You guessed it. The least enjoyable holiday of the year has arrived. Least enjoyable, that is, if you happen to be a single adult. Once a year American couples apparently spend an entire evening eating chocolate, smelling flowers, paying exorbitant restaurant bills, and having sex. If you’re a single adult lacking a significant other, you may find yourself taking one or more of the following approaches to Valentine’s Day.
Option A – Pretend you didn’t notice. “Oh, Valentine’s Day? I totally forgot. No, I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary tonight. I mean, maybe I would have, but I already made other plans.” Warning: This option doesn’t work well if you have overly eager grandparents who have regularly asked if you have a girlfriend since you were in grade school.
Option B – Do the group thing. “Why should couples have all the fun tonight, girls? Movie night at my place! Wear your favorite heart-themed pajamas and we’ll make heart-shaped cookies…for each other.” Warning: Sudden longings for a relationship may ensue if a romantic comedy (chick flick) is selected.
Option C – Panic. “This is so terrible! I’m HOW old, and I’m STILL not married? I mean, I’m not even in a relationship. I’m NEVER going to be special. I should just join a nunnery. No, wait. I should go to the gym and do two hours of elliptical training, followed by Ms. Femi-Nazi’s group exercise class from hell. Guaranteed to turn spinsters into hot commodities.”
If none of these approaches feel particularly satisfying, take heart. I believe God has something far better for you. Here are three ways a single adult can honor God on Valentine’s Day.
1) Purpose to deploy your single years as a precious gift.
“The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interest are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.” (1 Cor 7:33-34)
Paul’s point is simple. Single adults have a big advantage over married people. They have only one covenant relationship to work on – relationship with God. If you’re married, then you have a second covenant relationship requiring a great deal of time and energy. Coordinating schedules, caring for children, deepening friendship, resolving conflicts, and managing a home are all par for the course. It’s not all candlelight and sex.
Done right, marriage is a magnificent symbol of God’s sacrificial love for his people and their joyful submission to him (Eph 5:25-27). But even in it’s most sanctified form, marriage is still a momentary relationship (Matt 22:30). It will not endure like our relationship with God. When Jesus returns to dwell among his people, the reality will replace the symbol. Marriage between a husband and wife will cease to exist, eclipsed by the wedding supper of the Lamb which human marriage has always foreshadowed (Rev 19:6-9). For now, my time and energy as as married man is necessarily split between a physical, relationship that is temporary and a spiritual relationship that is eternal.
Singles, your interests don’t have to be so divided. You have an incredible opportunity for single-minded devotion to your relationship with God. You can study your Bible for hours without interruption. You can stay up half the night talking to a friend about Jesus. You can give away more of your money to the poor. You can invest more of your time serving the church. You can move to the foreign mission field more easily. Arguably, you can do more now to proclaim and incarnate the kingdom of God than you can once you’re married. Don’t waste your gift. Use your single years to love God and love people with abandon. Deliberately take a few minutes today to make a short list of ministry priorities. Dream big. God will do great things through a single adult living in total surrender to the King.
2) Thank a married couple for proclaiming the Gospel through their relationship.
Think about how a husband you know practices sacrificial love and unselfish leadership in his marriage. Think about how a wife you know models joyful support and intelligent submission in her marriage. Use Valentine’s Day to tell them what you’ve noticed. Help them see how God is using their example to model the relationship between Christ and the Church. Nothing beats back discontentment like gratitude.
3) If you desire marriage, keep preparing for it.
God is not rushing to get you married. Nor is he twiddling his thumbs waiting for that special someone to take notice so He can get on with His plan for your life. His timing is perfect and He doesn’t make mistakes. He will use every day of your single years to prepare you to be a better husband or wife, if you’ll let Him. Maybe you’re an older single or widowed adult, and you feel like the marriage wave has come and gone, leaving you bobbing in its wake without a partner in crime. Consider how youingle can give your life away for the good of others in your family, church, or neighborhood (Luke 10:25-37). Learn to die to yourself. Learn to care more about the interests of others than about your own (Phil. 2:3-4). If God gives you the gift of marriage, your future spouse will be grateful for how you put selfishness to death and learned to love like Jesus during your single years.
Today I honor all my single, Christian friends at Kingsway. Many of you are already doing what I’ve said here. All of us are richer for it. Your role in our community is indispensable. Please don’t begrudge your relationship status, and please don’t allow Valentine’s Day to rob your joy. God’s given you an incredible gift; use it. Your married and single friends are cheering you on.