Must I Be Married? (ATP)
The question that came in for this Faith Fix was, “Is there a Godly benefit to singleness? We are a church that loves the covenant of marriage. Even in the natural world at my age, I should be married and at least on my first or second kid by now. Marriage is something I’m not really desiring right now. Is it okay to not want to marry right now, I assume my desires will change over time. Is there a benefit to being single?”
This is an interesting question. It is true that the covenant of marriage is very highly regarded in our church, because it is highly regarded in scripture. The covenant between a man and his wife is the greatest example of covenant we have on earth, meant to represent and to give us an understanding of the covenant we have with our Heavenly Father. It is true that when we truly live in a marriage covenant the way God intended a marriage to be, we will have a greater ability to understand this covenant relationship with the Father. One scripture that shows us this is Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” If we were to read more in Ephesians chapter 5 we would get the understanding that in the marriage covenant each member gives themself for the other, in such a way that nothing is withheld and nothing is separate. The Lord gave Himself likewise for the church, for each born again believer and when we accept Jesus as Savior we enter into a covenant where nothing is withheld from us. It’s also important that nothing is withheld on our end either. Marriage is a precious gift the Lord has given us to represent this relationship with Him and to bless us while here on earth.
Of course, we see also in these scriptures that other disciples were married, namely Peter. We also know that God created male and female, for one another back in the book of Genesis. Our bodies are vessels of the Lord, temples of the Holy Ghost, so the important thing is that we live pure before the Lord. Look at 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God.”
1 Corinthians 7:2-5, says, “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” We know that desire is a part of our human nature. The devil has robbed from a lot of wonderful Christians by seducing them in this area. We’ve had friends who were tempted to live and give themselves to a homosexual lifestyle but they knew those thoughts were opposite the Word of God. We’ve known many women and men alike who succumbed to sexual temptation in their flesh out of the marriage covenant. We know the sex industry and the media use of sexual imagery is all meant to tempt humanity to sin against their own bodies, ultimately against the Lord. No man or woman is alone in this struggle. And the Word gives wisdom on the subject.
Look at 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” This was the Apostle Paul’s personal viewpoint, but he recognized that every man did not have his same self-control. Paul believed and was saying it is best to have this self-control, but for those who don’t, “it is better to marry than to burn.” Now later in 1 Corinthians 9:5-6, Paul expresses that his unwed status is a sacrifice for him, “Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?” The Apostle Paul, given the nature of his ministry, as in the constant travel, opposition, imprisonments, and the like, knew it was better for him to remain single, and that exercise of self-control in his flesh when it came to sexual desire was part of crucifying his flesh with Christ. But we see in these scriptures that the Lord has a wife for him if he so chooses, but for his life he knew that he must remain single.
Look back at 1 Corinthians 7:5, “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer.” It would seem that the kind of lifestyle required by the Apostle Paul was that of extreme prayer and separation. He said he thanks the Lord he prays more than us all (1 Cor. 14:18). There are very few have been called to live to the level of sacrifice as the Apostle Paul, but of course we also know Jesus was never married while on this earth. Jesus would not have been able to give himself to a wife because His call was so great He could only give Himself to that. This is rare, but it does occur.
The simple answer is this: if a man or woman deals with the sexual desire, it is better to be married than to burn with lust. If there’s no struggle with being sexually impure, and instead you’ll give yourself wholly to the Lord, in prayer and time, then do that. If you’re desiring to be married but the right spouse isn’t here yet, give yourself wholly to the things of God. If you’re not desiring marriage now, but know you would like that in the future, don’t put your own timeline on it, but let the Lord show you the right spouse and the right time. Ultimately, whether married or not, we all must do our best to follow Him for every area of our lives. Amen?! We’ve got to make sure our focus isn’t on what God has for others, but what God has for us. Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”