What is good, and what is better for Christian singles?
I have met many frustrated, miserable, confused and disappointed Christian singles, including me, in my many years as a Christian. And many times because of bad or not very helpful advice from our Christian friends and leaders.
So let's seek God's wisdom from the Bible on the issue of singleness and marriage. The Apostle Paul says this to the confused believers in Corinth.
"I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:6-9)
"it is good...to stay unmarried" or "it is better to marry". What do you think about it, my Christian single friend? Should you stay single, or should you get married?
That depends on "your own gift from God". Do you know what your own gift is when it comes to singleness and marriage? Here's how you can test yourself: do you "burn with passion", with sexual desire? To burn with passion in Greek language is "a figure of speech referring to unfulfilled sexual passion". (NET Bible Scholarly notes)
But why did the Apostle Paul say that "it is good...to stay unmarried" as he was? Two reasons. One, he said that "Because of the present crisis" (7:26a). By some scholars this "present crisis" is a reference to a famine and a possible lack of food which could cause starvation and death of a spouse or children, and therefore he wanted to save the Corinthian believers from trouble. And the second reason is that Paul wanted single Christians to live "in undivided devotion to the Lord". (1 Corinthians 7:35b)
But, even those two "good" reasons Paul gave are not good enough as a deciding factor for Christians in Corinth to stay unmarried. Because if they were burning with sexual desire, their gift was marriage and not singleness .
It is almost impossible to find anyone who doesn't "burn with sexual desire". But aren't we to control our sexual desire? Yes, but...in this case Paul is not saying that the solution to someone burning with passion or sexual desire is to control themselves. In fact he says to the believers "But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (7:9) Perhaps a weak sexual desire is easier to control than a strong sexual desire. Little bonfire is put out by a bucket of water, but a house on fire needs firefighters with much water to put it out.
Also, "sexual desire" for the one you love is nothing to be ashamed of, it's a gift from God (v.7) not a curse of the devil. Imagine your life with your spouse without that gift...it would be miserable, in fact, you should probably not get married without that gift because you'd make your spouse miserable.
So, my friends, are you burning with a strong sexual desire? Good. God has given you a gift for marriage. Now go and prayerfully seek a spouse. Paul says, "they should marry" (7:9b)
And who should you marry? And how long before you can marry? First, when Paul spoke to the widows he gave an instruction, "she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord". (7:39b) He doesn't say God will make you marry a person whom you don't desire or wish to be married to. God respects our wish and desire in choosing a spouse, as long as he or she "belong to the Lord". And Paul doesn't give a time restriction either. If a guy and a girl love each other, let them not wait long before they get married.
As Christians we must be careful we don't become micro-managers of each other's lives, but give room and space for God to bring single people together in the area of dating and marriage. And we must watch our own hearts prone to legalism seeking to line up all our spiritual ducks in order so God would bless us with a perfect mate, with a perfect job, with a perfect past, and etc. As if the gospel is insufficient to meet our need in an imperfect situation and with an imperfect spouse, God help us. For that would be adding to the truth of the gospel, and we would sin against God.
My dear Christians single friends, let God grow you in your maturity: let Jesus be your greatest treasure, serve people, work for your bread, but don't trow out finding a treasure in a spouse at the same time. This is healthy, and "better" for you. Enjoy!