In this episode, we tackle some of the questions and concerns surrounding the issue of singleness for Christians. We look at Christians who are single, but who truly would like to be married and have some legitimate questions about who they should marry, how to find someone, and why isn't God making it happen?
In addition to that, we look at Christians who are happy being single and how they are sometimes treated within the Christian community, which sometimes isn’t very good.
Episode 91 - Single and Christian
Welcome back! Today we’re going to tackle some of the questions and concerns surrounding the issue of singleness for Christian women. Relevant magazine in an article from April 2020 said in both the US and the UK, Christian women are leaving churches at increasingly high rates. In the UK one study showed that single women are the most likely group to leave Christianity, and in the US the numbers tell a similar story.
One of those reasons is because it’s so hard to find a Christian man to marry because of the ratio of men to women. Women far outstrip men in church attendance. And, that makes it difficult.
So, today we’re going to talk about women who are single, but who truly would like to be married. Christian women who are single have some legitimate questions about who they should marry and how to find someone.
In addition to that, there are some Christian women who are happy being single and we’re going about talk about how they are sometimes treated within the Christian community, which sometimes isn’t very good.
Being a single woman in conservative Christian denominations can be frustrating because they are often perceived as being lonely, immature, afraid to have sex, too assertive, or not feminine enough.
Let’s start by addressing single women who want to be married. One question asked a lot is “What does ‘being unequally yoked’ mean?
2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” In other words, Christians should marry other Christians.
This isn’t just a New Testament idea. All the way back through the Old Testament God wanted His people separate from the world. His people weren’t to marry people from the pagan religions surrounding them. If they did, as in the case with Ruth the Moabitess, that person was to convert and shun their pagan religion.
It only makes sense. It protects and preserves the faith of the believer. God knows how much influence the person we are closest with can have. Would your unbelieving spouse be inclined to have your alarm go off Sunday morning so you didn’t miss church, or would they coax you into NOT setting it so you could both sleep in on Sunday? If they were of a different religion, what happens when your worldviews clash? A person’s worldview affects everything – where their money is spent, who they vote for in the political spectrum, and how they raise their children.
It may be popular today to have two-religion households, and to let your children grow up practicing both (along with whatever else they decide they want to practice) so that they can decide for themselves when they grow up. But God commands his people to teach their children and their children’s children about God and all that He’s done, according to Deuteronomy 4:9. And later in that same passage, He says, “Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.” It’s not a guarantee that your children will be believers when they grow up. But it is what God commands His people to do.
Here’s another question similar to the last one. “Do we have to agree theologically?”
You must agree on the essentials of what makes someone a Christian – the essentials of the faith – the deity of Christ, salvation by God’s grace through faith (not by works), salvation through Jesus Christ alone, the resurrection of Christ, the virgin birth, etc.. How much disagreement you can stand once you get past the essentials, is up to you. It may be hard to find a church if you are far apart theologically. But it you love this person, study the Scriptures together to see if you can find common ground to start from.
These next two questions we can answer together. What does God say about who I should marry? And, how will I know when I meet “the one God has for me”?
Well, there aren’t a lot of parameters about who to marry in the Bible …. someone of the opposite sex (in reality, not just identifying as such) and who is also a Christian. How will you know when you meet “the one” God has for you? You marry someone who checks off both the boxes I just mentioned, and who you like, are attracted to or any and all of the other things that would make you want to marry someone!
That’s right! You don’t have to worry that you’re going to screw up God’s plans by marrying the wrong person. In other words, if you marry Ken and your sister marries Stanley, and your best friend marries Stewart, you don’t have to worry that what God REALLY had planned was for your sister to have married Stewart, and you to have married Stanley, and for Ken to have married someone you don’t even know. You can’t mess up God’s plan. Not going to happen. It doesn’t work that way.
God isn’t in heaven going “Now who am I going to have Stacy marry? These people keep screwing things up marrying the wrong people!” But that is how a lot of people view picking their mate. Like there’s only ONE God has for them, and they might make a mistake.
Here’s a question women ask often: “Can I ask a guy out?”
