Gospel Relevance

Gospel-Centered Resources For The Gospel-Driven Life

6 Truths About Singleness You Won’t Hear in Church

Singleness in the church — is it easy?

I love the church. I enjoy serving, worshipping, and being with God’s people week-in and week-out, through the ups and downs, amid the highs and lows. There’s nothing like it.

But something struck me the other day: In over 10 years of church-going, I can only ever remember hearing one or two sermons on singleness. How many have you heard? Singleness in the church At first I just let it slide. “It’s probably just my experience. It’s not that big of a deal. I’ll just move on.” Then I became curious. So I reached out to some twitter friends, and asked this:

Christians from various denominations across the world replied. Here’s some of the replies:

As I chatted with Christians from around the globe, most said they’ve never heard a sermon on singleness.

Do you think this is a problem?

Let’s be clear: The pulpit is for exulting Christ by preaching the Bible verse-by-verse, book-by-book, week-by-week, every single Sunday.

But no words to the singles?

Never?

Not once?

Hmm. I think we could do better.

Consider These Statistics:

  •  More than 4 out of every 10 adults in the US is not married.
  • The singles population is larger than the total national population of all but 11 nations.
  • America has upwards to 82 million single adults.
  • 4 out of 5 single adults consider themselves to be Christian.

Sure, not everyone on the list is a Christian, and certainly not everyone is in the church. But with so many singles, how come there isn’t more emphasis on reaching and helping singles?

I’d like this blog post to help solve some of the problems. But I can’t do it my own. So in order to find some answers, I reached out to dozens of single Christians, and asked them two questions:

1) What are some truths about singleness you won’t hear in church?

2) What are some things that married Christians and churches can do to help?

The rest of this post are the answers to those questions.

Singleness in the church: Six Truths You Won’t Hear 

1) Singleness can be a very lonely time.

Almost every Christian single I spoke with mentioned the loneliness of singleness. “Singleness can be lonely and difficult,” said one girl. “The loneliness,” replied one guy, when I asked what’s true about being single.

Whether it’s living with an unfulfilled desire, or just being alone a lot, singleness seems to be a lonely season for many Christians.

Why Christians Should Speak Openly About Their Struggles

Photo Credit: unspalsh.com

2) Singleness provides great gospel opportunities.

Many Christian singles feel lonely, but not all. A few singles quickly mentioned the blessings and opportunities that singleness brings. “I think the fact that singleness can be an advantage is hardly ever addressed in the church,” said one friend. “Some of us [Singles] may actually want to be single if that means more leverage for the gospel.”

Yes, singleness can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be joyless. Whether it’s overseas missions, serving the church, or more time for evangelism, singleness offers a lot advantages that married people don’t have — don’t waste this time.

3) Both Single guys and single girls battle sexual temptation.

It’s often assumed that single guys struggle with sexual temptation. As a result, many blogs, books, and blurbs are created to help men defeat sexual temptation. This is needed. But what about the girls?

“I’ve never once heard the topic of masturbation discussed,” commented one girl, who has been in the church for multiple years. “How am I supposed to handle my sex drive?” asked another girl.

Many single Christian women have unanswered questions about sexuality. If they can’t go to church to get them answered, where should they go?

4) Being single in your 20’s is far different from your 30’s and beyond.

When we think of singles, we think of teens and college kids. But it’s far more than that. Churches all across the world are filled with singles who are divorced, widowed, or over the age of 29. “Being single in your 30’s is so different from your twenties,” one person said. Sometimes, I feel lost.”

“Total transparency: Being single into my 40’s has felt devastating and at times super awkward. There has been a painful dread that has come along with being single,” added someone else. As the years go by, the feelings, attitudes, and perspectives toward singleness changes. 

5) Many single Christians have turned marriage into an idol — and this is a problem.

One woman was blunt about the situation: “What truly should be addressed in church is the idolatry of marriage. So many singles (Well, for women) feel as if they can’t be on mission until they get married.”

I could be wrong. But as I spoke with many singles, examined my own heart, and reflected on the past  five years of hundreds of conversations with singles, it seems that many singles have turned marriage into an idol. The expectations of sex, date nights, and romance are way, way too high. Lots of the girls feel bitter at God because they’re not yet married; lots of the guys are far too picky. Both sexes need help.

7 Truths About Singleness You Won't Hear in Church

Photo Credit: unsplash.com

6) Not every desire gets fulfilled.

If you have a deep desire to be married one day you will probably get married . . . or you may not. The big wedding day, honeymoon, and family that you envision for your life may come . . . or it may not. You have no idea what’s going to happen to you tomorrow let alone your future. Instead of placing your ultimate hope in a spouse, place your ultimate hope in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of our Savior.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Those are some things you (probably) won’t hear in church.

