The recent news regarding the enhanced public housing accessibility for singles has brought much joy and relief to singles who are already 35 years old and above, or approaching this significant milestone. The news came at a time when I was writing this topic of being single for EP Express, in line with this year’s EP theme “Strengthening Faith, Strengthening Family”.
This move from the government also serves as a reminder to the church community that we must consider the needs of this growing group of mature adults, comprising those who are either widowed, divorced or have never been married. The needs of this group often fall through the cracks.
Through the following discussion, I hope we can be more intentional in caring for this group of singles.
How adequately has our church looked after the needs of singles?
Every year, churches celebrate Mother’s Day or Parent’s Day. Married couples are encouraged to attend marriage retreats, whilst courses relating to pre-marital preparation, and parenting are held regularly.
Undeniably, building strong marriages and families has always been a major focus in the church. But how many church events are organized specifically to cater for the needs of singles?
Statistics from the Singapore Census of Population 2020 revealed that the population of singles had grown across all age groups over a 10-year period.
Aren’t we seeing a similar trend in our church? Singles can make a greater impact on the vitality of our community if we engage them well. From the perspective of the life and ministry of our church, it makes sense for us to give greater attention to their needs.
What was Paul’s view on singleness?
The apostle Paul said in 1 Cor 7:7-8 “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.”
He further explained in 1 Cor 7:32-35 why singlehood is preferred over marriage and may be better for some people. The singles are in a favorable position to give undivided devotion to the things of the Lord, to please the Lord and to be holy in body and spirit. The married, on the other hand, would have to contend with worldly things and family matters.
From Paul’s epistles, we can read how he himself demonstrated a life that is fully devoted to the Lord.
What are some challenges that singles face?
Singles often face societal pressure to get married. At times, they find themselves in awkward situations just because they are single. One common situation is having to answer questions from elderly relatives during Chinese New Year gatherings like “Why aren’t you married?”, “Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?”, “Are your expectations too high?”.
People remain single, either by choice or circumstances. Singlehood may only be a passing phase for some because they would go on to get married when they meet the right person. On the other hand, there are singles who wish to get married but there is no suitable match for them. With the passing of the years, they might be led to question their self-worth.
Another challenge for singles is the fear of loneliness. It may start to bother them when they see their friends having a family of their own. They might worry that they would experience loneliness when they are less mobile in their old age.
Singles may encounter awkward situations in the church that the married need not go through. I was once caught in such an awkward moment many years ago while attending a church service. A guest speaker was invited to preach on that day. As our church was celebrating Parents’ Day on that Sunday, he was given a topic related to “marriage and family”.
Towards the end of his message, he announced that he was going to pray for the families. Then he asked those who were married to stand up, followed by those who were planning to get married. At this point, I remained seated since I did not fall into either category.
He began to pray for those who had stood up. After his prayers, he left the pulpit while the people remained standing. I opened my eyes and realized that I was the only person in the vicinity who was seated. Everyone else around me was standing and exchanging greetings with one another. I had to bear with the awkward moment until the worship leader came up to lead the rest of the service.
It would certainly help if church events that involve a wide range of people demographically, were to take into consideration the needs of singles.
How can one enjoy being single?
It must be stressed that singleness is not second-best. Both marriage and singleness are gifts from God. One is not better than the other. Whether one is single or married, each person enjoys countless blessings from God.
Singles enjoy the kind of freedom that married people cannot attain. Singles can make many big and small decisions without having to consider many factors that would tie a married person down. They can serve the Lord without many distractions.
No matter what the world says, there is no reason for singles to doubt God’s love or His plan for them. I love Psalm 139:14-16:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Indeed, singles can trust that God knows each one of them intimately and that all the days ordained for them, including the season of singleness, are already written in His book.
So to all the singles out there, enjoy God’s gift of singleness! Remember that your worth is never determined by your relationship status, but by your identity in Christ alone. You are already complete in Christ.
How can the church support singles in its the spiritual family?
Some singles are blessed with strong family bonds. But not all singles have a good relationship with their own family. This is where the spiritual family can come in. Jesus declared in Luke 8:21 that those who hear and obey God’s word are part of his spiritual family.
How can our church support the singles emotionally, spiritually or socially? Just like anyone else, singles need to feel connected with others too. Hence, the church community can help singles feel a sense of belonging by extending invitations to them for family dinners or group gatherings. We should be considerate that conversations do not always revolve around children or household matters when singles are around. Singles can be given words of affirmation or little gifts as gestures of love and appreciation. Lastly, they can be upheld in prayers that they will guard their hearts from sin’s entanglement.
Singles can live a fulfilled life in the here and now by devoting their time, talents and finances fully to the Lord. When they trust in God’s promises, leading a life that is fully committed and surrendered to Jesus, and setting their sights on eternity, God’s favor and blessing will be upon them.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11)
Singles can take heart from Jesus’s word to the Sadducees in Mark 12:25  that there will be no need for marriages in heaven. Rather, there is eternal blessedness promised to all believers in the life to come.
Singapore Department of Statistics, “Census of Population 2020 Statistical Release 1”, https://www.parliament.gov.sg/docs/default-source/default-document-library/cop2020sr1.pdf, 28. Mark 12:25 (ESV) “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”