A write up I have been meaning to share for awhile now, because I think that single people in many Baptist, and other Protestant, churches, are often times simply treated as odd for not being married. Now, I will say marriage is great, and most people want to get married but it should be met with great preparation and thoughtfulness. Marriage, and really any close, intimate relations, is not something to just be rushed into, and our time as a single is a great preparation for this reality. I am very disappointed in the culture around me, the late twentieth and early twenty-first century Western civilization because I see our speech and media devaluing of the ideas of love and companionship, not that we do not care about them anymore, but that we do not understand them. Every teenager in high school is "in love" with their latest significant other, TV shows like How I met Your Mother give the impression that there is just "one" other person out there for you, and if you don't find them, then you're screwed and people I meet in church, teen, young adult and older adult, believe that marriage is some special fix that will take your problems away. Let me assure you, that is not the case. You remain the same broken, fallen person that you were before the marriage as afterwards. Like the rest of your Christian walk, it takes effort and work, as well as the nurture of the Holy Spirit.
We Protestants don't seem to always appreciate the value of singleness, particularity within the church. Now, to be fair, I don't think this is true across the board in Protestant culture. There are Protestant churches were singles don't feel like they are being pushed towards marriage, or ostracized because they are the only one in their age group who isn't paired off. The Protestant encouragement towards marriage stems directly out of the Reformation. Reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, argued that clerical celibacy was not something the Church could simply mandate for all clergy. Luther, a former monk, even married a former nun, Katherine von Bora, to show just how serious he was about this (he also truly loved her). So in Protestantism, marriage is held in high esteem, whereas in the medieval church and Catholicism today, celibacy at least receives lip service as an "honorable sacrifice." I say receives lip service because the reality is that there are those for whom the celibacy was not real, it was a facade. In the medieval church clerical immorality was rampant and even today in Protestant as well as Catholic churches, there are problems with sex and immorality.
1 Corinthians 7:1-2 1 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual
relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.
Here in 1 Corinthians Paul writes that it is actually good, not to have sexual relations, so that one can serve God better through their singleness, as Paul did. For Protestants this can be hard to fathom at times. We are used to seeing marriage as a team activity, the wife as a help-meet to the husband. And this is true, ministry is most certainly through the husband and wife team. For example, no pastor with a proper head on his shoulders would ever meet with a woman alone, without his wife present in the office. Not if he wants to keep the integrity and faithfulness of his ministry. And just as in 1 Corinthians, marriage acts as a bulwark against sexual immorality, it should keep believers from falling into temptation. But for the single person, what if they are keeping from sexual immorality? If they are serving faithfully in the church, and they are doing so as a single, then wonderful. They don't have the distraction of familial responsibility, and if they can live like that faithfully, then they are doing well.
1 Corinthians 7:9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
From this verse it is obvious that control of oneself is the issue. For a time, and the reality is for most people it will only be for a season until one is married, then it is important that the single believer does not allow sexual passion to burn them up and become a distraction, and therefore an idol, in their life. Many people, especially single Christians, become upset that they are single, and the church doesn't help the situation by treating them like they are an aberration because of their singleness. I know, because when I was single it did feel like I was somehow not a part of the rest of the church. Now, to be fair, part of that is on me because I wasn't content with my situation in life, and that left me resentful. But, upon reflection, and with the help of several good mentoring relationships, I realized that my time being single was the perfect opportunity to grow in maturity and discipleship. And that, in my humble opinion, helped make me a better disciple, fiancee and soon to be husband.