Is it better to be single or married? The answer varies depending on which culture and church era you live in. At one point, singleness was exalted as extra spiritual and a better way to serve and glorify God while marriage was looked down upon and viewed as only fit for the weaker brother. However, today that perspective has flipped. In most Christian circles, marriage is now supreme and lifted up as the ultimate life calling and the best way (and in some perspectives only way) Christians can serve God and build His kingdom on earth. But what does the Bible say on the matter?
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul goes into great detail and gives instructions to all the different seasons and relationship combinations. He speaks to the married, to those who have lost a spouse to death, to single people, to those married and separated, to those married to an unbeliever, to those formerly married to an unbeliever and now divorced, to the betrothed. While, Paul gives specific instructions and commands to each of these groups of people, the central point and theme of his exhortations is summed up well in these two verses.
“I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is.”
~1 Corinthians 7:26
“I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
~1 Corinthians 7:35
The first main point Paul makes regarding marriage or singleness is to be content wherever you are. Earlier in chapter seven, Paul exhorts us to live the life we are called to live. Each of our lives will have different seasons and in each one we are called to be content, fully present and joyful for however long we live in that season. If we’re single, Paul warns us not to long for or pursue a spouse in order to find life satisfaction or happiness. On the other hand, if we’re married, we should not wish or desire singleness but should rejoice and fully enjoy the spouse and life God has given.
Each season of life has its own joys and struggles. But no matter where we’re at, God wants our whole heart and undivided devotion, which is Paul’s second central point. While it is true that single people generally have more free time and are, therefore, able to devote themselves more fully to the things of God, marriage is a beautiful gift in which two are better than one. God ordained that healthy and strong marriages should help both people to be more passionate and wholly devoted to the Lord, not less. Therefore, while marriage does require time and effort that single people don’t have to invest into a human relationship, if done right and centered on Christ, both the married and single person can be equally undivided in their devotion to the Lord.
So the question should not be whether marriage or singleness is best, but instead, where has God placed me right now and how can I serve Him wholeheartedly. Marriage is not better than singleness nor is singleness better than marriage. Whatever life situation God calls you to is the best for you. But in any season, the goal and purpose for each would be to secure an undivided devotion to the Lord.
Therefore, where are you at in this journey of securing an undivided devotion to God? If you struggle during your single years with wholeheartedly following the Lord, marriage will not make that easier. However, if you are able to passionately and undividedly rejoice in the Lord and find complete contentment in Him while you’re single, then you will be able to step into a marriage—if the Lord leads you into that season—and together with your spouse more fully follow God and remain undivided in your devotion to Him.
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