Recently, a friend of mine let me read an article from Christianity Magazine, entitled “Still Single,” written by Ed Smith. The article dealt with the subject of a Christian’s attitudes toward those who are single. Due to different comments which have been directed toward me in the last few years, I thought I would like to write an article “looking through the eyes” of a single female Christian. I guess the general thesis of this article would be based on 1 Corinthians 7:34 – “The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.” In this article, I want to discuss different areas of my life, and what I have come to feel are my responsibilities in those areas.
1 Peter 4:9 commands, “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” Being single does not relieve me of the following obligations:
(a) Visiting/sending cards/preparing food for the sick or shut-ins.
(b) Preparing food or just being there for those who have lost loved ones.
(c) Being a source of encouragement for those who are weak in the faith.
(d) Having get-togethers for young and old to have association with each other.
(e) Preparing a meal or taking the visiting preacher and family to a restaurant during the gospel meeting.
The list could go on and on. Hospitality is a responsibility one has regardless of her marital status. Along the same lines as hospitality, 1 Timothy 6: 19 states, “Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.” Maybe I am not rich by this world’s standards, but I should be willing to share what I do have with others. One of my favorite passages for this discussion is Mark 10:29-30: “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life.” Although I may not have a physical family that needs financial assistance, I do have a spiritual family that may need my help. My marital status does not relieve me of the obligation to help the needy, if I am in the position to do so.
The Work Ethic
I graduated from high school in 1980, during the time when the ERA and the National Organization for Women were reaching new heights in our society. During the last 10 or 15 years, more women are working outside the home and have made career advances into areas which were once predominately male-oriented. Because of all these influences from our society, too many Christians assume that, if a female from the age of 25 or older is not married, she is a product of this type of society thought, and all she wants is to be a “career woman.” During my last quarter at the university, I took a class named “Seminar: Business Ethics.” My final paper was titled “Ethics and the Bible.” One of the passages I used in the paper (which has become a very applicable passage in my life) is 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Since I am not married, then I have an obligation to try to make a living for myself. I do not look at my position in life as being a choice of being a “career woman,” but a position necessitated by basic financial survival in this world.
I want to start this section with these two Scriptures: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek, For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘the just shall five by faith'” (Rom. 1:16-17) and “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Regardless of one’s marital status, the opportunity to teach and stand for the truth is always there! There are so many children and women’s classes that need good women teachers. There are so many opportunities for a single Christian female to discuss the Bible with friends, coworkers, relatives, etc. I enjoy going to classes that fellow Christians have in their homes, and meeting different people who share the same precious faith. I enjoy going to gospel meetings (whether it is at my local congregation or to visit another congregation) where the preacher has the courage to preach a good, biblical sermon, regardless of the reaction of the audience being positive or negative. If the preacher is standing for the truth, he deserves my support and encouragement. As one in the audience, I have to make sure that I am more concerned with the message than the messenger. If I am not concerned about the message, I could one day fall into the category of those mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:3-4; “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth; and be turned aside to fables.” Being a woman does not shield me from this danger.
I grew up as a preacher’s daughter. I got to see many marriage problems that others may never see. Some may feel that this would be a disadvantage of growing up in a preacher’s home, but I do not think of it that way. I now understand that marriage may not be the answer to one’s desire for happiness or the answer for one’s fear of being alone. I truly can get an idea of how serious marriage actually is from the following passages:
(1) Matthew 5:23 – “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
(2) Matthew 19:4-6 – “And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.'”
(3) 1 Corinthians 5. This entire chapter deals with the attitude of a congregation toward fornication.
From the above passages, some very serious conclusions come to my mind:
(1) I know I have to rind someone who is eligible to marry.
(2) Marriage is for life. There is no room for this attitude: Well, if this doesn’t work out, then we can part our ways.”
(3) If my spouse decides to divorce me, without scriptural cause, I would have to stay single for the rest of my life. Even though I did not cause the divorce, I still would not have the right to remarry. If I did remarry, I would lose the fellowship of fellow-Christians and the right relationship with the Lord.
These conclusions are the only ones I can draw from the above passages. With all due respect and kindness, the wording of the passages is not going to change, regardless of men standing in the pulpits or writing in papers or women talking to me on a one-to-one basis trying to convince me other wise. The bottom line is that marriage is a serious, fife-time commitment; it is not to be entered into with a halfhearted effort. If I meet someone whom I may want to consider to be my husband, then I must be willing to live with his good points and his faults (there is no guarantee that his “faults” will ever change) for the rest of my life. Until I find someone to whom I can make that type of marriage commitment, then I better not try to place a wedding band on my finger.
Criticisms of Friends
In the final section of this article, I want to discuss some conversations that I have had with some very good Christian friends (who have the best intentions in the world and whom I love dearly). They have stated, what I call, criticisms concerning my attitude toward marriage. I find the situation to be humorous, due to the fact that most I of ~ these criticisms are given on a voluntary basis (without me initiating the conversation). Since I am still (using their terminology) “an old maid,” the only logical explanations for my being unmarried are: my standards are too high, my priorities are not what they should be, I must not have any desire to be married, etc. I do not think there is a criticism that I have not already heard. The only response I know to give my friends (when these criticisms are directed toward me) is the following: There are so many opportunities and things for me to do as a single Chrisitan, that I cannot find the time to sit around and feel sorry for myself because I do not have a husband. If the right man comes into my life, then I would be very happy to have the opportunity to be a Christian wife and mother. But in all reality, that situation may never occur. Philippians 4:11 states, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Right now, I am in the “state of being single,” and my top priority is to be a Christian. So to answer the question: Can an unmarried woman “care for the things of the Lord”? The answer is “Yes!” I have a passage done in a cross-stitch pattern that is sitting on my desk at work, and I would like to close the article with the passage (it has become the motto of my life). It is Proverbs 31:30-31 – “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.”
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 25, pp. 746-747
December 21, 1989