recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:10¬–11:
Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
God is a good Father. Our hearts must capture that truth and be captured by it or we will be suffocated — and not flourish — in singleness. If we are asking for marriage, his giving us singleness today cannot be a snake or a stone. It must be the very best for us.
Is He Still Worthy?
He is not dangling “our perfect relationship” just out of our grasp, saying, “If only you were more attractive or holy or didn’t do that sin in the past, then you’d have this dazzling romance.” There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship or person apart from God; the best we can hope from any relationship with another is to be two imperfect humans seeking a holy, perfect God together.
Singleness, like all trials, is a whisper to our hearts, saying, “Am I still worthy of worship if you don’t get what you desperately want?” Should the Lord will it, I will celebrate ten years of unwanted singleness later this year. Yes, I said celebrate. Because even in unwanted seasons, the Lord never stops being good to me, nor does he cease to be enough for me (Psalm 16:11) — today, tomorrow, and forever.