Which is Better: Singlehood or Marriage?
"The person who marries does well, [but] the person who doesn't marry does even better "(1 Cor. 7:38). When Scripture is this straightforward, further discussion is not really unnecessary. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts.
When the card is played right, marriage has many advantages:
financial - two incomes are better than one (assuming both people are fiscally responsible); if one loses a job, there's a safety net
physical - I'm baffled by those who don't have sex on a regular basis. Obviously, age, health, or stamina can be issues to consider, but it's certainly not God's will for married couples to live like stale roommates (see 1 Cor. 7:3-5)
emotional - assuming neither spouse is an abusive, cantankerous jerk, marriage should be an emotionally safe place; fundamentally, couples should strive for unity - even when they (vehemently) disagree on issues
generational - marriage is the only earthly reflection of Christ's relationship with the Church (see Eph. 5:21-33); from this union flows the blessings of God into the lives of children and grandchildren (biological, adopted, fostered, spiritual)
The simple wisdom found in Scripture leads me to believe this relationship is not complicated - but humans who fail to follow instructions are the issue. Consider all the unattractive things I've witnessed in marriages:
Those who claimed, "The first year is the hardest" - basically cursed their honeymoon phase; those who referred to their spouse as "one of my children" - enabled childish behaviors; when private things were blabbed to others (especially in-laws) - there was backlash for breaching confidentiality; those who weren't spiritually/mentally/emotionally stable but pursued the union anyway - were hit with painful consequences for assuming marriage would solve their problems; when vows were taken outside of God's will - it resulted in devastation; the Lord pardoned the sin of divorce but He never suggested it as the solution (see Mal. 2:16; Matt. 19:1-8).
Some will spend years praying for marriage, and then spend years complaining after it happens. However, regarding the few (biblically) healthy marriages I've seen - where the two were in lockstep, there were no insecurities about one spending time away from the other, dysfunction was low, respect was high - I greatly benefitted from knowing the couple.
Free from concern
In my opinion, singlehood is preferable to marriage in the sense that the single one has no burden of provision or submission to a mate. I agree with apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:28, 32-35 (NIV): ...those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you from this. I would like you to be free from concern... A married [person] is concerned about the affairs of this world - how to please their [spouse]- and their interests are divided.
Within the context of 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is not establishing a commandment against marriage. Rather, he's encouraging converts to remain faithful to God. Surrounding chapters prove sexual immorality and idolatry were rampant in Corinth, thus the apostle provided the best instructions for maintaining purity. This same encouragement and instruction applies to our present-day, sexually perverted society. Married people should stay married, and singles should guard against sensuality (this includes R-rated films, secular music, romance novels, dating the wrong people, etc.).
A serious concern in Christian marriages is unequally yoked partnerships (see. 1 Cor. 7:12-17). My friends with unsaved spouses are certainly preoccupied with appeasing their mate; these marriages are weighted down with "keeping the peace." This is especially true when the believer spends a lot of time on Christ-centered activities. I can honestly say, on my loneliest of single days, I've never desired to trade places with these people. Truly, singlehood is far better than the constant struggle of choosing between God and a marriage partner.
Of course, I'm not saying all saved married people with unsaved spouses are miserable (unless they are). Apostle Paul and I simply mean to convey that marriage isn't a responsibility anyone should be quick to take on unless the Lord CLEARLY confirms it is His will to do so.
If you want to find the one, become the one
American culture tries to convince us that singlehood is for losers, and no one should be alone (if only I'd thought of starting a dating site, I'd be rich!). But I see through the lies. I've looked soberly in the mirror. I've evaluated my mental, psychological, and spiritual status. If I had met my husband even one year ago, I'd probably be at risk for separation today. No joke.
The struggles in my mind and emotions have been fierce. I thank God I didn't drag anyone else through the muck. I got a revelation that "falling in love" is not necessary for survival - but a peaceful mind and a rested soul are definitely required!! If you're unhappy with yourself, chances are you'll be unhappy with someone being in your space for the rest of your life. If singlehood is marked by intense spiritual warfare, then I imagine it can be twice as rough on the other side (interestingly, the average divorce rate among believers and unbelievers is almost tied).
Consider those marital benefits through the lens of singlehood:
financial - no responsibilities outside oneself; no permission or approval needed on purchases; no one to blame for financial problems
physical - untimely/unwanted attention from a spouse is never an issue; the fruit of the Spirit of self-control is legit (see Gal. 5:23); abstinence is easy when you don't stir up desires before their time (see Songs 8:4); there are other forms of love to enjoy (agape, phileo, and storge)
emotional - take as much time as needed to work through and get over issues; no one else's needs come first; long-term investment in personal wellbeing
generational - influence the lives of many children and remain free from the ultimately responsibility; single parents don't have it easy, but the Lord can make a way
At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I do hope to get married someday. But I'm willing to wait HOWEVER long it takes to ensure I'm the right person, in my right mind, with the ability to attract someone under the right circumstances. My friends are welcome to continue praying in my man of God, but the matter is settled in my heart. It won't happen a moment too soon :D.