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SINGLE: Is Singleness More Spiritual?



This is an excerpt from Ben Stuart’s book Single, Dating, Engaged, Married.

Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 7:8–9, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Now some of you hear that, and you think, If it’s more spiritual to be single, I don’t care. I fit squarely into the burning with passion category. I’m on fire, so bring on the spouse! Yet others of you hear this admonition and think, I really want to serve the Lord, and if it’s more spiritual to stay single the rest of my life, then I want to be open to that. So, we must answer this critical question: Is it more spiritual to be single than to be married?

Let me address this question with a passage where Jesus spoke on the subject of singleness. Specifically, he addressed the plight of eunuchs. Without going into a great deal about what makes one a eunuch (feel free to ask your pastor), let’s just say they are those who are unable to have children. Addressing his disciples in Matthew 19:12, Jesus said, “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men.” (That’s the most unfortunate group in this whole passage.) “And there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

For our purposes, let’s focus on the final group. Jesus identified that there are some who have chosen singleness for the sake of advancing the purposes of God. They have foregone marriage and children in order to devote more time and energy into advancing the purposes of God on earth. Some of you hear this and ask, “Is that supposed to be me? Am I supposed to do that? How will I know? I want to be married, but I also very much want to serve the Lord. Will those always be at odds?”

Our answer comes one verse earlier: “He said to them, ‘Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.’” Some of you have been given singleness for a season, and, in due time, this season will pass. Sooner, for some of you, a little later for others. For some of you it will tarry for a while, but the God who has given you the gift of singleness will give you the grace to endure it. But some of you will be like Augustine or Origen, or Amy Carmichael, Mother Teresa, or the apostle Paul, or Jesus, and live your life unmarried. Let me encourage you: an unmarried life is not an unfulfilled life. You can have deep fulfillment and be unmarried. Others of you will be like the apostle Peter, or Jesus’ brothers, or me. God will give you somebody to marry, and you will get to live life with that person and it will be a great gift. The married apostle Peter and the single apostle Paul linked arms and made a difference for the kingdom, and, by the grace of God, we are meant to do the same.

But whether your season of singleness is long or short, you can know that God has granted you this season as a gift, and it is a gift with a purpose: to pursue an undistracted devotion to him. All that is left is for you to ponder the question: What will that look like for me?

This is an excerpt from Ben Stuart’s book, Single, Dating, Engaged, Married. Click here to grab a copy of this special resource.


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Scripture References

  • 1 Corinthians 7:8–9
  • Matthew 19:12
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.