How to Know If God Is Calling You to Singleness

4 Signs God Wants You to Be Single

How to Know If God Is Calling You to Singleness

Key Bible Verses: 1 Corinthians 7:1-40

Perhaps one of the most prevalent questions amongst single Christians is, “How will I know if God wants me to get married or remain single?” Marriage is a big deal to God. Marriage is central to reflecting the gospel (Ephesians 5:22-33), it is the way God has ordained the human race to be populated (Genesis 1:28), and thus most Christians are called to be married. There are many Christians, however, who are called to singleness. So how will you know if God is calling you to singleness?

You May Be Called By God to Singleness If You Know Your Whole Focus Should Be on Ministry

Often times the problem is that the church you attend values marriage or singleness more than the other. The Bible makes clear, however, that both marriage and singleness are equally important callings from God. 1 Corinthians 7:38 states, “So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.”

At first glance, 1 Corinthians 7:38 seems to totally disprove my statement that marriage and singleness are equally important callings from God. Notice, though, that this verse begins with “So.” Paul says that those who choose the calling of singleness “do even better” because in 1 Corinthians 7:29-35, Paul explains that the value of singleness is that you can focus solely on God. He goes as far to say, “From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none” ( 1 Corinthians 7:29).

Clearly Paul is not saying that husbands should abandon their wives and families to serve the Lord. The point of this passage is that whether you are married or single, your goal should be to serve the Lord with the same focus as someone who is single because they have committed their life to serving the Lord. This is why he said in 1 Corinthians 7:38 that those who choose Christian singleness have done better.

It’s not better to be single than it is to be married. It is better, however, that you seek to serve the Lord and not have other distractions. But to deny your calling of marriage would be to dishonor the Lord. If you are called to marriage, you must seek to serve the Lord with the same passion that you would have if you were a Christian called to singleness. Paul qualified his statements when he declared, “I wish that all were as I myself am [single]. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Corinthians 7:7).

With all that said, one way you will know if God is calling you to singleness is if your motivation is simply to serve the Lord. If you have a desire to live a Christian life of singleness because you hate men, don’t want to submit to a husband, don’t want the responsibility of caring for a wife, don’t want to deal with all the emotional wounds you experienced because of your parents failed marriage, don’t want to stop dating multiple people – if your desire to remain single is anything other than to please the Lord, this is not a sign that you are called to singleness.

If You Don’t “burn with passion”/Sexual Desires, God May Be Calling You to Singleness

“Does God want me to be single forever?” One sign that will help you determine if God wants you to be single is if he completely takes away your sexual desires. Again, it is crucial to make sure your feelings and desires are not rooted in unhealthy wounds. For example, if you don’t have a sexual desire because you were sexually abused as a child, this is not a sign you are called to singleness.

If, however, you are seeking to love God and deal with the wounds of your past but you simply don’t have a strong sexual drive, this may be a sign that God wants you to be single forever. God does not want you to be single if you burn with sexual passion. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2, 8-9 explains:

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. . . . To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

None of this means that just because you have a sexual desire it is a guarantee you will one day be married. God’s ways and plans for us are sometimes not that clear. God knows what he’s doing, but he doesn’t always reveal everything so clearly to us when we want to know. If you do have a sexual desire, however, this is good biblical evidence that you should pursue marriage.

Religious Reasons Will Not Help You Know If God Is Calling You to Christian Singleness

Marriage is a gift from God. Marriage should never disqualify anyone from any type of godly ministry. Sadly, there are many religions today that claim celibacy and singleness are requirements for holiness. 1 Timothy 4:1-5 explains:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”

How to Know If God Is Calling You to Singleness pic 2If you want to serve the Lord, this is not a sign that you are called by God to singleness. God can call you to marriage or singleness and call you to serve him in full-time ministry as well. While many Christian religions like Catholicism certainly do many good things for God’s kingdom, there teaching on priestly celibacy is simply unbiblical.

Love God and He Will Reveal His Calling for You, Whether It’s Marriage or Christian Singleness

You may not be able to know if God wants you to stay single forever. Most of the time God does not give us signs that would reveal his whole plan for our life all at once. Rather than spend your whole life seeking signs on whether or not God has called you to marriage or singleness, the wiser approach is to do what you know God has called you to do.

We all know God has called all Christians to love him and other people. When we simply seek the Lord with all of our hearts, God will reveal the next part of his calling for us when we need to know it. There are certainly some biblical ways to know whether or not God is calling you to singleness; ultimately, though, each Christian will simply need to seek the Lord and obey what he or she feels led to do.

