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Why Do Christians Seem to Hate Singleness?: Single Roundtable Part 2

with Barbara Fortilus, Chloe Whiteford, Joshua Bernard, Logan Fry, Zion Adams | August 4, 2023
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Singleness can be full of weirdness: with married friends, finding community, wishing you were with someone/glad you aren't, and the dumb things people say. Our Singles Roundtable examines what the Bible actually says about singleness—and how to live a single life you love.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Shelby Abbott

    Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States. Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life), Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and DoubtLess: Because Faith is Hard. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Singleness can be full of weirdness. Our Singles Roundtable examines what the Bible actually says about singleness—and how to live a single life you love.

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Why Do Christians Seem to Hate Singleness?: Single Roundtable Part 2

With Barbara Fortilus, Chloe Whit...more
August 04, 2023
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Season 1, Episode 48: Why Do Christians Seem to Hate Singleness? (Part 2 of 2)

Guests: Chloe Whiteford, Barbara Fortilus, Logan Fry, Zion Adams, Joshua Bernard (Gen Z Roundtable)

Air Date: August 5, 2023

Shelby: Has jealousy toward married friends affected your relationship with God?

Barbara: I would say for me, as soon as we decide to seek Jesus and all that He is and all that He has done for us and all of His glory. Then He promises that everything else will be added onto us. And that doesn't necessarily mean the tangible things.

Doesn't mean marriage, doesn't mean the house, it doesn't mean the cars, but it means the heavenly things. His kingdom agenda. So that's what gets me back into a place of humility, putting that in the back burner and just saying, Lord, Even if you don't do this for me, I still love you, and I've ask myself that. Like, if He'd never gave you marriage, would you still love him?

Shelby: Somewhat anxious, always authentic. This is Real Life Loading…

I'm your host, Shelby Abbott, and the topic of singleness is one that can elicit a lot of feelings from people regardless of your relationship status. Now, generally speaking, the broader Christian community today has treated singles poorly. Like they have a disease that needs to be cured or something.

But what does God have to say about it in Scripture? Has the church gotten it wrong in the last several years? And if so, where do we go from here? Well, today I'm joined again by several single friends, and just as a reminder, here's who they are and how old they are.

Barbara: My name is Barbara Fortilus. I am 33 years old.

Logan: Logan Fry. I'm 26.

Joshua: My name is Joshua Bernard. I am 27.

Chloe: I'm Chloe Whiteford. I'm 19.

Zion: Zion Adams 24.

Shelby: Nice. Okay, we're going to dive into the subject of singleness today and talk about some advantages of being single, how being single can affect your relationship with God, and what the Bible actually has to say about the topic of singleness. So here's part two of Real Life Loading’s, Singleness Roundtable.

One of the things that I was thinking about is that it's easy, I think, to be as a single person, probably envious of a lifestyle of a married person. But have you guys ever wondered about what married people might be thinking about singleness in terms of envious? Is that something that, number one, do you ever consider? Then number two, what do you think that they're envious of in your lifestyle that maybe you have that they don't?

Barbara: A lot of my friends are getting married today, and so they're envious of my freedom. Okay. Literally, yes. Yes. They see me on IG living my life and they would also encourage me when they're getting married don't rush the process because in the beginning stages of their marriage, you're like, going through stuff like this is a new dynamic. It's a new change.

They're living together for the first time. Yes. They're seeing other sides of each other. They're always saying like, “Hey, take your time. I see you living your life out there, continue to live your life. Don't rush into it.” So yes, I think they're envious of my freedom.

Roundtable: Okay. Mm-hmm. Yes.

Logan: Okay. I think about this all the time.

Shelby: Okay, good, good. So it's gotta be more than just that.

