What options for finding a spouse should a single person consider? More so than considering the options, what type of heart attitude should the single person have? Tim considers these questions in this study.
James just sent this one to me today. And I almost deleted it. But you know, as I went out, I go over to Brackenridge to pray and I couldn't get away from it, so I thought you know what, I'm going to visit it. "I'm single. In your video: 'Important to Walk in Purity Before Marriage,' you mention that in 1 Corinthians 7 that those who lack self-control should marry. What about Christians for whom there are no prospects in sight? Especially as a woman waiting for someone to pursue you is frustrating to the point of tears and heartbreaking. You say "get married" like it's something we can just get up and do." Well, I don't want to be insensitive to this, but I do want to point out this: "You say, 'get married,' like it's something you can just get up and do." It's not me that says it. Paul says it. Let's look at it. 1 Corinthians 7. "To the unmarried and the widows, I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am, but if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it's better to marry than to burn with passion." This is typical. It's typical that people say to the preacher or teacher, "you say," but what's important is that we really listen and we be Berean and ask ourselves this: Does Scripture say it? You see, Paul is the one saying here get married. But anyway, that's just a side note. Let's keep going. "You say, 'get married,' like it's something that we can just get up and do, and it's rarely that simple. Sometimes it seems married people are flippant and insensitive towards single people telling them to just be content." Which she realizes is not untrue. "And I don't think that married people remember how fierce the battle is with purity when they were single. It's very frustrating. You said yourself you longed to be married but the Lord kept you single for 3 years and that was not enjoyable. You longed to be married. Is there a practical side to getting married? Also, should churches help singles get married and if so, what can churches do?" Now look, I am not being sarcastic when I say some of the things that I'm about to say. This is not sarcasm. What are the options? I mean, let's seriously ask that question. If you have a young lady or a young man, they want to be married, but they're single, what are the options? I just went riding with three brothers from the church - went on a bike ride before the Bible study and I typically do that on Tuesday's. And oftentimes, Craig asks me what are the questions you're dealing with tonight. And I'll tell him. And I told the guys - I told he and Carlos that I wanted to deal with this question. And I said I've got like 12 options. And I said the first option is: you can go to a bar, you can get drunk, you can go home with a guy. And I told the guys I'm not being sarcastic, and Carlos goes, "No. There's a lot of people who choose that." That's absolutely true. That's not sarcasm. (incomplete thought) Look, what I want to do right now is give options. And I'm not necessarily going to tell you whether these options are right or wrong. I'm just going to tell you what are the options. What are the options if you find yourself in a single state and you're struggling with being there? I'm not saying that some of these options are options to choose or not choose. Some of them may be marginal. Some of you may think well, yeah, you could do that; or some of you may think, well, that's inappropriate. I'm not really here to be your conscience. I know some things are wrong. They're obviously wrong. Some things are obviously right. Some things are in the grey matter. Some of you may have certain thoughts and some may have others. But what are the options? You find yourself sexually frustrated and/or intently lonely, and you don't like being single. So what do you do? (unintelligible) Well, like I say, I'm not being sarcastic here, but one option is sin. I mean one option is: I'm out of here. I'm going to go live with my boyfriend. And people choose that option all the time. I'm going to go to the bar. I'm going to get drunk. I don't know any other way to find a guy. That's the way it happened in the world and now I'm trying to be a Christian and I've had it. I'm frustrated and following Christ is too hard. Or you just make Christ out: Well, He'll forgive me, and so I'm going to go do this. That's an option. Another option. You can get online and you can say I'm going to match.com and eharmony. And I don't know, Christian Mingle? James: Sovereign Singles. Tim: Sovereign Grace Singles. People do that. I know Christians that have done that. We know a sister that was in our church that got married through seeking on some kind of Christian (website). You can do that. R.C. Sproul's son, different people. What was that one? (incomplete thought) They had a data breach. James: Oh, he was on an adultery website. Tim: Yeah, there's adultery websites. There's all sorts of options on the Internet to try to find people. You can parade yourself. You can kind of create fictitious you. You can put your best picture. And you can say all the things, have the light just right, make it all look good, and have nice background. You know, you can really stage yourself and portray yourself exactly how you want there. And lots of people do that. What are other