Satan’s lies about singleness

I’m single. I live in Sydney’s east with my two flatmates and my cat. (The crazy-cat-lady litmus test is that you know you’ve become one and you don’t care.) I’m in my late thirties. Many of the struggles that surround singleness are my struggles too: tossing up between living on my own (and being lonely and possibly broke) or living with flatmates (and regularly having to find and get used to new ones); turning up to things on my own all the time; feeling the unvoiced wonderings of friends, who think I’m too fussy, or gay, or weird; feeling surprised and disappointed that I’m not married by now, and wondering what’s wrong with me. I tire of all of those things.

However, I remain convinced that God’s word in the Bible is true, and I am determined to cling to it. My life, my struggles, my circumstances have changed over the years, but God has not. Neither has his word.

So this is a plea to my dear Christian sisters who are single but would love to be married: don’t stop trusting God. Endure through your sadness. Don’t let Satan get to you with his subtle lies, which come from all directions. Don’t find yourself believing them without even realizing it.

(A quick note: I’m deliberately addressing this to women who aren’t married but would like to be. What I say will not apply equally to all single people, so please take whatever you find helpful from this article even if it’s not really written for you.)

Here are just some of the lies Satan tells us all the time.

Lie 1: You’re single because you’re…

You can finish the sentence yourself—just insert your adjective of choice. For me, it varies from ‘fat’ to ‘ugly’ to ‘horrible’, depending on the day. But I can think of so many friends who are beautiful in the world’s eyes, who are lovely, funny, kind, delightful… and single. So many. People of all shapes, sizes and personalities are single, and people of all shapes, sizes and personalities are married. What is attractive to one is not attractive to another. Shape, size, and personality are not why I’m single.

In the Western world at least, more and more people are marrying later in life or not at all. I may be single, but I’m certainly not alone. This isn’t because the human race is producing uglier or more horrible people, but because of a raft of social changes we’ve seen over the past century.

“God is more powerful than our social situations, our looks, our personalities, and our insecurities.”

But God is more powerful than any social force or trend. The fact is that ultimately I’m single because God is in control of everything. He is sovereign. Likewise, those who are married are married because God is sovereign. Those who are widowed are widowed because God is sovereign. God is more powerful than our social situations, our looks, our personalities, and our insecurities.

Lie 2: God is not powerful enough to find you a husband

The older I get, the easier it is to believe this lie (which is closely related to the first). When I was younger, thinner and less cynical, it was easy to imagine that God would send a husband along for me. Who wouldn’t love me? I was amazing back then! But the longer I remain unchosen (and that’s certainly how it feels), the easier it is to think that God’s power can’t reach this part of my life.

But I need to remember that in fact I am not unchosen. God himself has chosen me. And at the risk of stating the obvious, if God can create the universe just by speaking (Genesis 1); if he can cause Pharaoh to let the Israelites go (Exodus 12); if he can raise Jesus Christ from the dead (Luke 24); if he can use the purposes of evil men for his good purposes (Acts 2:22-24); if he can give us new life and change us from people who hate him to people who want to serve him (1 Peter 1); if he can—well, do I need to list every event in the Bible? If God can do all this, then he can find me (and you) a husband, easily.

This doesn’t mean “there’s someone just around the corner for you”, or that God will provide you with a husband. It just means that if you are single it’s not because God is too powerless to marry you off to someone.

Lie 3: You’re single because God does not love you

Most of us know this can’t really be true. We know that God is love (1 John 4:8). We know he sent his own Son to die on the cross for the sins of sinful people. We know all that.

But have we stopped believing it?

Our world is decaying because of sin, and there is sickness, tragedy and sadness everywhere. We have all kinds of reasons to doubt God’s love for us if the only thing we have to go on is what we can see around us. But we are such finite beings. We see so little. We “do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Eccl 11:5). So we must look to the cross. The facts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the same now as they were when we first believed. If God sent his own Son to die that horrific death in your place so that he can be in relationship with you, and if he did this while you were still a sinner (Rom 5:6-11), then maybe you don’t need to doubt his love for you.

And if you cannot see God’s love on the cross, why do you think you will see it in a man—especially a sinful man?

“What happened on the cross is a much bigger and better demonstration of God’s love than providing a husband.”

What happened on the cross is a much bigger and better demonstration of God’s love than providing a husband.

Lie 4: Because no-one has married you, you have no value

I’ve spoken to a number of single friends who genuinely think they have nothing to offer. They think the fact that no man has chosen them for a wife is a reflection on them, and that it means they can’t possibly have any value. I suppose it is just another expression of that age-old sin of thinking our value comes from how other people see us.

At this point, I’m tempted to talk about how much single people can offer the world around them. I’m tempted to tell you about one of my friends, who thinks she does not matter to anyone yet gives up her time week after week to help out with youth group. Or another friend, who cannot tell me a single positive thing about herself but who is often quite thoughtfully supportive of her friends and family. I’m tempted to talk about all the ways in which we single people can contribute to the lives of those around us. But that would suggest that our value comes from what we do, which is just as bad as thinking that our value comes from what other people think of us!

“Someone marrying you will not make you valuable… You cannot be made valuable, because you already are valuable.”

