Central Truth: Singleness is a state in life that a person goes through either permanently or temporarily
Memory Verse: Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry…. 1 Corin 7:8-9
That at the end of the lesson, the student would be able to:
1. Relate better with the singles in the church
2. Depend on God to live a fruitful single life
3. Stay pure before marriage
LESSON TEXTS: 1 Corinthians 7:1-2; 7-9, 25-28, 32-35
I. The subject of singleness
A. What is Singleness?
B. Who are the Singles?
C. Why do People Remain Single?
II. The challenges of singleness
A. Internal Challenges
B. External Challenges
C. Coping With Singleness
III. The advantages of singleness
A. Singleness with Purpose
B. Singleness with Hope
C. Singleness in the Church
In chapter seven, Paul discussed the issue of singleness as part of his instruction on the question of marriage. His directives, with Christ‟s words in Matthew 19:12, are the most insightful on the subject.
The Corinthians had written a letter to Paul, asking at least two questions concerning the subject of marriage. The first was whether a Christian should get married at all (7:1), and the second was whether virgins should get married (7:25). Evidently there were those in Corinth who as Jewish believers relying on Gen. 2:24, were advocating marriage. Others were no doubt arguing for the unmarried state. Besides answering the questions, Paul dealt with an additional point that a Christian should live according to God‟s calling, whether married or single (7:17-24). (Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary, 1 Corin 7:1 through 1 Corin 7:39).
Singleness is part of life and remains a phenomenon that is affecting people of various ages and cultures. Life may seem very dull, lonely and unproductive when an adult does not have a spouse with whom to share life. However, a careful study of Scripture reveals that singleness is not hopeless ness.
I. THE SUBJECT OF SINGLENESS – 1 Corin 7:1-2, 7-9
Paul explains here that is not to be single. Though marriage is good and intended for many, it might not just be God‟s plan for some of his children. Jesus presented a similar position Earlier in Matthew 19:12
A. What is singleness?
Singleness is a state where one reaches the marriageable age and yet he or she is without a married relationship or partner. Stated differently, a single person is an adult without a married partner.
B. Who are the singles in the church?
They are the yet-to-marry adults, the divorced, widows and widowers.
C. Why do people remain single?
Jesus in Matthew 12:19 taught that there are three primary reasons for celibacy –divine, social and ministerial.
1. Divine purposes
„‟… Because they were born that way‟‟
Biological (birth) defects
Some just fins=d it difficult to choose a partner
Non-availability of marriageable partners
2. Societal Contributions
„‟…Others were made that way by men‟‟.
Business, educational and vocational pursuits have kept some single.
Economic difficulties coupled with demanding marital rites
Difficult marriage relationships, particularly of parents, scare some from entering into the institution
Some are single because of trauma from rape, defilement and courtship disappointments.
3. Kingdom demands “Others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven”
4. Devotional commitment to serve God
5. Higher calling for ministerial assignment
6. Complete and undivided consecration to God
II. THE CHALLENGES OF SINGLENESS – 1 Corin. 7:25-28
Although Paul encourages others to remain single like him, he is plain in telling them of the challenges involved: “… for it is better to marry than burn with passion.” Since celibacy is with challenges, one should be sure of God‟s guidance before opting for it.
“But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” Our society sees singleness as incompleteness to the extent that the single adult is harassed, ridiculed and sometimes belittles in the sight of family and friends.
Unfortunately, such actions and misbehaviors come from all sort of quarters like family, friends, foes and sometimes from the followers of Christ.
1. Internal Challenges of Singles
Most single people struggle with internal challenges that include loneliness, frustration and rejection.
Other singles battle with self-esteem which results from no proposals and past disappointments
Failed attempts and promises continue to haunt a few psychologically.
As singles advance in age their fear of loneliness increase with it tormenting emotional pains.
A number of singles experience financial challenges
At times, the unmarried are viewed with suspicion when seen in the company of married persons. All these create tension and resentment within them.
