Chuck Swindoll has been teaching through I Corinthians 7 lately. This is the passage that discusses marriage, singleness, and divorce for believers. The focus in this passage is: How do we, now believers, live in the world as we wait for our Lord to return? Paul tries to clear up how people should live by instructing us to not go looking for what we don’t already have, unless we have to. And here’s his reasoning:
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (vv. 32-35)
Being free from the affairs of this world and being undividedly devoted to the Lord see to me to be really good things. But I have often struggled with this passage, because while I do want these things, I also want to marry. So many people have ideas or opinions on, or interpretations of, this passage. Based on the above passage, some say that unless you are called to marriage, you should remain single.
Others say that unless you are called to singleness, you should marry. They say that if you are to remain single, you’ll know because you’ll be able to accept your singleness (some even say, without desire toward marriage). They take this from the first part of Matthew 19, where Jesus speaks to the issue.
Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."
The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."
Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." (vv. 8-12)
I have always told the Lord that I am willing. Either way, I am willing. (This hasn't always been true, but it has always been my goal.) There have been times when I thought that because I could accept being single, I should just remain so. Other times, I thought that because I desire to be married (and because the Lord has refused to take away that desire, even when asked), that perhaps the Lord was calling me to marriage in the future. As I pondered the kingship issue on Sunday, I could hear God’s Spirit asking me, “J, would you ask me for a king?” And crisply and—I am so thankful—instantly, my heart said, “No. Lord, if the choice is between you and anyone/thing else, I choose You.”
I don’t know if this is the choice I am (or others are) being asked to make, but if there’s a choice, I choose my God. With finality. Always. Forever.
From the moment of my response, I have had such peace. I can live without looking (ladies, I know you know what I mean). I can live without another. In ways that I have never experienced before, I have contentment on levels I didn’t know existed. How sweet is the ministry of His Spirit and His truth.
Perhaps I am single for a season, perhaps for a lifetime, I cannot know. I don’t know if tomorrow I will be content or distracted, filled with joy or sorrow. But I know in whom I have believed, and I know that He is mine. Forever. And that is worth everything.