Sometimes amidst the intense debates concerning home-schooling, Christian schooling, focusing on the family, political marriage issues, and the like, we end up forgetting an important teaching from Paul: 1 Corinthians 7.8. It is really good to remain unmarried. Paul repeats this a few times (1 Cor. 7.1, 26-28, 37-38). Actually, though it sounds odd to many Christians, it is better to remain single than to marry.
Stanley Hauerwas has some helpful insights about singleness and the Christian life. Singleness, he says, is a legitimate form of life among Christians. “The early church’s legitimation of singleness as a form of life symbolized the necessity of the church to grow through witness and conversion. Singleness was legitimate, not because sex was thought to be a particularly questionable activity, but the mission of the church was such that ‘between the times’ the church required those who were capable of complete service to the Kingdom.”
“And we must remember that the ‘sacrifice’ made by the single is not that of ‘giving up sex,’ but the much more significant sacrifice of giving up heirs. There can be no more radical act than this, as it is the clearest institutional expression that one’s future is not guaranteed by the family, but by the church. The church, the harbinger of the Kingdom of God, is now the source of our primary loyalty.” In other words, Christians who are “single for life” visibly show the fact that God does not need us to build his church. Or, in other words from Hauerwas, single Christians, when they give up heirs, do so because “they now understand that they have been made part of a community that is more determinative than the biological family.”
Hauerwas nails it: “When the church loses the significance of singleness, I suspect it does so because Christians no longer have confidence that the Gospel can be received by those who have not been, so to speak, ‘raised in it.’ Put differently: Christian justifications of the family may often be the result that Christians no longer believe the Gospel is true or joyful.”
Quotes of Hauerwas taken from The Hauerwas Reader (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001), 497-8, 512.