Logan: I can decorate my house however I want. I don't have to have opinions from anybody else. I can burn whatever candle I want. I can wake up in the middle of the night, not worry about waking anybody else up. I can cook whatever I want. Eat whatever I want. It goes back to the freedom thing. It's all wrapped up in that, even finances, like when I am deciding what to spend my money on or how much to give and where to give it, it's me and Jesus. I don't have to talk to anybody else about it. I can just go to the Lord and figure that out on my own.

It's the travel. I never love being single more than when I'm on an airplane and I see a family of like eight marching through like it's a little army, so many bags. People are screaming, drinks are spilled everywhere. And I'm just sitting there with my book, like living my best life.

So there's just a lot of like little things that I feel like married people and I've talked to some of my married friends before of like the little things that they miss out on and the little ways that they've had to grieve their singleness.

Marriage is obviously beautiful and it's an equally valid way to live as singleness is, but just the little differences that we don't talk about because we compare the highs of marriage to the lows of singleness. We never uplift the single parts of life.

Shelby: Yes. Yes. That's really good.

Barbara: Can I add? I feel like singles and married folks go through the same things we just do it a little bit differently. So I could be lonely, but the married person could also be lonely in their marriage.

Roundtable: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yes.

Barbara: I could be suffering, but the married person could also be suffering. I feel like because we put this differentiation on with titles, married versus single, we can all connect and again, do community and speak life into each other and so forth. This is nothing new to anyone. It wasn't new to Jesus. So why have we put this differentiation of singles versus married? Like I am struggling just like you, yes but just a little bit differently.

Shelby: Yes. That's really good. That's a good thought process because I think of Sam Allberry who said that I'd much rather be lonely as a single person than lonely in a marriage. That's a whole other kind of loneliness.

Yes. so don't want to rush into something just because you want the title of Ba-boom Married, because if you go through that too quickly and it is the wrong person that God doesn't want you to marry. You're going to have the title, but you are probably going to be lonely in the future. I say that a lot when I'm talking to students, if they're dating someone who's not a believer, who's not a follower, don't make that compromise. Just because you think you're going to have someone with you, you're going to be compromising the most important relationship in order to get to something that's a title that you think is going to solve your problems. And that person is never meant to be your Savior. Like they cannot be your Savior, so don't put that on them. They'll never do it.

Logan: That's why having this healthy theology of singleness is so important. Because I think if we as a church keep preaching that marriage is superior, we're going to shove people into unhealthy marriages. That was never meant for them.

Roundtable: Yes. Mm-hmm. That's really good.

Shelby: Has jealousy toward married friends affected your relationship with God? I'd love to hear about maybe some of the dynamics of that.

Zion: Yes, I feel like we all got different stories when it comes to this.

Shelby: Yes, sure.

Zion: But I'm going to speak for myself a little bit because like my parents got married at this age. My expectation was to get married at this age, and I'm not. I see friends of mine are already married and stuff like that, so I'm thinking like, dog God, like. It's my time kind of thing.

Roundtable: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Zion: And be honest, like I've struggled with trusting the Lord in relationships out of that fear like, I'm not there yet. Will I ever get there? Is it a part of His plan for me kind of thing?

Roundtable: So yes. Mm-hmm.

Chloe: I think it's made my relationship with God. It's given me a chance to see His faithfulness, because marriage is a really, really like deep desire. But you know, like it's not here yet.

I just broke up like almost two months ago, and through this breakup even, it's given me so much of a deeper relationship with Him because I have to lean on Him so much and readjusting like, okay, I thought we were getting married. Now we're not. God, like what is your plan? Like what is this? And asking a lot of hard questions. Through that He's like, opened up this like whole new life that's exciting. - But something that I really had to trust Him for that He will deliver versus if we had like gotten married, it would've been challenging in so many different ways.

But in the singleness, it's okay. God, you're all I have. Well, obviously I have an amazing family and friends group. But when the prospect of marriage was taken away, I was like, okay, you are my number one priority and developing that relationship to where I hope that's all He is. I hope He's my only number one priority for the rest of my life, marriage or no marriage.

