If you google “singleness” or “life after divorce” the top search results include things like “find your truth” and “work out what makes YOU happy”. This is very unhelpful advice in life generally, let alone when one is single and the general climate is about when to date (again) and how to work on yourself so you are max-level attractive to a prospective partner. The only “single” time one should spend, according to the advice of the world, is in working on oneself in order to be in the right place to couple up again.
About a year ago, I decided that my choice needed to be a more declarative commitment. I didn’t want to sit quietly in the grey area of life.
For various reasons, I will be staying single. But about a year ago, I decided that my choice needed to be a more declarative commitment. I didn’t want to sit quietly in the grey area of life. I believe there is enormous significance in a public declaration. Why? Let me step you through some of my thinking.
My singleness communicates my theology
My life choice is deeply thought through. Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:3-10 and Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 7:11 were key drivers in my decision—but not from a sense of guilt or theological oppression. It was critical to me what Jesus said in Matthew 19:12 “there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” and Paul explained about the unmarried and the widows “It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do” in 1 Corinthians 7:8.
It is good to stay unmarried, for the sake of the kingdom. For me there was a theological imperative but there was also encouragement that was profound. Of course, I’m not Paul. I’m not going to travel the world and evangelise thousands (as far as I know). I am a single mum from western Sydney. But if I stay single for the sake of the kingdom, what does that look like for me? It is important to think theologically about the aftermath, as well as the decision itself, and communicate that through my situation.
My singleness communicates my faith
Singleness is my way of living for Jesus
So if my reason for staying single is not fear or laziness or anger or hate and my reason for singleness is Jesus, singleness is my way of living for Jesus. Separate to communicating theology, it illustrates my faith. As a single mum, my go-to foundation is “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1). We live for Jesus in whatever situation we are in and this is mine and it was important to me that my singleness be a clear means of communicating Jesus. That means not just the choice I have made but how I build my house as a single mum and how I conduct myself in life. It shows that singleness is not a default setting but a deliberate and thoughtful product of faith.
My singleness demonstrates my difference to the world
In a world that exalts romance and sees couple-ness as the only life goal, being deliberately single is counter-cultural. Being deliberately and declaratively different in my life choice means I get to have a conversation with people. We are to look different from the world (cf. Lev. 18:3 and Eph. 4:17). In this modern era, my intentional singleness is definitely different. It confuses people. They want to know why. And, Bible in hand, I’m always happy to oblige with an explanation.
My singleness communicates joy
I am single for Jesus and one of the things about that is that it makes me happy. It is a sacrifice, but it is not a miserable sacrifice. It is not some kind of self-flagellating, pain-seeking penance. It is a joyful choice. Some days that is celebratory. Some days it is a quiet contentment. But it is never a dark or heavy burden. Jesus’ burden is light. It communicates sacrificial giving of the body and living worship, that demonstrates it is not the dark medieval nunnery that Netflix movie people might imagine.
God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7)—whether it is our money, our gospel-laced words, our time, or an aspect of our whole life. Cheerfully giving means joy in sacrifice, and joy in what that sacrifice brings.
My singleness communicates generosity of spirit
Sacrificial giving—in money, time or any resource under our control—communicates a generosity of spirit that comes from a life in Jesus. That’s an important message to live: not just the fact of it, but the motivation for it. If we love God and love our neighbour, we live a giving life.
The call to worship pushes me to use the life I have been given for others … I want my singleness to serve that call
This is a helpful reminder for me. There might be times when I just want to live a quiet single life separate from the world. Not every day of our lives feels like a celebration after all. That flat feeling can be a spur to making decisions about life that include shrinking, hiding and avoiding the world.
But the call to worship pushes me to use the life I have been given for others. And by making my life choice an open declaration, I am saying that I want my singleness to serve that call: I want to share my time and resources to the glory of God.
Declaring my singleness helps my resolve
It was important to me that I not live secretly waiting for God to send me someone new. That would not be a healthy frame of mind to be in and would change the way I lived out my singleness. Rather I want to solidify my commitment to being single with a settled declaration. This strengthens me.
Committed to Jesus
A declarative commitment to singleness for Jesus demonstrates a legitimate lifestyle choice—and one that is anchored in a truth that is constant and eternal. It communicates a lifestyle option that currently isn’t generally acknowledged—to be single and stay single: not single-because-of-my-circumstances; not single-but-in-waiting. Just single. Not looking. Committed to Jesus.
Obviously my choice is not for everyone. But I want to commend it to you. Whether that be divorcees, or young adults who have never been married. Coupling up is not the only option—it might not even be the best option (1Cor 7:38).
For me, the declarative element is important because, apart from all the reasons above, it allows me to expand what singleness means, rather than being forced to shrink into popular conceptions of it. For me, it is part of the liberating feeling that comes from freedom in Christ. If we expand into our context by the grace and strength God gives us, we can more readily delight in him and glorify him in the world.