In churches that emphasize the importance of marriage and a culture constantly highlighting the joys of sex, single Christians struggle with questions of self-worth and unfulfilled desire. However, the Bible has answers to comfort them.
"There are a lot of people who struggle with feeling valuable because they're single," biblical counselor June Hunt, founder, CEO, and CSO of Hope For The Heart ministries, told The Christian Post on Tuesday. Even in the church, many singles "feel like second class citizens," she said.
Below are five verses along with the opinions of Christian leaders that may comfort those who struggle with their singleness.
"And he answered them, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.'"
Jesus never married, and in Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul writes that the church is the bride of Christ. In a relationship as strong as romantic love and as close as family bonds, Jesus welcomes his disciples. As the Reverend Mark D. Roberts explained in a post countering the popular theories in The Da Vinci Code, "Jesus is more inclusive and counter-cultural than those who would tie Mary Magdalene's significance primarily to her filling the traditional role of wife."
Despite the Bible's emphasis on the importance of marriage and the family, "the relationship that matters most of all is our relationship with Jesus Christ as his disciple," Roberts concluded.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."
The Apostle Paul explained that Jesus Christ, the sinless savior of the world, was tempted "in every respect," just as you are – that includes sexual temptation, explained Dr. Roger Barrier, founder and president of Preach It, Teach It, a Christian counseling site.
Hunt recalled teaching on singleness in a seminary in the Ukraine. When asked if a single person could be a pastor, a deacon, or even an elder, the seminary president emphatically said "no." The counselor then shot back, "What a shame. So the Apostle Paul and Jesus couldn't be a deacon or a pastor."
I Corinthians 7:8-9
"Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."
In I Corinthians 7, Paul writes that unmarried people have more time to dedicate themselves to God. Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, explained that Paul advised against marriage "in view of the present distress," likely referring to Christian persecution in the Roman Empire. He did not mean to say that singleness is always preferable to marriage.
Nevertheless, Driscoll argued, a season of singleness gives Christians the opportunity to draw nearer to God and reflect on Jesus, who represented the ideal single man.
"I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued by faithfulness to you."
In this prophecy to Jeremiah, God promises to rebuild Israel and fulfill His promises. In a post on Purposeful Singleness, a blog geared toward inspiring and encouraging single Christians, Fern Horst quoted this passage along with a few others, as words to consider on Valentine's Day "if we don't have romantic love to celebrate."
Horst also included other Old Testament promises:
"I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you." Haggai 2:23
"You will be called Sought After." Isaiah 62:12
"You are precious and honored in my sight." Isaiah 43:4
"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." Isaiah 49:16
I Corinthians 13:4-7
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
"If we are pursuing marriage we are pursuing the wrong thing because love then becomes subservient to marriage," wrote John Fischer on Purposeful Singleness. Instead of trying to find their soul mate, single Christians should focus on loving others, and then prayerfully consider tying the knot later. "Marriage is not an end in itself…it is the servant of love."