Joshua: Yes, it's a hard topic and I feel like I definitely relate to it because, fun fact, I live in a - a house of nine dudes.

Shelby: Yes, I was hoping you would share this. Cause I knew about you.

Joshua: Yes. They all, yes. I knew it would come out eventually. But yes, I am a roommate with nine dudes. I'm one of nine. Yes, please be praying for me, but it is very interesting, very interesting living situation. I enjoy fellowship with them, but I have seen so many of those guys get married and leave and been in their weddings. Even my previous, what I would call my core group of guys were like five of us and the last one, apart from me, is getting married and like a month or two.

And I'm here like, okay. All right. It's very real. I'm the last one left. Yes and I've been on both ends of the spectrum, healthy and not healthy. I feel like sometimes it's like, okay, like it's definitely a lot of comparison. Like God, like what are they doing that I'm not doing? Or it's like, am I not as favored or am I, you know, just doing something wrong? Is there some big sin in my life, X, Y, and Z? And there's all these questions.

But the reality is like, it's not promised, but I think just even delighting in Him, like through all of it, just being like, okay, you know what? Even if I don't get married, like even if I sit here and I'm living here next year, and like a few more people get married, like my relationship with the Lord still stands.

Yes, it's a very real thing, jealousy and envy. I think there's warnings of it from Cain and Abel to like, I think it was in John 21 or something where Jesus was like, if I desire that he, he stay with me, then, you know, what's that to you? What is that to you? You know? And sometimes that's a mentality that we don't always have. Like, you know, okay, what is the will of the Lord? Like, who are we to refute that?

And so, I found it a lot easier to just, you know, be joyful for them and not out of like a fake way. but truly like find it in my heart to like not be jealous, to be joyful and to submit myself and say, “Hey, what is your will in this situation? What is the will of the Lord?” And just like continue to walk through that. So, yes, very real question. Very real for a lot of single people, but yes. I'm glad you asked it..

Shelby: Yes. Yes, good which is going around the circle. I didn’t expect this it is great.

Logan: Okay, my turn. I have a unique perspective on this where I don't struggle with jealousy. I don't desire marriage. And so seeing people get married and dealing with all of this stuff. I don't think there's any jealousy that comes with “Oh you're married - I want that I'm sad.” I think the jealousy comes with, “You're allowed to lead and I am not as a single person.” Yes, and that's where I struggle. And sometimes I battle that out with God of like, this is good. I love being single. People look at me like I'm crazy. But I think married people are actually the crazy ones. That seems a lot harder sometimes than being single does.

It's just so hard for me to reconcile that with the Lord of - I feel so strongly of not desiring marriage and really loving and celebrating my singleness, and I feel so strongly called to leadership and caring for the church. And often there is a barrier there based on all the things we have previously talked about. So that's where my jealousy and my battle comes. Not the desire of marriage, but the desire to be able to lead as a single.
Shelby: Yes. That's helpful, Logan.

Barbara: I would say for me, I guess I have been jealous over my friends, just as excited for them. I'm more so like, wow, Lord, what about me? And I think over the years I've internalized that to equating Him not blessing me with this thing with His love. Like He doesn't love me or He doesn't see me, or I'm not good enough. I've taken just like the rejections of that and you know, made it bigger than what it needs to be. But then over time I've had to learn to say, saying the words, “I trust you Lord.”

Roundtable: Mm-hmm.

Barbara: I trust You because You have my best interest at heart. And if I believe You for all these other things, if I'm calling You the Alpha in the Omega, I'm calling You Jesus Christ my Lord Savior. If I'm calling You again, my Anchor, my Peace, my Provider, all the names that He has, why wouldn't He be able to fulfill me in this area too?

And so, like He is all that I need as much as I want the other side, they have freedoms that I can't have now, but is it that serious? Is that important? Would you live your whole life seeking after the staying if He never gives it to you? Did you waste your time focusing on that thing when He's blessed you with so many other things that you could be focused on?