No. Someone marrying you will not make you valuable. Doing things for other people will not make you valuable. You cannot be made valuable, because you already are valuable.  You are valuable because God Almighty himself tenderly created you—in his own image, no less! You were valuable the minute God wrote your days in his book (Ps 139:13-16), and nothing that happens to you in this life can change that.

Lie 5: Getting married will fix all your problems

This is probably the lie that I wrestle with the most, mentally. I swing wildly from knowing it isn’t true to thinking it is. When I’m looking for a new flatmate, I think that marriage would mean I wouldn’t have to keep finding people to live with. I could just get used to my husband, and that would be it. I could also afford to buy property, so I wouldn’t have to worry about when or if my landlord might ask me to leave.

It is true that marriage is a solution to some problems, some of the time. Marriage can be an answer to loneliness. It might mean I can buy my own home. But this particular lie is one of those clever half-truths, where the truth makes it harder to see the lie.

There is actually no guarantee that marriage will fix loneliness. Some married people are incredibly lonely, trapped in awful marriages with no-one to talk to about it. And getting married is no guarantee that I’ll never have to find someone to live with again, or that I’ll be able to buy property and have more security. My husband might die soon after we’re married; our house might burn down. Those are tragic examples but even if things like that don’t happen, I’m sure the picture I have in my head of what marriage will be like is probably very different from what it would actually be like. Paul doesn’t talk about the “anxieties” and “worldly troubles” of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7 without good reason. Jesus’ own disciples clearly recognize the difficulties of marriage. When Jesus tells them that “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery”, they say, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Matt 19:9-10)!

I’m not saying marriage is bad—as the apostle Paul would say, by no means! Marriage is a wonderful gift from God, and I’m absolutely delighted when my friends get married. I’d love to get married myself. But we must not fall into the trap of thinking that marriage will fix all our problems. It won’t.

Lie 6: You’ve got to find The One

This is the dumbest idea in the history of dumb ideas. Seriously. Thank you so much, Hollywood, with all your stupid rom-coms, for helping Satan blind us with this lie.

While it is true that God knows whether we will marry and whom we will marry, there is absolutely no way that we can know. Unless God himself gives you a name or hands you a photograph, you simply cannot know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether you’ve found the ‘right’ person. All you can do is pray, make a wise decision, trust God, and then be faithful to your marriage promises.

“Don’t look for ‘the one’; instead, look for someone who produces the fruit of the Spirit. Look for someone who loves Jesus.”

I’m not saying you should marry any old person as long as they’re Christian, available and breathing. I’m not saying there’s no place for physical attraction and romance—Song of Songs would contradict me if I were. What I am saying is that in your desire to get married, don’t look for ‘the one’; instead, look for someone who produces the fruit of the Spirit. Look for someone who loves Jesus. Learn from the fact that many in arranged marriages grow to deeply love each other; and don’t expect that you’ll feel wobbly in the knees as soon as your lay eyes on your future husband. Ask God for a husband, but also ask him to change your desires so that you will be open to the advances of a godly man, should they come.

Lie 7: A single person has no family

To be honest, at this stage in my life I don’t feel much temptation to believe this lie. By the grace of God, both my parents are still alive and well, together with their respective spouses and a bunch of half- and step-siblings. But sometimes I wonder what it will be like when I’m much older. In my less trusting moments, I am afraid of getting old and lonely and having no-one to look after me. I’m sure many married people share this fear. As the late (and lifelong single) John Chapman pointed out, at least 50% of married people will face singleness again when their spouse dies.

Chappo taught me to change the way I think about family. In a sermon he gave many years ago in his home church, he pointed out that our Christian family supersedes our biological family, just as it did for Jesus (see Matt 12:46-50; 19:27-29).1 Chappo then said, “I am not going to be anybody’s grandfather… but in this family [indicating the congregation] I should expect lots of grandchildren… You and I are bound together in a family that takes precedence against our biological family.”2 Chappo’s expectations were well and truly met—during his last few days in this life, he had so many visitors to his hospital bed that one of the hospital staff commented, “He must have a big family!” What a moving testament to the blessing of being part of God’s family.

As children of God, we are part of a massive family. The challenge for all of us, in our individualistic culture, is to act like it.

Lie 8: It’s better to marry a non-Christian than stay single for life

Even though God’s family is huge, we’re all sinful and sometimes we do a terrible job of loving each other. Singleness can be a very painful and lonely experience. Some decide it’s better, in the end, to marry an unbeliever. Perhaps you are toying with this idea yourself at the moment.

Let me tell you, slowly so you hear me: It. Is. Not. Worth. It.

I know many women married to unbelieving men. Some of these women did not become Christian until after they got married. Others were Christian and married a non-Christian. Others have watched their Christian husbands walk away from Jesus. But not one of them would recommend choosing to marry a non-Christian while you still have a choice to make. Not one. Not the women who still trust Jesus, anyway. And here’s why.

