Singleness is an intriguing thing. It is the natural state that we are all born into, and yet there is a strong sense that it isn’t natural at all, but rather a problem that needs to be fixed.
It sounds wrong to say that, doesn’t it? And yet the overwhelming evidence seems to support that conclusion. How many songs on the radio deal with love? How many of the ads on social media are for dating apps? How many times has Grandma asked, “So do you have a boyfriend yet?” Everywhere we look, there are testaments to the fact that people almost universally crave love.
But the truth is, we don’t even have to look at the myriad of media giving voice to this longing because, for most of us, a few minutes alone with our own mind is enough. We know what it feels like to be single, and, despite being born into it, it feels strange and often uncomfortable. Why is that?
For Christians, we know that God is our Creator. He is so powerful that He merely spoke and the universe came into being. Day by day, for six days, He called out our world from nothing—the earth, the sea, the sky; the sun, the moon, the stars; the flowers, the grass, the trees; the animals of the sea and of the sky. And when He looked at everything He had made, He saw that it was good.
Then God did something even more special. He said, “Let us make man in our image,” (Gen. 1:26). And instead of just speaking, He actually formed man from the dust of the earth. He breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living being (Gen. 2:7). And this is where the account gets really interesting.
In Genesis 2, God makes this surprising statement about man: “It is not good for the man to be alone,” (Gen. 2:18).
Wait, what? Did God just say something He made was not good?
Sure enough: “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
For those of us who believe in the goodness and greatness of God, this statement comes as a bit of a shock. Isn’t everything God does automatically good?
I think it is significant that God lets us in on His reasoning here. In chapter one, He tells us that He created man in His image and that He created mankind male and female, but He doesn’t say why. In chapter 2, on the other hand, we see God fashioning man first. Then He makes His surprising statement: “It is not good for man to be alone.” And He goes on to say, “I will make a helper suitable for him.” Interestingly, God gives man—Adam—the task of naming all the land animals and birds, but notes that among these there was not a suitable helper for Adam.
And then, of course, God provides for Adam’s need. He puts him in a deep sleep, takes one of his ribs, and creates the first woman and gives her to Adam. And it is this account that gives us the basis for marriage—a man leaving his parents and being joined to his wife, becoming one flesh.
And if we go back to chapter one and look at God’s instructions to man (whom He created male and female), we find they are directed to both man and woman as a team: “Be fruitful and multiply, [which they could not do independently] and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth,” (Gen. 1:28).
Marriage, then, is God’s good design for mankind. And maybe that is why most of us have an innate yearning for it.
Okay. So why is there singleness then? If God’s good design is marriage, why hasn’t He given it to all of us?
When Adam and Eve sinned, it broke the perfect world God had made. No longer a paradise, the world since then has been plagued with sickness and death, pain and suffering. The curse touches each of our lives and leaves its ugly marks. The marks look a little different on each of us, but we all have them. They are testaments to the fact that, because of sin, this world falls painfully short of what God created it to be.
One of those marks is singleness. In a perfect world, there was marriage. God created mankind that way—male and female, complementing each other to fulfill the purposes for which He made us. God Himself said that it was not good for man to be alone. To be single, then, is a kind of loss. It is a weakness. It is a broken part of God’s good design.
But it is not beyond the reach of God’s mysterious grace. He knows what He is doing through our singleness. And He will redeem it for good, if we let Him.
Oh Lord, How wise you are! Who but You would think to create mankind male and female? You created marriage because You are good and kind. You thought about how what You did would affect us, and You did what was best. Marriage is Your good creation.
But to some of us You have given singleness. It is hard for us at times, and it hurts because it is not how You originally designed life to be. But You are greater than all of our weakness, and You are wise in the challenges You choose for us. You are doing a great work behind the scenes, remaking the marred things into dazzling beauty and turning loss into unspeakable joy.
We yield to You our weakness, loss, and pain so that You may accomplish Your plans in us. We want to love You more than life. Amen.