I enjoy being single.

Granted, I’m young. Maybe I just haven’t lived enough life to roll over in bed at night and wish someone was there, or maybe I’ve been too busy, or maybe I just haven’t found the right guy. I might get married one day, but that future doesn’t preoccupy my heart and mind.

Many, such as my dearest friends, have a different experience. They cannot imagine life without desiring to be a wife, mother, husband, or father. Some of those desires have been fulfilled, while some have been left empty and aching. Either way, their desires are biblical.

But mine are, too.

Paul, who spoke highly of singleness, said: “Each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Cor. 7:7). The married and the unmarried have equal, yet different, gifts.

My desires to be single aren’t biblical because it’s easier to be single than married—it isn’t. I love the gift of flexibility and freedom without a spouse or children. I can say “yes” or “no” to every opportunity in work and ministry without getting approval or coordinating childcare. And yet, it’s harder to find listening ears, warm hugs, and shoulders to cry on when you’re single. They may be nearby, but you can’t expect them to be the same “safe place” as a godly spouse.  Lore Ferguson Wilbert writes:

Many unmarried people see the beauty of the gift of singleness… They love like Jesus—widely, broadly, expansively. They live like Jesus in this narrative and are about their Father’s business, letting their feet carry them to many homes and churches and places and families and friends and countries. At times they feel dirty, grimy, crusty, and cracked by all they’re doing in order to be “concerned about the things of the Lord.” They are flexible people who at times feel like there is no place to lay their heads, feeling as though their “hearts are set on pilgrimage,” when what they really want is a home.[1]

Even without strong desires for marriage or lack of friends, loneliness can make the hardest days harder, and make us feel displaced in the world.

This can’t be remedied with the reminder that “singleness is an opportunity for ministry and serving others.” Single people can be great assets to meet needs and spread the gospel (the Apostle Paul, David Brainerd, and Lillias Trotter are a few historical examples) and Paul encourages this view of singleness in 1 Corinthians 7. But we don’t need to be reduced to the ones who always set up the chairs at church, volunteer at the last minute, go overseas, and fill all the gaps in our communities. We can fill gaps—but we can fill your friendships, prayers, and homes, too. The unmarried person’s desire to be single doesn’t need to be justified with more ministry. The Bible tells me Christians are to serve one another for who they are—not what they do—and the unmarried are no exception (Eph. 5:1-2, Col. 3:12-15). They need to be served as much as they need to serve.

The desire for singleness isn’t justified because it’s more sanctifying than marriage, either. If you live with roommates, you learn to lay down some preferences to accommodate others. You may have disagreements and fall-outs, or not. If you live alone, it might be disappointing to come home to silence, unhelpful for fighting sexual temptation, or maybe you thrive living alone. Each situation has its own challenges, but none of them warrant more or less crowns than marriage. Sacrifice, submission, and love look different in each context, yet the Lord holds both to a standard of obedience and repentance (Col. 3:18-19; Eph. 5:21, 22-33; 1 Pt. 2:3, 5:5; 1 Cor. 15:15-16; Mt. 18:15-20).

Judging potential spouses won’t give an accurate explanation why I want to be single. Comments like, “You dodged that bullet!”or “There’s no one good enough for you anyway,” are intended to be kind and encouraging. Though well-meaning, they define singleness as a lack instead of abundance, as though it’s the economy seating on the plane when you can’t afford first class. The Bible tells me marriage isn’t first class. It’s a gift, like singleness, and both have all they need for life and godliness (2 Pt. 1:3). I have license to be happy with what God has given me without dwelling on alternative options and avoided futures.

So, let me be single.

Let the unmarried be single if they want, and the married glorify God in their marriage. God has ordained it, and his Word allows it.

At the end of the day, God is calling all of us to follow him more than he is asking us to check a certain box about our marital status.

“Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor. 7:17).

[1] Lore Ferguson Wilbert, Handle With Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry, p. 121. She quotes 1 Corinthians 7:32 and Psalm 84:5.

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