If you marry a man who doesn’t know and love Jesus, here are your options:

  • You will eventually walk away from Jesus yourself, as he becomes less and less important and relevant in your life and your husband becomes more important. And when you walk away from Jesus, you will have exchanged heaven for hell.
  • Or you will keep trusting Jesus, but it will be difficult and lonely in at least some respects. I know a dear Christian lady whose husband no longer professes Christ, although he once did. But he’s happy for her to go to church, and he’s happy for her to give money to church (as long as he can spend the equivalent on whatever he likes!), and he loves her. As far as being married to an unbeliever, it’s about as good as you can get. But every week, she goes to church and Bible study on her own. She can’t share the most important part of her life with the man she loves. And, saddest of all, unless something changes between now and when her husband dies, she cannot look forward to standing with him before the throne of God in heaven for all eternity. He is going to another place.
  • Or perhaps—perhaps—God will have mercy on you and save your husband once you’re married. But when you marry a non-Christian I think you probably make it harder for him to take Jesus seriously. Why would he, when you’re not taking Jesus seriously yourself? Of course, God is more powerful than your bad example, and he could still save your husband. But you have no guarantee that he will, and it’s certainly not something you can demand. Given the previous two options, why take the risk?

My dear sisters, if you are tempted to seek solace with a non-Christian, please don’t. Don’t even flirt with the idea. Don’t get into a situation where you will get emotionally involved and find it hard to think straight. Determine that you won’t give in to this temptation—even, or especially, if you don’t feel the temptation right now—and stick to your guns.

My favourite Jane Eyre quote springs to mind here. The man she loves is trying to persuade her to abandon her moral convictions and live with him, even though he already has a wife. She responds by saying:

“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? … Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by; there I plant my foot.”3

Lie 9: It’s too hard to be single and you can’t keep on going

During the past couple of years, I’ve had two very sad conversations. One friend told me she isn’t sure how long she can keep going if she remains single. Another friend, when I mentioned this conversation to her, said, “I can relate”. For them, single life is just too hard and too lonely.

To be perfectly frank, part of me wants to just shake them and tell them to look around—there are harder things than being single. Personally, I’d rather stay single for life than go through divorce. Let’s not become blasé to the pain of divorce just because it’s so common. My heart breaks for women whose husbands have died. Some families live daily with incredible heartache and struggle because of illness or disability or poverty or tragedy. I think their struggles would be much harder than mine.

I also want these women to see how much they do have. They have good jobs. They have plenty of clothes, money and food. They are both in the top 2% of earners worldwide. They both have comfortable places to live—one has even managed to buy herself a unit.

But that’s not really the point. We each have our struggles, even if they aren’t as ‘bad’ as someone else’s. The grief of singleness is real and valid, and it comes from a very normal and healthy desire to be married. What we need is God, and the perspective that comes from reading his word.

Do you know how many calls there are in the New Testament to persevere and endure? No, neither do I—but it’s approximately a lot.4 This suggests that following Jesus in this world for a long time is not going to be easy. It may actually get even harder between now and when you meet him face to face. This is why I think there are also so many descriptions in the New Testament of the amazing things God has given us in Christ.5 We need to keep remembering what they are, because we forget so easily, and they are a big part of the motivation to endure anything and everything for the sake of Jesus who died for us. 2 Peter 1:3-12 puts it perfectly:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.

“It is not too hard to be single—even for life. You can keep going, because God has given you everything you need.”

It is not too hard to be single—even for life. You can keep going, because God has given you everything you need. Don’t let Satan convince you otherwise.

Let us not be victims

Dear sisters, let’s not be victims of Satan’s attacks. Let us not dare to be dissatisfied with all that the God of the universe has lovingly given us. Let us trust God in all areas of life, including this one. Let’s not be those who say to the God who will judge the living and the dead, “Give me what I want, or we’re through”.

For what they are worth, here are a few suggestions—not rules or commands—to help you endure.

  • If your convictions feel a little shaky, figure out what it is that you’re not sure about, and go and do something about it. Read a Gospel. Read a book about Jesus’ death and resurrection.6 Work out what you’re not sure about, and talk about it with someone you trust.
  • If you’ve stopped reading God’s word regularly, find someone to read it with you.
  • Find someone at church who you can help—maybe there’s someone who could do with a home-cooked meal at the moment. If there are gaping empty lonely holes in your life, fill them up with serving your family. It honestly does help.
  • Remember that you are not a powerless victim. You have the Holy Spirit. You have a Father God who made the entire universe, and who loves you, and who really does know what is best for you. Put 2 Peter 1:3-12 on your bedroom wall and read it every day.
  • Find some way to be thankful for what you have. Keep a diary and write down one or two things each day for which you are grateful. Better yet: tell other people about them. You’ll remind yourself, and you’ll encourage others. Win-win!
  • If you live on your own and you find yourself feeling constantly lonely, consider sharing with one or two others. I know this sounds abhorrent to some, especially if you’re used to living on your own. Living with others is hard, even if you all get on well. You have to compromise and you’re not in control of your environment. But being in a home with other people, even if you’re all in different rooms and not actually conversing, is very different to being in a home on your own. I genuinely don’t get lonely, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t live on my own.

Let me finish by saying that if you’re single because you’re Christian—that is, you have turned down advances from unbelievers, or you struggle with same-sex attraction but you know that’s not God’s will and so you remain celibate—then let me say thank you and well done. You are a godly example and an encouragement, and I praise God for you.