It’s great to be asked out by a guy. You know they’re interested in you. I’m sure the same is true a lot of times for guys. I heard a conservative pastor say once that men should do the asking. I think that does show initiative on the guy’s part, which is a good character trait. But to say a woman should never ask a man out, I would ask, “Would you rather not go on a date, and sit around waiting to see if the guy you are interested in asks you out, or would rather at least have the opportunity to with someone you’re interested in?
But you having to ask this guy out increases the chance of you getting a passive guy who might not be a good leader. But it’s only one date. You don’t ever have to go out with him again if you don’t want to. There’s no biblical command saying a woman can’t be the one to ask.
That reminds me of the story of Ruth and Boaz in the Old Testament. She definitely showed the initiative in starting the relationship with him. And, the truth is, some really good men are shy, or may be afraid of getting their feelings hurt, or whatever. Again, there’s no biblical command for the woman not to do the asking.
Another question: “Are dating sites taboo for a Christian?”
Again, no biblical command that would prohibit a Christian from using dating sites. Obviously, BE CAREFUL! Everyone, Christians and non-Christians should be careful. But it’s one of the main ways busy adults meet today.
Moving on … “Can we spend the night together if we don’t have sex?” NO! It’s not wise. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” Sleeping in the same bed (or even too much cuddling on the couch) is a big, huge temptation! So, flee temptation … don’t jump right in the middle of it!
Also it can give the appearance of sin. Everything we do should glorify God. 2 Corinthians 8:20-21 and Romans 12:17 both speak about doing what is honorable in the sight of all. The appearance of sin by a Christian to the outside world can make them look like a hypocrite and could discredit any ministry work either of you is doing.
Let’s talk about the purpose of dating. And understand we’re talking about marriage age people dating. Dating just for fun usually gets old after awhile, and can lead to temptation after temptation. There are two ways dating ends up: breaking up or getting married. For the Christian who is ready to think about marriage, the purpose of dating becomes trying to find out whether or not you and the other person are suited to marry each other and whether you want to marry each other
Women often ask about having “feelings” for someone or the lack of having those romantic feelings for someone. Should they feel the way we see in movies and read in books to get married to a person?
That’s a question everyone has to answer for themselves. Should you still continue to date someone and possibly marry them without those feelings? God did give us the gift of being able to be attracted to and falling in love with someone. A couple of questions to ask: Can I live with this person for the rest of my life? And are we good for each other? Feelings are important, but you have to base your decision on more than “feelings” although those feelings do have some importance!
You make a good point about being good for each other. I saw on social media a Christian woman was engaged to a Christian man and two weeks before their marriage she found out he was addicted to pornography. She was asking for advice whether to stay or get out. Almost every answer, mostly from women who had been down that road, was “get out now” because you’re not married yet.
And I would totally agree with that. An engagement is not a marriage. There is no sin to back out of an engagement, even up until the day you are supposed to get married, if you find out something about your fiancé that could destroy your lives together. Pornography, drugs, cheating, are just some of the things you probably want to run from.
Another question asked is how soon is too soon to get married, if I do meet someone and we fall in love?
Well, the Bible doesn’t give us a timeline. But I would say once you’ve gotten to know him, his family, his friends, are going to church together and have talked to the pastor of the church you’ll be attending and gone through a fairly in-depth marriage counseling with your pastor, which usually takes several months. There’s nothing set in stone here. But use common sense.
One of the big questions is from single men and women who have a strong desire for marriage and often, along with that, to have children, but it isn’t happening is Why won’t God give me these things when He’s given me such strong desires for them?
That might be the toughest question to answer today, because no one knows for sure why God does things the way He does, and why He seems to give one person their desires and sit around and wait to see if he asks you? another. Often there are a few verses the person has been counting on for hope: Proverbs 10:24, “What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.” orProverbs 11:23 or Psalm 37:4 which says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
First, the proverbs are not absolute promises. They weren’t meant to be, so we can’t say about them that if we’re doing the first part, then the other is a given. If that were the case, then sometimes the Proverbs would contradict themselves and the Bible never contradicts itself. The Proverbs were meant as basic life applications that are wise. And, the perfect Son with perfect wisdom is Jesus. The second verse you said is from Psalms and this one makes a lot of people whose desires of any type are going unfulfilled question whether they are truly “delighting themselves in the Lord” or whether they need to amp things up a bit … whatever that means.
