Quick Guide: When Saying ‘Being Content With Singleness’ Is & Isn’t Okay

Church Dating Culture, Singleness

This phrase is said a lot in Christian circles. It does reveal an important Biblical teaching, but for some single people it can sound like a harsh rebuke. Knowing what this phrase is meant to communicate, and the correct context for it can help us to know when saying it will help or hurt someone we’re trying to support. 

‘If you’re single, going to church and finding it a bit hard, you’re not the only one. It can be difficult in an often family orientated context and culture. It’s okay to say it’s a struggle sometimes.’

‘And wanting to get married isn’t wrong. You’re allowed to want a husband or wife. You can be single, love God, be seeking him, and want to get married. One doesn’t automatically cancel out the other.’

You’re allowed to want to get married

These were some of the words I said at a recent talk. I could see on people’s faces a sense of relief. To hear someone say on stage that if you’re single, you’re allowed to want to get married and you may struggle a bit in church, clearly meant a lot.

And I believe all of this is true and not said enough, but it isn’t the full picture either.


I said these words after an earlier talk, in which someone said you need to ‘be content with singleness’ and find peace in God.

And I couldn’t agree more.

If we’re single, (or married, or dating,) we’re told to trust God and depend on him. Our relationship status doesn’t change the fact we should be rooted and ultimately fulfilled in God.

But does this mean there’s a contradiction? Does that make me or the other speaker wrong? Or is it a bit more complicated?

Context is Key

The thing is, I’ve spoken to single people in church who fully love God. They do find peace in him and are pursuing him with a passion. But they still want to find someone, date, and get married. They are content in God, but that doesn’t take away the struggles of life.

When they hear the phrase, ‘be content with singleness’, it’s like a slap in the face. They are truly seeking God and loving him,  and just need help and support in this important area of life from others. Maybe a bit of guidance when it comes to dating, or a bit of help overcoming some of the fears that surround it.

It doesn’t automatically mean they are taking their eyes off God

It’s like saying to a dedicated worship leader who is wanting singing lessons to improve some habits, that they should just focus on God and not learn new skills. Just because they need help and support to affect a situation, it doesn’t automatically mean they are taking their eyes off God.

Having said that, I’ve also chatted to single people who admit that they’ve focused so much on finding someone that they’ve stopped finding peace in God. They forget to rely on him and find peace in him.

They also say being reminded about ‘being content with singleness’ is helpful. Remembering that even if they’re not in the position they want to be in, God is still good and still using them to build his kingdom and is with them through it all.

Quick Guide

We may relate to one of these situations, or know someone who does. Or we may have said something to someone at the wrong time in the past and caused a bit of hurt.

I do think there are some things to think about, which can remind ourselves and each other that we need to ‘be content with singleness’, but that doesn’t mean our desire for marriage and seeking support in our romantic search is wrong. Namely:

  • There’s Not A Single ‘Singles’ Category
  • Actively Give Good Dating Advice
  • What’s The 5 Year Plan?

There’s Not A Single Category

Firstly, not all single people can be put into a ‘single’ category. Some people have never married, some are widowed, some are divorced.  Some are old and some are young. All these situations bring different challenges, opportunities, and experiences.

Whether we’re single, dating or married, we cannot just assume one ‘magic phrase’ can be applicable to every single person and their context. (Read What The Bible Actually Says About Singleness and 4 Trends That Characterises Singleness In Our 20s, 30s, and 40s)

Good Dating Advice

Equipping single people/ourselves with good advice is important. Helping each other to think through healthy God-centred dating doesn’t mean our fulfilment will stop coming from God. It just means we can do it with God instead of feeling frustrated with our situation. Single people in church often feel overwhelmed by dating. So getting some practical tips can help bring God into this area. (Read 4 Strategies For Overcoming Our Biggest Dating Fears).

What’s The 5 Year Plan?

Another good thing to do would be to ask each other the question: ‘How do you want your life to change in 5 years?’

If we’re only focused on finding someone and settling down, we’ve missed something. God’s plan for us is bigger than our relationship status. What business ideas, hobbies, ministry, friendships do we want to grow and improve? What is God calling us to do?