And I have to like really humble myself and get myself into that state of mind. You have so much things on your plate that He's asked you to steward it over, and He's also asked you to steward over your singleness well. What are you doing with that? What are you doing with your singleness? Because He's going to ask you, “What have you done with what I've given you? And so that's what gets me back into a place of humility, putting that in the back burner and just saying, “Lord even if you don't do this for me, I still love you.”

And I've asked myself that. “Like, if He never gave you marriage, would you still love him?” And so I had to challenge myself with that because it is a desire, but as years are passing, as time is passing, I'm having to like really tell myself. “Okay, what if He just doesn't? Then what?”

Roundtable: Mm-hmm.

Barbara: What if another 20 years go by and you're just not married then what? So you wasted 20 years thinking about this thing and chasing after this thing when the Lord has given you friends and family and opportunities in ministry, to just seek after and steward over it. You wasted your time over this one thing that He didn't give you. Just like in the Garden of Eden, that one fruit. Yes, they had everything they needed. But we tend to look at the things that we don't have. So I had to like chill with that mindset and just say, “Lord, I trust you.”
Shelby: So what we've been talking about a lot of things related to the subject of singleness and inevitably some people might have some questions about how does this relate chapter and verse? Like, where can I find specific examples of why singleness is something that Christ values? Can you guys give me a couple Scripture references when talking about singleness? Maybe you can unpack that in the Bible for us.

Logan: Yes, I think the one everyone probably immediately goes to is 1 Corinthians 7. and that's the chapter where Paul is obviously talking to the church in Corinth about their relationships and how they're viewing marriage and singleness. In verse seven he says, “I wish that all were, as I myself am, but each has his own gift from God. One of this kind, one of another,” talking about some have the gift of singleness, some have marriage and goes on to say to the unmarried and the widows, “I say, it is good for them to remain single as I am.” Which I love that verse.

And then we've already talked about this a little bit, but he goes on to say, you know, being married, you're committed to things of this world like pleasing your wife and pleasing your husband. The single is not concerned about things of this world. They're concerned about things of God because they're not distracted by pleasing a wife or a husband. Then at the end of this chapter, verse 35, Paul says, “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord,” which I think is just the core of what we're talking about here. The beauty of singleness and marriage, what they have in common in the family of God is Christ.

Shelby: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Logan: We want undivided devotion to the Lord. And that is a big reason why Paul, in his opinion, thinks being single is better than being married because our attention is completely undivided.

Shelby: Yes, that's good. Logan. Other places in scripture?

Joshua: Yes, I mean, another common one would be in 1 Corinthians 12. It talks about just one body different parts and it says, “for just as the body is one and has many members and all the members of the body, though many are one body. So it is with Christ. For in one spirit, we were all baptized into one body, Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member, but of many. If the foot should say, because I'm not a hand, I do not belong to the body. That would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, because I am not an eye, I do not belong to body, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”

I think it's good to know, like we shouldn't all be striving after this one end goal. Like God is glorified in the many different walks of life that we have. God is glorified through us, like actually walking in what He has given us. I mean, there are other ones like Luke 20:34-36 says, “Jesus said the sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but it is not so in the resurrection or as we know, just in eternity.”

Shelby: Yes, that's great. Thanks Joshua.

Chloe: Okay. It's not talking about singleness as singleness, but about love in the church body and what we as singles can have a part in, which is 1 Corinthians 13, “the love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight and evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Shelby: Mm-hmm.

Chloe: And in that thinking, what can I as a single, do for the rest of the body? I think a lot of the times, at least in what I've heard in Christian circles is, “Oh well, you know, insert, you know, whoever you're dating or whoever you, you know, like-like, or whatever, and if you can put their name in front of love, then marry them.”

Which, yes, absolutely. But can I do that for myself And if I can't, which will never arrive. But if I can't do that for myself, then how is the body of Christ? Like how am I a part of that body?

Shelby: Mm-hmm. That's good.

