There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
You are a single adult, right?–a foot soldier or pilgrim in a growing army of men and women who are often considered second-class citizens who don’t quite fit into the family scene. You resent being asked, “Well, when are you going to settle down and get married?” or “Why aren’t you married?” forgetting that a good retort is, “Why aren’t you single?”
The number of singles in society is somewhat of a recent phenomenon which has developed since World War 2. Presently there is a single adult for every married couple, and in some areas as many as one-half of the adult population is unmarried.
The army of singles is remarkably diverse because three distinct groups make up this segment of society–the never married, the formerly married (divorced or abandoned) and those who have lost a mate in death and have not remarried.
No longer is being single synonymous with immaturity, being unsettled in life, irresponsible, and uncertain about tomorrow.
Some have suggested that the title of my book Joyfully Single in a Couple’s World is an oxymoron, a contradiction of terms, which would imply that only those who are married can really find joy and contentment. One of the greatest misconceptions of our era is the thinking that marriage completes a person and makes you whole. This is absolutely nonsense.
One single woman told me: “I read your book three times and what helped me more than anything else was the realization that I am a whole and complete person NOW, that putting a wedding ring on my finger doesn’t make me into something different.”
The marriage landscape has changed. No longer is being single synonymous with immaturity, being unsettled in life, irresponsible, and uncertain about tomorrow. Vast numbers of single men and women hold responsible positions, are focused, and know where they are going. They make contributions in medicine, education, science, the academia, and every field of accomplishment today. They are your neighbors, your colleagues at work, your friends, and your family.
Some singles, however, don’t score so highly on the contentment meter. They are the ones who are neither very joyful nor contented. They live in a state of suspended animation. They live not for the moment but for the future, awaiting the day when the Knight in Shining Armor or the girl who is such a knockout that he begins to grow faint upon his first glimpse of her appears.
I had spoken at a Christian conference center for a week. The final session included testimonies of people who wanted to tell what God had done for them. The only one that I remember, one which I shall never forget, was voiced by a woman who was about 40, who stood and said, “I’m single, and I thank God for it.” She then added the clincher, “The joy of what I had missed has been swallowed up in the bliss of what I had been spared!” And that is exactly what she meant.
There’s a strange thing about human nature. We’re never quite content, no matter what our status in life. Singles wish they were married, and some of the married I know wish they were single.
What can singles do that marrieds cannot? A vast number of things, from playing tennis instead of doing diapers to traveling without a thought of who is going to get the kids off to school. Paul said that the one who is single cares for the things of the Lord and the one who is married is responsible for the family.
Contentment and joy do not come by kneeling at an altar and exchanging marriage vows, no matter how wonderful that is when you marry the right person. Having been once married, Paul could say, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
Resource reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-17