Being content in singleness can still mean pursuing someone to fall in love with

Being content in singleness can still mean pursuing someone to fall in love with, but it should involve pursuing many other things besides just one person.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we remembered that God is ultimately where we find peace and fulfilment. He’s the one we should be seeking no matter our situation. But this doesn’t mean we can’t be honest about the struggles and seek support and help.

I hope we can remind ourselves, and each other, that ‘being content with singleness’ is an important principle, but it doesn’t discount pursuing marriage or romance. When we give this advice, we need to be aware of the context, and remember that: There’s Not A Single ‘Singles’ Category, Actively Give Good Dating Advice, What’s The 5 Year Plan? (Read Being Cautious Vs Jumping In: Which Dating Habit Is Best?)

Are there any other good phrases, that are unintentionally said in the wrong context? Comments welcome below. 

Originally posted 12/3/2018

Why Single People’s Relationship Advice Shouldn’t Get Rejected

Relationship Difficulties, Singleness

Modern wisdom says experience is king. In other words, unless you have an experience in that area, your opinion doesn’t count. But Jesus was never a sinner, and look how much he helps sinners! When single people feel like their relationship advice is completely invalid, I think everyone loses. 

I have written about this before, and there is a much older version of this article on the fusion website. However, this topic was brought up recently in a roundabout way through some random conversations with my friends.

I was basically saying that in churches (at least the ones I have been to/are linked with) there are rarely any single people in church leadership. The exception can often be the youth worker, who is often younger and therefore more likely to be single. Or the church leader can be single sometimes.

However, in most churches I come across, the people on the leadership team come as a couple.

As I said, there will obviously be exceptions to this, but I was saying that I think this is a massive shame. It can make single people feel overlooked and like they don’t fit in, and churches can miss out on using very talented people just because of their relationship status. (Read 3 Mistakes That Lead to Less Singles in Church)

In churches, it can also make single people feel like they cannot help their friends with their relationships because they are single.

Should I Say Something?

‘I know this couple who I think may have a problem… should I say something?’

This is the exact question a friend asked me when I was chatting to her about a couple she knew.

Yet the problem the couple had isn’t the focus of this post. Neither is whether I answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

This post addresses a deeper issue, namely the two ‘beliefs’ my single friend held. They made her feel disqualified from saying something to her friend because they had different relationship statuses. I think this troubles many people in our churches.

I’m Single, So What Do I Know

As we chatted, the first belief surfaced when she said: ‘I could say something, but I’m single, so what do I know’.

My heart sank.

This belief always upsets me. But is it a surprise she has it? In church single people frequently hear ‘Have you found anyone yet?’ or ‘God is preparing someone for you’. As if we’re outside God’s will until our next date. (Read 5 Clichés Said To Singles, Have You Heard Them All?)

There sat my friend, full of love and genuine concern, believing her relationship status made her irrelevant.

Jesus was never a sinner, but made them feel welcome and transformed their lives

This really upset me because as a Christian, I believe God qualifies the called. I don’t think God will only use the people who come to the altar with everything sorted, who have all the answers, or have reached a certain status in life.

I mean, Paul was never a Gentile but managed to reach many Gentiles with compassion and understanding. Jackie Pullinger was never a drug addict but has saved thousands from drug addiction. Jesus was never a sinner, but made them feel welcome and transformed their lives.

So I challenged my friend’s belief because our relationship status doesn’t automatically disqualify (or qualify) us from being a supportive friend with good relationship advice. Singleness shouldn’t stop us feeling relevant.

We All Need To Learn 

As our conversation progressed, another belief arose when she said: ‘I’ll just leave it, they’ll probably fix it on their own anyway’.

Why should we assume that?

No-one is born knowing how to build and maintain a loving relationship. No-one has a relationship manual which fixes every difficulty. I have unfortunately seen many couples feel trapped because they believe they should ‘instinctively know’ how to fix their problems, so won’t get help.

No-one is born knowing how to build and maintain a loving relationship

We are all learning. We all need help. We all need friends around us who can help, support, pray for, and challenge different areas of our lives. In my experience, a loving and concerned friend is just as, if not more important, than their experience and relationship status.

Something Worth Saying

I said to my friend that our relationship status isn’t inherently linked to good or bad advice (or self-worth). No-one has a manual, we all have problems and need help occasionally. By helping my friend take hold of these new beliefs, she realised she may indeed have something worth saying.

