While many are celebrating Valentine’s Day, there are millions of people who would rather sit on their couch eating Bon Bons in a Snuggie all day watching war movies because at least no one is going to be kissing anyone on the battlefield and reminding them that it is Valentine’s Day. If you were hoping for a box of chocolates in a box shaped like a heart this year but didn’t get it, relax. Half of them probably taste like a toothpaste inside anyway. Instead of dwelling on what you are missing out on, try thinking about some of the benefits of being single.
Before Paul waxed poetic about love in First Corinthians, he wrote about how he was better off being single. Paul was likely married when he was a young man as all good Jews in that day should be (or so they were told), but became a widower before he was converted. If this is true then Paul had been unmarried for over 20 years by the time he wrote First Corinthians. So he is kind of an expert on this topic, having been married, widowed, and choosing not to remarry at various points in his life. In chapter seven he addresses the topic of marriage within these contexts. Here are three of his points:
1. Being single is a gift.
“I wish that all people were as I am. But each one has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” (7:7) Hard as it may be to believe, being single is not a curse; Paul actually says it is a gift. Whether you are single for only a short time or you never get married, try to think of it as a gift from God rather than an indication of what others may or may not think of you. You are not single because no one could ever love you; you are single because the One who loves you wants the very best for you. Don’t settle for less.
2. Single people are not “divided.”
Paul makes an interesting point. Even though he makes it clear that marriage is good, single people have a benefit that married people do not. On the one hand, “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord.” (7:32) On the other hand, a married man must be concerned about how to please God AND his wife. In other words, a married person must divide their time, money, interests, and anything else that comes along between God, their spouse, and even their children if they have any. A single person can give their undivided attention to God.
3. Life is short; don’t worry, be happy.
If we can take one thing away from the Whitney Houston tragedy, it is this: life is too short to worry about things that are not eternal. Whatever caused her death, she died too young and unexpectedly; we just never know how long we have left. In Paul’s day, things were no different. Christians were being persecuted and the Lord’s coming was anticipated with great eagerness.If you never marry, would that be sooo bad? If you really believe that Jesus could come back any day now, shouldn’t you seize every moment you have and let God handle what’s best for you? Paul ends his discourse about marriage by saying, “In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is.” This is the theme of the chapter; in other words, don’t be anxious to change your marital status, but be content with who you are. There is nothing wrong with staying single. In Paul’s view, you might even be happier that way.