Christians in the church often look down on those who are unmarried. This is problematic because singleness is Biblical. This also creates division within the church. Celibacy and singleness also has been a part of church history since the beginning of the Church. Singles also means anyone who is single and may not be considering vocations such as the priesthood. The varying degrees of singleness, likewise, should be recognized as good. All Christian denominations must recognize that singleness is Biblical and create a more welcoming environment for singles in churches and in the Christian community. Here are three ways that the church can help single Christians in the church by recognizing that singleness is Biblical and make singles feel welcome by the Christian community.
Singleness Is Biblical
The Bible never condemns those who are single. It actually encourages those who do not desire to marry or who are widowed to seek a relationship with God first because spouses distract from pursuing holiness. That is because spouses can become the focus instead of God. In contrast, singles are able to grow and mature in their relationship with God by reading the Bible, praying, and living a holy life each day. The unmarried single person is concerned with the heavenly things of God while the married are focused on earthly things such as pleasing a spouse. Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:8 writes “to the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.” A few verses later Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 7:32-33 that 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.”The Church needs to realize that the Bible positively connects being single to having a relationship with God, while society equates being single as being a problem. The church and the christian community should recognize and make use of this uniquely Christian view of singleness that goes against what the world says about singleness. The church needs to create opportunities for singles in the congregation to flourish instead of having groups with the purpose of pairing off those who are unmarried.
Unite The Church
By implicitly, and sometime explicitly, emphasizing that the married life is superior to the single life the Church is creating division in the Body of Christ. This hurts Christian singles as the Church and fellow Christians send single Christians the message that they are not mature in their faith until they are married. This stigmatizes singles in the congregation instead of embracing the strengths that the single life brings to the Church. All congregations and denominations need to embrace singleness and accept those who are single. The Church should be united in the faith and as the Body of Christ but this division between married and single is divisive and hurts the Church.
Church History of Celibacy And Singleness
There is a history of long history of singleness and celibacy in Church history. The modern Church has forgotten this history and has gone in the opposite direct by telling Christians that they must marry. Not every Christian is called to marry. Those who are married, if they are widowed, will become unmarried again. It is also time for the Church to recognize a historical change in the population and to evangelize to the unmarried. If the Church does not have a theology of singleness and does not even understand the Church’ history of celibacy and singleness, then it will never be able to reach out to the singles of today.
There is nothing wrong with being single, whether by circumstance or choice. The church should support all of the different types of singles that are make up the church from those who may be looking to date, who are content being single, who are single parents, and who are widows. Being single and singleness is much broader and singles should not need to take a religious vow or be celibate for the church to recognize that being is a great thing and equal, yet different, from marriage.
The unmarried and single population now outnumbers those who are married. It is time for the modern Church to change its message about singlehood and singleness. By doing this, the Church will be able to evangelize to the single population without falling for the stereotypes that society has constructed about those who are unmarried. Most importantly, the Church will not be watering down theology to do this but will actually be continuing church history and following what the Bible teaches about the single life. It is time for Christian denominations to focus on their single audience in other ways besides pushing marriage on those who are unmarried.