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Single and Single-minded

God wants single people to serve him without distraction.

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Introduction

A recent census reported that about 86 million single people live in the U.S. As people get married later, as the divorce rate climbs, and as more and more couples choose to live together instead of getting married, the number of single individuals is increasing fast. In 1970, 36 percent of American adults were single; today the figure is closer to 44 percent. Married couples with kids, which used to be the norm, now make up only about 25 percent of our population.

Even for those who marry, singleness makes up a large portion of life, either at the front or the back end of life. Suppose you are married at age 26, that your spouse dies when you are 70, and you live to be 82. You would have been married for 44 years, but you would be single for 38 years. Are those single years less important than your married years?

In our church about 60 percent of our members are single. Yet we don't talk about singleness enough. The church often doesn't know how to address the issue. Most pastors, like myself, are married and feel like we lack the credibility to talk about it.

Most Christians would say that we were created to be married. Marriage is normal. Singles are incomplete or abnormal. Maybe we haven't come right out and said that, but we've implied it.

I understand where that assumption comes from. In Genesis it says that it's not good for man to be alone. We say, "That means everybody ought to be married." Couldn't it mean that all human beings need deep, caring relationships and can't live in isolation? Does it really teach that everybody is called to be married? Need I mention that Jesus was a single adult, and so were his best friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus? John the Baptist was single. We don't know if Paul was ...

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Mark Mitchell is pastor of Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, California.

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