Being a single adult in a church culture can be … what’s the word … awkward.
For some reason, many church communities revolve around an actual, or perceived, core of nuclear families. Despite the extremely diverse array of family systems in any community, people who are unmarried (for any number of reasons) can feel like they’re on the outside looking in, as the church appears to be designed the fit the needs of married people and families, rather than single people.
And this culture can have impact beyond church programs. It can lead to conversations and comments that are awkward at best, and emotionally damaging at worst–especially when one of the church’s goals is to communicate the unconditional love of God.
But when the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he seemed to almost dismiss people’s marital status as relatively unimportant. If you’re single, stay single. If married, stay married! Paul tries to keep the Corinthians’ focus on what mattered most — Jesus’ return and the completion of the Kingdom of God.
Verse 35 is the key: in whatever circumstances you find yourself, live in “undivided devotion to the Lord.”
- In what ways do you think marital status impacts a person’s purpose in God’s Kingdom?
- If Paul believes marriage is good, why does he also lift up singleness in this passage?
- In what ways could you not just “overlook,” but even leverage your marital status (single, married, divorced, widowed, etc.) to make the greatest impact in our community for God’s Kingdom?
- Jesus commands us to remain connected to himself, as branches in a vine. And then he commands that we love each other as he loves us. How will this impact the way you relate to people the next time you’re at church, at work, and so forth?