Barbara: So Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the Kingdom and everything else will be added onto you.” [Paraphrased] I feel like that speaks so much to singles, because we can, as soon as we decide to seek Jesus and all that He is and all that He has done for us and all of His glory, then He promises that everything else will be added onto us. And that doesn't necessarily mean the tangible things. Doesn't mean marriage, doesn't mean the house; It doesn't mean the cars, but it means the heavenly things. His Kingdom agenda.

Like if we seek after Him, He's going to give the desires of our heart and He does it in a way that is amazing, miraculous, different, graceful, merciful, loving. Like in His unique way, not in the way that we think, because we are so focused on what we see in front of us, but it's more of like where the heart lies, where our mind is. Like, if we put all these things towards Him, He will add onto us and we'll be full, like without all the other things that we desire. He's enough.

Shelby: Yes, that's great.

Zion: I'm going to echo what Barb said. Matthew 6;33 says, “Seek first the kingdom.” And say, seek first marriage. [It] Says, “Seek first the kingdom.” Okay. And so I think that's, we in - I guess - our culture in our world, we tend to seek marriage sometimes above the kingdom. Yes, and so that's a really good Scripture.

Roundtable: Mm-hmm.

Zion: Genesis 2:18, says, “Then the Lord said it is not good that the man should be alone.” Sometimes we think that singleness means loneliness and like we've talked about today, like no, you have singles who are, who have joy, and you have married people who are like miserable, because they don't have community.

Like, I'm single, but I'm not alone by all means. Kind of thing. And I feel like we use that Scripture out of context a lot. That's a good one to remember.

Shelby: Yes, because I've definitely heard that used as, you know, a bit of a weapon against singles sometimes it's like, well we got to get them all married because this is what Genesis two says. Yes, and it's misunderstanding of the Scriptures, a misunderstanding really of what it means to have a relationship with God. Like why would it, you know, be there if people had God Himself first? They're not alone. And so, yes, it's, it's good to help you, understand what the Scripture says and what it actually doesn't. So that's good.

So as we wrap up our time together, I want to ask you guys about the importance of community or what several of you have called found family, more specifically the family of God. So how has the family of God been a life-giving anchor to you as a single person?

Barbara: So 2012, I moved here from New York with barely anything like was just $400 in my pocket and a big dream. [Laughter]

Shelby: Wow, that sounds like the beginning of a story.

Barbara: Yes, I just wanted to go to UCF College. I wanted to live with my best friends and I also wanted to draw closer to God. And during these past 11 years, never loved [word?] my best friend until[word?] this day.

Praise the Lord I finally graduated college like a couple years ago. The first thing that He did first was like me drawing closer to Him, and I found this church and I found the best of my friends today. My family was in New York. I just had my mom. We didn't have the best relationship, and so my church family were the ones that were my anchor at the time that I was struggling with financial issues. Didn't have a car. Car kept breaking down. A person from my church rallied people up to buy me a car. It was just a lot of them pouring into me and it didn't feel as much of a burden.

So like that your community around you they carry you, they just mm-hmm. When you need prayer, when you need like someone to talk to you again when you're feeling lonely, if you're just, whatever it is, like, it's so important to just have community and I'm so grateful for them.

Logan: Yes, similar vibes is just the people that you surround yourself with - the family of God. Just, I'm a huge extrovert and so I constantly want to be out and around with people and just the way that they care for me. This conversation of singleness, something I always joke with people about is one of the biggest lies I think we believe about singleness is, oh, it's so lonely. And I always say, if you think singleness is so lonely, you should get better friends.

Roundtable: Mm-hmm.

Logan: Because I think just the intentionality that the people that care about you and love you will put into you will rally together and buy a car will care about you. Similar, I've had so many people pray over me, even like my neighbors, you know. We're in the middle of Hurricane Ian and I like run over and knock on someone's door and I'm like, can I get a cup of coffee? You know? Like, we're out.