I love church. I think the local church is amazing and has lots of things to think about and try and implement. But I think we need to make sure we don’t inadvertently devalue single people in our churches, or in our love lives. (Read, Have You Fallen Into The ‘Relationship Status’ Trap?).

Imagine If…

Imagine if we all supported each other and allowed our friends to support and challenge us, knowing they have a genuine concern for us, and we didn’t ostracise people because of their experience or relationship status.

We can do this by not letting some assumptions influence how we interpret their advice.

Do you think experience is the most important thing? Comments welcome below.

Originally posted 21/8/2017

2 Fears Every Single Person Should Confront!

Guest Blogs, Singleness

Many single people want to be in a relationship, but they fear losing too much freedom. At the same time, they’re afraid of choosing the wrong person! Here we take a look at what’s behind these fears, and think about how we can start to change our mindset and create a more healthy perspective. 

By our guest blogger, Jen Baker

Recently I was co-leading a seminar on Singleness and the Church and while there I touched on the idea that singleness changes within the decades of our lives (Read 4 Trends That Characterises Singleness In Our 20s, 30s, and 40s).

However, as a 47-year-old, never married single person, I believe there are two overriding fears which unhelpfully lead me and other singles at times when we say and think:

‘I’m afraid of losing my freedom’ and ‘I’m afraid of making the wrong choice’.

And let’s be honest, these fears aren’t limited to singles looking for a partner!  As a pastor, I’ve had numerous conversations with people who are engaged or married and find themselves still facing these fears.

I’m afraid of losing my freedom and I’m afraid of making the wrong choice

It’s quite normal in any type of relationship or in our singleness to struggle with these thoughts from time to time. But we need to know how our God can help us overcome them.

‘I’m Afraid of Losing My Freedom’

Firstly, we need to recognise that the truest form of freedom isn’t found in being alone or being with someone – it is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. John 8:36 says ‘So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’

Freedom isn’t found in being alone or being with someone

Therefore if you’re a Christian then positionally you are as free as you can possibly be – Christ died for your sins and so the punishment is no longer yours to bear … freedom!

And it is from that spiritual foundation of freedom that you can more easily outwork your natural expression of freedom within everyday life. This is including the area of trusting another person with your vulnerability and releasing your need to have everything done according to your preferences and timetable.

It’s in the everyday decisions where we often feel our freedom most restricted

Because at the end of the day, it’s in the everyday decisions where we often feel our freedom most restricted or stolen by another person.

So remember: Our relationship status is not the basis of our freedom or feeling free, it rests on Christ.

I’m Afraid of Making The Wrong Choice

Which then leads to the second fear – fear of making the wrong choice.  This could better be explored more fully in another blog, (Read ‘The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship) but let me say there is not one person for us and if we miss that person, we have missed it.

I’m not sure many people believe that anymore, but if you are worried about that, please don’t be!

Imagine if that were really true.  That would mean if just one person got it wrong and married the wrong person, then whoever that person was supposed to be married to is now marrying the wrong person, which will mess it up for someone else, and ….. you get the idea.

It’s ludicrous.

               We cannot mess up the universal system of relationships because we have chosen wrong!

We don’t have that much power. So remember: We cannot mess up the universal system of relationships because we have chosen wrong! Stop fearing your choice. (Read Why I Chose To Reject Finding ‘The One’).

Imagine If…

Imagine if we did not let fear dictate our singleness or relationship choices, but instead our all-loving all-powerful God showed us our situation through His lens.

  • Our relationship status is not the basis of our freedom or feeling free, it rests on Christ.
  • We cannot mess up the universal system of relationships because we have chosen wrong! Stop fearing your choice.

When we have these fears going around in our head let’s choose to look to God and remind ourselves of his goodness and his truth. 

How can you make sure you are seeing the situation through God’s lens. Comments welcomed below.  

Originally posted 28/6/2017

Jen Baker is an itinerant speaker, author, and leader who loves seeing the Holy Spirit and the Word change atmospheres and impact hearts. She has been a Pastor, Director, and consultant working within the local church.

