Is Your Singleness Selfish?

One of the things that used to bother me the most in my over 20 years of singleness was when people who were married would tell me things like, “Enjoy your singleness while you have it”, or “Take advantage of where you are at”, or “Enjoy the freedom you have bro.”

Now at some level there can be some wisdom here.  We should focus on living fully in the context we are in.  It doesn’t do us much good to have marriage as an idol and constantly be thinking that my whole world would be perfect if I just met the right person.  I get that.

But I think at this point it might be fair to say that in our context today, we might be taking a bit too much advantage of our singleness.  We might be too focussed on our “freedom” at times.  It’s not like everyone is launching into early marriage.  In fact almost no one is.  So maybe we should ask some different questions.

First of all, we need to get over the fact that life is hard.  Yes married people, I get it, marriage is hard.  But we need to be really, really careful with that because in our culture we seem to be equating hard with bad.  But in the Kingdom hard and bad are not synonyms.  Hard and Joy are not opposites.  And besides, singleness can be pretty dang hard too.  Life is hard sometimes.  And sometimes it isn’t.

So one trap we need to avoid is setting marriage up as this great loss.  Like somehow if you get married your personal life is over.  That’s a lie.  It’s different yes, but not over.

But there are even more traps here.

The idea of taking advantage of your “freedom” or living it up before you settle down is extremely dangerous spiritually.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that getting married made them realize how selfish they are. I have no doubt about that.  I’ve had a few other friends tell me that they really realized how selfish they were when they had kids.  I for sure can see that.

But they were selfish the whole time.  They just didn’t realize it.  What if as a single person we went ahead and started working on this now?

Look, if everyone was still getting married when they were in the early twenties, maybe marriage would be a good time to realize you’re selfish.  But sense only 20% of people in their twenties are married, maybe we’d better not wait for marriage to realize it.

We have a more self-absorbed world than ever.  It’s so much easier to get away with it. Do you know that 50% of single people live by themselves?  Think about that.  We go where we want.  We eat what we want. We spend money on what we want, when we want, without anyone knowing about it.  If you’re single right now, name one person who knows your income to debt ratio.  

And the world encourages it.  Go get yours first.  You’re somehow not ready to be married until you’ve got your career where you want it or all your issues worked out.  Live it up, then get married.  What kind of plan is that? A plan to stay single – or have a rough marriage.

We say this spiritually too when we misinterpret scripture to mean that when your single you are more able to focus on God than if you are married?  Really?!  That is not what it says.  If that were true then literally no one should get married.  It’s not do great ministry while you can, before you get married.

This line of thinking also starts to bleed over into keeping us single when we shouldn’t be. Hear me clearly here.  Just because you are single doesn’t mean you being selfish.  But there are a huge number of people that are single in large part because they are living and/or dating selfishly.  

What would it take for us to get married? Well we need to meet the person who looks how we want, acts how we want, makes the money we want them too or in other words, “the one who meets all my expectations and needs”.  Friends, that person DOES NOT EXIST. Am I saying settle for anyone?  Heaven’s no.  But what I am saying is that the vows of marriage are not self centered.  We don’t stand up front at the wedding and talk about what we expect to receive.  We promise what we will give – until death.

Here’s the reality, neither singleness or marriage is about me.  Life is not about you.  It’s about God and the Kingdom.  

Our culture has crafted out a time of singleness for most people.  We are not called to spend that time being about ourselves or “taking advantage of our personal freedom”.  Instead we are called to deal with our sin and advance the kingdom.  Married or single we are called to crucify our flesh.  Jesus says “whoever loses his life will find it”.  There aren’t any parameters on that.  Not marriage, not a certain age, not after certain career goals are met.  Now!

If we get married it’s not so that I can get my needs perfectly met through a spouse.  It’s so we can follow God together.  If I have kids, they aren’t mine, they’re for me to shepherd and do my best to point towards God.  And if we are single, it’s not “our time”.  It’s God’s. In other words, start dealing with your selfishness now.

Is your singleness all about you?  Where is selfishness keeping you single?  Is anyone in your life besides you?  When is the last time you made a decision based on what was best for someone else?

5 thoughts on “Is Your Singleness Selfish?

