One of the most important assessments you’ll make as a Christian man is whether you are called to serve God in marriage or in celibacy. Unfortunately, many men are not pursuing either path, but are instead stalled in a cultural attitude of singleness that lulls them away from heroic manhood and into self-centeredness and sexual sin.
There’s a big difference between being single and being called to singleness. In I Corinthians 7:1- 2 and 7:8-10-11 the Apostle Paul tells the unmarried it is good for them to remain single so they can give undivided devotion to the Lord. Paul follows this by saying “each has his own gift from God,” and so the calling to celibacy (single, sexually abstinent Christian service) seems to require some kind of gifting.
Ask yourself these questions to discern if you may be called and gifted to celibate service:
- Am I called to ministry service in locations or conditions that would be difficult to fulfill with a wife and children?
- Does God seem to have gifted me so that I’m able to sacrifice my sexual drive and to be undivided in devotion to the Lord?
- Could I go the rest of my life without the companionship of a wife, the joys of sex and the blessing of children?
If you said, “yes” to these questions, you may be called to serve God in celibacy. This calling requires great sacrifice, but you can be encouraged by the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 18:29-30: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
If you said, “no” to these questions, then you should focus on the other calling Paul presents—to get married. He writes, “because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife” and then later, “if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” In other words, Christian men are called to avoid sexual immorality and be intentional about getting married.
It’s the minority of men who are called to celibacy. Most are called to marriage. It’s the natural design for fulfilling your drive for companionship and sexuality. If you aren’t called to celibate service, then a significant priority for this season of your life is preparing for and moving toward a Biblical marriage. Be intentional about finding a mate by recognizing that God is at work, but that you also have a responsibility. What ways can you be faithful on the path to marriage right now?
STEP ONE: Seek direction within Christian community
God calls us to community within our families and the body of Christ. That community is the source for much of our growth as Christians, and it’s also one of the best means for meeting a potential spouse and receiving guidance and support toward marriage.
STEP TWO: Seek Christian compatibility
Paul writes to the Corinthians that a potential spouse “must belong to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). One pastor put it nicely when he said singles should seek someone with whom they are able to serve God better together than apart. A shared faith in Christ and commitment to follow Him is ultimately more important than any other compatibility you may be prioritizing in finding a wife.
STEP THREE: Be Proactive
Genesis 2:24 says that a man will leave his parents and cleave to his wife. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife, finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” Notice it doesn’t say “he who stumbles on to a wife” as if it is a chance occurrence. God calls you to step out of the stalled cultural mindset of single living so that you can do your part in seeking out a woman of character to marry.
Going Further: Find tools to help you become more intentional about fulfilling your call to marriage or celibate service by visiting THE INTENTIONAL SINGLE MAN page.