Vaughan Roberts Talk on Singleness
The following are my notes based on a tape recording of a talk by Vaughan Roberts in 1997 on the subject of what the bible has to say about singleness.
No Christian is Single Forever
No Christian is single forever, in fact no Christian is single, Christ gives us marriage. Eph 5:22-25 has implications about marriage, but also shows that human marriage is a reflection of divine marriage between Christ and his church. Whether or not you are married to another person, you are married to Christ. 2 Cor 11:2 has the image of engagement. Rev 19:7 shows that when Christ returns our marriage to Christ will be permanent. That marriage is the one that will last, the most important relationship, there will be no human marriage in heaven (Mk 12:25).
Singleness is not Second-Best
Gen 2:18, It is not good for the man to be alone. This does not mean that singleness is second best or that God wants us all to be married. Jesus was single and the most complete human. The need for companionship does not need to be solved in marriage, though that is eventually the case for most people, but while we are single, whether temporarily or for life, we should seek companionship through friendships, both male and female.
Singleness is referred to as a positive gift from God in the New Testament. Matt 19:9-12 shows that while marriage is very good, it is still right for some not to marry. Some are eunuchs because of a physical or psychological reason, others have chosen not to marry for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and Jesus says that’s fine. Not everyone can accept this word, it is a gift for some.
Paul makes this clearer in 1 Cor 7, a good resource on this chapter is God, Sex and Marriage. Regarding the word gift in v7, very few single people think they have the gift of singleness because being single is a battle and they’d much prefer to be married. We shouldn’t limit the gift to being a spiritual gift, a particular ability, in the sense of 1 Cor 12. It’s a much broader word that Paul uses in Rom 6:23 to refer to the gift of eternal life, the word means any gift of God’s grace. Those who are married have the gift of marriage, those who are single have the gift of singleness.
These are Advantages in Being Single
There are difficulties for those who are single. John Chapman, who never married, is quoted in a chapter on singleness in his biography as saying that the 2 greatest temptations or difficulties with singleness are sexual fantasy and loneliness (though there are other difficulties). If we are unable to release our sexual desires in the God-given context of heterosexual marriage, unless we are abnormal in some way, there will be tensions. Although we should look for companionship as single people, there will be times, especially as we get older and singleness becomes less normal, when there might be problems with loneliness.
However there are advantages as well. First, according to 1 Cor 7 singles will be spared the troubles of marriage. There is no such thing as the perfect marriage on earth, it does not solve all problems such as loneliness and sexual temptation and there are troubles. Those who are single are spared these. Secondly single people can devote themselves to the Lord’s work. For those who are married, part of their commitment for Christ is rightly into the home caring for their family, there is less time for doing others things for the Lord. There are particular opportunities for those who are married, but there are opportunities for gospel work for those who are single that are limited for married people.
Some Points of Application
Make the most of the gift of singleness while you have it, don’t mope around waiting for the next boyfrend or girlfriend.
Keep the right priorities. Most will get married, but the priority isn’t to get a partner as soon as possible. Don’t put the desire for marriage above the gospel and godliness, such as by marrying unwisely in desperation.
Trust in God’s sovereignty, he know’s what’s best. If that means a lifetime of singleness then God will provide the grace needed to cope with that and use it for His glory, but if it involves marriage then praise Him.
Those who are married, affirm the singles in their singleness, don’t think of it as second-best. Though some need help to get on with getting married, others don’t, so don’t try to marry them off.
Your family is the whole church, there should be no lonely people in the church. If you get married, don’t forget your single brothers and sisters, include them in the joys of family life, share your children with them and together grow up as the family of God.