Summary: 2nd in the embedded series on marriage. This message looks at "singleness" from the biblical perspective of those who are single, and those who want to become single.
SINGLE – RIGHT AND WRONG
INTRODUCTION: The Christian should be a model of integrity and morality in whatever situation he or she find themselves in.
Friday, I did a quick web based search, and I was surprised by what I found. I answered four questions:
1. Do you and your spouse have any children under the age of 18 from this marriage?
2. Can you locate your spouse, and is he or she willing to sign the divorce documents with you?
3. Have you and your spouse agreed on obtaining a divorce?
4. Is this an uncontested divorce?
And then I was told that I qualified for an “online divorce”! Cost $299.00
In fact, if I want to do it myself, there is a kit for $39.95!
In our passage today, Paul is dealing with singleness, in regard to those who are single now, and to those who think they should be single again.
What needs to be noted is that Paul is looking at this from the perspective of the believer in Christ, how the believer should act and think in regard to marriage and singleness.
It is also important to note that it is our responsibility to go where the text leads us, not where we want to go. The issue of singleness, and more importantly divorce is a “hot potato” issue in the church, and issue that very quickly brings intense feelings and opinions to the surface.
I EXCLUSIVELY SINGLE
This is the first group of people who Paul addresses.
They are single either through death, or having never married.
It is interesting that Paul includes himself in this group. Paul, for all intents, was a member of the Sanhedrin, and as such should have been married in order to fulfill the requirements of this office. According to the text, he (Paul) is single, meaning that either Paul was divorced, or that Paul had become a widower.
A The Best Course
1 To remain single if you are single right now
2 Singleness has advantages
a Permits one to focus more attention on the things of the Lord – there is no family to focus on
b World situations may make it beneficial to stay single
B The Alternative
1 Only if one does not have the gift of singleness
2 Realize whether we have the gift if we can or cannot control our physical passions
a Better to marry that to face constant temptation in this area
A A Unique Prohibition
1 Moses permitted divorce based on the hardness of the Jewish heart
Matthew 19:8 (NIV) Mt 8 Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
2 Roman society permitted both parties to divorce one another.
3 Christianity was unique in proclaiming that divorce should not be an option.
a Marriage was instituted by God
b Marriage was a visible spiritual principle – ie: Christ and the church
B A Rule of Thumb
1 Christians do not settle marital issues through divorce
a Divorce brings spiritual consequences
b Divorce brings physical consequences
C Biblical Resolution
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) Eph 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT
Understanding. To understand all is not to forgive all. Forgiveness is not dependent on our understanding everything about the person or the situation, nor is greater understanding a guarantee of forgiveness. We are being unrealistic if we expect to understand everything before we forgive. Situations and people are so complex and their depths are so unfathomable that we cannot afford the luxury of waiting until we understand before we forgive. On the other hand, people may understand all about a situation but still remain unforgiving. Greater understanding may facilitate forgiveness and may flow from forgiveness, but forgiveness is not dependent on it.
Forgetting. Similarly, forgiving is not forgetting—for three reasons. First, if hurts can be easily forgotten, no forgiveness is necessary. The hurts in question are no more than mere annoyances, here today, gone tomorrow. Second, forgetting may be no more than avoidance or suppression, a defense mechanism to avoid the demands of real forgiveness. Third, where true forgiveness is needed, and even after it has been achieved and experienced, forgetting does not happen automatically. We cannot forget on demand. Forgiving can still be sincere even if we remember. Forgetting must happen naturally as part of the longer forgiving process.
Avoidance. Forgiveness is not a way of avoidance. It is an alternative to revenge and retaliation, but it is not a way of opting out. On the contrary, because it gets to the root of the problem and refuses to exacerbate the hostility by multiplying the hurts, it is the only way of truly dealing with all aspects of the conflict situation.