Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Singleness: Burden or Blessing?, Part 2

Leslie Basham:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Well you would tell me about the only part of Little Rock you have ever seen. You would say, "It has walls that are kind of a...what color are those walls? Kind of gray? It has windows along the bottom here; there are lights up in the ceiling. You would describe to me what you know of Little Rock. And this would be a part of Little Rock, but it would be a very limited part of Little Rock.

Now suppose I said to you, "No, there is much more to Little Rock. You need to get out of this room. You need to get into your car and start driving." So you drive 10-15-20 minutes, and you start discovering a whole new world. And you get about 20 minutes from here into downtown Little Rock, and you would say, "Now I know what Little Rock looks like. " And you would start describing to me what you've seen of Little Rock.

But you would still have a pretty limited perspective if you had just driven 20 minutes from this building. If you want to get a complete view of the city, what do you need to do? You need to get up above it. You need to see the big picture--maybe get an aerial map or maybe even get into an airplane yourself and get up above a limited perspective. And get the big--picture. I've come to believe that a lot of frustration with single women and let me say for that matter, a lot of frustration on the part of married women, is the result of having a limited perspective.

What we need to do is to get up higher--to see things from a higher point of view than our own limited perspective, to see things the way God sees them. In the Old Testament, God said to His people through Isaiah, He said, "Tell my people that my ways are different than their ways. That is the heavens are high above the earth, so far, that high, that different, are my ways from your ways" (Isaiah 55:8-9 paraphrased).

God's perspective is very different than ours. So invariably when we want to get a perspective on life, we go one of two places. We either go to the world and we find out what its perspective is, and that's what we have all grown up in--hearing and being exposed to the world's perspective.

Or we go to this Book. We go to the Word of God; and we say, "God, lift me up above this limited perspective of this world and help me to see life. Help me to see my life as a single woman from your point of view." Now I don't suppose that there is any chapter in the Bible that does more to help give us a big-picture perspective of marriage and singleness than 1 Corinthians chapter 7.

So if you have your Bibles, let me ask you to turn there. We are not going to go into enormous detail in this passage, but I want us to get a bird's eye-view of God's perspective, a higher perspective than perhaps we have had before on marriage and singleness.

Now the context here is that the Corinthians had written a letter to Paul. They had asked him some very practical questions about different aspects of life. And one of the questions they had asked him was about marriage and singleness.

They were living in a very pagan culture. Divorce and remarriage was extremely common, in those days it was not unthinkable for someone to have been married 20 times. And many of these people who had been married and divorced and remarried and divorced and remarried had become believers, and some of them were still married to unbelievers. And they were wondering, Now that I'm a Christian, what do I do? Am I supposed to get divorced and because, maybe singleness is more spiritual, am I supposed to stay married. If I'm single, is marriage more spiritual, am I supposed to get married? They had written apparently and asked Paul some questions.

Now we don't have their letter, but we do have the letter that Paul wrote back to answer their questions. And we jump in to chapter 7, Paul says in verse 1; "Now for the matters you wrote about." And in chapter 7 he starts to talk about matters of marriage and divorce and remarriage and singleness. He begins in the first 6 verses, and then again in verse 10 through 16 by talking about marriage.

We are not going to go into a great detail about that passage, but I do want to give you a little bit of overview of it. And in essence he is saying, "Marriage is a gift, there are some blessings associated with marriage. And there are also some challenges, and sometimes being married is wonderful because it is a gift from God. But sometimes it requires suffering. Sometimes it is hard work. Sometimes you don't want to stay in marriage but you have to--because that is God's plan, that's God's perspective and His purpose.

Now as we just skim through these first several verses, let me just remind you to go back to a passage just like this if you are a single woman thinking that marriage is going to meet all of your needs. If you think that marriage will solve all your problems--and I know nobody really thinks that--but don't we sometimes have that subconscious sense that life would be easier if I could be married or it would be better if I could be married? When you think that, go back to some of Paul's teaching on marriage and realize that every aspect of life requires the Cross. It requires that we die to ourselves, that we get rid of selfishness, that we live for God and for others.

So, Paul is saying that if you go into marriage to get your own needs met, "Expect to be disappointed." That's a real modern paraphrase of the passage here, his emphases here is not on getting your needs met in marriage but on meeting the needs of your partner. So beginning in the first verse he calls--and then continuing into verse 2--he calls all believers to live a life of moral purity.

Verse 1 chapter 7; "Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry" or some translators were saying it, "not to have sexual relations with a woman. And it is good to be single," it is good not to be married. And he is going to be talking about the good aspects of that.