And it's just the people that you surround yourself with that surprise you every day of being your family and bringing life to like my soul and my bones when I feel - you know, you're connecting with God on an intimate level, but we're as human beings are created for connection with each other.

Living in this single life stage, you can feel like, “Oh, well we don't have that connection with other people,” but you do. It's the family of God. I have been so blessed by my community group and my people and those that rally and bring casseroles when tragedy strikes and just come over for board games or whatever nonsense that we do randomly, celebrate birthdays. I was invited over to a married couple's house for Christmas. There's just so much love it that they do that just can bring so much joy. And yes, shoots the loneliness right out of your life.

Shelby: Yes, that’s great.

Joshua: I guess we're going in order again.

Roundtable: Wow. Yes. [Laughter]

Joshua: I was thinking the same thing. Yes, just very similar. I think it's, it's really the people who truly like also challenge me and put me back to the Word. They're not afraid to help me to grow, even if that means telling me something I don't maybe want to hear in the moment.

I think it's truly people that I can rely on to really sharpen me. As it says, “Iron sharpens iron” is a very quotable verse. But I think at the end of the day, like the church body, there's people that I can trust will always be in my corner; that will always point me back to Jesus; that will always provide more than just the bare minimum provide, more than just like the surface level. Yes, it's, I think it's the people you can trust with not just the outer most things in your life, but actually with your heart and with the inner. So yes, it's good.

Chloe: Well, my turn. I think, “Okay, so found family is the greatest thing because they have no obligation to love you whatsoever.” It's like people say like, oh, your spouse, you know, like they're the only one that chose you. But in like marriage, it's not very easy to just walk out versus in like friendship. It kind of is, you know? So I'm an intern with FamilyLife®, so we're part of an intern group together and this year there's eleven of us and I'm like the baby of the group. Everyone else is at least 22, 23 years old. But one of the girls has just like really become like a big sister and like when I'm talking about her, I'll just like say my big sister and people are like, oh, okay. Yes. Like they assume like we're related by blood - totally not. But in that, she chose a relationship with me and the whole group in and of itself.

I moved to Orlando like what, eight months ago? Like I have a family and we chose each other and in that it's so utterly special. Yes, like completely unique to this stage of life. And it's different being single in a group like that versus even like dating someone. Because when you're dating someone, it's like, okay, well these are my friends.
But you know, you have your like one person versus when you're single, you have an opportunity to pour into them and receive from them too. Because it's just you, them, and God. You, God and them, the correct. order, which is cool. Yes.

Zion: I can't stress the importance of community group enough. I think of how our purpose is to know Jesus and make Him known. Well when it comes to your community, they need to know you and they need to know Jesus kind of thing. I think of myself, since I've moved here and I've plugged into a small group, It's awesome. The fact that, man, I can be honest with the things I'm struggling with in my singleness or just life period, and then they're going to lead me or push me towards the things of the Lord kind of thing. And that's super impactful. So community group is huge.

Shelby: Mm-hmm, yes, I totally agree.

Be honest with others in the context of community. Christianity is not a solo thing, regardless if you're dating or single or married or whatever. Find and get with your people so you can see the body of Christ lived out amongst your spiritual family and flourish as a believer.

I love this time today and I really hope you did too.

Now, if you didn't catch our first conversation with the Real Life Loading Singleness Round Table, be sure to go back and check that one out, okay? I think it'll be super encouraging for you.

And if you liked this episode of Real Life Loading or thought it was helpful, I'd love for you to share today's podcast with a friend. And wherever you get your podcast it could really advance what we're doing with Real Life Loading if you'd rate and review us. And it's obviously easy to find us on our social channels. You can just search for Real Life Loading, or you can look for our link tree in the show notes.

I want to thank everyone who's on the real life floating team. It's Chloe, Josh, Kaytlynn, Jarrett, and Bruce. I'm Shelby Abbott. I'll see you back next time on Real Life Loading.

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