So, they’re questioning whether God’s not giving them what they want because they aren’t doing enough, or aren’t doing the right thing, etc. That’s doing the same thing as people do with Proverbs: “If I do A, then B will happen.” We shouldn’t base our doctrine on single passages. Nancy Guthrie says about this passage, “It’s not that he gives us what we desire; he actually gives us new desires so that we find ourselves wanting more of him. We find ourselves actually wanting to be holy. We find ourselves wanting to give ourselves in the world to the passions of his heart, because he’s given us his very own desires.”
But don’t take that to mean that we should sit around and wait for God to drop the perfect spouse on our laps. We do have to be proactive, and we do need to make sure we are doing the appropriate things to possibly meet someone. For example, a Christian man should not be looking for a woman to marry at a strip club. A Christian woman needs to put herself out there a bit to meet someone.
Maybe a young adult single’s group in your church. Or maybe just going out with friends and not trying to hunt someone down, but always be aware that you never know where you may meet your mate! But understand that it may be that singleness is a state God has decreed for your life. Doesn’t mean you don’t stop trying to find someone, but you need to learn to be content if marriage is not in God’s plan for you. He needs to be enough
There’s a blog post from Glenna Marshall, a woman who claimed Psalm 37:4 as her “life verse” as a teenager (claiming a “life verse” is something we don’t advocate). Ms. Marshall’s thoughts were exactly what we’ve been talking about …. she thought that Psalm 37:4 was the perfect one to claim because it was formulaic (or so she thought back then). Long story short, she wanted to have a baby and wasn’t able to. A decade after declaring her “life verse” she was once again sobbing on the floor after another negative pregnancy test. Here's what she says, “Had God failed to deliver what I thought He had promised? Could He be doing anything good in the years of fruitless waiting?” She goes on to say that after all those years, she began to question what she knew of God’s character. She admitted she hadn’t been seeking Him for anything other than a child for so long that opening her Bible for any other reason felt odd.... He hadn’t failed to deliver on a promise because he had never promised me children. He was doing something good in the years of waiting because He does not work without purpose. He is intentional and also kind. And, while I didn’t know that He was being both intentional and kind in my infertility back then, I now know for certain that He was.”
Her delve into her Bible led her to this conclusion, “Sometimes the Lord uses His Word to both rebuke and bind us up with healing. As I searched the Scriptures for what I could learn about God’s character, my arms were still empty. But my heart began to be filled.”
Desiring to get married is a good desire. But, don’t let the loneliness become an idol that moves you to do something unbiblical – like marry a non-Christian, have sex outside of marriage, etc. Getting married isn’t a guarantee to ease your loneliness. Lots of married people are still lonely and lots of single people are not lonely. Marriage isn’t a quick fix for being lonely. In fact, it comes with a whole new set of troubles (for lack of a better word).
And speaking of single people NOT being lonely, let’s talk about singles who don’t have a desire to get married and the problems they face with their singleness within many Christian circles.
You mean that sometimes in Christian circles, women in that situation are treated as outcasts or as if they’re not thinking correctly (or aren’t thinking biblically), especially if they don’t want children?
Not all single people want to be married and/or have children. We said in the last episode that it’s a privilege given to us by God to raise His precious little ones. And it is … whether that means raising our own, helping raise others’ children, or teaching kids of any age at our church. But not all people have that desire, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s not, and the Church at large has to stop thinking in that mindset. All Christians are to share the Gospel and teach and admonish each other. It may be the highest calling we all have to teach God’s truths to the children God’s entrusted to our care. But both Paul and John refer to people of any age they taught as their “children.” Maybe we need to think of the high calling of teaching and spreading God’s word more in that respect.