options? (incomplete thought) This is a young lady. We heard not too long ago: well, didn't Ruth initiate? Didn't she go pursue Boaz? She did. So it was suggested that if you're a young lady and you're frustrated - you're frustrated waiting on the guys, you could take the initiative. And there are girls who do that - lost and saved. There are girls who do that. Right or wrong? Well, some would say Ruth seems to indicate that maybe it's not wrong all the time. What else? What's another option? You can strive to make yourself more attractive. That's an option. And maybe there's some validity. You say, how? Now listen to what I'm saying, making yourself more attractive - sometimes a carnal flavor tends to come out of that, but I'll tell you if there's a godly guy looking for a woman to marry, the things that will make her attractive to him are the things that a girl who wants to find a guy like that should be making themselves attractive in. What can you do? Let's just talk about the physical side of it. You know what? If you're overweight, is that going to have any impact on your ability to get married? Perhaps. And it not only speaks perhaps of physical things, but it speaks of very likely spiritual things. Maybe like a lack of self-control. Making yourself attractive... do you want to just let yourself fall apart? Like you're undisciplined? That's not good. Dressing - I'm not saying somebody should dress worldly, but can somebody dress in a way that might be more attractive? (Incomplete thought) Sometimes people talk about dressing smartly or nice. Not necessarily worldly, but looking shabby. Making yourself attractive. You know what? Sometimes there are women who are very unattractive because they're loud, they're proud, they're boastful, they're arrogant. Now, sometimes there are women who are too quiet - on the opposite end. They never talk to a guy. They shy away. Maybe you can put yourself in a position where you're actually rubbing shoulders with those of the opposite sex. Let's hold the questions till the end. Maybe just letting there be something mysterious about you. I mean, I've known some young ladies that are telling a guy like the second time they meet or something they love them and there's nothing very mysterious. There's not much of a challenge. I'm just saying, these are things that you can do. A young lady can put herself where young men are. And again, I'm not telling you whether these things are right or wrong. I'm telling you these are options that people have at their disposal. You can seek to stir up some interest. Here's something not to do: Here's an option that probably is wise. We were at the Pearl on Sunday night and Mack was speaking to a good crowd of us and somebody asked him about his marriage. And he was actually talking about it and being very transparent about some of his struggles and his communication issues that he's had to overcome, and he told us a story about this last New Year's, and said it was 9:55 and his wife asked him to stay up for the New Year, and he said I go to bed at 10, and he said my eyes were hanging low, and she put on a Hallmark movie. And he said it was 13 degrees outside and he went outside and stood out there until he was wide awake. And he came in and he watched two or three Hallmark movies with his wife. Missed the New Year because they were all into the movie. He said it was wonderful. Now that might be good for a man who's trying to strengthen his marriage. That is not good for a young lady who is single to sit and watch two or three of those. She ought to stay as far away from those as possible. Why? Why expose yourself to that? Why do that? What else? James: What's a Hallmark movie? Tim: It's a romance movie. James: Our wives obviously watch them all this time. Tim: I've watched some with my wife. They all have the same storyline, just different actors and actresses. They are identical - every one of them. They're the kind of movies guys hate. But if you watch them with your wife... She's actually asking about whether the church should be involved. Now that's an option. Could you look to your father to help set you up with somebody? Could you look to your pastor? I'll admit some people are better matchmakers than others. But that's a possibility and that happens. There's communication and I have it. Very likely, James has it. There's communication with elders in other churches at times about singles in the church and possible matches. Here's an option. This is a serious option. Surrendering yourself to living a life of singleness to the glory of God if that's what God has called you to. You say, well, here I am struggling. I'm struggling with singleness and you're going to give me that as an option? Yeah, I think that's a tremendous option. Let me say it again. Surrendering. (incomplete thought) But just surrendering yourself to that reality. You know what, when I was single, I asked the Lord: Lord, I'll stay single. I don't have any problem staying single if You'll help me be single. I mean, if You'll grant me a gift of singleness and grant me contentment to be single, I'll happily stay single. But I think that's a real, genuine option is to say: Lord, I'm surrendered. I'm surrendered. I am not going to live my life like life doesn't start till I'm married. I'm surrendering that to You. Lord, here I am. I'm ready to serve You and if You want me to serve You single, then I'm going to serve You single as best as I can. I think that is an option that you really want to consider. This is one to think about. I've given lots of options. Make yourself more attractive. Get on the Internet and use one of these match-making deals. There's all sorts of things. Talk to the pastor. Talk to other people. Go to where the guys are. Communicate some. Fix the things that are wrong. Make yourself more attractive. There's all these things that you can think about. Girls taking initiative. But I'll tell you what Scripture says. Not so much about getting a husband or a wife, but I think you can put it in there. Because what Jesus is talking about is food and clothing. The basics of life. And you know what He says? Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added unto you. You know what one option is? Just all out serve the Lord. (incomplete thought) Listen, we have a God that if He wants you married, you can be on a desert island where there's not a guy miles from you and He will get that guy there and you will be married. James: Or you can be in India and some guy from Bangladesh ends up over there and you marry him. Tim: Right. I mean, when Ruby - she was in a church, no single guys. I'm looking at moving to a different church in the same city. John Sytsma called me and told me: we know you're single and Pat just wanted John to say to me, look, there aren't any eligible young ladies here. It was like that didn't even cross my mind. I'm not going down there because there's a bunch of single ladies. I'm going down there because that's the kind of church I've been looking for. Ruby's dad would say to her even if God has to bring your husband from 1,000 miles away - well, that's exactly what happened. The thing is seek first the Kingdom. (incomplete thought) Yes, pray. That came up before. And don't underestimate that. I'm not putting these options in order of priority. In fact, I'm probably putting them worst to best. But the thing is don't underestimate the God that Christians have. We have us a God who's able to do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond what you ask or think. (incomplete thought) This is a huge thing. You know what one of the good options is? Is renew your minds. Renew your minds. You say what do you mean? I mean this: you can be single and you can be in a situation where you see all these married people and you say: woe is me. Okay, let me ask you something. Are you a Christian? Yes. Woe is me? You've been saved from your sins. In a very short time, you're going to be in Paradise. This life is fleeting. It's over in a moment. It's like a breath of fog and it's gone. You are going to spend forever - eternal life, abundant, overflowing, an eternal weight of glory, and you're saying woe is me? Wake up! It is not woe is you. In fact, the Apostle Paul said that if you're married, you're going to be taken up with worldly anxieties. But if you're not married, you can give yourself freely and fully to the Lord. What does that mean? Renew your mind. It means on judgment day when sister so-and-so over here is being rewarded for the 60% she was able to bring forth in her life because 40% was given to worldly endeavors that really didn't amount to much, and you're over here and you were single and you could have devoted your whole life - you want to be that person that: "Oh, well done! A hundred fold!" You don't want to be tenfold because 90% of the time, you pined away, self pity, oh "woe is me." Listen, renew your mind. The thing is you're not the only person suffering in this world. And there are many married people who are just as lonely or lonelier than you. And there are people that are married that are very miserable. And I guarantee you this, that look, we have us a God, and I think there's a place to come to Him and pray, Lord, I ask You, please, give me a spouse or give me the grace to be single. That's very reasonable. Why would He not give you either one of those? He will! When we're suffering and you're like Paul and you come and say I've got a thorn in the flesh and would You please take it away, and you ask three times, what's the answer? "My grace is sufficient." And I think that's where our expectation needs to be. And you need to renew your mind. You need to think right about things. Think right. The Apostle Paul teaches that if you're single, you have the ability to serve the Lord like married people don't. Don't waste your singleness. Don't waste it pining away, feeling like you have an entitlement to be married and somehow God has done you wrong until you get a spouse. Don't think you're the only one that suffers. We can think like that. We often think that way in our suffering. But remember, we have a sympathetic high priest. That's what Scripture says. And He's able to relate. He stayed single His whole life. He was a Man of Sorrows. Charles Leiter's done a message on the loneliness of Christ. If ever somebody was lonely, it was Christ. He suffered alone on that cross. And here's the thing, our lives really are momentary. You need to renew your mind there. And you know what? Even the people in this room with the happiest marriages - one of us is going to die and probably not both of us on the same day. Somebody's going to say goodbye. And it's over. John Piper wrote a book called, "This Momentary Marriage." It's just momentary. And then there's eternity forever. And I guarantee you, in a million years it will not matter which ones of us were married or which ones of us weren't married. What's