Marriage and singleness are both wonderful callings from God. If you desire to be married and not remain single forever, odds are God has not called you to singleness. Only God truly knows what his plan for you is, so seek the Lord and in due time he will make it all clear.

God may want you to be single or he may want you to be married, but you do know he definitely wants you to serve and love him right now.

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14 thoughts on “How to Know If God Is Calling You to Singleness

  1. My name is Alice (not my real name; it’s an online pseudonym). I am a Chinese girl. I have stumbled upon the concept of ”complementarianism” lately and as difficult as it is, I am asking God to help me accept it. Lately, I have had much confusion and tears over the passages 1 Corinthians 7 versus 1 Timothy 2:15. I know very well that men and women have different roles to fulfill in this life, and that faith without works is dead, but some scholars seem to be saying that women ”show” that they are saved if they are willing to get married and have children (they add that barren women are still saved; the point is that they accept that being a mother is the proper role for a female Christian)…but what about 1 Corinthians 7 where it says that ”the unmarried woman or virgin cares for the things of the Lord….the married woman cares for the things of the world; how she may please her husband”…? Does 1 Corinthians 7 still apply to people today? Some pastors claim that ”no, it doesn’t”, because Corinth was in a ”famine crisis” of sorts and Paul gave the women special permission to not get married and have kids. However, the more I read the passage, the more the two verses ”I wish that all men (Greek: anthropos, a.k.a. ”human being”) were as I am” and ”the present world is passing away” stand out to me. I have lately became a complementarian, which, to my surprise, I don’t mind at all, but lots of complementarian sources seem to be screaming out at me that if I don’t end up with a husband and at least one child, it’s most likely I was never saved to begin with.

    Here’s the problem here: I have an almost-zero sex drive, and no desire for romance or a boyfriend at all. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t hate men, and I don’t hate children. I believe that both males and females are precious beings made in God’s image, and I hope to adopt a daughter when I grow up because I do love kids. And I was most certainly not abused as a child, whether physically or sexually, or both. I am NOT making this up.

    To be honest, I am confused and hurt. And there aren’t any churches near where I live that can really help me on this issue. I’ve seeked out a few churches, but they’re all HUGE churches and you don’t really get to read deep into the Bible or ask tough questions there. There are services, the preachers says a few words, perhaps a Bible verse or two, there’s singing – then, show’s over.

    I really can’t describe how sad I have been for so many days and weeks. I trust that in time, God will bring me to a church where I can study the Bible in-depth with people who truly love Him and serve Him, but before that, at least there’s the Internet, where I can read articles and look at websites such as this one – thanks a lot for creating it, it’s really good. Before anything happens, I really want to understand 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Timothy 2:15. Is it a sin for me to not be interested in sex? Am I unknowingly rebelling against my design? Were the two godly women Amy Carmichael and Florence Nightingle unsaved just because they didn’t have children? Surely they didn’t hate men.

    Am I being called to singleness? I’m not American, but in Western complementarian circles it’s hard to imagine a woman being called to lifelong celibacy in regards of the 1 Timothy 2:15 verse. I may be still young, but I don’t care. I really want to be sure what my purpose in life is, what I can do, and what I’m not supposed to do. What’s your feelings about this dilemma I’m in? Am I called to singleness or am I being rebellious? I honestly don’t want to be the latter. Please help me.

    By the way, God bless you and your family, whatever happens.

    • Hi Alice,
      Thank you so much for pouring out your heart like this. I am honored that you would take the time to ask such a personal and important question. I know many people are having the same feelings and questions that you have expressed, so I hope to write a longer article about this topic at some point. Giving me a look into how you feel about all this is really helpful to me so I can better help people with these types of questions.

      Let me see if I can run through a few of the questions you asked:

      You said, “…lots of complementarian sources seem to be screaming out at me that if I don’t end up with a husband and at least one child, it’s most likely I was never saved to begin with.”

      If you have read any complemenarians who have said that, rest assured that they are very, very wrong.

      1 Timothy 2:15 is a notoriously difficult passage of Scripture to interpret. For a deeper look into this verse, feel free to checkout this article which is all about 1 Timothy 2:15.