  1. You can find the text of Chappo’s sermon in Michael Orpwood’s book Chappo: For the Sake of the Gospel, Eagleswift Press, 1995, pp. 187-93. It’s a very encouraging read.
  2. Orpwood, pp. 189-90.
  3. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, Third Norton Critical Edition, Norton, New York, 2001, pp. 270-1.
  4. E.g. Matt 10:22, 24:13; Luke 21:19; Rom 5:3-4, 15:4-5; 1 Cor 10:13, 13:7; 2 Cor 1:6; Eph 6:18; Col 1:11; 2 Thess 1:4; 2 Tim 2:12, 24; Heb 10:36, 12:1-17; James 1; 1 Pet 2:18-25; Jude 17-21; Rev 1:9, 14:6-13.
  5. E.g. Rom 4:7-8; 1 Cor 6:9-11; 2 Cor 8:9; Gal 3:10-14; Eph 2:1-22; 3:1-6; Titus 3:3-6; 1 Pet 1:3-5, 2:9-10; 2 Pet 1:3-4.
  6. Stan Telchin’s Betrayed is brilliant (and short). He’s a Jewish man who gets so angry when his daughter converts to Christianity that he decides to prove to her that Jesus is not the Messiah. He looks at all the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and then looks at how many of them Jesus fulfils… and he becomes a Christian.

56 thoughts on “Satan’s lies about singleness

  1. Thank you for this post. I enjoyed it and it helped me out, being a “single” person. My favorite part: “Lie 6: You’ve got to find The One

    This is the dumbest idea in the history of dumb ideas.”

    Also, if some one “leaves Jesus,” they never were with Him in the first place. No one can lose their salvation, that would make them stronger than God.

  2. Thanks for your helpful insights. As a married pastor, I struggle to address the needs of the single. I understand how the message of the church can sound like “you aren’t living the good life or complete until you’re married and have x number of kids” which is untrue. But reassuring others that are single is a challenge and this post is a welcome insight in how to minister better.

    • Gah. Oops. I hit the button by accident. What I wanted to say is that I really appreciate that you are working on that for your flock. It’s hard to be a single in church when all the events are geared towards couples and families. Singles are always the leftovers. Don’t just give them their own group, don’t exclude them from other groups. No, we may not have kids, but we love the kids in our lives and we are to be a family much larger than just biology dictates. If you have a couples club, open it up to singles and STOP calling it “couples club.” Call it “dinner club” or whatever. Just … don’t exclude us.

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  5. Thank you, Emma, for this well written piece. I think it is just as relevant and helpful for single men like myself.

    Sometimes I feel as though my struggles are exacerbated by the familial structure of the church (at least in America), and even unintentionally by fellow Christians. I’ll give you some examples.

    Sunday School classes, Bible studies, small groups, church retreats, missions opportunities are designed — specifically — for young children, grade school children, high schoolers, college age, young married couples, married couples with young children, married couples with older children, older couples, widows, people with disabilities, etc. This isn’t to discredit churches with singles ministries, but in my experience they’re floundering pretty badly with high turnover. In a sense they are like a homeless shelter. Few options remain when you’ve been disqualified on the basis of demographics from most other fellowship groups.

    I also find it frustrating that people in the church perceive my singleness as a defect. Some folks are always trying to set me up with a single woman they know. I appreciate the concern, but this kind of thing is exhausting. And frustrating. And awkward. Single men have to be especially careful how we act around married women and children. Sometimes the most innocent things can be interpreted the wrong way. Just because we’re single doesn’t mean we’re preying on wives and children to fulfill lustful desires. We’re human too and we enjoy appropriate human interaction.

    The reason I mention these things is because they underscore the importance of pretty much everything Emma wrote. I’m particularly vulnerable to these lies by the circumstantial frustrations I outlined above. A constant battle for me.

    • As a 43-year-old woman who’s never been married, I feel your pain! Singles groups often leave me feeling like I’m a leftover. Huh. We don’t have a place for you, so here’s the consolation prize. It often feels so segregationist.

      I understand that sense of feeling like I’m perceived as defective. I also feel like I’m viewed as not being a grownup – as if my never having been married somehow invalidates my adulthood. It’s absolutely rage-inducing to feel consistently like an afterthought.

      Maybe you and I should start an online support group for single Christians. I can be found on facebook under my name.

  6. All so true Emma. Thanks for being honest. I was single until I was 39 and can remember struggling with most of those things and I still witness my single friends wrestling with them, however, I am encouraged that they love Jesus more than having to be married! They make hard choices to live godly lives, but they stick at it. Thanks for being like that Emma, as it encourages us much.

  7. Also I forgot to add, that you don’t mention the struggle with celibacy that many Christian single people have. That can be the most difficult aspect to maintain godliness in.

  8. A common dilemma, particularly for Christian women, since there seems to be more women in the church than men, and simple numbers mean more women will go unmarried or will have to look elsewhere – for a nice partner that shares the ethics and morals of Christians with a hard work ethic, good personal hygiene, sense of humour etc.

    Is it sensible to write off all of mankind and your own chances of happiness just because they do not share the same blind devotion to a story about a man who 2000 years ago claimed to be from outer space (to paraphrase the New Testament a little)? It’s quite a belief system that makes you do that – when you really think about it!

    Humans are social creatures. We need to form bonds with other humans to feel happiness, and love, and not feel ostracised, weak and depressed. The church is meant to help with this, but sometimes it fails, and this is one of those areas. It is simple numbers not luck, not Gods will, not anything else. Numbers. Unless of course polygamy suddenly becomes OK in mainstream orthodox Christianity -not likely any time soon!

