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Monday, November 19, 2012

Spouse Hunting & Misery

In my last post I mentioned the act of serving while single. I wanted to continue with some thoughts on singleness. I was recently listening to a message on Paul's writing to the singles. Here is the passage I was listening to

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
1Cor. 7:27 emphasis added

Now although this passage mentions "wife" specifically, the next verse speaks to women, so the verses in this passage are interchangeable and correlate to men and women, not just men. As I listened to that verse, I suddenly realized something I had never realized before, Paul says we are NOT to seek out marriage. I know, I just repeated what the verse said. But do you realize the significance of that statement? Today we are told to go out wife/husband hunting. When we remain single for a while or have no prospects we are commanded by parents, friends, older men/women to go out and find a spouse. We are told to go online and set up a profile on a Christian dating website or to attend a different church full of singles, go to singles groups, meet new people, etc. We are constantly bombarded by Christians with good intentions, but not Biblical commands. We are told to do the exact opposite the Bible has commanded us to do- continue on in singleness. This does not mean we cannot pray for a spouse or that we must remain in singleness forever. The principle of this verse is that we must not spouse hunt in order to change our circumstances. The underlying principle of this verse also shows us that God will bring about the right circumstances to initiate the change from singleness to marriage in His timing, not ours. It means that we must fully rely upon God to change our circumstances, rather than rely on ourselves.

The Christian society deems that the young man is the one who should be spouse hunting, as opposed to the woman, because she isn't the one who asks to initiate the relationship. The verse above blows this theory out of the water as well. The young man should not be seeking to leave his state of singleness. He should be waiting as well for God's timing, knowing that when it is right, circumstances will change on their own accord without him having to search for a woman to marry.

This verse doesn't imply that we do nothing while waiting to get married, by no means. It seems society thinks that singleness means twiddling our thumbs until our "life begins," to quote a famous saying. As I mentioned in the last post, we serve, we mature in Christ, we prepare. We continue going on with life as it has been, continuously seeking out God's direction throughout this time.

Something else I have noticed of late is that it seems like many Christians have this stigma against singleness, thinking that we are the most miserable and to be pitied above all people. Why on earth do we as singles let married people think that? We are actually to be the happiest people on earth according to these verses-

So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and  he who refrains from marriage will do even better.
1Cor. 7:38 emphasis added

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.Yet in my judgment she is happier  if she remains as she is. 
1Cor. 7:39-40 emphasis added

Paul says we have something better than married couples have. We have Christ as our sole satisfier! I was recently talking to someone who equated singleness to misery, and my mind was blown away at that point. To think that we would say God cannot make us happy but marriage can! Have we idolized marriage so much that it has been come a death sentence to remain in singleness? Is marriage of more value than God? Are we saying that a husband/wife can provide much more satisfaction than God? A sinful creature can help us out better than a sinless God? Think about what you say before you resign yourself to a "woe is me" attitude concerning the single estate. It's good. It's for His glory. Your life is a service to God that is obviously impacting the kingdom more than marriage could at this point.

So when your friends, family, and the people around you make you feel that singleness is miserable, remember what Paul says about it. He of all people would know just how wonderful singleness can be when we make it God-focused, when we become so consumed with His kingdom that nothing else matters. And when you're given advice to seek out a spouse, remember what the Scripture says. Listen to the Bible, not man. Follow the principles. When Kevin DeYoung tells you to go find a spouse, remember, he's not God and he's not perfect. Follow the Scriptures no matter what.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Time to Serve

Here's a quote in a book I've been reading lately that I wanted to share. I will get back to my sequel to the previous post, but in the meantime here's a little something to think about:

Have thine affections been nailed to the cross? Is thy heart right with God? Dost thou count all things for Jesus but dross? Is thy heart right with God? Crucifixion of the flesh falls heavily on young folk. They are made for love and are in the romantic part of life. Yet affections can play havoc with devotional life. I believe it is but simple logic to say that a christian is backslidden if he spends more time with a member of the opposite sex than he does in prayer and in the Word . . . . Satan wages relentless warfare against the souls of men. The more grounded young people yield to God the more bitter the enemy's fight to recontrol that area. Then, too, love is blind. Humorous as it may seem, it is nevertheless true that nothing puts a blind spot on the eye like human love. Love hides a multitude of sins and also often blinds us to the immense possibilities that self-denial makes in this realm. Many young people have offered tearful prayers too late- not necessarily because they married the wrong person, but because they married too soon. In a short time they were saddled with children and often with debt, so that they were unduly burdened and also hindered in Christian service.

~ Revival Praying by Leonard Ravenhill (emphasis added)

I've talked before about my reasons against marrying very young, and I believe Ravenhill sums this aspect up very well. It has everything to do about keeping our minds and hearts focused on complete service to God. The married person cannot dedicate as much time to serving the Lord as a single person can. Paul even says that singlehood is better than marriage (1 Cor. 7:38). As I have been studying this, I have come to realize how pivotal, how vital, singleness is in a person's life. It's important for singles to use this time wisely. It's caused me to examine my life. I seem to get confused and distracted sometimes by unimportant things in life, and I tend to forget my focus. I have prayed and now understand how God wants me to use my time. He has given me a service opportunity to pour myself into in service for Him. I want to do the best I can at this. As a single young woman, I have come to realize that the best way to maximize the single years is to pray that God would give direction in life concerning how to serve in His Kingdom. God gives us different abilities and talents to serve Him. Some people become completely involved in championing the cause of the poor in various countries through providing water wells, others work in orphanages to serve the little children, others work in pregnancy centers, and others are called to be involved in the political realm, to pass laws, create bills, etc. These causes are something that becomes a life-long endeavor for some people, and it's something I feel the singles should also pray about, endeavoring to find what cause God wants them to take up to serve Him. If each single Christian took up a ministry to serve the Lord in, imagine what a world of difference could be made! I'm not saying that singles should give up their day jobs to volunteer 24/7, but I do believe singles should find a ministry to serve in during their time out of work, a ministry opportunity that they can serve in until the Lord changes directions, calls them to another cause, or calls them home. A prime example of this is William Wilberforce who championed the cause of the slaves for many years, not seeing any fruit, but pouring his energy into this God-given cause, finally seeing the results of freedom for the slaves decades later. And he mostly served this cause as a single man. This is what makes the single years beneficial to the kingdom, not only just taking up a specific cause to champion, but also being sure to seize the other service opportunities that arise, like helping out a young mom who is having a hard time, participating in your church's nursing home ministry,etc. Having direction in your life also gives you meaning behind what you do. It helps to know that you are not aimlessly wandering around in life doing something that won't benefit the Kingdom. Direction gives you purpose in the Lord. So if you're single, think and pray about what cause God wants you to champion and pour your energy into. This is an important time in life that you don't want to waste.