So it is Valentine’s Day now (at least in some portions of the world). And as such i must prepare myself for the stream of questions (even if they are never actually vocally stated):
- “Are you interested in anyone?”
- “Do you have a valentine this year?”
- Is there something wrong with you?”
And the answer to all of the above, at least for me this year, is a resounding, “NOT REALLY.”
And surprisingly, i am okay with it this year. So, while my first ever blogpost was 6 years ago on the sad topic stated above, that is not what this post is about. But it does form a nice segue to discussing my topic for today. I titled this post “Stop Assuming Singles Have Nothing to Lose,” because too often, specifically in the church, this is what it feels like people do.
And the concept reminds me of something from the Netflix show that i’m currently working my way through. The Walking Dead describes (in a not for the faint of heart way) the world post-zombie apocalypse. One of the main characters is single when season two begins. As such, Glenn is always asked to do the dangerous tasks. As the video clip below shows, he gets placed in very dangerous places for the sake of the rest of the group’s comfort (this clip will make you jump, but otherwise is appropriate):
And this specific clip is referenced again later on in the season. Maggie is interested in Glenn and jumps on his case that he always allows the others to use him in dangerous situations. She says, “You’re smart. You’re brave. You’re a leader. But you don’t know it. And your friends don’t want to know it. They’d rather have you fetching peaches. There’s a dead guy in the well? Send Glenn down. You’re walker bait. I can’t take you becoming one of them.”
And while Maggie’s reasons can technically be described as selfish, the point still stands: Singles are too often treated like they have nothing to lose.
And in the church this typically sounds like the following: “Singles have more to offer the church than married folks,” which is loosely based upon 1 Corinthians 7:32-34, where Paul says, “I want you to be without concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the things of the world—how he may please his wife— and ⌊his interests⌋ are divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world—how she may please her husband” (emphasis added).
While Paul’s words are definitely Scriptural, our application of his words are often less than Scriptural. We must remember that when Paul writes 1 Corinthians 11:1,
“Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ,” he is not simply speaking to singles.
I’ll come right out and say it: Marriage is not an excuse to refuse to serve the church.
You see, personally, i’d love to pour myself out 16+ hours a day, 7 days a week for the local church, but i also have to make a living. While i’ve been unemployed for the past four months it has been amazing being able to drop everything and serve if a need comes up. But now that my money–including my life savings–has dried up, i have to think about myself and becoming independent again. (The past 9 months i’ve lived at home with my parents, and i really don’t want that to be permanent–even though i do love and appreciate them dearly.) For this to be a reality, which i believe is the required step prior to marriage–“leaves his father and mother,” Genesis 2:24–i have to be just as responsible as a married person (at least in regards to working for a paycheck). This means that at least 82 of the 168 hours in any given week will now be spoken for (40 hours of work per week; 6 hours of sleep per night minimum).
Yes, i don’t have children or a wife to take care of in addition to working every week, but at the same time, unless you are married and have small children in your home, you should be serving your heart out for your local church just as much as any single person.
I admit that Paul said, “I wish that all people were just like me. But each has his own gift from God, one person in this way and another in that way” (1 Corinthians 7:7), but at least two differences exist between Paul and singles today:
- Paul was technically a paid elder in the church (1 Corinthians 9:5-12 ; 1 Timothy 5:17-18).
- Paul’s “bills” were paid by the church (2 Corinthians 11:7-9; Philippians 4:15-17).
For this reason, if we really want the singles to live like Paul, we must either make them all paid elders in local churches (which Scripturally counts out women, cf. 1 Timothy 2:12), or the church must pay the bills of those who are single so that they can devote their lives to serving the church (which can very easily include women).
But as it is, i don’t see either of these becoming realities. Therefore, in addition to the singles being expected to imitate Paul as he imitates Christ to the best of our ability, so also the married folks must imitate Paul as he imitates Christ to the best of their ability.
Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ” (emphasis added). Notice that it does not say, “for the training of the saints who are single.” It says, “saints.” This means every believer.
If you are not serving in the local church and you claim the title “Christian” you are lying. If you claim the name of Christ but refuse to selflessly serve the church in the name of, “I’m too busy with work and family,” you are in disobedience. Luke 14:26 sets it out pretty clearly, from the lips of Jesus Himself. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be My disciple.”
For this reason, please stop sending the singles into the well of ministry–or even just encouraging them to climb into the well–so that you can remain comfortable in your “Christian life.” The church is supposed to be a united body, not a camp of hard-working singles on one side and a camp of comfortable couples on the other side. For one example: singles can’t fulfill the call to raise up the orphans rescued from abortion as well as married people can. If the church is to truly be the church we must all get out of our comfort zones!
We should all be volunteering to climb into the well like Glenn did. It is a sign of selflessness, which is supposed to be a mark of every true Christian (1 John 3:16). If no one is mad at you for serving too much, then you probably aren’t serving enough (which is convicting to me too).
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
Soli Deo Gloria
PS. the very first episode of The Walking Dead gave me a new idea for a novel. Now that I’ve publicized that fact here, it gives me more motivation to write it.