Stewarding singleness? Does Gen. 2:18 "It is not good for the man to be alone" imply that we are obligated to at least desire to be married?

A couple questions:

  • Any recommendations for resources or books on how to spend (specifically) singleness well?
  • “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” (Gen 2:18) Do you think it is reasonable to say from this verse that we should/are_obligated_to at least desire to be married? Why or why not? Correct me if I am wrong, but what I currently understand Sam’s position to be is that it is okay to not desire marriage. I ask because a pastor was giving me a bit of pushback warning me to not go the whole way with what Sam thinks, and went to this verse. I’ll try to seek clarification on his view more in the future.
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@lewisandrew, are you looking for resources for yourself or others? The books that have helped me the most aren’t specifically for singles. Anything that opens my eyes to the needs around me and equips me to meet those needs will cause me to spend my singleness more wisely. I love reading Christian biographies because they give me a vision of a life on fire for God.

If you’re looking for yourself, do you find yourself drawn to certain areas of ministry? I might have some ideas of books that would be particularly inspirational or helpful for your interests. I can’t think of a book for singles that I’ve liked better than Sam’s, so I can’t help much there.

Concerning Genesis 2:18, is it significant that there were no other humans on earth when God said that? Adam was alone in a way that we aren’t even if we are single. Since Paul said that it is good to remain single (1 Corinthians 7:8), we can’t use Genesis 2:18 as a blanket statement that it’s not good to be single.

I also wouldn’t work at desiring marriage. Since God is currently leading me to be single, I should strive to be content in that rather than trying to desire the thing He said no to. I need to be sensitive to His leading so that I don’t let things like my career get in the way of marriage. But as long as I’m loving God with my whole heart, I’ll know if He is leading me in a new direction.

Psalm 73:25-26 says it best: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

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Hi @lewisandrew,

I agree with the contextual point that @Jennifer_Wilkinson raised: the man was actually alone…like, the only one of his species alone. So that is important to reading that divine statement. (His next move in fact seems to make the species / peer point: he looks among the animals and none are found suitable.The human is to be in social relationship with an other of his kind.) But I fully grant that the text then uses this narrative of the God-given other to ground of the male-female pairing in marriage. (But if the “not good to be alone” is primarily about community, and the text which follows is honed in on the creational grounds of marriage… then it makes sense why being single isn’t actually “not good.”)

However, regardless of that interpretive question, my response to this question is really to hold it side by side with the discussion in 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 from the (single) apostle Paul:

I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Together, these texts uphold the testimony which most of the Church has held for most of history: Marriage is good and it is a gift. But it is not the only good, and it is not the only gift.

Is there another way that you (or your pastor) would read Paul’s words here? Are marriage and “alone” really the only human options—or is Sam right to problematize that perspective and suggest that singleness ≠ alone?

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The matter of singleness is one many contend with. Speaking personally I can only say that solitude has taken on new meaning. Paul was blessed with Phoebe in his journey, though unmarried, being encouraged and encouraging each other.

Yes, being single has some drawbacks but my wife will meet me again someday, according to 1 Thes 4:15-18. The reference that Lizibeth made to 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 is spot on, I think, addressing the importance of marriage over physical attraction alone.

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