Singleness—A Rewarding Way of Life
“She is free to be married to whom she wants, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she remains as she is.”—1 CORINTHIANS 7:39, 40.
1. Whether we are single or married, what do we owe Jehovah?
JEHOVAH deserves the whole-souled worship of all those dedicated to him. Whether married or single, we should love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) True, the single Christian has fewer distractions than do those united in wedlock. But can the unmarried servant of Jehovah be truly happy?
2, 3. (a) In essence, what did Paul say at 1 Corinthians 7:39, 40? (b) What questions merit consideration?
2 The apostle Paul answers yes. Concerning those once married but whose circumstances had changed, he wrote: “A wife is bound during all the time her husband is alive. But if her husband should fall asleep in death, she is free to be married to whom she wants, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my opinion. I certainly think I also have God’s spirit.”—1 Corinthians 7:39, 40.
3 Since Paul indicates that unmarried people can be happy, who might reasonably consider remaining single, at least for some time? What contributes to the happiness of unmarried Christians? Indeed, how can singleness be a rewarding way of life?
Rewarding Years of Singleness
4. What is true of the years of young manhood and womanhood?
4 Wise King Solomon urged: “Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood, before the calamitous days [of old age] proceed to come, or the years have arrived when you will say: ‘I have no delight in them.’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1) The years of young manhood and womanhood generally are a time of at least comparative vitality and good health. How appropriate, then, that these assets be used in Jehovah’s service without distraction! Moreover, these earlier years are a time to gain experience in life, to develop stability. But this is also a period when young people of the world experience infatuation. For instance, consider the results of a survey involving 1,079 persons between the ages of 18 and 24. They had had an average of seven “romantic experiences” each and invariably said that their current experience was true love, not infatuation.
5. Regarding marriage, what personal questions is it appropriate for a young person to consider?
5 Statistics for separation, divorce, and otherwise broken families spell out the inadvisability of early marriage. Rather than rushing into dating, courtship, and wedlock, young Christians are wise to think positively about how they can use at least their earlier years in undistracted service to Jehovah. In evaluating your circumstances as a young person, you may well ask yourself such questions as these: Am I now emotionally mature and ready to think seriously of wedlock? Do I have enough experience in life to be a good marriage mate? Could I properly shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and possibly of a family with children? In view of my dedication to Jehovah, should I not give him the energy and strength of youth without the distractions related to marriage?
Rewards of Chaste Singleness
6, 7. (a) What are some advantages generally enjoyed by unmarried Christians? (b) In this regard, what did an unmarried missionary in Africa say?
6 Unmarried Christians enjoy freedom from distraction and can find “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:32-34; 15:58) Instead of focusing attention on one individual of the opposite sex, the single person has more opportunities to widen out in Christian love for many in the congregation, including the elderly and others who are in need of loving assistance. (Psalm 41:1) Generally, single persons have more time for study and meditation on God’s Word. (Proverbs 15:28) They have a greater opportunity to cultivate a close relationship with Jehovah, learning to rely heavily on him and seek his direction. (Psalm 37:5; Philippians 4:6, 7; James 4:8) An unmarried man who has served Jehovah for years as a missionary in Africa said:
7 “Life in the African villages has been simple over these years, with not too many distractions of modern civilization. Without these distractions, I have had ample opportunity to study and meditate on God’s Word. This has kept me strong. Yes, missionary life has been a real blessing and protection against materialism. During the pleasant tropical evenings there has been ample time to meditate and reflect on Jehovah’s creation and draw near to him. My greatest happiness comes each evening when my mind is still awake, and while alone I can spend some time under the starry heavens walking and talking with Jehovah. This has drawn me closer to Jehovah.”
8. Regarding singleness, what was said by an unmarried sister with many years of service at the Society’s headquarters?
8 Noteworthy, too, is this comment of a single sister with many years of service at the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters: “I have chosen to lead a single life in my service to Jehovah. Do I ever get lonely? Not at all. Really, my moments alone are among some of the most precious. I can commune with Jehovah in prayer. I can enjoy meditation and personal study without distraction. . . . Singleness has contributed not a little to my joy.”
