Even when we’re talking about God’s faithfulness and goodness to us, it’s often spoken of as something that takes place in spite of our singleness. But what if singleness actually is God’s faithfulness and goodness in our lives, just as much as marriage?
I’m all for solidarity in the hard stuff, and those dating misadventures can make for hilarious stories to share with friends. But as we commiserate with one another, let’s not forget to also celebrate with another.
To celebrate the goodness of singleness in its own right.
Maybe that seems like a stretch. After all, singleness is hard, and many who are single don’t want to be.
In culture, the church, and even in our own hearts and minds, we’ve too often defined singleness as a status, a "season", a way of being, that doesn’t hold joy, beauty and purpose. Or at least, not as much joy, beauty, and purpose as marriage; unless, of course, our “season of singleness” leads to marriage.
Friend, what does “single” mean to you?
How we define singleness matters. Because how we define singleness will affect how we live in singleness.
How we define singleness is ultimately rooted in how we define ourselves - our worth, our purpose, our identity.
Misdefining Ourselves, Misdefining Singleness
There are many things we can look to to define ourselves.
In defining ourselves in these ways, singleness becomes defined as something that is wrong with us, a status that signals we are unworthy, unloveable, unwanted.
So much of how we define ourselves is rooted in the desire to be loved: chosen, approved, wanted, accepted; to hear, You are enough and you are not too much.
And it’s no wonder we have this desire: love is, after all, what we were created for.
In the Image
In Genesis 1:26-27, we read of God creating people:
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…”
This is why we were created and who we were created to be: in His image.
The “Us” in these verses refers to the Trinity: God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Three in One eternally living in perfect communion and union with one another. God is love, relational, intimate. (1 John 4:16)
And God created us to enter into communion with Him. God created you because He desires to have a relationship with you, in which you draw ever nearer, grow ever deeper, become ever more intimate.
God also created us to be His image-bearers—to have relationships with other people in which we reflect His character; in which His compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, grace, and love is experienced through us. (Colossians 3:12-14)
Being created in the image of God means we are created for relationship—in love, by love, and for love.
This is what defines our identity.
Because of sin, the image of God in us is broken, because in our sin, we are separated from relationship with God and cannot truly reflect His righteousness, holiness, and glory.
This is why Jesus came. In love, God sent His Son to die the death we deserve for our sins, so we could be made righteous and have relationship with God. (1 Corinthians 5:21) In love, God raised His Son from the dead and restored Him to life, so we too can be raised to new life as co-heirs with Christ. (Ephesians 2:6; Romans 8:17) In love, God sent His Spirit to join with our spirits and affirm that we are His children, empowering us be imitators of Him and walk in love. (Romans 8:16; Ephesians 5:1-2)
When we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we enter into relationship with God, and His image in us is restored.
As we grow in relationship with God, we grow in Christ-likeness: becoming more and more like Him who perfectly bore the image of God in human form (John 1:18; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3), reflecting this image in our relationships with others.
In the Bible, marriage is often used a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the Church. This means marriage is a reflection of something more.
In Luke 20:34-36, Jesus says in heaven, there won’t be human marriage; there will be the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9), in which all is fulfilled in Christ—a relationship that is so much bigger, better, more; a relationship that nothing could ever surpass, because it will be complete and whole, lacking nothing. There will be joy and peace and belonging and delight and intimacy and trust and security and love in their realest, truest, most perfect forms.
This is the relationship, the love, for which we were created.
Singleness, too, can be a reflection of this deep, intimate, fulfilling relationship.
Because you are an image bearer of God, and your singleness is a reflection of the abundance and sufficiency of Christ; a testimony of a love that is deeper than romance, of a covenant that is more enduring than marriage, of intimacy that is closer than sex.
Our identity, our worth, our purpose is not in a relationship status.
Our identity is in Christ: defined by Christ, secure in Christ, a reflection of Christ.
And when we define ourselves by what God says about us, by who we are in Christ, by His promises to us, this redefines singleness from less-than and lacking, to abundant with joy, beauty, and purpose.
Yes, there’s still the stuff that’s hard about singleness.
But we can walk through it all with the assurance that we are loved and cared for, that we have purpose and belonging, that we are given goodness and grace.
Because our worth is in Christ. Abundant life is in Christ. He is the delight, the joy, the satisfaction, the fulfillment.
And our singleness reflects this truth as we know Him and make Him known.