29 Sep Recap | One | Singleness
To a similar degree as the truth about marriage, the truth about singleness has become tangled and twisted for Christians today. The Church has become alarmingly prone to borrowing its view of singleness from the surrounding world, and the distinctions between dating and marriage have become blurred, if not altogether lost. If we are to escape this confusion and live out God-honoring singleness, we must be directed by Biblical truth about marriage and the wisdom offered by those who have gone before us.
To get to the truth about singleness, we’ll examine it using each of other five teaching topics in the One series: Oneness, Uniqueness, Redemption, Intimacy, and Adventure.
Right from the beginning, we can begin to draw lines between a marriage and dating relationships between singles. In a marriage, a man and a woman become one in the eyes of God and then live out that oneness in tangible ways. In a dating relationship, oneness cannot be a goal because it does not reflect the ultimate reality of this relationship.
Neither is intimacy the goal of a dating relationship. All varieties of intimacy are merely a reflection of the oneness that is meant to exist in a marriage relationship, making intimacy a goal exclusive to marriage. A deep, abiding, and heartfelt attachment is not meant to be found outside of marriage.
What is the goal of a dating relationship, then? It is to inform and direct two singles toward a potential marriage relationship. Dating allows for two singles to explore each other and examine the person in front of them. Who are they really once you are able to get up close to them? The answer to this kind of question should become clear for each person after time in a dating relationship.
In addition to the ideas of gender identity and (to a degree) marital role, uniqueness in personalities is also at play in a dating relationship. Sometimes even unconsciously, we are drawn to another person because of personality traits. Whether they are similar or complementary to us — there is no universal formula here — we are drawn to that person because of aspects of their personality that we may not even understand. This lack of awareness is just one more reason for singles to find married couples to help process what they are feeling and thinking.
In fact, community of all kinds is vital to singleness. Singles at all stages of life will benefit from platonic, unvarnished friendships with members of the opposite sex. Singles in a dating relationship should make it a point to have a number of mutual friendships and to allow these friends access to their relationship. Mentors can provide perspective and guide singles through the long process that is dating.
Amid the thrill of discovery, a dating relationship is bound to be fraught with imperfection. As two people move closer and closer toward each other, they will invariably hurt each other, intentionally or not, and forgiveness will be required to continue the relationship. A relationship will not flourish and move toward marriage in a healthy way unless the two in it have a robust grasp of the redemption of the Gospel.
As a single, are you able to grant forgiveness to the people around you now? Do you understand that the Gospel frees you and compels you to forgive others (see Ephesians 4:31-32)? Being able to do so today, where you are, in small ways, will help to prepare you for the days of marriage when forgiveness and grace will need to be given in abundance.
As an aspect of oneness, true and complete intimacy of all types is appropriate only in marriage. In a dating relationship, intimacy is bound to increase over time as two people grow towards each other. The challenge for singles, then, is to manage this intimacy and ensure that it is at an appropriate level and pace of growth for the relationship. As intimacy grows, objectivity inevitably lessens as the two people become more and more emotionally connected, as illustrated in the chart below.
While it is tempting to look for formulas promising success in dating and marriage, they cannot deliver in the way we would want. We are unable to distill and control these relationships for ourselves because God has intended them to be adventures. Along the way, there will be much distress, uncertainty, pain even, but in the end we will look back and see that God has led us on an adventure that is found in, and points toward, the grand narrative of His work in the world.
For singles, the adventure consists of figuring out who you really are, what you do well, and what you care about and are passionate about. It is a time of self-discovery and finding your purpose in the world in the greater purposes of God.
Along the way, as we run after this, there is a possibility that we will look over and see someone else running in the same direction. There is also a possibility that we won’t ever find that. Regardless of which gift is given to us — the gift of marriage or the gift of singleness — we are able to find hope in the fact that we will not find ourselves alone in the end.
1. Do you have deep, sustaining, non-romantic relationships with members of the opposite sex?
2. Ask yourself: Do I meet my deepest needs for intimacy with God, or am I expecting the person I date/marry to do that?
3. Does God look great in the way you live as a single person and the way you date?
4. For singles: Who are the married people that you spend time with? For married people: Who are the singles that you spend time with?
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Worship Songs from the Weekend
- Love Shines: 1 Corinthians 12:4-8, Matthew 27:45-46, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, 1 John 4:8-9
- Hope of the World: Romans 5:1-3, Ephesians 2:11-13, Psalm 33:20-22
- Be Thou My Vision: Deuteronomy 4:28-29
- Seas of Crimson: Isaiah 53:4-5, Matthew 26:28, Revelation 12:11
- Give Me Faith: Psalm 73:25-26
- The Greatness of Our God: Deuteronomy 32:1-3, Romans 8:38-39, Isaiah 40:26-31