9. What are some privileges of service that a single Christian may be able to enjoy?
9 A single person can also accept privileges of service that may not be open to married persons having family responsibilities. For instance, there may be opportunities to engage in the full-time ministry as a pioneer in an area where the need for Kingdom proclaimers is great. Or a single young man may be privileged to serve as a member of the Bethel family at the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters or a branch office. A young unmarried woman may be able to join a somewhat older single sister in pioneer service in their home congregation or another having territory that needs to be covered. Why not discuss such possibilities with the circuit overseer? As an unmarried Christian, make yourself available for increased service to Jehovah’s praise, and he will bless you abundantly.—Malachi 3:10.
Examples From the Past
10. Who provided the prime example of an unmarried servant of Jehovah, and why do you think that his singleness was advantageous?
10 The prime example of an unmarried servant of Jehovah was Jesus Christ. He was totally absorbed in doing God’s will. “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work,” said Jesus. (John 4:34) How busy he was—preaching, healing the sick, and so forth! (Matthew 14:14) Jesus had genuine interest in people and was comfortable in the presence of men, women, and children. Indeed, he traveled about in his ministry, with others accompanying him on certain occasions. (Luke 8:1-3) But how difficult that activity would have been if he had been accompanied by a wife and small children! Unquestionably, singleness was an advantage in Jesus’ case. Today, a single Christian may enjoy similar advantages, especially if called upon to declare the Kingdom message in remote or dangerous areas.
11, 12. What fine examples are cited for single women serving Jehovah today?
11 But others also found singleness practical and rewarding. Jephthah’s daughter voluntarily fulfilled her father’s vow by remaining single in a society that placed great stress on marriage and children. She found joy in her service to Jehovah, and it is noteworthy that others regularly encouraged her. Why, “from year to year the daughters of Israel would go to give commendation to the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite, four days in the year”! (Judges 11:34-40) Similarly, married Christians and others should commend and encourage single women valiantly serving Jehovah today.
12 Philip’s four virgin daughters “prophesied.” (Acts 21:8, 9) These unmarried women must have drawn much satisfaction from their active service to Jehovah’s praise. Comparably, many young single women today have the rewarding privilege of serving as pioneers, or full-time Kingdom proclaimers. Surely, they deserve commendation as part of the ‘large army of women declaring the good news.’—Psalm 68:11.
13. How does Paul’s case illustrate that singleness can be a rewarding way of life?
13 The apostle Paul found singleness to be advantageous. He traveled thousands of miles in his ministry and faced great hardships, many dangers, sleepless nights, gnawing hunger. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) Undoubtedly, all of this would have been much more difficult and distressing if Paul had been married. Moreover, it is not at all likely that he would ever have had his privileges as “an apostle to the nations” if he had been raising a family. (Romans 11:13) Despite the trials he faced, Paul had firsthand evidence that singleness can be a rewarding way of life.
14. What experiences were enjoyed by colporteurs, most of whom were unmarried?
14 Like Paul and other unmarried early Christians, a number of God’s people who shared in colporteur work (from 1881 onward) were single persons without dependent families. They willingly went into unfamiliar cities, towns, and rural areas, seeking those with good hearts and placing Bible literature with them. Travel might be by train, bicycle, horse-drawn buggy, or automobile. Mostly, they happily walked from house to house. (Acts 20:20, 21) “Sometimes they would trade [Bible literature] for farm produce, chickens, soap and what-not, which they would use or sell to others,” recalled one witness of Jehovah, adding: “At times, in a sparsely settled area, they stayed with farmers and ranchers overnight, and at times even slept in haystacks . . . These faithful ones [most of whom were unmarried] kept on for years and years until age overtook them.” Surely, one of them spoke for those old-time colporteurs in general when she wrote: “We were young and happy in the service, delighted to expend our strength in serving Jah.”
15. For many unmarried pioneers, what door leading to greater activity swung open some 45 years ago?
15 Many pioneers, or full-time Kingdom proclaimers, of later times were also unmarried. They often witnessed in isolated areas, helped to start new congregations, and enjoyed other blessings in Jehovah’s service. For some of them, an exciting door leading to greater activity swung open when the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead began to function in 1943 while World War II was still raging. (1 Corinthians 16:9) Yes, many of those unmarried pioneers received missionary training at Gilead School and were soon spreading the Kingdom message in new territories. Unencumbered by marital responsibilities, they made themselves available for Jehovah’s service, and some of those early graduates are still single and active in the missionary field or some other avenue of full-time service.
