Summary: Singleness offers advantages to those whom God has gifted that way.
Title: The Gift of Singleness
Text: 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
Truth: Singleness offers advantages to those whom God has gifted that way.
Aim: I want to promote the value of singleness and encourage seizing the advantages.
Playwright Maria Hedley had her fill of terrible dates. Most of the dates she went on she thought the guys would be great candidates but they were totally unsatisfying. She got sick of her own taste and decided that fate couldn’t mess up her love life anymore than she could, and it might just do a better job. So she decided to take her personal tastes out of the equation and put aside all her preconceptions. Instead—as she vowed to her roommate one morning—for the next year she would date every person who asked her out. In the past, Maria had refused a deli worker’s invitation because she assumed he hadn’t read enough books. A taxi driver’s offer was refused because Maria thought they wouldn’t have anything in common, and she said no to short guys though she was short.
All of that changed. It would be the Year of Yes. She ended up dating half of NYC. There was a homeless guy who thought he was Jimi Hendrix, a subway conductor, a mommy-obsessed millionaire, even a woman who asked Maria to have her baby, a 70-year-old salsa dancer, a Colombian Cowboy/Handyman, her high school nemesis, whom she’d spent seven years rejecting, and a mime. He proposed with hand gestures and body language.
She tells about this in her book The Year of Yes. Maria said she went looking for a new kind of love, and found a new kind of life. She advises making an effort to talk to new people. Their stories can enrich your life.
There are a group of people who patiently listen to my sermons on marriage, remarriage, and divorce. They are the singles. The singles include the never married, the formerly married but divorced, and the widowed. Paul now addresses this group in the church at Corinth. Like Maria Hedley, the Christians at Corinth had some interesting ideas about the single life.
In chapters 7-11 Paul is responding to specific questions the church has written to Paul to answer. These are not theoretical but very practical questions. They ask about marriage, remarriage, divorce, singleness, worship, and spiritual gifts. All these questions boil down to a single question: What do we do now in these areas since we became Christians? We want to be spiritual. Should we abstain from sex in marriage? Should we divorce our unbelieving mate? Is being single like Paul and Jesus more spiritual? What do we do now since we became Christians? What does Christ want my life to look like? That is a good question. That is a question that all of us should be asking.
Maria Hedley’s experiment gave her a new perspective about her singleness and the things she valued. Paul’s word to the Corinthian church accomplishes the same thing. Paul says that singleness offers advantages to those whom God has gifted that way.
Paul’s opinion that singleness is an equal lifestyle to marriage was a huge shift in thinking. In the Jewish culture of the first century you must marry. Singleness made you a second-class citizen. Some say it hasn’t changed that much today when it comes to the church. Churches host marriage seminars and parenting classes but very little time or money is given to ministering to the unique needs of Christian singles. But the Word of God looks with favor on the single life. Its most famous heroes—Jesus, Paul, John the Baptist—were all single.
One more word about the context before we look at the text. What Paul is actually talking about is celibacy and not singleness. Paul teaches that the ability to live single without the pressure for sexual gratification is a gift from God. If you can’t live that way, he advises marriage.
All of us need to understand what Paul says about the single lifestyle because singleness is an issue for everyone. According to the U.S. Census married-couple households have slipped from 80% in the 1950’s to 50% today. According to the Wall Street Journal there are more “single-adult” households than two-parent households. (Brian Bill, sermoncentral.com) Of course, there is singleness before marriage and either upon divorce or death of a mate many will know singleness again. What does God want us to know about living as a single Christian?
Singleness offers advantages to those whom God has gifted to be single. What are those advantages?
I. SINGLENESS IS BLESSED BY GOD (1 COR. 7:25-27).
Paul begins to answer the next question in v. 25. Read.
The word “virgin” refers to those who have never been married. They have not engaged in sexual activity. Here’s Paul’s word for single people.