Before you can have peace about pursuing a Christian relationship, you will first need to settle in your heart if God is calling you to a life of singleness or not. So here are 3 signs God is calling you to a life of singleness.
And on a quick side note, the content in this article comes from chapter 1 of my newest book called 100 Relationship Signs: How to Know What God Is Saying to You in Singleness and Dating. This book is like a handy encyclopedia for anyone who wants to honor God on their path to meeting the man or woman he wants them to marry. For more information, you can click the Amazon link in the description below.
1. If Being Single Would Help You Serve God More Than Being Married Would Help You Serve God, the Lord Is Calling You to a Life of Singleness
One of the most helpful places to study in Scripture when it comes to the call of singleness is 1 Corinthians 7. This passage, however, is notoriously misunderstood. After reading Paul’s words, you might feel like, “If I really loved God, I would remain single. If I get married, however, it means I just ‘kind of’ love God.”
That is not what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 7. When you read the whole chapter in context, I do think we have to admit that Paul places a higher value on singleness. For he says, “So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better” (1 Corinthians 7:38). But let us quickly remind ourselves that Paul also said, “For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:9).
In one verse Paul says it is better to marry and in another verse he says it is better to be single. The way I have come to interpret the point of this passage is that the goal is not to be single or married but rather to serve God. Paul elevates singleness when there are no extra individual variables in the equation because in singleness you can solely focus on God. In singleness you will have less practical responsibilities than a married person (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). That’s why in 1 Corinthians 7:38 Paul said it is better not to marry.
However, when you enter personal variables into the equation that are unique to each individual, sometimes marriage would be better for that specific person. Why? Because the goal is to serve God. So if marriage would better equip someone to serve God compared to being single, then that person should pursue marriage. Singleness is “better” than marriage when you are talking about them theoretically with no real people in the equation. But singleness is not what is best for all individual people. Marriage is better for some individuals depending on how God made that person.
Therefore, one biblical sign that God is calling you to a life of singleness rather than marriage is if singleness would better equip you to serve God compared to being married. However, if you feel like a partner in ministry (1 Peter 3:7) would better enable you to serve God, then you are probably called to pursue marriage rather than singleness.
God’s gifts are always meant to be used in service to God (Romans 12:6, 1 Peter 4:10). It’s no different when it comes to marriage or singleness. You can know which gift you have by examining which gift would help you serve God better, for as Paul said, “. . . each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Corinthians 7:7).
2. If You Have Excellent Self-Control Over Your Sexuality and You Do Not Burn with Passion for Sex, This Could Be a Sign God Is Calling You to a Life of Singleness
Another clear biblical sign that God is calling someone to a life of singleness is a lack of sexual passion for the opposite sex:
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. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:2, 8-9)
A sexual desire is not a bad thing. God designed humans to have this sexual desire. When our desires are working properly and are not skewed with sin, we can look at our desires and then figure out how God designed us. It’s like algebra. If you know what the answer is, you can work backwards to then figure out some of the missing variables in the equation.
So if you have a desire for sex, and God designed sex to only be expressed between a husband and wife, this probably means God has called you to marriage. Certainly a desire for sex is not a guarantee that God will cause you to get married, but according to Scripture we can see that a strong desire for sex is a sign that one should pursue marriage rather than singleness.
The Bible is not saying that sex should be the main motivation for getting married. Rather, a desire for sex is just one sign that someone is called to pursue marriage. It’s kind of like being hungry. Being hungry is not a sign that your purpose is to eat food. Hunger does not mean you should live to eat food. Rather, being hungry is a sign that God designed you to eat food to live. The desire for food is a sign you should eat food.
Likewise, when the desire for sex is not tainted with sinful desires, it should be seen as one sign to pursue marriage. You are not marrying to have sex. But a desire for sex is a sign you were designed for marriage. Sex is an important part of connecting with your spouse in marriage. If you have a sexual desire but no spouse, this probably means your sexual desire is meant to be used in the future to connect with your future spouse in marriage one day. If you don’t have a sexual desire and you don’t have a desire to be married, this would be evidence that you are called to remain single.
Lastly, it should also be noted that the Bible does not say a lack of a sex drive is a sign you should not pursue marriage. If you still want to be married even though you don’t have a strong sexual desire as a single person, you are still free to pursue marriage.
If you do not have a high sex drive but you still want to be married, don’t be concerned. This does not disqualify you. Oftentimes a sex drive is awakened once you get into a relationship. And as we have been saying, there are many more reasons that marriage empowers people for ministry other than just sex.
3. If You Want to Be Single for Healthy, Christ-Exalting Reasons, This Is a Strong Indicator You Have the “Gift of Singleness”
The reason I am emphasizing the motivation for singleness is that many times people “want” to be single because of wounds, fears, or unhealthy reasons based in negative past experiences. Oftentimes there is another part in their heart where they actually do want to get married, they just don’t want to get hurt, and so they feel like a life of singleness is the only option for them.
To dive deeper into a situation like this goes beyond the scope and intent of our study here. I think it is wise, however, to emphasize that the motive for singleness in 1 Corinthians 7 is not based in fear or shame. Rather, the motive that Paul is encouraging in those who feel led to singleness is the desire to serve God through singleness rather than marriage.
When you read 1 Corinthians 7, to me the big summary is this: If you want to serve God in marriage, you should pursue marriage. But if you want to serve God your whole life in singleness, you should pursue singleness. What do you want? Either choice is biblical. 1 Corinthians 7:36-37 (NIV) states:
If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing.”
Therefore, when you think about a life of singleness, if you get sad, anxious, frustrated, or you have any other negative emotions, this is probably a sign that God is not calling you to this life forever. These emotions are something you must work on and explore with God, but if you want to be married this is a sign God is probably calling you to pursue marriage.
We all have a season in life where God has called us to singleness, but that is different than intentionally pursuing a life of singleness like Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 7. Those who are called to pursue a life of singleness are marked by a desire to live that life with an unbegrudging attitude, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Again, we can’t guarantee what will or won’t happen in the future. But if you are someone who wants to be married, then this is a solid sign that God is calling you to pursue marriage when the right time comes rather than a life of singleness.