By: Lexine Cudjoe
Welcome back Bible bingers! This one is quite long, but rich in content. I mean…you’ll be binging for real! Grab a snack and water if you need to. Sit back, relax and enjoy the read!
The Call of Marriage
I know you were expecting this post to be about singleness and it will be, but honestly, we cannot talk about singleness without first talking about marriage. So let’s get it over with, shall we? I would like to address three types of single people: single and ready to mingle, single and satisfied, & single and scared. It’s crucial for all three groups to thoroughly understand what marriage is really about. Now you may be asking for my qualifications…the Word of God, thank you very much! Haha but in all seriousness, the Bible has the answers to experiences we’ve yet to venture. So no need to trust me, just trust the Scriptures.
Let’s start from the genesis of marriage in the book of Genesis. Story time!
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
If you’ve read Genesis Chapters 1-2 you would’ve noticed that verse 18 disrupts the cadence in the story. Yup, you’ve guessed it—for the first time God said something was not good! Adam was good, but the lack of community of his kind was not good! Let’s keep reading.
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
I know we like pets, especially in the U.S., but there is a level of companionship, intimacy and support that animals cannot provide. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew just the thing to do!
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.
22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
And you thought you were poetic Haha! All jokes aside, Adam takes Eve to be his wife after God presents her post-surgery.
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Now I should mention, there are actually two accounts of the creation story. Chapter one zooms out, and chapter two zeros in on the series of events that led to Adam and Eve’s creation. In chapter 1 verse 28, God instructs Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. It’s essential to note that Adam and Eve were the germinating seeds of what we now call community.
From both accounts you’ll derive the following:
Men and women are complementary.
Marriage is the first community.
But marriage is more than just community, it is a powerful symbolism of Christ’s love for the church and the church’s submission to Christ. Single and ready to mingle folks, here’s the kicker:
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and
blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.
Wow! Then, in the next verse , Paul goes on to quote Genesis 2:24
Ephesians 5:31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
This was followed by a revelation that the marriage of a man and a woman reveals the esoteric mystery of Christ’s complementary intimacy with the Church. By the way, when the bible says “the church”, it’s referring to the global body of believers, not your church down the street. Only those who’ve confessed with their mouths and believed in their hearts that Jesus is Lord, therefore surrendering their lives completely to Jesus, are members of THE Church, the bride of Christ.
Now, I know what you’re thinking—not so fast—no, you can’t just marry anyone obviously; you may only marry a fellow believer because remember, the two shall become one (2nd Corinthians 6:14); water and oil do not mix. Furthermore, it would be simply impossible to
fulfill the roles that God has called couples to without the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in both parties.
Need I remind you friends, that marriage is for life? The disciples were actually so stunned by the extremity of the covenant that they literally stated “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” (Matthew 19:10). But Jesus was playing ZERO games! He responded “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.”(Matthew 19:11). What does this mean? Marriage is a legitimate calling. It is not something you do just because you want to have kids or because it’s just “that time” in your life. Apostle Paul goes as far as to say that if you can control your “passion”, being single has even greater perks which we will discuss next. Nonetheless, each person has their gift: the gift of marriage or the gift of singleness (1 Corinthians 7:1-9). Yes! Paul calls each a gift and we know that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17).
To the single and ready to mingle, marriage may not be what you thought it was. At the core, marriage is about reflecting Christ’s relationship to the Church, foreshadowing a heavenly unity to come! This is a very big deal y’all; not a call to take lightly.
To the single and scared, marriage is absolutely beautiful. More beautiful than a bride walking down the aisle in all her glory, it is ministry. It is an intimate community through which God transforms each party into the perfection and reflection of Christ. Don’t be scared of marriage, for if God calls you to this ministry, He will also give you the grace to sustain it. After all, marriage is supposed to point the world to Jesus, so you should be honored, not afraid! Since this post isn’t about marriage though, I would like to recommend the book, The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller.
Here’s the bottomline bingers: singleness is not a space where the scared play it safe, nor is it a waiting room for marriage. It is a gift and some of us have been ungrateful and poor stewards for far too long! It’s time we changed that.
The Thankless Gift of Singleness
How do I know if I’ve been given the gift of singleness? I’m glad you asked! If you’re single now, you have been given this gift…maybe temporarily or maybe for a lifetime. Don’t rebuke the latter just yet! Read on.
Due to the cultural obsession with and idolatry of being in a relationship, many find themselves in marriages that do not glorify God. However, if you’re a believer, you cannot return your current marriage in exchange for the gift of singleness (Matthew 19:9 & 1st Corinthians 7:12). Your faithfulness in Christ has the potential to bring your spouse to salvation. Nevertheless, if your unbelieving spouse decides to divorce you on their own volition, you are not bound to them (1st Corinthians 7:15). Only then, can you accept this gift of singleness. Okay single people, let’s talk about singleness!
