Written by Kevin L. Howard   

Most single adults have heard someone tell them that they need to be content before God will give them a spouse.  So let's examine this idea in light of Scripture.


In Phip 4:11, Paul says, "…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."  He goes on to say in verse 12, "…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."  And regarding money and greed, he says in 1 Tim 6:6 that, "godliness with contentment is great gain."  Paul also indicated in 1 Cor 7:7-8 that he was fine being single.  When I read these passages, I see that Paul was way ahead of me in contentment, especially in the single realm.


More often than not, singleness feels like a curse than a blessing.  Many other singles feel this way too.  Yes, the single life has benefits, but do we desire a bad thing when we long for marriage? 


No.  Scripture teaches that marriage and romantic love are good things designed by God himself (Gen 2; Ruth 1-4; Pro 5:18-19; 18:22; 19:14; Song of Songs; 1 Cor 7:2; Eph 5:21-33; Heb 13:4).  Sometimes singleness will be a path that some will choose because they don't want to be married (Mat 19:8-12), or because persecution makes marriage impractical (1 Cor 7:24-28), but otherwise, marriage is the norm.


Scripture teaches us—whether rich or poor, married or single, sick or well—that we should seek contentment in Christ.  Living holy and content lives is important.  But this should not lead us to say that singles have to reach some level of contentment before God will bring them a spouse.  If that's the case, many of us will never marry, because our discontentment grows with each passing year.


It's my contention that married people wouldn't be married if they'd truly reached a state of total contentment with singleness.  The fact that they married tells me that they saw something more valuable in marriage than in singleness.  So we should not promote the false teaching of being totally content or else God won't give singles a spouse.  It may sound good, but it's not biblical. After all, doesn't God give his children good things just because he loves his children (Lk 11:1-11)?  We singles need to learn a certain level of contentment and happiness in our singleness, not because it's the spiritual state we need to reach before God will bless us with a spouse, but for our own well being.  In fact, we need to learn contentment because that's how we can best enjoy God.


But marriage is still good.  It's hard to hear married folks give trite answers like, "Just be content as a single…you can do so much more for the Lord," or "Pray and ask God to send someone and he will if it's his plan for you," or "God wants you to learn to be content as a single." This is easy to say unless you've longed, waited, prayed, and wept year after year for a spouse, only to still be alone.  It's like an overweight business man slowing down in his BMW to yell out the window at a begging emaciated hungry lady to tell her that she should learn to be content with her lot in life.  There may be some truth in the statement, but it seems cruel as he drives off to his million-dollar house in the suburbs.


As a single adult, I want married people to genuinely empathize and care about my desire to marry, and to affirm that I desire a good thing.  Maybe they will even offer to introduce me to someone, rather than to rattle off some statement like, "When you learn to stop looking for a wife, then God will bring her your way."  That line just doesn't make sense.  Why do I need her after I've stopped looking?


I realize that marriage, by itself, won't make me happy, but it's still a good thing to desire.  So encourage me, offer some biblical principles, even give me some pointers on wooing women, but please don't quote some unbiblical teaching about being content enough to deserve a spouse.


Sept 2002 


Kevin is now married and fully endorses this article.