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Single in God's Service

Singleness indicates mainly three categories: (1) People who never marry (spinsters or bachelors); (2) people who remain single for a season until they marry; (3) people who were married for a period (divorcees, widows, widowers).

Single people struggle with problems like identity, rejection, fear, bitterness, sexuality and loneliness.

Single persons sometimes ask: "Why am I alone? Why don't I have friends? Why don't I get a life partner? Is it okay to be single, or is there something seriously wrong with me?"

Single or married - both are valid options in God's kingdom. Jesus and Paul were single. Peter and Aquilla were married.

Somebody may choose to be single. Maybe he hasn't work through past traumas e.g. strict parenting who isolated him socially; sexual abuse; restrictions of illness, disability or depression. These traumas must be properly addressed. The identity of a believer is not determined by treatment she receives from other people, or by illness, or looks, but only by who one is in Jesus Christ.

Single persons are not inferior compared to married people, although society may label them as such: When a single person attends a function with a same sex companion people tend to think he is gay; if she has several male friends, she may be regarded as a flirt; if she attends the party on her own, married women may tend to be jealous and try to protect their husbands.

To be married as such is not better or worse than to be single. In God's service there is scope for both (Gen 2:18; 1 Cor 7:8, 35; Phil 4:11).  In marriage two halves don't become one: 50% & 50% = 100%. It is rather 100% & 100% = 200%., a united two ness. Single persons are never incomplete or inferior (Col 2:9-10). Singleness doesn't prevent one to live in full for God and other people.

What about the desire to have children? Parents have joy when their children know the Lord and serve Him (Ps 127:3; 128), but they have sorrow when their children get hurt, become ill, die or backslide in their faith. Single persons have time to spend with other adults' children. When you invest in long term friendships, you needn't fear old age without the attention and care of children and grandchildren.

Singleness creates excellent opportunities to serve God in his kingdom (Eph 2:10).  A real problem occurs when you overdo it - you may become a workaholic to fill the voids in your life, and to get regard from people. Paul says with regards to his captivity: "My imprisonment has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered" (Phil 1:12). Each circumstance is an opportunity to serve God. He provided everything we need to accomplish just that (2 Pet 1:3).

It is a challenge for single people to build friendships with fellow believers (Prov. 17:17; 27:6; 24:26). Within the community of believers we build up one another with the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12-14).

It really isn't about making the best of something terrible, but to create something beautiful from something very important - being single.

For reading:
Pienaar, J. 1992. Enkel, maar nie alleen! Pretoria : JP van der Walt.
Clark, J.V. 2005. Loneliness. Greensboro : New Growth Press.

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