||Get Prequalified: The Minimalist Home
||1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 19
Should the top priority of a single person be to get married? Can a Smart Home also be a minimalistic home—with just one occupant? Why is it that singleness is sometimes considered less acceptable than marriage? Can the single life be a full, enriching, and positive experience? Perhaps you’ve lost your mate or you’re still waiting to find one. Or maybe you’re happy to stay single. Today let’s consider singleness and celibacy in light of Scripture.
Connect Recap Notes: August 12, 2018
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Get Prequalified—The Minimalist Home"
Text: 1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 19
Should the top priority of a single person be to get married? Can a Smart Home also be a minimalistic home—with just one occupant? Why is it that singleness is sometimes considered less acceptable than marriage? Can the single life be a full, enriching, and positive experience? Perhaps you've lost your mate or you're still waiting to find one. Or maybe you're happy to stay single. Today let's consider singleness and celibacy in light of Scripture.
- The Single Life (1 Corinthians 7:1)
- The Celibate Life (Matthew 19:11-12)
- The Sensible Life (1 Corinthians 7:27-28)
The Single Life
- According to the Washington Post, there are 109 million unmarried Americans over eighteen.1 This is the largest number in recorded history.
- In light of Scripture, singleness is okay. It's normal.
- Christians in the Corinthian culture struggled like Christians today. Corinthian culture was corrupt and morally tolerant.
- To "touch a woman" (v. 1) was a Jewish expression that meant to have sexual intercourse. It may be that Jewish Christians pressured single Gentile Christians to get married.
- But Paul said it's good for a person to remain single.
- He was establishing that singleness is good behavior, not inferior. But there were a couple of clarifiers:
- Singleness is good when it involves celibacy.
- Marriage is also good, but it's not the only good.
- Singleness has many practical advantages; it allows for greater flexibility and freedom.
- There are a lot of single heroes in Scripture. Consider the following:
- Joseph was the prime minister of Egypt and saved the world from famine—as a single person.
- Daniel was the third most powerful person in Babylon and gave insight to its ruler—as a single person.
- Amos was a prophet who influenced Israel in the eighth century BC—as a single person.
- Elijah was a prophet who stood single-handedly for God—as a single person.
- John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, who called him the greatest man ever born (see Matthew 11:11)—as a single person.
- Paul was a missionary, church planter, and Bible teacher—as a single person.
- Jesus accomplished salvation for entire world—as a single person.
- More modern single Christian leaders include David Brainerd, Robert M'Cheyne, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and John Stott.
The Celibate Life
- The Jewish culture the disciples grew up in was rampant with divorce. Yet Jesus properly interpreted marriage and single life.
- Jesus mentioned three categories of celibacy that were common in ancient history:
- Eunuchs from birth: those with congenital deformities that prevented them from having children.
- Eunuchs made by man: those who were castrated, such as harem guards.
- Self-made eunuchs (celibate singles): those who voluntarily chose celibacy for the kingdom of heaven. Why would someone do this? Because they have the gift of celibacy.
- These categories show us two things:
- A single life can't be accomplished apart from a gift, an enablement.
- If you have this gift, you know it, either by nature or choice.
- How can you tell if you're called to celibacy? You won't "burn with passion" (1 Corinthians 7:9).
- But remember this, as John Stott stated: "The Bible doesn't indicate…that either gift is necessarily permanent. Just because someone is single now doesn't mean they always will be, and just because one is married now doesn't mean they will always will be."
- Jesus said, "He who is able to accept it, let him accept it" (v. 12).
The Sensible Life
PracticeConnect Up: Consider Jesus as the greatest example of singleness. How did He live and interact with people as a single man? If you're single, how can you imitate Jesus' life of singleness? If you're married, what can you learn from His life of singleness? And what does singleness tell you about God the Father?
- We should cherish singleness as a blessing from God and recognize its many advantages.
- And remember: it's not wrong to get married, as long as it's to a fellow believer.
- And though it is "not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18), marriage can bring trouble, conflicts, demands, and hardships—things singleness may or may not have.
- We must learn to be content whether single or married.
- One must be called by God to long-term singleness and then kept by God. Just as it's wrong to be married and act single, so, too, is it wrong to be single and act married.
- Here's advice for the married person: don't discount, demote, or overlook single, divorced, or widowed people. Include them in social activities and encourage them in their walk.
- Here's advice for the single person: don't waste singleness. Throw yourself into God's plan for your life. There may be no other time when you'll be as free to serve as now.
- Ann Kiemel Anderson wrote this prayer: "Jesus, if this is Your will, then yes to being single. In my deepest heart I want to marry, to belong to a great man, to know I am linked to his life…and he to mine…following Christ and our dreams together…but You know what I need. If I never marry, it is yes to You."
- The single life can be good, the celibate life must be a gift, and the sensible life is the goal.
Connect In: One writer called singles "the lepers of today's church,"2 as they are often forgotten or made to feel odd. Discuss ways the church can be a more welcoming place for singles. If you are single, share your thoughts and concerns. If you are married, share what you experienced when you were single.
Connect Out: When reaching single people for Christ, the method is the same: a clear presentation of the gospel. But do you think having an outreach specifically for singles could be helpful? What might that outreach look like?
1 Bella DePaulo, "What Has Changed for Single Americans in the Past Decade," September 20, 2016, The Washington Post
, accessed 8/12/18.
