Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Selfishness of Singleness

[Posted originally about a year and a half ago]

People who put off marriage and having children mostly do so out of selfishness. They want to satisfy their own desires for a while instead of getting to the work that the Lord would have us do. And nothing, I mean nothing, will cure this selfishness like a spouse and some kids. Diapers, emergency room visits, bedwetting sheet changes in the middle of the night will show you just how selfish you were. Witnesses testified of this fact before I was married, and personal experience ratifies it.


This is a sentiment possessed to some degree by more than a handful of Christians I have known. Recently I had lunch with an old friend - single friend - of mine who has reached a point in his life where he's kind of tired of hearing these things. He's decided that between he and God that he's content being single, and in fact isn't sure he wants to get married. He has nephews and nieces to love, and has no problem loving them, but marriage and kids of his own just isn't on the wishlist.

He also noted something I had not considered before. Yes, I knew some people probably fell into this temptation, but in isolated cases that I never thought could be widespread. But people can be just as selfish in wanting and having children as they can in being single. Consider the pressure in conservative Christian circles. Being known as a bible family with lots of kids can be a temptation. The little pink house with a white picket fence and 2.3 kids too.

I know families with lots of kids who have made things work out quite well, and families that have gone through hell with just one. Mrs. Scott and I were talking about this today - in light of our own family trials - and have both come to realize that there are people who are made to handle certain family situations and some that are not. Let's let each one work out their own life before God. May God give them wisdom in doing so and us wisdom enough to know that God is giving them wisdom that doesn't need our superior attitude. Am I being a bit preachy here? Yeah, why not?


  1. Wasn't it Paul who said it was better to be single but if you MUST BE married to avoid sin it was permissible (rough paraphrase from memory).

  2. Who are these people to say that the work the Lord wants EVERYONE to do is to have kids and a spouse? That's quite presumptuous.

    Also, Paul talks about the unmarried girls have the Lord to serve rather than a family.

  3. Hi, Erika, thanks for stamping by. Well, they're not really saying that everybody must get married, and they do allow for those who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom. But, there are those who put pressure on people (I've been those circles). There are also those who put a little more emphasis on "be fruitful and multiply" and "not good for man to be alone," since these "point" toward being married. Then there are the subtle, yet constant, comments and attitudes.

    A lot of teaching, and church singles' groups, from what I've heard, are geared toward finding a mate. A couple of generations ago, a woman who wasn't married by 25 was an old maid. Can't have that.

    Joel, I've never quite heard that paraphrase, but I think you've said it well. Personally, I'm not convinced that Paul wasn't talking specifically to the Corinthians on this matter, as they had some present distress as the reason Paul urged many to stay single. What that present distress was, I don't know. Then there are those who would say that the present distress is what everybody lives under in the last days.

    In any case, my friend heard a lot of it over the years, and he got tired of it.

  4. Most longterm singles I know, including myself, just haven't found someone to marry. Others (mostly single guys and married couples) are postponing a family because they genuinely don't think they're prepared to support one yet. Where does the "selfish" part come in?

  5. Jenny,

    You and I would agree on your question. The selfish part comes in when selfishness is imputed to the single person by the married ones who have "been there, done that." When singles come home from work, they fix dinner for themselves. They read books before bed for themselves, and not bedtime stories for others. They sleep through for 6-8 hours each night for themselves and don't have to get up every couple of hours to tend to the needs of children. Stuff like that.

    I think some who believed this may have had self-indulgent singleness and just assumed everybody else did too. I don't know. Mostly I think it's just an attitude. "We married people slave away taking care of other people, while you singles have all the time in the world and don't do anything about it in serving others. We serve because we have to."