"But I want you to avoid immorality; I want you to be sexually pure. So God has made a provision of marriage. And one of the purposes of marriage is to provide a context through which your sexual needs can be met, and you can meet the sexual needs of others in a legitimate and appropriate way." But he says, "When you get married, remember it is an exclusive relationship: one man, one woman, for a lifetime. Each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband." And he says, "Not only that; when you get married, remember it is a giving relationship not a taking relationship. And it is a total giving of yourself, not just a little bit of yourself, but all of yourself to your partner."

So he says in verse 3; "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife." He should meet her sexual needs, "and likewise the wife to her husband." Look at verse 5; "Do not deprive each other" physically or sexually, "except by mutual consent and for a time, so you can devote yourselves to prayer." He's saying, "When you get married, you expect that you will give yourself to your mate. Totally. You are not your own anymore. You give yourself to your mate." And he goes on to say in verse 4; "Not only do you give yourself, your mate owns your body."

Now if you think that marriage is all joy and delight, just remember this, remember someone else is going to own you. Someone else is going to own your body. And he says; "Now marriage is wonderful, it is a gift, it is a calling, it is a blessing; but it has challenges, it has responsibilities." So he says in verse 4; "The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife."

Then when we pick up in verse 10, and we won't read through that passage. But verses 10 through 16, he goes on to say that marriage is a lifetime covenant. It's permanent. It's lifetime. It's a Covenant. There is no out, biblically and in God's perspective, for marriage.

Now Paul is not saying that to scare people about marriage, marriage is great, it is God's best and God's plan for most people. But he is saying, "Remember it has responsibilities associated with it." And then he says in the last part of the passage, in verses 14 through 16, that there is a ministry of suffering and of sanctification in marriage. You may have to live in a difficult or painful marriage and stay in it for the sanctification and the possible salvation of that mate or of your children. So there's suffering involved there. But overall he says that marriage is good. It's a gift.

Well, you say, I knew that, I knew that marriage was good. I could have told you that. My struggle is not with marriage; my struggle is with singleness. Well, that's what Paul talks about next.

And when we come to verse 7, he gives what I think is an incredibly radical perspective on singleness and on marriage. He says in verse 7; "I wish that all men were as I am." Now Paul was at this time unmarried. We don't know for sure if he had never married. He may have been widowed, previously married and his wife had died, we don't know for sure. But at this point we know he was unmarried.

And he says, "I wish that all people could be as I am, unmarried. But...each person has his own gift from God. One has this gift, the gift of marriage; and another has that gift, the gift of singleness." The word Paul uses there is the word charisma the word for gift. It means a gift of grace. That word means an undeserved benefit from God. Did you realize that marriage is a gift of grace? It is an undeserved favor or benefit from God.

You say, "Yeah I knew that." But did you also realize that according to this verse, Paul says singleness is a charisma? It is a gift of grace. It is an undeserved benefit from God. You see, in the will of God, marriage is a gift. And in the will of God, singleness is a gift. Both are good gifts if you get them from God.

Leslie Basham:

Why don't you get them a copy of the program, Nancy's entire series called Singleness--Burden or Blessing? It comes on two cassettes available from our resource center. You can get more information on-line at ReviveOurHearts.com or call 1-800-569-5959.

If you are in the process of embracing the gift of singleness, and we could pray with you, why don't you write us? And could we ask that you help us provide much needed perspective to others in need by giving to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. You are helping us stay on the air in your area. Would you pray about what you could give to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts? Have a great weekend and join us on Monday when Nancy will continue offering biblical counsel on marriage and singleness. Now with one final thought, here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Leslie Basham:

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.
Now we've been talking about how to experience real joy, whether married or single. Let me suggest this, joy is the result of agreeing with God's perspective--and making that perspective my own. That's joy. Agreeing with God that if I'm single, that that singleness is a gift; if I am married, marriage is a gift from God--adjusting my perspective to agree with God's perspective is what brings me real joy.
That's Nancy DeMoss giving us a godly perspective on singleness. She will be back to give us one more point in just a minute. As you have listened today, have you thought of someone who could use the perspective that Nancy has been offering?
Let me ask you to imagine for a moment that you had never in your whole life been anywhere other than in this room. This room had been your whole life. Now suppose I was to say to you, "You are in Little Rock. This is Little Rock." I want you to describe to me what Little Rock is like. What would you say?
It's easy for a young woman to think of marriage as the gift from God. But have you ever stopped to realize that singleness is an equally good gift. It's Friday, August 2; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. The apostle Paul refers to singleness as a gift. That may seem strange to our natural perspective. Today, Nancy will begin to unpack the teachings of Paul as she continues in a series called Singleness--Burden or Blessing. Here's Nancy.

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