4 Trends That Characterises Singleness In Our 20s, 30s, and 40s

Guest Blogs, Singleness

A single person in their 20s explores and wrestles with different questions to someone in their 40s. Sounds obvious right? But how often are single people all grouped together and treated the same in our churches? Too often!  It’s important to not only discuss the issue of singleness but delve deeper into how our ages and stages affect our outlook. 

By our guest authour, Jen Baker

At the (tender) age of 25, I wanted to write a book on being single because I thought I understood it well. At the (slightly more experienced) age of 47, I now realise I had much more to grasp.

What I’ve learned in those 22 years as a never-married single adult is that, as in much of life, seasons change and we can choose to change with them, choose to fight them, or more realistically … choose to do a bit of both.

We can begin to identify more specifically what to expect in our 20s versus our 40s

So by exploring not just the general topic of being single, but the age and stage of our lives, we can begin to identify more specifically what to expect in our 20s versus our 40s, for example.

So let me share my journey and observations as we explore the seasons together. Think about if you can identify with these observations, or perhaps you have further observations of your own?

The Twenties

In our twenties, I believe we tend to think ‘I want to enjoy myself and these single years … but not be the last one married’.  We’re still trying to figure out who we are so the chance to date, explore different personalities, and hang out with a group of friends is what often characterises this age group.

Most people want to get married, but the pressure to get married isn’t particularly strong. Desire yes, but pressure – not so much.

I think this low-level pressure is key to setting this season apart from the other age groups.

The Thirties

In our thirties, FOMO (fear of missing out) is increased.

Once we reach our thirties there is a definite shift; it’s a mindset which says that it’s time to begin thinking more seriously about a relationship and about if we want children.  In this season we think: ‘I need to get serious now, I hope it’s not too late.’  

So our thirties is when we (often) journey from pressure to panic

Some friends are already married and started having children, our friendship groups have changed and (as women) we’re thinking more and more about the (blessed) clock.

So our thirties is when we (often) journey from pressure to panic.  We may even start asking questions like: Is my list too long?  Should I throw away the list?!  Would I sacrifice a career for a relationship if it involved moving?  Etc …

The Late Thirties

Quite possibly by the end of our thirties, we have also received labels (chosen or not): divorced, widowed, never dated, a broken off engagement, and much more.

If we’re single at this age with a desire for marriage, then we tend to do a bit more self-questioning and realise that potentially we need to look at relationships differently than we have in the past.  We may need to grieve how things have turned out and re-adjust our expectations for the future.

The Forties

If navigating the thirties was particularly challenging, then I believe entering the forties can be surprisingly freeing.

We’ve navigated pressure to panic and – ideally – we now find ourselves landing on peace.

The key question asked now, in the forties, regardless of our relationship history is: ‘Am I willing to compromise my comfort zone for this relationship?’  

By now we’ve got into a routine or landed in a pattern, which (unless a relationship change happened very late in your thirties) often has a tinge of comfort around the edges.

We aren’t willing to compromise in a way we might have when we were younger.

We know what we like, who we are, and what we want from our lives. Perhaps by now you’ve realised you can enjoy life as a single adult. There is a natural ‘rhythm’ to our work and social lives. And although we may deeply want to share that with another – we aren’t willing to compromise in a way we might have when we were younger.

It is at this age where children often enter the equation too, as we may have our own that we want to protect or we’re deciding if we want a relationship which leads to us becoming a step-parent.

These are deeply personal and difficult questions to explore which probably weren’t necessary to ask in your twenties, but it is the peace we find within yourself which helps us address these questions differently than we might have at an earlier stage. (Read 5 Cliches Said To Singles, Have You Heard Them All?)

Imagine If…

Our season of singleness will be affected by our season of life.

Imagine if we could remind ourselves and each other that knowing these questions ahead of time, and hearing that others have also raised these questions, could help us view singleness through different lenses and with a different approach. (Read What I Rediscovered From A Group Of Single People)

It will also help us clarify disappointments we’re facing, opening the way for healthier relationships in the future. (Read Jen’s other post: 2 Fears Every Single Person Should Confront!)

Do you have further observations of your own? Comments welcomed below 

Originally posted 26/6/2017

Jen Baker is an itinerant speaker, author, and leader who loves seeing the Holy Spirit and the Word change atmospheres and impact hearts.  She has been a Pastor, Director, and Consultant working within the local church.

