Staying Stag: Celebrating Singleness, Pt 2
Yesterday we saw the first two of Paul’s injunctions to unmarried:
1. Be pure, 2. Be realistic and 3. Be informed.
Here are the next three…
4. Be grateful
1 Cor 7:7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
Paul calls the state of singleness a “gift” (just like marriage). As a single young man I used to refer to this as the “dreaded gift.” I would pray, “Please Lord, can I exchange this gift for the other one that you gave to all the happy people in the world?”
Well, not quite, but that sums up my attitude at the time. But Paul acknowledges that each state has its ups and downs, and both are gifts appropriate for the timing God has for your life. There were times in my life I needed socks but didn’t want to get them as a Christmas present. I didn’t appreciate my parents’ taste in gifts until I matured. We need to trust that God’s gift to us at this point in our lives is a good gift, a blessing from a caring Father.
5. Be warned
1 Cor 7:10-13 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.
There is a reason I teach on divorce during the premarital counseling I do. It’s not jinx the marriage, it’s to bring a sense of gravity to the fluffy emotions that often cloud our decision making.
The permanence is marriage is a serious consideration that young love tends to gloss over. Of course it is the permanent covenant of marriage which is its greatest blessing. It affords security that is the very essence of marriage. The pastor who married me and my wife said “There is no such thing as a broken marriage, only a broken promise.”
The indestructible covenant is the difference between dating and marriage. But this permanence is also a bane in the lives of people who entered the union lightly. They find themselves irrevocably yoked to a person they don’t want.
6. Be content
1 Cor 7:27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
Biblical counseling guru, David Powelson said that most of the zillions of counseling appointments he handles can be divided into two major categories:
1) Single people/dating couples who wish to be married, but can’t be.
2) Married people who wish to be single but can’t be.
There is a lie that many people believe: that to be happy their circumstances need to change. If they are sad and single, they believe they will be happy when the nuptials are said. But you are the same person you were walking up they aisle as you are walking down it. If you are a discontent person, then you will soon transfer your discontent to your spouse. Discontent with a spouse quickly becomes malcontent. Then bitterness.
You can see how Pauls’ advice to be grateful and be warned is linked to be content.
Tomorrow we’ll scratch around the chapter for some gems more precious than the stones you stick in your engagement ring.