2 Gina Dalfonzo, "Are Single People the Lepers of Today's Church?," https://www.onfaith.co/onfaith/2014/04/09/are-single-people-the-lepers-of-today/31646, accessed 8/12/18.
"Get Prequalified—The Minimalist Home"
1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 19
- There is a significant movement in American society today: the "tiny house" movement
- This movement rejects the idea that bigger is better
- This movement correlates to the minimalist home in terms of the single adult household
- According to the Washington Post, there are 109 million unmarried adults in the US
- 47 percent of all households in the US are single adult households
- With this reality comes pressure from friends, parents, society, and the church
- It's as if, if you're single, you're less than the married person
- This creates the pressure that a single person then puts on themselves
- Some are content to be single; some are obviously not content to be single
- All of us live as singles for a time, so it must be normal
- Happily married people were at one time happily single people
- If you're not happy as a single person, you won't be happy as a married person
- We need to consider singleness in the light of Scripture; many biblical heroes who were used powerfully by God were single
- The Single Life (1 Corinthians 7:1)
- The chaos of Corinth's corrupt, morally loose society brought up a lot of questions; Paul wrote to the church in Corinth to answer several questions about:
- A new believer who is now married to an unbeliever
- Paul said that it was good to be single and good for singles not to have sexual intercourse
- "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (v. 1); this is a reference to the Old Testament use of the word touching
- The story of Abimelech, Abraham, and Sarah (see Genesis 20:6)
- Boaz told his men "not to touch" Ruth (see Ruth 2:9)
- Singleness, as long as it includes celibacy, can be a good thing
- Just because you're single doesn't mean you're alone
- You don't have to lead a lonely life
- Psalm 68:6
- Singleness is good, but it's difficult
- Because you face certain pressures from society, family, and other Christians
- The pressure on a single, celibate life in America is daunting, and not everyone can do it—not everyone is called to it
- The pressure from married Christians who take it upon themselves to be matchmakers
- Singleness is not just okay, but it can be important and valuable
- There are so many practical advantages to being single (see vv. 32-33)
- There is a greater flexibility and freedom to follow the Lord's call at short notice
- Being married brings with it a certain preoccupation or responsibility: concerns for your spouse (as it should)
- You can be wholeheartedly focused on the things of the Lord and what He is calling you to
- Many great heroes of the Bible and the modern-day church were single:
- Joseph: his greatest feat was accomplished while he was single
- Daniel: the third ruler of the kingdom
- John the Baptist
- Paul the apostle
- He accomplished salvation for the world
- "It is impossible to believe that the same God who permitted His own Son to die a bachelor regards celibacy as an actual sin" —H.L. Mencken
- David Brainerd
- Robert Murray M'Cheyne
- Corrie ten Boom
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Rachel Saint
- John Stott
- The Celibate Life (Matthew 19:11-12)
- The celibate life requires a gift
- Divorce was rampant, both in ancient Corinth and in Judaism
- "She finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her" (Deuteronomy 24:1)
- There were two schools of thought concerning what uncleanness meant
- The conservatives agreed with Rabbi Shammai—uncleanness must mean sexual infidelity
- The liberals agreed with Rabbi Hillel—anything that a husband saw as uncleanness
- Jesus told His disciples that "all cannot accept this…but only those to whom it has been given" (v. 11)
- There were three categories of celibacy in ancient times
- Eunuchs who were born thus
- Those who were made eunuchs by men
- Those who made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven—voluntary
- A life of single celibacy cannot be done without a gift, an enabling from God
- Didómi: to bestow a gift to one's advantage
- If you have the gift of celibacy, you know that you have this gift
- You know either by nature or by choice
- God gives certain people the ability to withstand the pressures of this unique lifestyle
- "It is better to marry than to burn with passion" (1 Corinthians 7:9)
- If you are unfulfilled without the sexual release from a marital partner, you're not called to celibacy
- "The Bible does not indicate that either gift is always permanent. Just because someone is single now doesn't mean they'll always be. And just because someone is married now doesn't mean they'll always be" —John Stott
- If you can accept singleness as God's will for your life, then accept it; be obedient to God's call
- The Sensible Life (1 Corinthians 7:27-28)
- Cherish your life as a single person and take advantage of all it affords
- Paul recognized the difficulties and pressures that are unique to married people—the pressure that results from two individual personalities coming together (thlípsis)
- Learn to be content in whatever God has called you to do
- If you are unhappy as a single person, you will be unhappy as a married person
- You must be called by God if this is going to be long-term
- You must be kept by God, whether it's short-term or long-term
- Just like it's wrong to be married and act single, it's wrong to be single and act married
- Throw yourself wholeheartedly into the plan of God for your life; there may never be another time in your life where you have the freedom to serve the Lord like you do now as a single person
- Say yes to His will for your life today, whether you're single or married
Ann Kiemel Anderson, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, David Brainerd, Fred Hartley, Robert Murray M'Cheyne, H.L. Mencken, Origen, Rachel Saint, John Stott, Corrie ten BoomCross references:
Genesis 20:6; Deuteronomy 24:1; Ruth 2:9; Psalm 68:6; 1 Corinthians 7:9, 32-33Greek words:
Keywords: celibacy, contentment, gift, obedience