My first and only marriage proposal took place at the chow hall on a naval base in Yokosuka, Japan. It was prefaced with, “Do you want to make some money?” and pitched as a sure-fire way to finally move out of the barracks. I said no, but I admit I considered the offer for longer than I should have. Lest you doubt the practicality of this piece, to those of you who live in the barracks I’d like to say: You have options.
I have read many an article concerning singleness. It’s a gift because of all that free time just waiting to be filled! Think of all the good things you can do since you’re all by yourself! Or, it’s a curse because of all that free time that’s just waiting to be filled. And let’s not forget all the good things you are supposed to do since you are, after all, by yourself.
Oftentimes it’s our married friends who are singing the praises of this life stage we seem to be stuck in. This isn’t without justification; the reality is, I have more free time to do what I want than my married friends. Yet just as often it seems that our fellow singles are writing laments about our current state. There is truth in this as well. I speak from experience when I say that it’s a hard thing to go home to an empty apartment night after night. It’s not easy to attend a baby shower or a Bible study and realize you’re the only one that’s single. What has been declared “good” for everyone else is, somehow, not good for you.
With that said, I want this article to take a different approach. The reality is, if we believe that God is good, we must believe that any Christian who is single is so because it’s what’s good for them. “No good thing does God withhold from those who walk uprightly,” the psalmist sang (Ps. 84:11). And because of Christ’s propitiation for my sins, my walk is upright in the sight of God (Rom. 8:1–5). The everyday goodness of God does not waiver from that Good Friday when he set before Christ the cup of wrath that should have been mine. He doesn’t change, despite what we might be tempted to believe (James 1:17).
Make no mistake, there are certainly days when I wish that the Lord would give me a different good. After all, didn’t God himself say that it’s not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18)? But for Christians, there’s a twofold answer for this question. First is the spiritual reality: We know that Christ has declared that he is with us always (Matt. 28:20). We know that the Holy Spirit, described by Christ as our Helper (John 16:7), is with us and intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26).
Second: I may very well remain unmarried, but that certainly doesn’t mean I have to be alone. Practically speaking, have you ever been to a church that didn’t need volunteers? Have you ever known an adult who was not open to another Christ-centered friendship? While these options may not be our first choice, singleness doesn’t have to doom us to a lifetime of being alone.
Besides, marriage is not the cure for loneliness. I’m at the age now where most of my friends are married or at one point were married. From the outside looking in, it doesn’t appear that marriage “fixes” loneliness. Hard as it may be to believe, we do not become better, eternally content, and more fulfilled people the moment we say, “I do.” You, the single Christian, will be the same person as you, the married Christian.
How then do we as single Christians approach our lives? The same way that a fresh-faced bride and groom should when the honeymoon is over, and the inevitable bickering begins: by clinging to Christ. The same way a new mother, who hasn’t showered in three days or slept more than five hours, should: by clinging to Christ and trusting his promise to always cling to her (John 6:39). We entrust our lives to our Father, hanging onto the promise that he is with us in all circumstances.
Whether or not my single state feels like a gift or a curse is superfluous; it’s my current reality. I don’t know what the future holds. It may be that I die an old maid at 97, buried by other people’s children. I certainly hope that’s not what will happen. But I can take comfort in the fact that unto me a child has already been born (Isa. 9:6). He will provide for me better than any son can. He’s my counselor, he’s my friend, and he has made a place for me.