16. What evidence is there that unmarried members of the Bethel family have found singleness to be a rewarding way of life?
16 Many unmarried Christians have served for years as members of the Bethel family at the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters or at its branches elsewhere in the world. Have they found singleness to be a rewarding way of life? Yes, indeed. For instance, a single brother who had served at Brooklyn Bethel for many years remarked: “The joy of seeing millions of magazines and other publications bearing the message of God’s Word spreading to the ends of the earth has been a marvelous reward in itself.” After some 45 years of Bethel service, another unmarried brother said: “Every day I ask our dear heavenly Father in prayer for help and wisdom to keep myself spiritually as well as physically healthy and strong so that I can keep on doing his holy will. . . . I have indeed enjoyed a happy, rewarding and blessed way of life.”
Maintaining Chaste Singleness
17. What are two aids in maintaining chaste singleness?
17 That a life of singleness can be rewarding is evident from Biblical and modern-day examples. Of course, during whatever period of your life is spent in the single state, you need to ‘stand settled in your heart.’ (1 Corinthians 7:37) But what can help you to maintain chastity while unmarried? The greatest Source of help is Jehovah, the “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 65:2) So make it a habit to petition him often. “Persevere in prayer,” asking for God’s spirit and his help in displaying its fruitage, which includes peace and self-control. (Romans 12:12; Luke 11:13; Galatians 5:22, 23) Then, too, with a prayerful attitude, regularly ponder over and always apply the counsel of God’s Word.
18. How does 1 Corinthians 14:20 relate to one’s remaining chaste as an unmarried person?
18 Another aid in maintaining chaste singleness is avoiding anything that arouses sexual passion. Obviously, this includes pornography and immoral entertainment. Paul said: “Be babes as to badness; yet become full-grown in powers of understanding.” (1 Corinthians 14:20) Do not seek knowledge or experience regarding evil, but with God’s help wisely remain inexperienced and innocent as a baby in this regard. At the same time, remember that sexual immorality and wrongdoing are improper in Jehovah’s sight.
19. What scriptures point to other ways to remain chaste as a single person?
19 You will also be helped to remain chaste as an unmarried person by guarding your associations. (1 Corinthians 15:33) Avoid associating with those who make sex and marriage big features in their lives and conversations. By all means shun obscene jesting! Paul counseled: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people; neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting, things which are not becoming, but rather the giving of thanks.”—Ephesians 5:3, 4.
A Rewarding Future
20. Putting one’s years of singleness to the best use in Jehovah’s service will result in what?
20 Putting your years as an unmarried Christian to the best possible use in Jehovah’s service will bring present satisfaction and peace of mind. Doing so will also contribute to your spiritual maturity and stability. If you remain single for the Kingdom’s sake until the end of this wicked system of things, Jehovah will not forget your self-sacrificing efforts in his sacred service.
21. If you should get married after a period of chaste and rewarding singleness, with what are you likely to enter wedlock?
21 If you diligently pursue Kingdom interests as an unmarried man or woman, you will enjoy many blessings. (Proverbs 10:22) Then if you should get married later in life, you will enter wedlock with greater experience and a rich spiritual background. Moreover, by following the counsel of the Scriptures, you will choose a dedicated integrity-keeping mate who will help you to serve God faithfully. In the meantime, you can find singleness to be a rewarding way of life in the service of our loving God, Jehovah.
How Would You Respond?
□ Among Jehovah’s servants, what are some rewards of chaste singleness?
□ What Scriptural examples are there to show that singleness can be rewarding?
□ In modern times, what examples of rewarding singleness do we have?
□ What can help a Christian to remain chaste while unmarried?
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Aids in Maintaining Chaste Singleness
◆ Pray regularly for God’s spirit and his help in displaying its fruitage
◆ Ponder over and always apply the counsel of God’s Word
◆ Avoid pornography and immoral entertainment
◆ Guard your associations
◆ Shun unclean speech and obscene jesting
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Jephthah’s daughter, the apostle Paul, and other servants of Jehovah found singleness to be a rewarding way of life. Can you?