The Gift of Singleness……and my mistakes.

October 24, 2008

This post is soul bearing.  I have only shared some of this with the people closest to me and it is incredibly personal.  What I have learned most about confession is that we don’t do it.  I think the reason for this is because we run the risk of letting people in.  I also understand that we run the risk of people judging us and thinking less than us, but I am starting to learn that it is more important do lay it all out there. 

So here it goes…….

Lately, I have been under a lot of pressure from my Dad and my Grandparents about my singleness.  They just don’t understand why I haven’t dated someone since I was a Freshman in college.  The criticism has been unbearable.  They feel as though it is impossible to be happy without a significant other.  I would disagree.

I do affirm that marriage is a gift, but I also believe that singleness is a gift, too.  We are never taught this growing up, especially in the church and it is hard to let go when it is beaten into your head that there must be something wrong with you if you are single. 

It has taken a while, but I have started to embrace singleness.  I have begun to understand it as a gift instead of a dysfunction.  My life will never be defined as whether I am married or not.  Either way, I am still blessed.

Even though I have begun to embrace my singleness, I have made mistakes.  My biggest mistake came when I was dating someone my Freshman year of college.  I don’t really want to make this complicated……we had sex.  (That’s incredibly difficult to write) It is something I still have trouble dealing with and it continues to effect my relationships.  It has been very damaging to me, especially growing in a Christian tradition that condemns something so harshly that to admit something like this runs the risk of excommunication.  This is something I regret and know I can’t take back.

But what I can do is work towards a future that reconciles my hurt and pain.  In times like this we must rise above our problems and continue to stand.  My singleness has been a gift for me.  A gift to reconcile the damage done by my mistake.  Singleness can be just as much as a gift as marriage can.  A gift to help me realize that it is not me, but God who is in control.  He is creator and I am creature.  I will revel in his goodness and beauty no matter what the future holds for me…………even if that means I am single.

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6 Responses to “The Gift of Singleness……and my mistakes.”

  1. gortexgrrl said

    Singleness is never identified as a gift in the Bible — neither is marriage for that matter. It’s an erroneous assumption that stems from an out of date mistranslation of 1 Cor 7:7 in the Living Bible which used to read:

    …”But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. But God gives to some the GIFT OF MARRIAGE, and to others the GIFT OF SINGLENESS.”

    …to now read: “But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.”

    The current editors of the Liiving Bible (now called the New Living Translation) and also the Message recently changed it due to complaints that the earlier translation was not only inaccurate in comparison to the original Greek, but also gave the false impression that Paul was saying that if you are single, then you have “the gift of singleness”. Paul was more likely referring to his innate gift of sexual self control, as he goes on to say in verse 8 and 9:

    “8To the unmarried and the widows I say that(J) it is good for them to remain single(K) as I am. 9But if they cannot exercise self-control,(L) they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (ESV)

    Note that the language of this passage is entirely about wise advice to the individual, to making a wise decision for themselves about whether to marry or remain single, particularly temporarily in light of “the present distress” that he mentions in verse 26. Therefore, singleness is not a gift, but a state in which an individual is free to remain, if they have the gift of self control.

    By your track record, it doesn’t sound like you have that gift. You may be abstaining at this time, but who’s to say that you won’t lose self-control in the face of future temptations? You family shouldn’t subject you to unbearable criticism, but perhaps they are accurately discerning your vulnerability to sin.

  2. Brandy said

    Jon,
    Your honesty and subsequent reflection is refreshing. Thanks for writing.

  3. Will said

    A question for gortexgrrl:

    Should we pursue a faith that is driven by sin management? It seems as though this post is a confession of someone’s past sin and their deliverance from that, which unavoidably freed them up to be content with their current state of relationship… whether married or single. Seems like a microcosm of a biblical narrative… people are apart from God, brought on a journey of deliverance, and experience a freedom that involves contentment under Gods kingship.

    What am I saying… Jon – get hitched up before you do something stupid!

  4. gortexgrrl said

    “Should we pursue a faith that is driven by sin management?…Seems like a microcosm of a biblical narrative… people are apart from God, brought on a journey of deliverance, and experience a freedom that involves contentment under Gods kingship.”

    There has been a trend in the past few decades to tell singles to seek the Lord and deal with your sin issues, and then seek a spouse (or, more dangerously, that God will then reward you with a spouse). Although “seek ye first the Kingdom of God” is good counsel, we must remember that it’s only in recent history have young singles been encouraged to set out on a spiritual quest before seeking marriage. Past Christians, when they became of age simply got married — somehow, the “spiritual prerequites weren’t quite as long as they are today.

    I’m not advocating for a return to arranged marriages or other outdated mechanisms that ensured timely marriage, but I think we need to get back to more pragmatic outlook on marriage. We have “super-spiritualized” the normal, natural desire for a spouse and this has created roadblocks to what used to be a nearly univeral life milestone.

    Candice Watters, an editor at Boundless.com, an ezine run by Focus on the Family, pointed out that God has designed a number of structures to meet human needs, starting with marriage. While it sounds a bit like “sin management”, to say “better to marry than to burn”, that is what the Bible says! The scriptures almost always talk about marriage in very practical terms.

  5. JPM, OSL said

    “We especially reject the idea that God made
    individuals as incomplete fragments, made whole only in union with another.” – From the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church.

    I reject the notion of “get hitched before you do something stupid.” It’s just as much sin management as anything else. I think that in my upbringing sex was idolized just as much as money or possessions. Not that people put it first in their desires, per se, but that people show more reverence for sex and give it more respect than they give to the Almighty. Life is a gift. Live it. 🙂 Enjoy the grace we’ve been given and bask in God’s goodness.

  6. Jessica said

    “It has taken a while, but I have started to embrace singleness. I have begun to understand it as a gift instead of a dysfunction. My life will never be defined as whether I am married or not. Either way, I am still blessed.”

    I really like this paragraph. Especially since there are so many (too many if you ask me) individuals surrounding me who define a worthwhile life as involving “your other half”. I don’t know, I just feel like the silent minority Christ follower who confusingly cannot help but think, “Um, I’ve already found Him. His name is Jesus.” Who knows, maybe my view on marriage will change. But I agree with you, God is supreme, good and in control. What he bestows upon us are purposeful gifts. And one of my favorite things about Him is His amazing use and obsession with the beauty of opposites…..how the nature of two contrasts may in Christ both glorify God. At any rate, nice posts.

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