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Devotionals

The Danger of Over-Spiritualizing the "Gift" of Singleness -- Part One

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Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. -- 1Corinthians 7:6-9 (ESV)

https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/74178-7-ways-to-tell-whether-god-has-called-you-to-permanent-singleness

It is a subject most in the church stay away from. It is not often discussed in mixed company and is usually hidden away even though it remains in plain sight. I used to go every year to a Men's Convention with my old church and after two years the organizer asked what I thought. I responded that it would be nice if they acknowledged that single Christians exist. Every side session was on how to be a better husband and every breakout group was about how to love your wife as Christ loves the church. Well intended? Sure but that doesn't matter if you are not actually married. You feel like the dirty secret that church doesn't want to come out. The following year, the convention had planned a side session for single Christians and I went eagerly expecting to be filled with God's wisdom on everything from courtship to avoiding sexual sin. Instead it was a two-hour session, taught by a married brother; about how we need to be patient because God has someone for everyone. Sigh.

I say this all as a backdrop to the above linked article claiming to outline the seven signs you have the gift of singleness. If you were wondering where the bible addresses this least often spoken about gift it can technically be found in the key verses today. Paul infers that the ability to stay single without lust is a "gift"; much like getting socks for Christmas when you were a kid I presume. Seriously, his point is pretty clear. When you are single you can devote your whole self to God and His kingdom but when you are married your time and attention is rightfully divided. So Paul, who was single, concludes his way is better but acknowledges that most people could not handle the accompanying lust that comes from the human condition. This lust is only magnified in celibacy -- just see the Catholic priest scandals. Notice in the key verses that Paul is very careful in couching this as a "concession" rather than a command. Let us reason together once more beloved through this article and examine what God actually has to say about being single. In the effort of full disclosure, I am single and never married although I am now finally engaged to a beautiful godly woman.

"It's that time of year when single adults begin to feel left out, rejected, lonely or unlovable. They sometimes question God (for the hundredth time) as to whether or not He has called them to remain single for their entire life. Like Jesus, Paul and others, they want to know if they were created to be a eunuch for the kingdom of God or if they should wait for His "perfect timing." The holidays are indeed a difficult time for them on so many levels. It can be a time when some relinquish their hope for marriage to a misinterpretation of what a call from God looks like. We're all called to be single for some part of our lives, whether it is before marriage, after a divorce or upon the death of our spouse. But the question remains, "Am I called to remain single for the rest of my life?" Below are a few reasons why some people believe they have such a call when they haven't and why some who have the call just don't know it yet." -- David Kyle Foster

Now, Foster is obviously right that the holiday season can often lead to loneliness or even despair. This is especially true for those who do not have anyone. It is the knee-jerk reaction to believe that means God has called us to a life of singleness that is troubling. I know for myself and other single Christians I know that it may lead us to wonder if we will ever find someone but the notion that God is calling us to never marry is simply not a reoccurring belief and my concern is in presenting it as such a possibility can often do more harm than intended good. A eunuch is one who has been castrated so as to not have the normal sexual desires God programmed us with and Genesis makes it very clear that man is not meant to be alone. In fact it is not good for him. The key verses remind us this is a matter of self-control regarding lust and the reality is few fit that bill, especially in this sex saturated culture. The other disturbing notion here is the teaching of a "call." God does not call us to be single for a portion of our lives and then married. He certainly does not call us to be divorced since the bible says He hates divorce. This is a poor understanding of the will of God reinforced through the purpose driven church system that creates spiritual puppets for God's amusement. We will get more into this as the devotional goes on.

"God Heals You First So That the Call Is Not Received in the Confusion of Brokenness. Many people who are not called to be permanently single need to ask the Lord if their perceived call to singleness is actually a manifestation of unhealed brokenness. Such areas can include: unresolved anger at parents who keep pressuring them to marry. It's a passive-aggressive form of revenge--meaning that their desire to remain single is actually a way of getting back at parents they still don't like or trust. Unrenounced vows and unforgiveness toward such parent(s) play a large part in such cases. Fear, hatred or anger toward the opposite sex (for whatever reason). Fear of marriage itself and the commitment that it demands of each partner. The kind of fear and unbelief that creates self-doubt, unhealed narcissism, unrestrained romanticism (often intertwined with narcissism) that demands perfection from their intended spouse due to romantic notions that do not reflect reality. Even though God called me to the gift of singleness, before doing so, He healed me of many broken areas, so that later in life, I would not have doubts that my "yes" to Him had been uttered from brokenness rather than out of a true call." -- David Kyle Foster

So we come to it. David Kyle Foster believes he was called to singleness so he must create a doctrine to support this notion. Using popular psychology and relationship dynamics he does outline several issues that are found in the human condition that can often sabotage relationships. A negative view of marriage due to parental pressure can be one. Unforgiveness, fear, anger, and even narcissism are all fair points. The romanticism point is excellent as young churched women are often fed the baloney that because they are the daughter of a King you must be a prince to date them. It sets up a romantic disreality and when the Jesus-looking pseudo-savior does not come riding in on their white horse to marry them they can be devastated to the point of disavowing God altogether. While healing for any of these conditions is important, understanding the falseness of the original teaching is the only way to not get trapped again.

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