And, just as not all single people want to be parents, not all single people feel insecure about being single. Some, in fact, enjoy it and are totally content.
I’m going to quote what one single, childless woman said about how being in her conservative, Reformed church made her feel. She says, “Being a single woman in a congregation made primarily of nuclear families can often feel like walking around with no clothes. Everyone sees and points out this supposed vulnerability. Single women don’t have a husband to cover them emotionally, physically, and materially.”She goes on to say that being a parent is another thing that implies “adulthood” or that you’ve been made “whole and complete”. She even heard that articulated when overhearing one mother define adults to her child as “mommies and daddies.”
I’m sure the mother didn’t mean everything that definition encompasses when she said it, but that example should remind us that we have to give some thought to our words.
The Bible never says that every Christian has to get married, or even that every Christian should. The Apostle Paul talks about being married and being single, in light of serving the Lord in1 Corinthians 7. Verses 32-35 of that passage say, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. Like he says to the men in that same passage … your interests are less divided when you’re single.
It’s common sense. As soon as there’s someone else in your life to give consideration to, your time, your focus and your energy are more divided. Paul isn’t saying that to try to lay some kind of restraint on people, which he states in the next verse, and we’re not saying it to try to stop people from getting married!
Not at all! One of my sons is getting married this week. And, Rose, you and I both have sons we’d love to see get married someday! But the Church has got to stop thinking of marriage and childbearing as the only option for Christians, and it’s got to stop making people who aren’t married feel like pariahs.
Some people enjoy being single and having a career. And not just as missionaries in some remote location. Some enjoy singleness, along with having secular careers, right where they are. Anyone, man or woman, can shine the light of the Gospel in their field of employment. So long as you are loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your work is not antithetical to Scripture, there are other limitations of a career choice.
I’m going to quote another woman about this very subject. She is the daughter of a pastor, graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with degrees in Chinese and economics. She is married now, but this is what she saw in her former church: “It’s a bitter experience for a young woman at church to know the church thinks you’re just “killing time.” With few exceptions, unmarried or childless women feel the pressure of their pastors and congregations to wait patiently for the next phase of their lives. Well-intentioned or not, the message sent is that what occupies a woman’s time prior to (or instead of) motherhood is not and cannot be the fulfillment of God’s purpose.”
She says she also felt the pressure in college to find a “Christian” application of her career path, and that she’s seen gifted woman in these situations go so unsupported in their academic and vocational paths by their churches that they leave the Church body altogether.
Vocational work doesn’t have to have a direct correlation to the Kingdom to be doing Kingdom work. Martin Luther, the great Reformer, did away with the distinction of work being either sacred or secular long ago. The work of pastoring, or ministry of any kind is not more important that being in a secular job. That truth holds true for women, just as much as it does for men. Some men are called into marketing; some men are called into pastoral ministry. Some women are called into being a wife and taking care of the home and some women are called to be research analysts, CEOs, or lawyers. All have their calling from God. And all are of equal importance.
That’s all we have time for today. We’d love to hear from any of you who are single and your experience in the church. And if you are a single woman in your 20’s who wants to get married, send us a message! Remember, we have 2 single sons!
They are going to kill us for that! Have a blessed day, everyone!
 Gaddini, Katie. “Why Are So Many Single Women Leaving the Church?” RELEVANT, August 30, 2020. https://www.relevantmagazine.com/faith/church/why-are-so-many-single-women-are-leaving-the-church/.
 Marshall, Glenna. “When God Doesn't Give You the Desires of Your Heart • Glenna Marshall.” glenna marshall, April 19, 2021. https://www.glennamarshall.com/2018/08/06/when-god-doesnt-give-you-the-desires-of-your-heart/.
 Smith, Brittany, Doug Serven, and Ashley Williams. Essay. In Co-Laborers, Co-Heirs: a Family Conversation, 27. White Blackbird Books, 2019.
 Smith, Brittany, Doug Serven, and Erika Forrest. Essay. In Co-Laborers, Co-Heirs: a Family Conversation, 27. White Blackbird Books, 2019.