  1. Interesting write up Justin. Your posts at times make me question my own opinions, and other times, they do not apply to me at all. My debt ratio?????? Zero debt, savings could be more I suppose, and what if I asked a potential wife her debt ratio?????

    What would Pastor Dricoll say about this?????

    “Take it on! Be a man! Man up! Only God is perfect!”

    Good points as usual otherwise Justin! Have a good day

  2. am turning 33yrs and am still a single childless kenyan woman. In my community my singlehood is frowned upon. After reading this article i realise am so selfish and need to open my heart to love.

  3. This was a really useful post – definitely felt God speaking to me through it. It made me question myself, which is what I needed.
    Selflessness and serving God has got to start now, not later!

  4. Pingback: Top Reasons “While You’re Single” Lists Are Bad | More Than Don't Have Sex

  5. Selfishness is a sinful attribute that is innate within all humans, and one to which we all succumb, regardless of our marital status. So rather than singles asking themselves “Am I being selfish in my singleness,” we should ask ourselves “Am I being selfish in my Life?” Period. That is a question we should all ask ourselves from time to time, married or not. In other words, no, singleness is not selfish. Selfishness is a sin in and of itself, and by itself. Why, sometimes people can get married for selfish reasons.

    On that tangent, I don’t think wanting or expecting things out of marriage or looking for certain things in a spouse is automatically selfish. Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:32:

    “If I fought wild animals in Ephesus with only human hope, what good did that do me? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

    If I understand this correctly, what Paul is essentially saying is that if there were no Salvation to be had in Christ, and we would all go to hell no matter how obedient we are to God, we would might as well not even try to live a life obedient to God; we should instead enjoy NOT being in hell while we still can. If incentives matter when it comes to obeying and worshiping the very Creator of the universe, then why would incentives not matter when it comes to getting married? Why should we pursue marriage if we ourselves are not allowed to expect anything out of it, or feel that we won’t benefit from it? Who are people that we owe each other a level of commitment (one of commitment without expectation of reward) that we are not willing to extend to God Himself?

    Once two people already are married, I believe it is a good rule to not focus on what each is getting out of it, as they have already made a promise to unconditionally love each other, irrespective of whether the other is doing the same. But as far as deciding to GET married is concerned, I believe it is perfectly okay for people to value what they want. I understand that a perfect system of give and take should not be the goal in marriage, but I do believe that it will exist as a byproduct, in varying degrees of success, in an otherwise healthy marriage where all of the right priorities are being met.

    “Here’s the reality, neither singleness or marriage is about me. Life is not about you. It’s about God and the Kingdom.”

    If marriage isn’t about you, why did it matter to you that you be married to the woman you chose to marry? Why did your desires and preferences for a spouse matter if marriage isn’t about you? Why don’t Churches just put the names of singles in a hat, pair them up at random, and expect them to marry? If love is strictly a choice and nothing else, then it doesn’t matter if some people aren’t happy with their match; they can learn to love each other. Never mind if they would have preferred someone else. If singleness truly is selfish, then would it be extra selfless for a man to marry a fat ugly woman no other man will likely want (and that he himself isn’t attracted to) so as to ensure that she gets married? I’m not directing any of this at you personally, by the way. I’m only trying to evoke thought in anyone who reads this.

    Think about it. If a person is not truly interested in getting married, but does so anyway out of a sense of obligation, guilt, or to put off a perceived selfishness in not getting married, rather than out of love for the one they marry, it is likely that they will have more marital strife than two who married out of a legitimate mutual love for each other. And more marital strife will make it more difficult for them to keep their promises and fulfill their marital duties to each other as commanded by God. Thus, they will fall even shorter in glorifying God in their marriage as much as they should, and I believe more sin will result from that than if they had remained single.

    All in all, I don’t think that one person’s unwillingness to make certain sacrifices is anymore selfish than another person or people demanding or pressuring them to make those very sacrifices, especially sacrifices no one is entitled to (no one is entitled to marriage). How entitlement-minded would it be of me if you didn’t want to be my friend, yet I demanded you be my friend despite knowing you didn’t want to?

    Sorry for such a long-winded comment. And all in all, I think you have a great website. God bless.

    – Micah

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