    My advice – find a nice guy. Be open and honest with your beliefs, and even if he does not share those all of those beliefs on day 1, he may do one day. That should be good enough (hope is necessary, but remember perfection does not exist in this world). If God loves you then he wants your happiness, and likewise if he loves that nice guy I mentioned, then he also wants his happiness which you will be a major part of. So ask him out (or stop saying no to his asking you) and maybe it will work out. You do not know the future or what is on the other side of the vale of tears. So put your best foot forward and do not be afraid. Best of luck.

    • I’m unconvinced by a number of things in your comment, namely:

      a) That Christianity is blind devotion

      b) That to remain unmarried is to “write off … your own chances of happiness”

      c) That we cannot form bonds with people we are not married to, or that the bonds we do form with people with whom we are not married are ineffective or insufficient

      d) That marriage is a prerequisite for happiness (second sentence of third paragraph)

      e) Either that churches are meant to help people find spouses, or that churches are not good places to form bonds with people (paragraph 3, sentence 3)

      All five of these points do not line up with my own experiences.

      I also disagree with:

      f) The assertion that “If God loves you then he wants your happiness” – where in the Bible does God ever promise that we will be happy this side of Jesus’ return?

      I would, though, argue this:

      We haven’t valued single people enough. We haven’t cared for, loved and served them enough. The narratives of our culture say that the single and celibate are necessarily lesser than everyone else, and we haven’t spoken and acted against these strongly enough.

      It’s all well and good for me to say that singleness is valuable and church is great; but I, and all Christians, have to live in line with our assertions and, by God’s enabling, make them so. We are called to love, care for, lead, teach and serve our brothers and sisters in such a way that articles like this may not even need to be written.

  9. Wow, Emma. What a tour de force! Each point you raise is so well done. For some reason God has me thinking about this issue today, even though I am neither single nor a woman. but first I read Michelle Van Loon’s poignant “A Single Woman’s Prayer” and then I saw a link here to your place on Twitter. Thank you for helping me understand better some aspects of the family of God that I don’t get to experience personally.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  10. As someone who is single and have been 29 for the past 18 years I have probably believed everyone of these at some point in my life except marrying a non-Christian. While God is soveriegn, we also reap the consequences of our actions. I believe that the Christian men have chickened out and not manned up by seeking marriage earlier in their life. They are selfishly living single lives and even still living with their parents into their 30′s. While our brothers-in-Christ say they want to get married they seem to believe they deserve a Christian Miss Universe when they themselves wouldn’t even win Mr. County Fair. We need to be praying for the men in this country to not be influenced by the feminist anti-men campaign and that they would go out and find us. In the meantime there is an EXCELLENT Book out there called “Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?” it’s about how to become a Proverbs 31 woman while we wait for our man to claim his rib. ;-)

    • The church has embraced the anti-men campaign, they continually belittle men as not being leaders on father’s day while singing praises to women (never any faults) on mother’s day or the rest of the year for that matter (not that praising women is bad, but men see and recognize the disparity). Churches typically don’t offer ministries related to men and/or turn down mens ministry ideas from men because they are not “safe” or may have some “liability” aspect the church does not want to take on (leaving men unable to lead even when they want to), the churches idea of a good man is one who is nice and meek, typically elevating women to be in control (leaving men to just say yes dear… just as Adam did with the apple). There is a belief in virtually every church I have ever attended…”it is a delight for a woman to follow a godly man”. And “if you want to know if you’re leading well, just ask your wife” this leads to 2 errors 1) women are incapable of not sinning in her role, even though they fell after the apple as well, and 2) since they always gladly follow a godly man, that means what they think of her husband is the litmus test of whether a man is leading…. actually making the woman the leader (and denying that a fallen woman may not choose to follow a godly man, that the litmus test is not his wife, but our Lord).
      These are not to disparage women, but the ways church have addressed men. As a man, I have felt that all but one specific church, have told men they don’t want them as God designed them and don’t offer much. Accept men, as being manly, interested in some less “safe” areas of ministry and don’t treat manliness as brutes nor dumb neanderthals (as pastors often use men for the source of a timely joke to get women to laugh… not to elevate men). Just as a whole, not to pigeon hole men to “just be nice” and men will start be interested in coming to church and stepping up. Men will step up in church when they are admonished when they fail and honored when they succeed. I am not saying become seeker friendly to men by changing the word, I am saying to remember that the Jesus of Matthew is the same Jesus in Revelations. Otherwise men will continue to recognize they are not appreciated in the church and will continue to have less men in them. And if they are there, they will just suppress their manliness all the while being belittled and not be on fire for Jesus. For a good book on what struck me as very insightful as to why men are not going to church, and if they are they are not active, read “why men hate going to church”. it’s brilliant. Again, none of this is to combat you specifically or even women, but I have heard many women make some similar statements and I hope this may shed some light from a man’s perspective.

  11. I don’t see that there’s much good in equating sad feelings about singleness with psychic assaults from some aerial demon. That’s just voodoo. Or paranoia. Or some sort of self-dramatising trip.

    I mean, if it makes you feel empowered to cast yourself as the target of some cosmic psychopath, then good luck to you, I suppose. But think too much like that, and you’ll start oozing delusion.

    Both men and women, married and single, can get lonely and sad, and sometimes they find happiness, lasting or fleeting, and sometimes they don’t. That’s life. No need to load it with devils.