But let’s not end there.

My intention is not to just reveal a problem, but create a solution. I don’t want to throw a punch and then run away.

So back to the second question: “What are some things that church and married couples can do to help singles?” Here’s what they said.

What Married Couples Can Do To Help

Watch your social media posts. Not every single social media update has to be about your spouse. Admittedly, this is probably more to fault the singles over the married couples, but constant posts about your spouse is annoying and can create envy.

Watch your words closely (and listen). “Stop saying, ‘just be content in Christ,'” one girl screamed. When you rush into truthful statements, without listening and getting to the heart, you make singles feel like you don’t care. Give the truth. But first listen.

Don’t try to play “Match-Maker.” This is a BIG one. Introducing a godly guy to a godly gal is fine, but constantly trying to hook singles up in your church is exasperating. Most singles (girls and guys) said that they hate this.

Intentionally purse friendships with singles. Married people, single Christians want to hang out with you. Have singles over for dinner, for breakfast, for coffee and chat about singleness, dating, marriage and life. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean we can’t hang out anymore

church

Photo Credit: Unsplash.com

What Churches Can Do To Help

Provide gospel-centered content on singleness. Very few singles said they desire a “singles ministry.” Instead, most of them said they desired more gospel-centered content addressing singles.

Create an atmosphere of intentional relationships. Churches can help by facilitating an atmosphere of intentional relationships. That is, set things up to where married folks hang out with single folks more often.

Answer the questions singles are asking. Many singles have questions on sex, dating, singleness, and life that aren’t being answered by their churches. Churches can help by answering those questions

Foster the talent of talented single Christians. Many churches are “run” by married folks. We must adhere to the biblical guidelines of church leadership found in 1 Tim. 3 and other places, but let’s not forget about singles when it comes to small group leaders, giving announcements, and other such roles.

Singleness might be a waiting season, but it doesn’t need to be a wasted season. What singles need, more than anything, is a deeply fulfilling relationship with Jesus. He’s the only one that can satisfy the deepest cravings of your heart. As Tim Keller says, “If single Christians don’t develop a deeply fulfilling love relationship with Jesus, then they will put too much pressure on their dream of marriage.”

You may also like:

  1. 20 Things Every Christian In Their Twenties Should Know
  2. 11 Things Every Single Christian Should Know
  3. 4 Reasons Why God Makes You Wait

About David Qaoud

David Qaoud (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is associate pastor of Bethesda Evangelical Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and founder of gospelrelevance.com. His work has appeared on The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Banner of Truth. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and son. Learn more>

20 Replies

  1. I really appreciate you digging into this topic, David! Well done! And I especially appreciate that you pointed out a spouse is not your ultimate hope! #truth 🙂

    1. Thanks, Denise. Yep, only Jesus is our ultimate hope. We must be reminded of that continually.

  2. Lynn Fowler

    One of the things that annoys me most is the assumption that “singleness [is] a waiting season.” I AM NOT WAITING FOR ANYONE! I don’t need someone to “complete me.” I am very happily single, and choose to remain so. Please stop assuming that singleness is a parenthesis in life.

    Also, in order to read this post, I had first to fight my way through two pop-ups that blocked what I was trying to read. This does not attract visitors to your site, it just makes them angry.

    1. Hi Lynn – Thanks for your comments. I said singleness “might” be a waiting a waiting season. I understand that some may not desire to get married. Also, sorry for the technological glitch. It wasn’t supposed to show that way and I have changed it.

  3. Dawn Liz Jones

    Terrific. Yes, to idolize marriage puts unrealistic expectations on the spouse, who cannot be God in that person’s life. Some really good insights for me, who got married at 20!

    1. Yes, we cannot expect others to give us that which only God can give.

  4. Pete Hutchinson

    You are correct. The issue is rarely or not ever mentioned. I found out two big problems. 1. Some single people are not ready for marriage but want to be. 2. For some who are married, it turns into a frustrating experience. So if you cannot get your answers from the church read “This Love Is Real.” It has helped out Christian and non Christians. Read the introduction to the book on Amazon for free. If you are a married or single Christian, this should get you prepared to love the one you will be with. https://www.amazon.com/This-Love-Real-Relationship-Married/dp/1502836831/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

  5. Kemi Sogunle

    This is so true. As an author, international speaker, professional life and relationship coach, I have reached out to 128 churches so far trying to speak to singles and have the opportunity to share my story and journey with them. I have received NO from all 128 churches in the form of “we don’t know you” or “we will lose members.” I went through a bitter divorce, find myself and returned to my fist love, “God” and I’m on a mission to help others. I’ve written 2 books, “Being Single: A State for the Fragile Heart” and “Love, Sex, Lies and Reality” which have won awards (both available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kemi-Sogunle/e/B00X5ZY9EA/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1).