going to really matter is whether you were in or out; whether you served well; whether in the end, it's: Well done, good and faithful servant. You had your hand up. (from the room) Yeah, I noticed you were talking from the perspective of the female, but I wanted to ask you could you elaborate - I heard a lot of talk about the gift of singleness. Can you tell us like what you think that is? Tim: Well, it seems to be a gift and it seems to be something that some people have that other people don't have. And what is the gift? I would say it's a lack of need to be married. It's the ability to be content to stay single. I want to read something to you. I often go back to this. This is "Praying Payson" - Edward Payson of Portland, Maine. James: What page is that? Tim: This is page 410 of Volume 1. He is dying. Listen to what he says. "Christians might avoid much trouble and inconvenience if they would only believe what they profess, that God is able to make them happy without anything else." Seek first the Kingdom of God. Seek first God. Single people - I can tell you this, in my singleness, did I want to be married? Yes, I wanted to be married. But I can tell you this, I had visitations of the presence of Christ in those three years of singleness that I have not had since I've been married. They are the most fulfilling things imaginable. Listen to what Payson says. "Christians imagine that if such a dear friend were to die..." or I'll insert here: or if I wasn't to get married, and it's like my spouse died before I ever met him - "or such and such blessings to be removed" (like the blessing of marriage), "they imagine that they should be miserable." And that's what happens. Oh, woe is me. I'm going to be miserable. I'm not going to get married. But he says this, "Whereas God can make them a thousand times happier without them. To mention my own case, God has been depriving me of one blessing after another, but as every one of these blessings has been removed, God has come in and filled up its place and now when I'm a cripple, not able to move, I am happier than ever I was in my life before or ever expected to be. And if I had only believed this 20 years ago, I might have been spared much anxiety." The truth is God alone without anything else is entirely satisfying. Renew your mind. Renew your mind. To find God is it. That's the sum. A good option is to abandon marriage idolatry. Marriage is not God. A husband is not God. A wife is not God. Not even close. Not even to be equated. And if you're living just for marriage, you want to be careful because idolaters do not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Live for God. Renew the mind. Renew the mind. Become convinced of really what is important and what satisfies. Here's a man - a godly man - at the end, and he's realizing just how fulfilling God is (incomplete thought). What we have is his words. What he's saying is true. God is entirely fulfilling. And when we can get where my soul pants after God, like the deer pants after the waterbrooks, my soul longs, it pants after You. When we live that way, when you find God and you drink richly from those springs, you can be single. You can be in the fires. You can be in prison. I mean, one of those Covenanters - I wish I could remember, his name is just barely escaping me. It's like Cameron. Cameron, I think. But he was one of those Scotch Covenanters. They said he received like six or seven mortal wounds - any one of which would have killed him. But he was hacked up. They chopped him up with swords. They threw him - he's dying, bleeding - they threw him in the dungeon and they just piled chains on top of him. And his fellow comrades were in the dungeon with him. He's just laying there a broken man, his body's all shattered. And he was able to communicate to them and said I don't think I can bear up under this much longer. And when they inquired, they found out what he meant was not: the tortures of all these wounds and chains are killing me. He said, "I am experiencing the glory of God to the degree that I don't know if I can sustain it much longer." He did die. But the glory of God being revealed to Him - if we will pant after that and chase after that and not be content until we have that, I guarantee to find God and to drink of that cup, that so surpasses anything marriage can bring. And if a person has their eyes set on marraige and finding a husband and they're so full of anxieties and so full of discontentment, they're exalting marriage to something that they should not exalt it to. That's dangerous idolatry. But we need to be convinced. We need to have our minds renewed. Well, may the Lord help you to sort through the options. See the good ones. Reject the bad ones. Embrace the good ones. Father, I pray for the singles and I pray Lord, may they hear this. May they really hear this and long after You and find You, pursue You, as that deer pursues those waters when famished and thirsty and panting. Lord, we all want that - married or single. Give us a greater thirst for You. And we would take this opportunity to pray too for the Spirit of God. My daughter's birthday is in two days. I can think about giving her gifts. Oh Father, if we were the sort of Father that You are, knowing what we know about ourselves and our desire to give good gifts to our children, Lord, how much more will You give the Holy Spirit and we ask You to do it. Give the Holy Spirit to us. We ask in Christ's name, Amen.