      It seems you understand that 1 Timothy 2:15 is explaining that childbearing is a good work that saved women will express, not a good work that a woman will be saved by. No individual woman should feel any guilt or shame if they feel called to singleness because 1 Timothy 2:15 is speaking about “women” (plural) not a “woman” (singular). It’s referring to the roles of women in general. It’s giving specific instructions on roles in the church and family, but it does not give an exhaustive list of men and women’s roles. Men and women are called to more than what is discussed in 1 Timothy 2. And just as all men are not called to be husbands, preachers and head pastors, not all women are called to be wives and bear children. This passage of Scripture is just meant to set guidelines for those who are.

      1 Timothy 2:15 doesn’t mean all women must bear children, as some women can’t. But it does mean childbearing is a good work solely dedicated to “women” (the entire species as a whole, not a woman as an individual), because obviously men (as a species) could never do it, no matter how much faith males had.
      I hope that helps a bit!

      You also mentioned, “Is it a sin for me to not be interested in sex? Am I unknowingly rebelling against my design?”

      As you mentioned, I too believe 1 Corinthians 7 absolutely still applies to our day and age. 1 Corinthians 7 sets its own context, so any pastor that seeks to add extra historical context to interpret the text is doing something unnecessary. In short, these verses say that if you have a sexual drive, you are probably supposed to get married. If you don’t have a sexual drive, it may mean you are not supposed to get married. With all that said, 1 Corinthians gives guidance and not commands (1 Corinthians 7:6). Thus you will have to walk with God on what he is leading you to do specifically. Some people who have a sex drive don’t get married. God has a plan that doesn’t always meet our desires. 1 Corinthians 7 gives wisdom and guidance on what is likely for most people, not certain for all people.

      When Corinthians 7:7 states, “I wish that all men were as I am” we must make sure we also read the rest of the verse, “But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” A few things to note: Paul says “I wish” which again shows this is not a command to be followed but guidance to be considered. Additionally, it is very clear that singleness and marriage are both gifts from God. You can be called to either one. You should not feel any shame if you are called to singleness or marriage. You should rejoice in either one. Don’t let people make you feel this way. Take comfort in what the Bible says and rejoice in how God has made you.

      Additionally, 1 Corinthians 7:7 should be seen in the light of 1 Corinthians 7:29, “This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none.” Certainly Paul is not saying that a husband should stop caring for his wife or a wife her husband. What he is saying is that even those who are married should have the singular pursuit of God that a single person can more easily have. Biblical singleness should be rooted in a desire to focus solely on God. However, Paul states that if you have the gift of marriage, you should get married but also have the motivation of someone who has the gift of singleness. Whether we are single or married, we must live with a heart solely seeking God.

      Lastly, you asked, “Am I called to singleness or am I being rebellious? I honestly don’t want to be the latter. Please help me.”

      Only you can really answer that question. My best counsel is that you are probably weighing through his so heavily because you really want to please God. 1 Corinthians 7 can make us feel like if you really want to please God, you will be single. However, a deeper look at it should make you feel different. Paul is encouraging us that singleness is best because it’s more practical in focusing on the Lord. But God literally gives some this gift and some not. The part that is in our control is not the calling to singleness or marriage but how we live as a single person or a married person. God has wired you a certain way and that is out of our control. What is in our control is how we use that gift to love God.

      Therefore, perhaps don’t focus so much on if you are called to singleness or marriage. Focus more on using the season you are in to pursue Jesus. God may or may not bring a man into your life, but what we know for certain is that he wants you to pursue him all the time.

      A good test is to be honest about what brings you joy. It’s commendable to God if you would be single for him even if you wanted to be married, but if it makes you sad to think about that then he’s probably wired you for marriage, and vice-a-versa.

      Also, you can still be a complementarian without being married. You can respect the different roles men and women have as a single woman and show the beauty of a femine heart express in the biblical roles of a woman while being single. Marriage and motherhood are not what make you a complementarian. Respecting the roles of men and women given by God is what does. As a single woman, you should look for ways to respect the men in your life (dad, brothers, friends, pastors . . .) and then you will be fulfilling the God’s hope for you as woman living in her design.

      Lastly, it is not a sin for you to not be interested in sex. However, just something to consider: Often times a person’s sex drive is more connected to their emotions and heart, especially women. Men are more visually wired than women in general. Thus your sex drive may be awakened when your heart and emotions are. You may not be visually wired. You may be wired to have attraction once a man and you connect relationally. If there is no man in your life like that, perhaps this is why you have not been awakened like that. Everyone is different. And this may not be true of you. You may just be called to singleness. But wisdom says that if you are young you should stay open to the idea of marriage if the right guy comes along. You may not be awakened yet because the right guy has not come to yet. Perhaps God has blessed you with a guarded heart so you will not give it away until it is truly time.