    I continue to reach out for opportunities to speak and coach others to learn to prepare themselves while waiting and stop idolizing marriage when not ready.

  6. Kim

    I think what upsets me the most is that folks think I have ALLLLLLLLLLLL kinds of freeeee time!!!! I have time to clean, sew, write, go out with others, have bible studies and on and on. But I’m ONE person. I get the oil changed, I do the bible study, I clean the dishes, mend the clothes, clean the house, etc, etc. I really don’t have all the time that folks think I do. It would be nice to have someone say, can I come over to help? I probably won’t want the help, but I”d like the company. Please stop thinking I’m out of the house each night. I”m not. I’m not the Charlie Girl. I do like being single, I”d like to be married, maybe. But please don’t think i have tons of time on my hands.

    1. That’s a really good point. People assume that singles have all the free time in the world. But that’s not true. This was actually something that a few singles brought up as I asked around.

      1. Kim

        It’s like I really need time management or something. I try to do it, but I can’t always be on every committee b/c I’m single. And then I have to juggle a paycheck on my own. Yeah, married have bills too, but they have two incomes. I have one. So please don’t be upset if I say, I can’t go to the movies, or out to eat or whatever, I”m really trying to save money. Now I do spend my money on fun projects, like the New Star WArs movie or such, but I can’t go to everyone of them. A good idea might be to write a time management book for singles?

  7. Lindy Norris

    I waited for 12 years, serving Christ as a single and NOTHING, while husbands were being dropped in the laps of my friends, who didn’t date, they were just “waiting on God”. Ok. So I tried it and it didn’t work. and then I started hearing my new neighbor in the downstairs apartment screaming to the top of her lungs almost every night. I couldn’t get away from it. There was no magazine to close or movie to turn off or thought to stop thinking. it was a horrible experience. So I was so mad, I started doing things my way, got into a very bad marriage and now I’m separating from him. WOW. That was my experience with “kissing dating goodbye” I really don’t know what happened. But I do not encourage singles to wait if they want to get married and I don’t encourage them to be careless either. This waiting game if for the birds. If you think that marriage is the end all, get married anyway, you will soon find out that it’s not and that God is really the end all. If you’re not content before you get married, get married anyway, find out what it’s all about and you WILL get content with God eventually, because marriage isn’t meant as a replacement for God. In other words, you don’t have to wait until you’re content with Just God before getting married, Marriage is God’s will, just get married.

    1. Appreciate your perspective. This is a great line: “If you think that marriage is the end all, get married anyway, you will soon find out that it’s not and that God is really the end all.”

      1. Lindy Norris

        Sorry. I was on a rampage yesterday when I wrote that.

        1. Haha. No worries. I know the feeling.

  8. Charles Cameron Olson

    You mention the qualifications for overseers as somehow barring singles
    from higher positions in churches. How exactly can 1 Timothy 3 be seen
    as barring singles from positions of church leadership, seeing as it is
    written by the apostle Paul, who was notoriously single and one of the
    foremost leaders of the first-century church, to Timothy, perhaps his
    closest student, also a major leader in the church, and a man who I
    don’t believe we are ever given any indication was married (either that
    he was or wasn’t), about the qualifications for overseers in a religion
    that follows Jesus, who was single (technically betrothed to the Church)
    during his entire walk here on Earth? In fact, Paul himself recommends
    in one instance that people remain single, as that allows more freedom
    to serve Jesus. The context of our faith does NOT point to singles being
    in any way unfit for OR ruled out from high level leadership, unless
    the leaders who wrote scripture and lead the first century church
    somehow exempted themselves from their own teachings.

    I’m feeling a little hot about this and I apologize if my tone is too harsh.

    1. Hi Charles. Good points. You’re right about the singleness of Paul and Jesus. I could have been more clear on what I meant. Single men can indeed be elders. When I wrote that sentence, I was speaking generally, and was just saying that we shouldn’t toss anyone in any position just because they’re in church. Whether single or married, we have to be sure that they meet the qualifications for the role, wherever they serve. Hope that helps.

  9. I wrote this earlier this year – https://bookofscraps.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/reflecting-on-singleness/ – after reflecting on the fact that Christian perspectives on singleness often feel like they’re written for somebody else.

  10. Autumn

    When I was over 30 and single, I found that the church didn’t use me because married people are somehow more mature spiritually, and what I experienced is that those who are married are the ones who idolize marriage–they only wanted other couples at their Bible Studies, dinners, get together, etc. My husband and I have friends who are married, single, divorced and widowed, I will never exclude people due to their marital status.

    1. I agree that we should never exclude people due to their martial status.