Dear Young Engaged Man,
Don’t panic. After your last letter, I felt the icy fear freezing your feet. It almost made me want to put socks on. You are concerned about whether you should continue on the path toward marriage or bail for the single trail.
Let’s examine the series of events:
- You have been studying your devotions and have spent a long time in 1 Corinthians 7.
- You want to serve the Lord as best as you can and it seems Paul says singleness is the way to go.
- Your friends are leaving for the missions field while you are registering for teapots and curtain rods.
- Your friends are being radical and spending all day at the homeless shelter while you are spending all day licking invitation stamps.
- You want to serve Jesus but now you are wondering how could you possibly be advancing the kingdom by pursuing marriage.
Pause. Grab the railing. Come let us reason together.
I think you already know the answer, but I will try to freshen the air.
The question of singleness or marriage all boils down to gifting.
Which gift do you have?
“Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 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.” (1 Corinthians 7:6-7 ESV)
Notice that both singleness and marriage are gifts. A gift is a good thing.
Singleness is not for the folks who didn’t make the cut. Singleness is not for those who missed the wedding bus and are sulking on the sewer curb.
No, the life of singleness is for those who are zealous for God and his gospel. God has designed singleness for those who do not settle for the mediocre. If you have the gift of singleness, seize it for the glory of God. Take life by the horns, ride the bull, live or die. Launch into the heat of the battle with no restrictions or reservations. Take no prisoners and leave no farewell letters. Visit the orphan, feed the hungry, heal the sick, and preach the gospel.
How do you know if you have the gift of singleness? You are not burning with passion for a wife. You are fine without fatherhood and satisfied without sex. You are content with Jesus and yourself.
Are these questions too basic or too secular? I don’t think so. Jesus has capital on the “secular” and he is the one who made the body to burn for his glory.
But what if you do desire a wife? What if you desire to lead a family and love a woman exclusively without reserve? This might mean marriage is for you.
Marriage is not for those less spiritual or those with less gusto for the gospel. The married life is not for those just couldn’t jump far enough on to the radical boat and are left on the unspiritual dock.
No, the life of marriage is for those who are zealous for God and his gospel. God has designed marriage to display his glory in a unique way. If you have the gift of marriage, don’t bail because you feel less spiritual. Take your wife by the hand, plunge into life, until you die. Launch into the heat of love with no restrictions or reservations. Take up a job and produce little children. Adopt the orphan, feed your neighbor, heal the sick, and preach the gospel.
He who finds a wife, finds a good thing. He who lives a single life, lives a good thing. The point of 1 Corinthians 7 is to live as you are called. Live each season with God first in your heart. Advance the kingdom of Jesus according to the desires God has given you and according to the circumstances he has placed you in, even if it is not what you expected.
Brother, if your heart longs for your fiancee, it is no sin to marry. Receive it and do not reject it.
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
(1 Timothy 4:4-5 ESV)
I have belabored the point, but I am confident your burning heart will warm your cold feet.