2. External Challenges
Singles are often the subject of ridicule and expensive jokes
There are those who refer to singles in uncomplimentary terms like “Ordained Bachelor”, “Chief Spinster” etc.
Many keep reminding the single people as though they do not know they need to marry.
Others subject singles to ungodly comparison with others or their peers.
Singles are, sometimes, not favoured when it comes to assigning responsibilities (until recently, marriage was one of the qualifications for pastoral ministry and ordination in some churches).
Some ungodly persons, try to take advantage of the singles claiming to “help them”
When unmarried persons raise an objection, or complain of anything relating to marriage , others misconstrue their action as a sign of experience.
Singles are often the subject of church gossip – any association they have with the opposite sex is interpreted with suspicion.
Some may label the unmarried as people with character deficiency but this is wrong since there is no proof that married people have better character than the singles.
All these pressures and challenges have forced some singles into reckless relationships which have turned out to become a nightmare or a trap.
The question of a Christian staying single and what the Bible says about believers never marrying is often misunderstood. Singleness is part of life, and not an abomination or a curse. Singles therefore can cope better with their state with proper understanding from the Scripture. The state of singleness is the most blessed condition for some children of God. That explains why Paul wished that all could be
as single as he was.
The rest of us should come to the biblical perspective on issues such as singleness, childlessness and single-parenting and stop making life difficult for our own brothers and sisters in Christ.
II. THE ADVANTAGES OF SINGLENESS – 1 Corin. 7:32-35
1. Singleness with Purpose
Those who are single by choice are to see themselves as complete in Christ and live their lives fully and purposefully to the glory of God. They should not submit to the pity of others but must focus on achieving exploits for Christ. They must avoid the world‟s ways and definition of success and pleasure. If a single person is burning with passion, it means he or she may not have the gift for being single, therefore he/she should marry (vs. 7:1, 1 Tim. 5:14)
All singles should give themselves unreserved to the service of God, as did some of God‟s giants who were singles – Daniel, Jesus and Paul. Our most important purpose in life is not finding suitors to marry or making babies, but pleasing the Lord
2. Singleness with Hope
Those who want to marry should keep faith in God who performs miracles. Such should remember that God‟s delays are never denials. They should keep their focus on God rather than seeking the next available partner. The unmarried should use their time to prepare and develop themselves for greater purpose and usefulness.
They should seek useful ways of making themselves a blessing to others. Singles should also note that it is unwise to be expecting a perfect partner since none exists.
3. Singleness in the Church
The church has duties towards the singles. The church ,must not see singleness as a curse or an indication that “something is wrong” with the single person. While marriage is God‟s ideal for most people, a single Christian is not a “second class” Christain. All members ought to understand that singleness, in some cases, is a gift and a higher calling (1 Corin. 7:7-8).
This understanding calls for wisdom (James 1:5). Following God‟s plan, whether in marriage or singleness, will result in the productivity and joy that God desires for us. The last thing a single brother or sister needs from the church is unwarranted suspicion, ridicule, or harassment. The church should pray for and support the unmarried emotionally and spiritually.
Paul recognizes that God gives each one his or her gracious gift. To some He gave the desire or the inclination to be married, and to others the power to refrain from marriage. Christians should respect God‟s unique plan and calling for every member and support them to fulfill their assigned task.
LIFE APPLICATION QUESTIONS
1. What will be your attitude towards an unmarried person in the church?
2. Is it biblical to recommend deliverance for singles who are keeping long in getting married?
3. Will you accept a pastor who is not married to lead your church and why?
4. How will you advice a believer who is ready to marry but no one is coming forward?
5. What should a single person do when after waiting for a long time no one comes forward?
DAILY BIBLE READING
Mon. Delight in the Lord – Psalm 37:4
Tue. Set your mind on things above – Colossians 3:1-25
Wed. Singleness by choice or force – Matthew 19:12
Thurs. God has a plan for your – Jeremiah 29:11
Fri. We have a high priest who cares – Hebrews 4:15
Sat. Promise to the faithful single – Isaiah 56:4-5
Source: Assemblies of God Literature Centre