    I mean, if it helps you to feel stronger by imagining your personal problems are caused by ‘Satan’, good luck to you. But this talk of satanic . This Satan, like your God, seems overly concerned with minutiaejust seems like voodoo Why frustrations and challengesAs soon as you bring ‘Satan’ into these things, you’re over

    • There’s a reason that the Bible talks about satan “prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom he will devour.” He’s a real being and his goal is to drive us away from our Lord.

  12. In relation to celibacy…..today there are frequent opportunities to be sexually immoral as a single person….
    Some of the tools the bible gives us to deal with temptation are:

    1. Remember “Where the mind goes, the body follows”:
    “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

    2. I recommend fasting with prayer – extremely powerful.

    3. Don’t believe the lie that sex outside a loving lifetime commitment of marriage will bring the satisfaction we’re looking for. It doesn’t – don’t learn this the hard way…..

    4. Put on the full armour of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18) I.e. Be ready for the fight, when the inevitable time sexual temptation will come.

    5. Know yourself well….know your own personal weaknesses and be honest with yourself so you can have strategies in place to help you follow the Lord.

    6. Have accountability..….Sharing your struggles with a godly compassionate Christian is a good step to help one follow God.

    7. Flee temptation. Literally run !!

    • You know what? I had this very issue the last three days. I have an acquaintance who is just gorgeous. I have been staring at his picture and feeling all… well, let’s just say hormonal. This morning, I deliberately put that picture away because I did not want my mind to be locked into that sin of lust. I do not want my body to follow my mind down that pathway. I’ve been there before and it left me with feelings of shame and self-loathing and it separated me from God for a while. It still rears its ugly head now, several years later.

      But when that lustful feeling comes back up, I tend to forget how badly I can be burned. This is why God tells us to be vigilant and take every thought captive. Those are not just suggestions.

  13. Pingback: Singleness, Bicycles, Riding in London, Church Family | The Ponderous Pilgrim

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  17. For what it may be worth, I was single until in my thirties and until a year before marriage had no romantic experiences at all, even though I hoped to find someone. I was almost becoming resigned to being single until I went to a Christian conference in Canberra, and that was that. Five children later… More relevantly, I had three maiden aunts, my father’s sisters, one of whom spent the last thirty years alone after the other two died. They were active in church work and other things and seemed very happy and well-adjusted ladies. Another maiden aunt on my mother’s side took a great interest in family and was the one to ask if the movements of relatives were unknown. She was a very helpful and loving aunt.

    On the male side we can think of John Stott and John Chapman, among many others.

    Which shows, if anything, that singleness can be a good state to be in, even if is has its undoubted challenges and loneliness at times. It is not a happy state for many, of course.

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  20. Hi Emma, thanks for your post. Two books that I’ve found really helpful (richly biblical) on the subject are listed below.

    Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life (2010) by Barry Danylak.

    http://www.crossway.org/blog/2010/10/redeeming-singleness-q-a-with-barry-danylak/ A section of the book can be downloaded from: http://www.crossway.org/books/redeeming-singleness-tpb/

    Chapter 9 in This Momentary Marriage (2009) by John Piper. The complete pdf book can be freely downloaded from: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/books/this-momentary-marriage

    Blessings.

  21. Good stuff! I’m not feeling particularly awful about being single at this moment, but there are times when I believe many of those.

  22. So true! It is such a vital topic to address and yet far often not addressed.

  23. Very well spoken. Well written. This has been very helpful to me. I have struggled with homosexuality all my life. I know that’s not how God made me. Nor is it his will for me.

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  25. Hi Emma. Nice article. Quick, pungent writing style. The article touched on points that singles commonly experience. You contrasted our dark single moments with the shining light of truth. You helped us refocus on what matters most, namely, our identity in Christ, his love for us, and our call to serve others. You presented examples of people who are content being single and others who are miserable. I’m in my thirties and have tried relentlessly to find a spouse and prayed even harder, yet nothing…yet. Some people say, “I didn’t find my spouse until I stopped looking.” Eventually, I’ll reach the point of giving up looking for her. It is probably right around the corner.

    I know this article is addressed to women, but men can relate to it. One of your statements touched my heart. “God is more powerful than our social situations, our looks, our personalities, and our insecurities.” That is a tweetable comment. You can’t error focusing on God. Focusing on God, not on how we feel, puts us in a place of confidence, hope, and purpose. We have confidence in God’s plan, hope in God’s kingdom, and purpose in God’s mission.

    Sorry to point this out, Emma, but the reference from 1 Pet 1:3-12 is actually from 2 Pet 1:3-12. Excellent article, nonetheless. Cheers!

  26. I saw Christopher Yuan post the link to your article and caught my attention, being single again after a second marriage ended in divorce. Seems juvenile to say this I suppose, but I feel like only now have I really woken up a bit to the irrationality of my own perverse stupidity. I have taken the Lord’s love for me way too much for granted, ignoring that whole part that Paul mentioned in passing (lol) about not trampling on God’s grace, etc.

    My first marriage was so much a symptom of feeling “I had better get married now or I’d miss the chance” and why not pick the cutest, most talented and intelligent fellow messianic believer I had ever met? Seemed sensible, only thing I had already found myself spiritually drifting, assuming my devotional life could be maintained on the fumes of my fiance’s then wife’s obvious commitment to the Lamb.

