Are you single? As in, are you currently not married?
Congratulations! You have the gift of singleness.
If that freaks you out, we probably need to clarify what the gift of singleness is.
There are a couple of different takes on what this “gift” actually is. Some think of it as a spiritual gift that enables you to remain single forever. It’s considered a gift because staying single can free you up to do more in serving the Lord. See 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, for example. It’s sometimes called the gift of celibacy, because the Bible reserves sex for marriage, and so remaining unmarried would mean remaining celibate.
This idea of being called to remain single forever is why some single Christians are fearful that they might have the gift of singleness. It’s like the white elephant gift that nobody wants. For many people, it sounds more like a curse than a gift.
But if that’s how you feel about it—if having the gift of lifelong singleness is literally your greatest fear, ranking ahead of sharks and public speaking—then I’d venture that it’s pretty safe to say that you don’t have that gift. (Or at least not right now.) In Matthew 19:10-12, when Jesus talks about this gift, He says that there are eunuchs (people who physically cannot have sex), and “there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Note the word “choose.” We have free will. In practice, the gift of celibacy is probably the ability to not be that concerned about getting married or having sex, so that you can freely choose to live life that way.
People can change, so it’s possible that you may not have a gift now but develop it over time. But that’s also nothing to be afraid of. At one time, I didn’t feel called to ministry; I had no desire to be a pastor. But now there’s nothing I’d rather do. The same could be true with being called to singleness.
Just because you don’t have the gift of being single forever doesn’t mean you don’t have the gift of singleness today. As I said at the beginning, if you aren’t married, then you absolutely have the gift of singleness right now. You are single for this season of your life, and that is a gift. It’s a gift that is, in some ways, better than marriage (just like marriage is, in some ways, better than being single).
The problem is that people often don’t treat it as a gift. They see it as a curse, or a problem to be remedied, or a waiting period before you become “complete” by getting married. (Was unmarried Jesus not complete? Or Paul? Or Mother Teresa?) So instead of using the gift of singleness to build up the kingdom, they wait it out and waste it.
How should you be using your gift of singleness? Here are some ideas. As a single person, you have more time, more freedom, and fewer responsibilities. You have the ability to study God’s Word more, share the gospel more, and disciple more people. You can also date and look for a spouse; Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:28 that there’s nothing wrong with getting married. But do so in a way that honors God and avoids unnecessary pain for yourself. See also a lot of other dating posts we’ve done.
Do you see singleness as a gift?
(With help from Kevin McConaghy)