      In conclusion, none of us know for certain what the future specifically holds. You may be married in five years, ten years, thirty years, or you may not ever be married. Don’t try to become what you think God wants you to be. Rather, pursue God and allow him in the process to make you what he has already planned for you to be.

      Pursue God with an open heart to anything he wants to bless you with, singleness or marriage, and I guarantee it will all work out the way God wants.
      I hope that helps, God bless!

      PS: You may also benefit from these articles:

  2. What if many of us Never wanted to be Single and wanted to have that Gift of life to be married with a family? Especially for many of us Good men still waiting and hoping.

    • Hi Paul,

      I think a short answer is that if you don’t want to be single, you probably don’t have the gift of singleness. One of the evidences of having this gift is a lack of a sexual desire and a lack of a desire for marriage. Just because you are still unmarried does not mean you have the gift of singleness or even that God has called you to singleness. There are many practical factors to why people are still single when they don’t want to be. I’ve written about this a lot in my book “The Ultimate Guide to Christian Singleness.” Click here to read it for free.

  3. Hi I need advice. You can call me Marie (not my real name). I’ve been praying about whether it’s God’s will I marry (my bf) or stay single. A lot when i pray, I get verses–like the one Paul talks about in Corinthians, that it’s better not to marry; or the one about some people being born eunuchs; or I feel maybe I should serve God like Paul and be a bride of Christ.

    Some background: I have a history of not choosing wisely when it comes to bfs and I also have a history of trying to sabotage relationships and run (sometimes rightly–my ex bf was abusive and cheated) . Im in my 30s and not unattractive (I used to model) but for some reason over the past 15 years, Christian men do not seem to be attracted to me. I have only had one ex bf, and have casually dated a few others. I have also had a stuffed up childhood and issues in the past with gender confusion. I go through periods where I want to get married and have kids, but then start dating someone and suddenly want to run and be single. Over the years I seem to be drawn to the verse about singleness a lot.

    Ok–the situation–I casually dated my bf for 6months (saw him once a fortnight, nothing too deep). Then have been in a relationship with him for 3 months. He says he wants to get engaged and marry me. He was going to pop the question in a month so we could be married by the end of the year. I begged him to give me more time (i don’t feel i know him and he’s also going to quit his job soon to work part time as a singer–im not comfortable with that, because if we marry i’ll be the breadwinner).Anyway, he gave me a 6month extension–everything (engagement and wedding) gets extended 6months. I feel really pressured. The more I pray about what to do the more I seem to get the verse about it being better to be single and I feel I could serve God as a single person better and some people seem to do single better than married. I feel if I tell him I just want to get to know him without any time ultimatums or pressure he’ll break up with me because he’ll think I’m not serious and I might waste his time–and I love him. In the past, after 3 dates he asked me to commit and I couldn’t he didn’t speak to me for 3 months because he said he thought I just wanted to date for fun and waste time. It was after that, that we met again and started dating for 6 months. I just can’t deal with this pressure and feel anxious. Please give me advice. What would you tell me if I was your daughter? (I don’t have parents so I can’t ask them). And please pray for me, for God to clearly tell me what to do. My bf is a Godly guy and a really kind person and I love him. I’m just very concerned about the pressure and his financial situation and the fact his situation seems ‘ok’ to him. Sometimes I think, if this ends badly, I just want to be single and be someone like a nun. I have no idea what to do and feel really stressed, but I can’t tell him that, I’ll hurt him and I don’t feel I know him that well to tell him–also Im not a tactful person.

    • Marie, I’m so grateful for your questions because I know many people out there are having the same feelings as you. Here’s some thoughts of mine.

      1. It sounds like you are definitely unsure that this person is someone you want to marry. You should not get married if you are unsure. This doesn’t mean you should not marry this person someday. But before you get engaged, you should not have doubts. So my advice is that you continue to date until you know one way or the other if this person is or is not someone you would want to marry. Once you know one way or the other, then get married or move on. Don’t date if you already know the answer to this question. Dating is a time for evaluation. Once you know you need to act and move on from the dating season one way or the other (otherwise sin always happens, usually sexual sin). If this person dumps you because their timeline is not fitting your feelings, this is a sign to me that this is not the person God has for you. No relationship is going to be perfect, but if this person wants you to commit while you still have doubts, that’s a big red flag.

