How can you be content in singleness? If you are struggling with singleness, what is a biblical view to be more satisfied as you are waiting on the Lord? When it comes to Christian advice for singles, often times people are quick to start preaching down at those struggling in this season and offering them tips on how to be more content. That’s is not my aim here.
Before we can talk about “how to be content in singleness,” we need to first make it clear that a desire for marriage is not a sin. If you are a Christian single and you want to be married, this is good and biblical. If you are a Christian single and you do not want to be married, this is good and biblical too. For example, in 1 Corinthians 7 the Bible says that both singleness and marriage are a gift.
So trying to force someone to want one or the other is not biblical. Some of you are perfectly content with a life of singleness. And that’s great too. Marriage isn’t a requirement for all Christians. It is an option for those who want to glorify God in this specific way. Wanting singleness or marriage is a free choice God allows each of us to make. Therefore, rather than telling you that every Christian single should be content with singleness even though they have a desire for marriage, I believe a more biblical approach would be to talk about being content “in” singleness.
As I’ve previously discussed in Is It Wrong to Want to Be Married?, the Bible does not say you must be happy with all your external circumstances in life. Rather, we are called to find our joy in Christ even when we do not have the things we want on earth.
Through Christ, we can be content “in” every situation (Philippians 4:12-13), even our unwanted singleness. But that does not mean we must be content “with” every situation. Your heart must find its ultimate and total joy in Christ. But even in your joy with Christ, you can be unhappy with your circumstance. You only sin when you allow your unwanted circumstances to affect your joy in Christ. Unwanted circumstances should increase and not decrease your joy in Christ. The more we see the imperfections in this world, the more we will value the perfections of Christ.”
So as we talk about “how to be content in singleness,” just know that you do not need to happy about being single if you want to be married. Rather, to be content in singleness really means that even though you don’t have something you want in life, your heart is still fully alive because your ultimate source of joy is in Christ.
Here are 4 ways to be content in singleness as a Christian.
To Be Content in Singleness, Have a Realistic View of Christian Marriage
If you think Christian marriage is the fountain of life, you will always feel like you are missing out. You won’t be able to be happy in life if you think the only well of true happiness is marriage. It’s not. Christ is.
Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is a blessing. My wife and kids bring me immense joy in my life. But I know that if I was not walking with Christ and I let my sin nature take over, I would become a very bitter and angry person and would ruin my marriage and my relationship with my kids. If I asked Bethany to be my main source of joy and I never drank from the fountain of Christ’s joy, I would be a miserable person and terrible husband.
Quite frankly, marriage is really not enough to make you happy if you are not first content in Christ. It is a blessing. Marriage does bring joy to one’s life. But don’t think marriage is the secret bullet to a life of bliss and happiness. It’s not. There are many people who hate their lives and even commit suicide who are married. My point is that marriage is not enough. If you want to be content in singleness, you have to rightly view what Christian marriage really is.
It is a gift from God. It is not “the” gift from God. God himself is “the” gift, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
To Be Content in Singleness, You Must Be at Peace with Your Effort to Be Married
When you know you have not tried everything, you will have an anxiety that you could be married if you did something different. I’m not saying that there is a magical Christian marriage blueprint that if you follow perfectly you will find the one God has for you. What I am saying is that sometimes the benefit of being more proactive in the Christian dating process is that you can be at peace to know you are not still single because of your own lack of effort.
Many times those who shift their perspective and stop being so passive in their desire for marriage actually do see results. For a personal testimony on how one woman took ownership for her own relationship status and then found her husband, read the article, Unwanted Singleness, Getting Unstuck, and Following God in Dating by Veronique Butterfield.
By doing something more than waiting, you will have the peace of mind that you are not being too passive to receive the blessings God wants to give you. After counseling one AGW subscriber to simply invite a guy she liked to spend some time with her so they could get to know each other better, she wrote in and said, “Thanks Mark, just wanted to update you. I did it and was happy I did. He was kind and said thanks for my sweet note but he is currently interested in someone else. He thanked me for my honesty. It felt good to take a role in dating instead of always waiting.”
This woman was not happy about it not working out with this guy she liked, but after doing something she was now content in knowing it was simply not meant to be. If God is speaking to you clearly and telling you not to act, then don’t do something. But if you are not sure what God is saying and the choice before you is not sinful, then I would counsel you to act. God speaks through our circumstances. One of the benefits of being proactive is that you will get more answers by gathering more evidence through the circumstances you will experience. If you are passive, you will experience less and thus know less about the possibilities of certain relationships.
So if you want to be content in singleness, you need to be at peace with the level of effort you are putting into meeting your future spouse. If you have doubts about being too passive and you are frozen in fear, you won’t be content because you will feel like you are missing out because of your own passivity. But if you step out in faith and it doesn’t result in a relationship, you will have the peace of mind to know that your singleness is not due to your own lack of effort.
To Be Content in Singleness, Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
One common joy killer is comparing yourself to others. This applies to being content in Christian singleness as well. If you are constantly comparing your story to the people around you, you will feel depressed and discontent.
God does not put all Christians on the same marriage timeline. Some get married when they are “young” and some get married when they are “older.” Sometimes our personal choices affect when God blesses us with a marriage; but sometimes there’s nothing we are doing wrong or right, it all just depends on God’s timing.
One of the dangers of comparing yourself to others is that you might start thinking that there is a standard in certain areas of your life where the Bible has not put a standard. Relationships in general are very subjective because in the Bible romances is an option and not a command.
Comparing yourself to others also will not help you be content in singleness because you will start to envy what they have and put yourself down for not having it, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30).
The wrong response to the advice I am giving here would be to avoid all your friends who are in a relationship because you don’t want to be triggered by their joy. A more mature approach is to be simultaneously happy for another while allowing yourself to be disappointed for yourself. Just because you wish you were getting married doesn’t mean you can’t also be very happy for the person who is getting married.
To be content in singleness, the key is to experience life along with others without comparing your life to others.
To Be Content in Singleness, Be Careful Who You Are Taking Advice From
Lastly, if you want to be content in singleness, you will need to be careful who you receive advice from. Many people mean well, but much of the advice that people give singles is downright terrible.
“Oh, it’s okay honey. God has the perfect one for you. You just have to be patient.” How does one know that? And how does this person know you are not being patient?
“If you want to be married one day, just love God and he will take care of the rest.” So all the people who are married love God more than all the people who are single? That’s heresy. Jesus was single. For more on this, see the article/video Are You Single Because You Don’t Love God Enough?
“Just enjoy it sweetie. Once you get married your life is over. Date as many people as you can and just have fun.” What Bible verse is advice like this related to? People often give advice out of their own struggles and bad experiences.
My point is that you should not think that just because someone is married or just because someone is older than you that their advice is automatically valid. Marriage does not automatically make you an expert on Christian singleness. If you blindly follow the advice of people who are immature in the Lord or who just have a poor, imbalanced view on dating, politely nod and just keep walking. Most of the dating advice found in churches comes from a conservative culture rather than the pages of Scripture.
So How Can You Be Content in Singleness?
If you are not satisfied in Christ you won’t be content at any point in life, including during your season of Christian singleness. You don’t have to be content with unwanted singleness, but never allow your life circumstances to steal your happiness in God. You can be content in singleness only when you remain in Christ.
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