Let’s start with the unvarnished truth, singleness does not feel like a gift for most. Once upon a time, marriage was providence for women and legacy through childbearing for men. Now, marriage is for romantic love between two people. Needless to say, single people have always felt like they were “missing out” on something. As previously stated, however, marriage was not created for any of those things. This fear of missing out (FOMO) truly stems from our lack of understanding of our purpose here on Earth.If you’ve made it this far in this post and you are not a follower of Jesus, please stop here and consider surrendering to Jesus. This post won’t make much sense otherwise.
Okay, maybe you don’t even care for the romance part of marriage, but you just have FOMO about never having sex. Yes, you have to be celibate! Abstinence does not make you a weirdo, in fact, Jesus said that the only alternative to marriage is celibacy. He goes on to say that some people are actually born eunuchs (i.e. asexual) and others of us, choose a life of celibacy in obedience to God (Matthew 19:12). Many of you will be called to marriage at some point, so you may not be celibate/a virgin forever. However, if you have a problem with lust, marriage will not solve it. You need to take that struggle to Jesus and seek support from other believers.The reality is, when you live your life according to what God has called you to, you will always be “missing out” on something, but don’t be tempted by these fleeting pleasures. RZIM apologist and author Sam Allberry brilliantly stated,
“It is not the teaching of Jesus that tells you that life is not worth living if you can’t be fulfilled sexually—that a life without sex is no life at all…And the gospel also liberates us from the mindset that sex is intrinsic to human
SNAPS!!! If God calls you to a lifetime of singleness, it is not a curse. Singleness submitted to Jesus is also ministry; it displays the profound sufficiency of Christ. Whether married or single, you can only find complete fulfillment in God. This satisfaction in Christ is everlasting and worth it. You gotta trust the Bible on this one. Several disciples LITERALLY dropped everything without question to follow Jesus.Those with FOMO later ditched Jesus, and then there were 12…well 11 because of Judas. Trust when I say, the disciples that stayed faithful— including the unnamed followers of Jesus—were satisfied!
I know, I know, it’s easier said than done and you cannot resist temptation on your own. It’s like indulging in your favorite set of sweet treats. They’re delightful at first, but after much indulgence you’re left with headaches, stomach aches, cavities or worse, Diabetes! Even though we all know this, knowledge doesn’t stop us from stuffing our faces. It is in our nature to self-destruct; you can’t trust your feelings, friend. This is why we NEED the Holy Spirit to help us resist the temptations of this world. If we do not depend on the Holy Spirit, we will be carried away by distractions which are all facades anyway. None of which will satisfy. As the talented poet, author and speaker, Jackie Hill Perry wordsmithed,
“Satan will leverage what is natural to bait you into what is sinful.”
What she said ! The truth is, if you let your FOMO lead you to buying what the world’s selling, you’ll actually miss out on the highest calling there is. That is to love God and love people as a co-worker in service to God (1st Corinthians 3:9). If you thought working for a top law firm was cool, believers, try working for the God of the universe!
Repeat after me: FOMO is a lie! One more time: FOMO is a lie! Don’t feed your mind with images, media, or conversations that will convince you otherwise. Bring every thought into submission to the authority of Christ by the constant renewal of your mind. Consciously meditate on the Word of God and only let your mind wander to whatever is true. Single people, the harvest is plentiful; we have too much to do to be consumed by FOMO. The grass is greenest right where God has you.
We read earlier that God created Eve because it was not good for man to be alone. This is still true for you, single people! The church community is intended to solve this. Read Acts 2-4 real quick and come back when you’re done. Now reread Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-36. Wasn’t the first Christian church so bomb? This church was utopic for many reasons, but their unity and commitment to God, fellowship, friendship and sacrificial love was exemplary. Without such community, the single life is understandably pretty lonely. Therefore, you must be in a church that creates such an environment or join a Bible study that is intimate in nature to allow for genuine camaraderie. Community not only solves for loneliness, but it also provides crucial accountability. It’s so easy to backslide when you aren’t surrounded by people who love you enough to tell you the truth and support you in love.
Singleness the Right Way
To the single and satisfied, I’m sorry for the delay and thank you for your patience! If you’re content in your singleness, you’ve got the first step down. Paul said that the secret to contentment is in Christ (Philippians 4:12-13). If you know anything about Paul, you would know that he lived a single life devoted to Jesus and he believed that married folks were actually the ones missing out.
1 Corinthians 7: 32-35 & 38
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.
Settle down, verse 38 is Paul’s opinion too, but he is making a point that is severely counter cultural. The single life makes it easier for you to be devoted to Jesus. What does that practically look like, you ask? Read the Bible first thing in the morning, jam praise and worship music while in the shower or on your drive to work, participate in an intimate Bible study group routinely and dive back into the Word for your bedtime story. Enjoy Jesus as a lifestyle. And don’t forget to pray without ceasing. This is a personal struggle for me. I’m the type that can read the Bible for hours, but fidget after 5 minutes in prayer. If you’re anything like me, it’s okay to pray short prayers. Jesus said we don’t have to do the most anyway (Matthew 6:7-8). There’s so much to pray about; you can talk to God all day in short intervals. No need to close your eyes either; you can pray in your head or write your prayers in a journal.
