What is the greatest temptation and danger for an unmarried Christian? And how do single Christians avoid this danger?
To answer these questions, it helps to know that all of God’s commands are meant for his glory and our good. God knows the best thing for us is to first love him above all things. Secondly, he calls us to love people as well. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that loving God is the best thing for us and loving people is the second best thing for us.
If you were to reverse the order of these commands, however, you would quickly find yourself in sinful idolatry of people over God; but when we don’t do the first command, abusing the second command is actually the easiest thing to do.
Again, God said his commands are good for us (Deuteronomy 10:13). Therefore, it makes perfect sense that when our love of God is absent, we literally feel empty inside and lonely because we are missing out on all the good God wants for us that comes through our loving him. No one can live long while doing nothing to fill this emptiness they feel. Since loving people is the second greatest commandment, which means it must be the second best thing for us, is it any wonder that if God is not really our God, people quickly become our greatest idols, the greatest temptation and danger to our hearts?
Of all of God’s creation, people reflect God’s image most. It should be no surprise, then, that when our hearts ache for God but go without finding him, they quickly attach themselves to people because they are literally the next best thing to God himself.
The strongest lure away from God is the love of man, especially romantic love. There are only two restrictions on romantic relationships in the Bible. One, if you are married, to only be in romantic relationship with your spouse. Two, if you are single, to only pursue a romantic relationships with another Christian who would make a good, godly spouse (1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Corinthians 6:14).
This is why for unmarried people, the most dangerous and tempting sin will be to attach themselves to an unbelieving person. In the context of loving God and seeking a Christian spouse to love and be loved by, there is zero problems. God wants the vast majority of his people to get married. He wants those marriages to be Christ-centered so spouses can help one another love God. Non-Christians have no desire to love Christ.
So to summarize, it’s right to love God, its right to love people, and its right to pursue a spouse who will help you love God first and people second. But if you don’t love God and are not pursuing a Christian spouse, the greatest temptation will be to link up with a non-believer since they still reflect God’s image to some degree and are thus the most alluring solution to fulfilling the needs within.
In Nehemiah 13, Nehemiah goes to the extreme, even coming across as abusive to our 21st century consciousness. However, he rebuked the people so harshly because he knew their sin of marrying godless spouses was really that dangerous. Just as God’s commands are given to us in love, so are our Lord’s corrections and consequences (Hebrews 12:7-11). Nehemiah’s extreme reaction to romantic relationships with godless people shows how extremely dangerous these relationships are to Christ’s people.
To be clear, idolizing people will be a struggle for everyone. When you are married, you can easily idolize your spouse or kids or someone else just as easily as you idolized people when you were single. But to answer the question posed, “How do you avoid the biggest danger to an unmarried Christian?” in short: Pursue God and pursue a Christian spouse, as both of these pursuits are God honoring.
If you are not loving God and not pursuing a godly spouse who loves Christ, which are both good and biblical things to do, you will have an unstoppable desire to fill the need within you. The thing that comes closest to these genuine needs of the heart is an unbelieving person, therefore a romantic relationship with an unbeliever is the most dangerous temptation for an unmarried Christian.
(Note: There is a biblical category for lifelong singleness. One indicatory that will be present for those who are called to singleness is that they will not even have the desire for marriage (1 Corinthians 7:9, 37). This lack of desire will not be rooted in fear or the result of abuse, but rather the person will simply desire to live a celibate life solely to pursue God. However, this article was written assuming the single person has a desire for marriage, which is an indicator God has designed them to be married.)