Have You Fallen Into The ‘Relationship Status’ Trap?

Church Dating Culture, Singleness

I passionately believe that when we’re single we should cheer on and support those in a relationship, and not neglect this. I also believe those in a relationship should practice inclusive hospitality, and not just end up hanging out with other couples. If we fall into one of these traps, we miss out big time. And often don’t even realise it. 

We are not defined by our relationship status. Our foundation and worth is found first and foremost in God.

But I’m all for celebrating the gift of marriage and healthy dating. I think these are wonderful things and we should support and cheer these people on. But this shouldn’t lead to a culture where singleness becomes second class, or to ignoring the struggles people who would like to be married are facing.

I’m also all for celebrating the fact that single people are part of God’s mission, part of God’s family, have a role for the family, and should be treated like such. They are part of the church community.

I think there is often (unintentionally) a divide in church based on our relationship situation. I think we miss out so much when this happens. I was reminded of this at a talk recently.

Single And Part Of The Family 

I was at a talk about six weeks ago where Miriam Swaffield, Student Mission Lead at Fusion, was speaking.

She was mainly talking about unity, and about how in the church all generations should be coming alongside each other and supporting each other. Which is a really important point to make and very true.

My attention was really raised when she started to talk about relationships (surprise surprise). She mentioned the fact that our relationship status shouldn’t hinder us from helping or coming alongside others in a different position.

She then spoke about the fact that she is single and never married, and she loved the fact she was able to hang out and support married couples. She mentioned that she looks after her Godkids for example, and is able to sow into their family life.

We should all be family, all mix and feel welcomed

She also shared that even though she was single, she loved the fact that families in churches would invite her round, she could be mentored/gain wisdom from older married couples on relationships.

These stories are a wonderful picture. We should all be family, all mix and feel welcomed.

Falling Into The Trap 

Miriam made such a powerful call and rally cry, and one I definitely was agreeing with and love to shout about too.

So often Christian couples only hang out with other Christian couples. They fall into the trap of excluding single people, and I think they miss out on practising inclusive hospitality and gaining support and wisdom from people with a different perspective.

I also see single people experiencing real pain and disappointment, and this cannot be trivialised and overlooked ever, but this can create a barrier. (Read 5 Cliches Said To Singles, Have You Heard Them All?)

They find it hard to feel like they belong, or get involved with the lives of couples and friends in relationships. I really think they miss out too, and sometimes avoid or feel like they can’t be happy for couples or be part of their lives.

No one wins when we fall into these traps.

God’s Word Includes All 

When we look in the Bible, we see a whole range of single people and a range of married people being involved in God’s mission.

Jeremiah was called by God to be single and was used by God in powerful ways. Ruth became single again when she was widowed, and although she got married again, The Book of Ruth is all about how she used her singleness and her situation to honour God and her family.

Paul the Apostle was single, and he was obviously vital to the work and mission of the Church, and wrote most of the New Testament. Jesus himself was single, and he lived the fullest life possible.

Singleness and marriage make up God’s mission

There are lots of examples of people being married and being used by God too. Isaiah, Moses, Peter the Apostle were all married. In Luke 8:3, a group of women who supported Jesus’ ministry are mentioned, who would have most likely been married in that culture.

Singleness and marriage make up God’s mission. (Read What The Bible Actually Says About Singleness. Part 1).

Not ‘Us vs Them’

What you see in the Bible, what Miriam was highlighting, what I passionately believe, is that we should be supporting and celebrating all people and all relationship statuses, and be inclusive.

Couples can invite single people over to hang out or for food. Single people can cheer couples on, remembering their anniversary or helping in other ways.

We should be celebrating, supporting, and learning from each other. We are more than our relationship status.

Let’s ask each other for wisdom, support, and friendship

Imagine If…

Imagine if we avoided the trap of (unintentionally) avoiding couples or singles and remembered we are all family because of Christ. Let’s ask each other for wisdom, support, and friendship.

Today, why not arrange to meet up with someone who is not in the same situation as you, and just start being family.

Is it easy to forget about relationship statuses in church? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 12/6/2017