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A Single Advantage

A Single Advantage

How Christian women can view singleness as an opportunity, not an obstacle
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I believe when it comes to work and marriage, we are at a unique moment for women in the West. As a single, working woman, I can say we find ourselves facing two truths: First, women have more opportunities to pursue work and a vocation outside the home than ever before. The Industrial Revolution, the acceptance of women into higher education, the waves of women's rights movements of the past century, and the birth control pill have all ushered women into mainstream society in unprecedented ways.

Second, more people in the West are unmarried than ever before. We all have heard the statistics: According to 2012 Census data, about 44 percent of all Americans over age 18 are single, either never been married, divorced, or widowed. This is up from about 33 percent in 1960. So a half-century ago, one of three people were unmarried. Now it's closer to one out of two.

Of course, these two truths—about work and marriage—play out in Christian circles as well. The Census Bureau has not specifically polled U.S. Christians, so let me offer my own anecdotal observations. I'm seeing more Christian women assume positions of leadership and influence in the public square, as business professionals, nonprofit CEOs, academics, and artists. And I am also seeing a lot of Christian women stay unmarried into their 30s and beyond.

What do these trends have to do with the topic of women and calling? The truth is that for much of Western history, Christian women had a ready-made calling: to oversee their households, and to love others as wives, mothers, and caretakers. We don't know whether they were fulfilled or felt called to this work; even "fulfillment" and "personal calling" are relatively new ideas.

Before marriage and family, there is Christ's call upon our lives.

But I believe our unique cultural moment gives single Christian women a way to think differently about their singleness. To see singleness for a time, or for life, as what allows them to invest deeply into their kingdom work with the time and energy available to them. Jesus and Paul, we know, spoke highly of the gift of singleness, as a chance to devote greater and undistracted attention to their ministry. As more Christian women are both working full-time, and staying single for longer periods than expected, or for life, they will need a positive theology of work.

Before marriage and family, there is Christ's call upon our lives. This is wildly freeing news for all of us. Our lives do not begin the day we get married. Our lives begin the day God ushers us into his kingdom through Christ, and invites us to participate in kingdom work.

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Katelyn Beaty

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Civilla Morgan

April 22, 2014  6:00am

Thank you so much for this article! It was like a refreshing glass of water in the middle of the dessert. I needed this great reminder that I am NOT an anomaly, even as I am way over 40, never married, and childless. Sometimes I ask God if He really remembers me, or why He passed me by. But in the meantime, in addition to my day job I am an author, blogger, and almost finished with my Master's degree. It's important to forge ahead in and with life, we only get one chance. Thanks again for reminding me I am not the only one living a life that was not my first choice, but doing the best with what I've been given.

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January 20, 2014  2:48pm

Thank you for writing this! I am about to turn 24 and for the past few years I have experienced pity from a lot of people because I am single. Although I would love to be married some day, people don't seem to understand why being married and raising children are not my priorities. At times it has made me question my resolve and wonder if I really am missing out, but I can honestly say that I have done so many things in the last few years that I would never have been able to do if I had been married. Even though I have the desire to be married, that may never happen if it means I have to compromise on the calling God has given me. Following God is a must and I believe He will take me through many valleys and mountain tops. If a husband and children happen to join me on that journey then so much the better.

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December 25, 2013  2:05pm

Thank you for this article. I am single, not by choice, but after 22 years of marriage and a husband who left. I have struggled with finding identity in Christ alone. As a woman in her forties, I want to "shout out" to those who are younger that each moment is precious! Please relish it. As this article suggests, there is no need to justify one's relationship status nor deny that singleness is not always chosen, but through God's grace can be embraced nonetheless. For you older women, thank you, for giving me courage and hope. Daily bread, daily grace, daily joy. That is my testimony.

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