    Too mesmerized by wanting to “get ahead” in life, I really failed to ensure my groundedness was based on spiritual terra firma, not the earthly foundation which is no foundation at all. Oh it became obvious what an error in judgment I/we had made. But being a “good” Christian I was compelled to remain committed to the marriage until finally she gave up on me, which triggered the irrational lie from the Enemy that it would be OK to “do what you gotta do.” All to repair the damage to my OWN self-esteem, another indicator that I had not engaged in nurturing my Christ-centered esteem.

    Ah well, we stuck it out like good Christian soldiers for two years, never once holding hands or sharing a room let alone a bed (yes I can affirm what was stated in the article that a person can be exceedingly lonely in a marriage), and yet I would always feel better knowing when she came home. At least we were “home” “together.”

    Then the single life between that and the next marriage, where I really didn’t live like any kind of believer who would be able to convince an unbeliever that I was somehow different. I was the salt being put in my own emotional wounds, not the salt of the earth doing any heavenly good. So I guess it was a natural devolution that led me to pick a nice unbeliever for my second go at marriage, rationalizing in two ways (both sinful and carnal): the first was since we had already had “marital” relations the right thing to do would be to marry her and two, since my first marriage to a very godly woman had failed, what logic was there in thinking I had to marry a believer to ensure a lasting marriage?

    Yes I know what you’re probably thinking, What a STUPID moron! But I was a believer, so at least I was a stupid BELIEVING moron. Well, maybe the second marriage was also because now I was older and figured this would be the last shot at daddyhood. My new wife had a young daughter and I got to be her dad and teach her to ride a bike, do a flip off the pull-up bar at the park, dance with her in the living room while working on our flips and twirls…

    She was the sweetest kid a dad could want and naturally losing her was the worst part about divorcing her mother. Thankfully we still get to see each other and her mom and I talk, but as a committed unbeliever, the closest she came to coming to the Lord was coming to church with me. That lasted a few months, then she didn’t want to read the Bible and pray at night, then…

    Well you get the idea. I envy those Christians I know who are single, have been single, never married yet remain devoted to the Lord. We all stumble here and there, in different and also similar ways, but my stumbles were pretty outrageously stupid and that despite having such amazing godly men and women as friends. I have a dog who is so cuddly and affectionate and it’s nice not coming home to a completely empty house, but I am no longer controlled by my insecurities. The Lord has finally let me see the consequences of my willful sins and anyone thinking marriage is an antidote to loneliness, misery, unhappiness, feeling complete, you are sadly mistaken. I would tell you to clip this post from Emma and stick it in your Bible as a bookmark. The passages she refers to are right on the money and no age is a barrier to happiness with another person IF THE LORD WILLS IT TO BE. It’s you (and me) who have to will-ingly allow ourselves to be guided by His will. I should go back and cut half of what I wrote, but I figure this is as much for me getting it off my chest as it is for any soul willingly to read it. Thanks, Emma. You’ve written an inspired and inspiring piece. One that brings peace to an occasionally aching heart.

    • “I was the salt being put in my own emotional wounds, not the salt of the earth doing any heavenly good.”

      WOW, did you say a mouthful, Brother. I am a never-been-married woman who’s had all the same thoughts that you have and tried the same justifications for wanting to color outside the lines, as it were. It’s so not worth it. I’m sorry for your pains, but thankful for them, too, because they brought you where you are now. I’m working on “taking every thought captive” myself because where the mind goes, the body follows, something someone else mentioned up there. ^^

  27. Thanks so much for posting, especially your last paragraph. As a 26 year old who has never been in a relationship because I’ve only been approached by men who don’t love Jesus, it’s easy to begin to believe some of the lies listed here, especially when all your friends are getting married or engaged. So thank you for mentioning us, recognizing us, and for encouraging us. It sucks sometimes, but I knew I’ve been spared heartache and I’m confident that there’s joy in obedience and perseverance.

  28. That is simple topic, people are not supposed to live alone, without love(Jesus don’t counts).Life purpose is to leave new people after yourself, children. You can try justify your failure to achieve it by reading such articles, but you will not cheat yourself, your soul knows the truth, and it get angry that you are failing, you will not cheat yourself!

    There is a life purpose and life without love is not complete, Jesus love is great and sufficient, but its not your purpose, its only comfort to hold you up when you are failing to achieve what your inner feelings and secret thoughts are telling that you need. God wants you to be happy, but if do mistakes, and ruin all your opportunities Gods sends to you or ignore them or don’t notice them, whoos fault it is ?You like to blame others, but there is no one to blame, just some has everything, others don’t . Why? Because some has charm which at tracks millions others can not find even one close friend? All we are beautiful,so where is the problem?If you know your problem, its only question of time when you will fix it, and will have everything you want.Hope this may help to those who need some help for their dreams to come true.Sincerely M.

  29. In the context of this singleness topic, ‘Satan’ seems to function primarily as a way of displacing responsibility for one’s own desires. Not a lion, but a scapegoat.

    He also supplies a sort of dramatic spice, raising one’s mundane struggles to the cosmic level.

    How dull, merely to be desperate and dateless. How exciting, to be battling the strategems of the arch fiend.

    In this sense, ‘Satan’ seems to be fulfilling an important need for the anxiously religious; he makes the holes in their lives seem significant. He’s the antidote to the cold hard light of day.

    How can you live without him?

