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Singleness and Scripture

Singleness and Scripture

What the Bible really says about those who aren't married
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I had the privilege of speaking at a church last Mother's Day. I felt privileged, because any time I'm able to talk about Jesus is a treat. But I also felt uncomfortable, because I'm over 40, single, and childless. Mother's Day is a celebration earmarked for minivan–driving women with a gaggle of children—not women like me. The day's meant for women who woke up to a lovely breakfast prepared by a doting husband—not women who woke up alone at the Fairfield Inn. The holiday's for women whose adorable children made clay handprints engraved with "I love you, Mom," in Sunday school—not women whose only Creative Memories' subjects are pets. To say I felt a little out of place is an understatement.

Although being single in America no longer is atypical (the latest U.S. census reveals more single/ divorced/widowed women than married ones), in the Christian subculture, singleness often seems an anomaly. I can't count how many times church people have awkwardly asked me, "Do you have any children?" or "Where's your husband?" My favorite answer is, "My future husband's lost and won't stop to ask for directions." The quip usually prompts giggles and diverts attention from my lackluster dating life.

Sometimes I wonder if myths about Christians and singleness contribute to making women without a diamond ring on their left hand feel like misfits. Let's look at some of the faulty theology surrounding singleness, and get the Bible's actual take on the subject.

Myth #1: Since the Bible says God is our husband (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14), an earthly spouse isn't really necessary.

Well, let's not cancel the eHarmony membership quite yet. The Hebrew word for husband refers more to God as someone who rules over his people than to someone who does the heavy lifting and leaves wet towels on the bathroom floor.

While Scripture often uses marriage as a metaphor to describe our relationship with God, this spiritual reality doesn't negate most women's desire for a flesh–and–blood husband. It also behooves us to remember God designed marriage at the beginning of human history, when he created Eve for Adam. Marriage isn't a consolation prize meant for people who don't "have the goods" to go it alone.

Myth #2: Since, according to the apostle Paul, singleness is a desirable gift (1 Corinthians 7), spiritually mature single Christian women should fully—and joyfully—embrace it.

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Related Topics:Bible; Singleness; Truth

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May 29, 2014  5:03pm

It is also a myth that men and women can only relate to each other as husband and wife. As a single woman - never married no children - I love having brothers and sisters in Christ where we honour each other as such. Sometimes, other Christians think there must be something sexual in every interaction between a man and a woman - the Bible never teaches this. Instead, this is wordly/Freudian thinking which has no place in scripture.

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September 24, 2013  10:21am

Let me add: "Compete with their husbands" should have been worded "perceived as a threat to their husband's attention."

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September 24, 2013  10:19am

Thanks for being a voice for singles. I'm in my mid-40s and have dropped out of dating because it's too hard after decades of dating disappointment. If God brings someone, fine, but He'll have to make it very clear to me. I would love to read articles about singleness that aren't about dating—about the daily issues we face such as how to survive in a marriage/family-oriented culture at church, grieving over lost hope at having children of our own, struggles to make friends when your church is almost all (busy) married people who aren't so interested in having a single friend who could "compete with their husbands," grieving parents' deaths alone, and dealing with all your girlfriends going through menopause at the same time (no one told me how hard it would be)!

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