What does the Bible say about singleness? What Scripture verses are specifically for singles? And how can a Christian single know if they are living their life according to the Bible?
Here are 5 things the Bible says about singleness.
- The Bible Says Singleness Is a Gift from God
I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. 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.”
Notice that in this Bible passage we are taught that singleness and marriage are both gifts. It is a mistake for the church to teach anyone that singleness or marriage is not a gift from God.
God’s gifts, as we all know, are not always the gifts that we prefer. But no matter how badly someone wants to be married or how much someone loves being single, we as Christians must remember to place a high value on both singleness and marriage.
- The Bible Says that Singleness Is Better Than Marriage, But Not for Everyone
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to understanding what the Bible says about singleness because many people read passages like 1 Corinthians 7 and conclude that the Bible teaches us that singleness is actually better than marriage. Many people read 1 Corinthians 7 and feel the Bible tells Christians that to truly love God one would remain single. For as Paul said:
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” (1 Corinthians 7:32-34)
Clearly the take away from this Bible passage is that singleness does offer a distinct advantage to serving and loving God compared to marriage. But this is why it is so important to study Scripture in context, for if you keep reading in 1 Corinthians 7 you will find other Bible verses that say this about singleness and marriage:
But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. . . . Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. . . . If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin.” (1 Corinthians 7:9, 17, 36, emphasis mine.)
So which is better according to the Bible, singleness or marriage? The way I have come to interpret the point of 1 Corinthians 7 is that singleness is better than marriage in general when individual variables are not in the equation. But when you start factoring in actual people asking if singleness or marriage is better for them individually, then singleness is not always better. I believe the point of 1 Corinthians 7 is that a Christian single should pursue a life of singleness or marriage based upon which would better equip that person to serve God.
For much more on this, you may want to read my article titled, “Does the Bible Say that Singleness Is Better than Marriage?”
- The Bible Says a Life of Singleness Should Only Be Actively Pursued By Those Who Are Truly Content to Be Single for Life
As we just discussed in point 2, one sign that someone is called to singleness is if being single would better equip them for ministry. Another sign that God is calling you to a life of singleness is if you are truly content being single and do not have a strong desire for sex and marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-9).
Many people worry and become anxious about whether or not God is calling them to pursue singleness because they really want to be married. However, the fact that this person is worrisome and anxious about being single is usually a sign God is calling them to pursue marriage. As you read through 1 Corinthians 7, for example, there is a strong link between a Christian’s personal desire for marriage and them being called to pursue marriage. For as 1 Corinthians 7:36 states, “. . . let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin.”
Now, it is not a sign that you will definitely be married one day if you want to married. There are many Christians who want to be married who never get married for a variety of other factors (bad choices, no options, or God just having a different plan). However, I do believe the Bible says that if you want to be married and you don’t want to be single forever, you should actively pursue marriage rather than actively pursuing singleness.
We cannot guarantee what the results will be, but it seems clear that the Bible does not command singleness for those who don’t want it. For in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 the Bible says that false teachers are the ones who forbid marriage, which should not be done because God made marriage to be received with thanksgiving for those who pursue it in holiness.
During the waiting process or if marriage does not happen, however, Christian singles should continue to pursue their joy in the Lord (Philippians 4:4) and learn to be content in Christ during singleness even if they are also discontent with singleness. It is not a sin to want to be married. It is only a sin when someone cannot be joyful in God unless God allows them to be married.
- The Bible Says that Singleness Is an Effective Tool for Ministry
While each person should pursue singleness or marriage depending on what God is leading that individual person to do (1 Corinthians 7:7,17), all Christians must remember that the Bible says singleness is truly an effective tool for ministry.
Whether you will be married one day or not, we all will have a season of singleness in our lives. And whether this season of singleness ends when you are in your early 20s or it lasts for your whole life even though you wish you could be married, God wants each of us to use our singleness as the gift God intended it to be. Therefore Christian singles must learn to use there singleness in the most effective way possible as the Bible instructs in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. It states:
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
In these Bible verses about singleness, we are taught that Christian singleness is an excellent season for ministry because there are less practical responsibilities when someone is single compared to when someone is married. This does not mean that according to the Bible Christian singles are called to serve more than Christian married people do in the church. Rather, it just means that there is a practical advantage of having more time and less responsibilities in singleness because marriage will require it’s own duties and responsibilities that are not present when someone is single.
But again, in context this does not mean that singleness is better for every Christian. For some Christians, they will be better equipped to serve in ministry with a partner (1 Peter 3:7). Nonetheless, the point remains that whether you want to be single or not, all Christian singles should seek to use this season of life to its fullest potential (Luke 16:10).
- The Bible Says Singleness Should Be Used for the Glory of God
The Bible says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). According to the Bible, we must also remember that “. . . whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
So what does the Bible say about singleness? According to the Bible, singleness, along with everything else in life, should be used to bring God glory.