    • That is an interesting phrase: “anxiously religious.” I work very hard on *not* being anxious, actually, because the Bible says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). I certainly don’t succeed perfectly, but that passage reminds me daily that I don’t have anything about which to be anxious because God has me in His hand. Nothing happens to me which has not first been sifted through His fingers.

      He also tells us that there is nothing we need to fear because “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13). At the same time, we are to be ever vigilant, bringing “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) because of satan’s eagerness to prey on our weaknesses AND because of the weaknesses we embrace in our human nature. One does not outweigh the other, but both are present in our temptations.

      God knows that we are in no wise perfect, nor can we be. This is why He sent His holy and perfect Son to die in our place.

  30. So, in other words, Mike, if we are single for a long time and we really don’t want to be, IT’S ALL OUR OWN FAULT. Never mind the fact that in many churches the men outnumber the women. Never mind the fact that many Christian singles have been faithfully and humbly proactive in seeking a life-partner, and STILL haven’t found that life-partner.

    And, no, it’s NOT BECAUSE WE ARE TOO PICKY. Can we please bury that old, tired chestnut, along with all the other tiresome clichés that singles have to put up with hearing. (Yes, some are picky, but by no means ALL.)

    I have nothing to say to anyone who regards me as some kind of evolutionary failure because I’ve not had children and ‘failed’ to pass my genes along. That is not the only purpose in life, Mike. Far from it. You also ignore the fact that people in relationships can self-destruct and cause havoc for their loved ones … the human propensity for mucking things up is hardly confined to singles (!!)

    But thanks for your kind words of encouragement, brother. ;) As for Jesus’ love not being the main purpose of a Christian’s life and only being there as some kind of security blanket … with all due respect, I don’t think you quite get what Christianity is meant to be about.

    Very good essay, Emma. I have lots of thoughts on it and will probably share them.

    • Philippa, i have too many single friends and that really upsets me. That why i made my post and i wanted them to take action and not to give up ;)

      Regarding Christianity – its of course not about raising the family and kids it has much higher purposes , sacrificies and also huge rewards to which i reffered in my previuos post.

      But that does not mean that you as an Christian hero shall be single and without family . If he or she is enough mature and wants to have a family , but fails, then its most likely their attidute fault and that i wanted to highlight.

      There are many advantages for being single and i don’t target these people who don’t see a value in a family life.

      Good luck to you , take care and for sure i know that you aware that everything is possible in this world .

      Sincerely M

  31. And this is meant to be in reply to Grant Hayes, so I hope it works … there seems to be something a bit weird about the formatting here.

    I take it, Grant, that you’re not a Christian, hence your scepticism about all the talk of Satanic strategy. You have a point, in that sometimes I think some of my fellow Christians far too conveniently use the devil as a scapegoat whilst refusing to take moral responsibility for their own actions.

    But I don’t see anything like that in Emma’s article. Her worldview clearly encompasses the belief – which I share – that all Christians can suffer from spiritual discouragement, and that this discouragement is not purely confined to interior battles … we Christians do honestly believe there is an enemy of our souls. We Christians do genuinely believe there is a spiritual dimension to our life here on earth and we do believe there is such a thing as spiritual warfare. Of course I would not expect a rationalist/atheist to agree with that, but that is what we honestly believe.

    As for your somewhat patronising description of the ‘anxiously religious’ … sadly, some Christians ARE like that, and seem not to be able to enjoy their faith at all, in the mistaken belief that God is a kill-joy. But I aim not to be ‘anxiously religious’. ;) On the contrary, my faith in God gives me a great deal of joy, as well as enabling me to cope with life’s curve-balls.

    And I’ve never had cause to regret being faithful to what I believe is the Bible’s teaching on sexuality.

  32. I really appreciated the premise of this article, and you say many things here which are true and helpful and fair on the subject of Christian singleness. Please, please, though, could I humbly suggest that it is perhaps not a good idea to sandwich the word “gay” in between “fussy” and “weird”, which are inherently negative descriptions. Using the word “gay” in this context not only contributes a bit more to the way in which many people already think the Christian church sees them simply because of their orientation, but also suggests that being same-sex attracted is, in itself, inherently negative, undesirable and shameful. Gay people need kindness and compassion, and we as Christians should be demonstrating thoughtfulness towards them rather than carelessness.

  33. Pingback: Beware of the Lies Surrounding Singleness | Redemption Church of Northridge

  34. OK, Mike, I can see how you have good intentions. But it would be great if you dropped the assumption that it might be someone’s problem that they aren’t married. There are a multitude of reasons why marriage doesn’t work out for some, as I said above. Sure, there are single people who are immature, both emotionally and spiritually. But, heck – I know some MARRIED people who are emotionally and spiritually immature, and I’ll bet you do too. Just as I know some immature people who really shouldn’t be in Christian leadership. (Granted, they’re in a minority, but they’re out there.) Emotional/spiritual maturity doesn’t always guarantee marriage.

    The church has a wonderful habit of shooting its wounded. :( Please don’t add to that, Mike. We singletons have had it up to HERE with people’s assumptions.

    We appreciate your empathy. :)

    But we don’t want your pity.

    “for sure i know that you aware that everything is possible in this world.”

    Now that I DO agree with. :) Indeed it is.

  35. Often people grasp at marriage before knowing a person. Don’t think a person willing to marry you so quickly is being true to you

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