      2. I think your financial concerns are very, very valid. If my daughter wanted to marry someone who was about to quit their job in pursuit of music, I would strongly advice her to wait. I wouldn’t tell her not to marry this person for sure, but I would tell her that he is not in a place to be her husband right now. He either needs to get a stable job while pursuing his music so he can provide (what if you get pregnant?). Or he needs to pursue his music without a full-time job and wait to get married. A healthy person pursues their dreams in a responsible way, not a reckless way. He should know in a year or so if music will pay the bills. If it doesn’t a strong man would get a job and pursue music on the side.

      3. There’s all kinds of tips and techniques and “what-ifs” that we think will bring us peace, but life is always full of unknowns. Therefore true peace will never come through having all the answers. True peace comes through being rightly aligned and in relationship with God. So before you can find peace in your relationships, you must first have peace in God. Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In context, this verse doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan and work for the daily things we need (including relationship decisions). In this passage the point is that we are not to “worry.” So you are doing the right thing by seeking answers to the relationship questions you have with this person. But only when you put God first in your heart will you have the ability to not worry about it all. Anxiety comes when we believe a deep need of ours will not be met. When your deep needs are first met in Christ, this will free you to make right decisions in your relationships. If you are not fulfilled in God first, it will be easier to make poor decisions because you will be desperate for this person to fill you. If you are filled and know you are loved by God, then you will be able to make risky decisions, because to move forward or moving on from this person are both risky choices in some ways. So no matter what you do with this person, you will always be anxious if you are not first secure in God.

      4. Lastly, you ultimately have to do what you feel God is leading you to do. If you’re motive is to please God, he will not let you miss his will. My gut level feeling, however, from the details you shared is that this person is not ready for marriage. My advice would be (A): Give him more time to mature before getting married or (B): Accept that he is not willing to grow and then move on. Just my gut feeling, but I would not marry him as things stand right now.

      I’ll pray for you! I hope this advice helps a bit. Keep praying, reading the word, consulting other Christians you know and respect, listen to the people who love you and are giving you advice about this person, and keep doing the next right thing.

      God bless,

  4. Paul never mentioned the word “singleness” in his letters to the Corinthians or anywhere else in the Bible and he never described the concept of social “singleness” as we know it today. Even though Protestant churches don’t like to use the term because it’s laden with Catholicism, celibacy is a more accurate description of the gift Paul described. Our current culture defines a “single” person as someone who does not have a current and legally sanctioned marriage license. Likewise, a courthouse is the only way we define marriage. I’m afraid that’s not what he had in mind. An even better term and one that he does use is “virgin.” See 1 Cor 7:25. I am qualified to speak on the subject because I do have Paul’s gift. Of the 570,000,000 people alive in North America, can you name three others with this same calling? If you can’t, I would say that’s more evidence that we live in a society that idolizes marriage and family.

  5. I look at singleness as a punishment from God since many of us Never Expected this to happen to us at all. Go figure.

  6. One may have a desire for marriage and yes physical intimacy, but God still might want them to remain single. Consider the following: If you’ve been dateless a very long time, and I’m taking 10 years or more AND no one is approaching you for dates (not even worldly guys), or you have one bad relationship after another, then I think that’s a pretty sure sign you’re not no spouse material and should remain unmarried. That’s God’s will, like it or not.

    • Thanks for the comments. The other factor to consider in the scenario you mentioned is that the person is doing something to hinder other people from approaching/ liking him or her. Therefore God may want that person to be married but that person is living in sin/doing something that is hindering healthy relationships from developing. If that person would seek counseling or be open to change/sanctification, perhaps their relationship status would change. In this case, this would be different than someone simply having the gift of singleness.

  7. Thanks for this article. My question, which I never can get answered is this. If one is divorced with children and thus never really “single” (have to consider children’s desires) then does the dilemma of staying “single” still apply? I have been divorced (my ex left me for another woman and he was not a believer) for 10 years. I have dated and even got close to saying yes to a marriage proposal then realized that I did not love that dear Christian man enough and so I declined. Now that my children are young adults I am really feeling lonely and to be honest with you missing sexual intimacy. I keep looking at my circumstances as God’s answer to if I should remain single. I think, he would have sent someone by now. For the last 2 years I have completely closed myself to the idea of dating again but over the last 2 months I can not shake this loneliness and I think about the times of being with my ex-husband. Can you give me any advice?