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Marriage ( 6 ) Singleness Slides by: Timothy Chan, based on John Piper’s “This Momentary Marriage”& Tim Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage”
Singleness❖ (Q) What reasons can you think of that can explain why we’re studying the topic of “singleness” in a series on marriage?❖ (1 Cor 7:29) This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none ❖ (Q) Why did apostle Paul say that?
Singleness❖ Percentage of US adult population who’s married 70% 67.6% 60% 64.2% 61.0% 58.7% 56.2% 50% 54.3% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2009
Singleness❖ Percentage of UK adult population who’s married 70% 68.1% 60% 63.3% 57.9% 50% 53.1% 47.5% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011
Singleness❖ Percentage of US population who attends church 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% % of Married Adults % of Single Adults❖ (Q) Why are so few singles involved in church?
“This Momentary Marriage”❖ John Piper’s book is titled “This Momentary Marriage” because: ❖ Marriage is a temporary gift in this lifetime. We will not be married in heaven. ❖ (Mark 12:25) For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.❖ Even though marriage won’t last forever, the church will exist as a family forever.
Family Values?❖ The theme of “reproduction” in the Old Testament: ❖ (Gen 1:28) … Be fruitful and multiply and ﬁll the earth and subdue it … ❖ (Gen 13:16) I will make your oﬀspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your oﬀspring also can be counted.❖ The covenant to Israel was primarily fulﬁlled through procreation.
Family Values?❖ But in the New Testament: ❖ Jesus and Paul were single and had no children. ❖ (Luke 14:26) If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. ❖ (Matt 12:50) For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.❖ The new covenant family of God grows not by biological oﬀsprings but by regenerative faith in Christ.
Avoid Idolizing Marriage and Children❖ (1 Cor 7:29-31, NIV) What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.❖ We should avoid idolizing our marriage and our children. ❖ (Q) What does it mean to “idolize” our marriage and our children?
Avoid Idolizing Marriage and Children❖ “Even the best marriage cannot by itself ﬁll the void in our souls left by God. Without a deeply fulﬁlling love relationship with Christ now, and hope in a perfect love relationship with him in the future, married Christians will put too much pressure on their marriage to fulﬁll them, and that will always create pathology in their lives.” (Tim Keller)
Singleness is a Gift❖ (1 Cor 7:7) I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.❖ (Q) Does singleness “feel” like a gift to you?❖ Singles are badgered with: “You’re too picky” “We want some grand kids, hurry up!” “I am praying for you that you will ﬁnd that special someone.”❖ “It is no wonder that we singles struggle to maintain a sense of joy and empowerment in our singleness, when everyone around us seems to be praying against it as if it were some rare and terminal form of cancer.” (Kimberly Price, Relevant Magazine)
Singleness is a Gift❖ “In his writings, Paul always uses the word “gift” to mean an ability God gives to build others up.” (Tim Keller)❖ So the calling of being single is a call to “fruitfulness in life and ministry through the single state. When you have this gift, there may indeed be struggles, but the main thing is that God is helping you to grow spiritually and be fruitful in the lives of others despite them.” (Tim Keller)
The Blessing of Singleness❖ (Isaiah 56:4-5) To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut oﬀ.
The Blessing of Singleness❖ “Eunuch” = one who serves the king by remaining single and childless ❖ Singles in Christ serve the “King”❖ “Better than sons and daughters” ❖ Children are “born again” into God’s family by faith. Christians have the responsibility to bear spiritual children.❖ (1 Cor 4:15) For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. ❖ So all Christians, married and single, are parents.
Gospel Values and Relationships❖ Relationships in Christ are more permanent, and more precious, than relationships in families.❖ “I am declaring the radical truth that being in a human family is no sign of eternal blessing, but being in God’s family means being eternally blessed.” (John Piper)
Gospel Values and Relationships❖ (1 Cor 7:32) I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. ❖ Married people should learn from singles that no earthly relationship is ultimate; your signiﬁcance in life is ultimately deﬁned by your faithfulness to Christ and relationship to Christ.
Hospitality❖ (1 Peter 4:8-9) Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.❖ We should show hospitality to both married and single people in the church community.❖ However, we tend to marginalize singles into their “singles group.”❖ “How members of the church relate to each other as married and single will witness to the world that our lives are oriented on the supremacy of Christ and that our relationships are deﬁned not just by nature, but by Christ.” (John Piper)
Summary of Study #6❖ 1 Cor 7:29-31 reminds us not to idolize our marriages, our children, and our possessions.❖ In New Testament times, the most lasting “family” is not biological, but of those who are in the faith.❖ Isaiah 56:4-5 promises singles an everlasting name and a blessing better than sons and daughters.❖ Those who are called to singleness are to use their “gift” to build others up. Many singles are “spiritual parents” raising “children” in the faith.❖ In a healthy faith community, married and singles build meaningful relationships with each other and practice hospitality toward each other.
Additional References for Study #6❖ “Singleness: A Gospel Freedom” by Ryan Kwan