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.”
If 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.