Devotion to God changes you. The Holy Spirit enables you to scratch the surface of loving God and loving people. After all, God is love.
Okay, let’s take a short prayer break here. Ponder the following questions:
- Where do you work? Why does God have you there?
(Matthew 5:16, 1st Peter 3:15, 1st Thessalonians 4:11-12, John 13:35, 1st Corinthians 9:19- 23)
- How can you serve at church?
(Ephesians 4:7-13, 1st Corinthians 12,13, Romans 12:4-8, Hebrews 10:24-25) How can you empathize, and support the least of these in society? How can you demonstrate compassion to all? (Matthew 25:40-45, 2nd Corinthians 1:3-5, Romans 12:13-21)
- Who is in need around you and what do you have that can help?
(1st John 3:17-18, Matthew 5:38-42, Galatians 6:1-2)
How often do you talk about Jesus and to whom?
(2nd Timothy 4:2, Mark 16:15)
- Who are you discipling or who can you disciple?
(Matthew 28:19-20, 1st Thessalonians 2:7-20)
Pause. Do not overwhelm your mind. Stop to pray about/for the answers to all of these questions.
Pray the prayer you just prayed regularly. I know you’re free, this isn’t law, but if you’re wondering how to serve with all of your freedom as a single woman or man of God, there is PLENTY to do (Galatians 5:13-14). Nevertheless, throwing darts at good deeds without God is not much of anything. You have to seek God, align with God and rely on God errday! Now that’s law (John 14:5). More than discovering how you are to love people, prioritize falling deeper in love with God. Remember this commandment comes first on purpose (Matthew 22:37-38)!
Well, can’t I do all of those things while married? Yes, and in fact, you have to. This is why marriage is undoubtedly a balancing act. From attending to your spouse’s every need, to addressing the needs of your extended families, marriage adds to your already full plate. Don’t misquote me though; marriage is still a wonderful gift regardless of how difficult it might be. The point of the matter is this single peeps, you have loads more time and freedom to love God, and love people as many and as much as you can. So get on with it!
Ok I do have some street cred in this area. In fact, I’ve been all three types of single people: single and scared, single and ready to mingle, & most recently, single and satisfied. Yet, I loved singleness for all of the wrong reasons. I loved the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, with whomever I wanted without having to consult anyone about it. I loved that I could idly scroll on social media for hours or work into the wee hours of the morning without an obligation to anyone. I loved that I could leisurely travel when I felt like it and shop for random stuff without accountability.
(Insert various pictures accompanying article)
As I have grown in my faith though, I’ve come to understand that my singleness does not belong to me. It is a gift-yes-but it is a gift that I must offer up as a sacrifice to the giver. And it’s not because God is stingy, but it’s because I belong to Him and He is what is best for me. Therefore, all that I am and do is for His glory and His glory alone.
Chill out, I’m no pro at being happily single, for I’m still learning how to be selfless with my time and money, and resources and talents and heart but remember those questions I listed earlier? I ask myself those questions often. Whenever I’m convicted of my selfishness, I pray for God to show me what to do with this freedom through His Word and He does each time. I have to heavily rely on the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do, in and through me. Remember, it is NOT just about doing good works. Beware of doing good deeds for your own glory like the Pharisees (Matthew 6:1-4). You have to center your heart around loving Jesus first, so that the Holy Spirit can be the one moving you. (Galatians 5:16-17,22-26).
Do I experience temptation? What kind of question is that? OF COURSE! Sometimes I respond as the Israelites did in the wilderness, complaining and allllllll…. causing me to wander for what feels like 40 years but other times the Holy Spirit enables me to respond as Jesus did, with “it is written!” (Joshua 5:6– Read Exodus 13 onward for context – & Matthew 4:1-11) We do not have a God up in the sky somewhere who cannot relate to our dealings on Earth. It’s what makes our faith distinct. Jesus has experienced all kinds of temptations as a single man like us. He says to all who are troubled, and tempted and tired, COME! He gets it and He can help you (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Not a single day in your life should go to waste because the world has misconstrued the true purpose for marriage and singleness. Unfollow WeddingsOnPoint if you have to! Gouge out and cut off distractions so that you may fix your eyes and heart on Jesus. Unwrap this gift of singleness and steward over it well. Single man, single woman, Jesus wants a relationship with you and has predestined much work for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). I always say, if you find it hard to use your freedom to love people, check your love for God, if you’re having a hard time loving God, check your gospel! Once saved, the Holy Spirit takes residence in every believer’s heart. This Holy Spirit should be working in you, bearing the fruit of love, for it is impossible to serve God without God (1st John 4:16, 20 & Galatians 5:22).