Relational Barrenness, Singleness, & Discipleship [The Women’s Issues Series]

Podcast Episodes, Sexuality, Singleness

Why is singleness treated like a second class status? Or a holding pattern until life really begins?

Is contentment an equation to get a relationship?

Is singleness really a gift?

How can marrieds bless the singles in their lives?


In this episode of Verity Podcast, we talk about all the above and more – including what to do with desire, why Scripture sees singleness as a blessed and wonderful lifestyle, and why Jesus in particular has compassion for the singles in our lives.


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Welcome to Verity. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer, an author, speaker, and Bible teacher. This podcast will help you embrace the history and depth of the Christian faith. Ask questions, seek answers, and devote yourself to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to settle for watered-down Christian teaching. And if you’re ready to go deeper, God is just as ready to take you there. This is Verity, where every woman is a theologian.

Welcome back friends in the next episode of our series on a Women’s Issues. Today, we’re going to be talking about singleness. I have so many single readers, who I value greatly and so many single friends who bring such value to my life. This episode is dear to my heart. Having walked through singleness myself, albeit for not as long as many of you and remembering so vividly how I felt in that season. Now, I married fairly young. I married at almost 24 and I have been married almost seven years or coming up on seven years here. I am a married person talking about singleness. Before we get into my notes on this topic, I do want to address something that I occasionally hear, which is, if you have not experienced what I have experienced, so, in this case, if you have not experienced singleness as long as a specific listener has, then what you have to say is not worth listening to or what you have to say about singleness is not as impactful, because you weren’t single as long. 

I understand that sentiment. I definitely was not single into my 30s, single into my 40s, and that’s a whole different journey that I just can’t speak to. But what I’m endeavoring to do in this episode is simply address what Scripture speaks to in regard to singleness. This is not about my experience or your experience. It’s about what Scripture says. Even though, I’m married, I was single at one time. I did feel those emotions, and walk-through specific experiences, and Scripture spoke to those experiences. Regardless of how different our singleness journeys are or the fact that I’m married and you are single or were single longer than I was, I think what we can unite around is what the Bible teaches on the topic. So, that’s what we’re going to be addressing today. 

I actually want to start with a verse in Psalm 113. This was a verse that I prayed during my single years. I did not date in high school. I made a commitment not to date in high school. I’m glad I did, but I really didn’t like being single in high school and I wanted to date somebody. Psalm 113 was actually one that I read, because I really hoped to one day be married, but I didn’t know if it would happen. As most of us when we’re single, might think we aren’t guaranteed a spouse and I did not know who I would marry if I would marry. I had no idea. I really was encouraged by Psalm 113:9, which says, “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!” Now, specifically in this verse is talking about a woman, who is infertile, a barren woman, and we talked about that in the pregnancy and birth episode. But I personally applied this verse and took this verse from the Lord to apply to me, because I was a woman, who was not married and had no children. While that maybe was an application not originally intended by the author, in my specific walk with God, it was an encouragement to pray that verse to him and pour out my desire for a relationship, for a future home, for a future family at His feet. This verse was one that I prayed for years until I met Josh. 

I met Josh when I was 22. I probably was praying with this verse for about four years and had dated multiple people, who had didn’t work out with during that time. I’m not saying that everyone should apply this verse, but I did want to start with it, because I think for many women, singleness can feel like a form of infertility. It can feel barren, it can feel like a wilderness, it can feel like you’re looking to the left and right and there is nobody who would be a fitting partner for you, or maybe you do date a few people and they end in heartbreak or disappointment, that can feel barren. It can feel like it’s giving birth to nothing. In that sense, I think that this verse definitely can apply or be applied in our prayers and in pouring our hearts out to the Lord. I think also the desire to have a family one day or to build a home with somebody one day, and to have that remain unfulfilled for a long time can feel like giving birth to nothing or just to having your dreams remain barren. While it may be a stretch to apply this verse, I think the principles really do apply and I think it helps us to have compassion and empathy towards our single friends, who do want to be in a relationship. 

Now, we’ll talk about a little later in this episode, not everybody wants to be in a relationship who’s single, but many do. That’s why I am starting out with that particular longing, because I know from the messages I’m receiving, the emails I’m reading, and the people in my life, that there are many single women who don’t want to be single. That’s something that we can pour out to the Lord. I was truly encouraged in my own walk with Him by doing so. When you’re talking with single friends, single women in your life, if you have single friends, if you’re married, you should have single friends, you’ve probably heard some of the ways the church has really hurt and failed them. I want to talk about five different ways the church has hurt and failed singles. Some of these are comments that are made, some of these are just underlying attitudes and actions that we take, and some of these are vestiges of purity culture left over, even though purity culture does still exist. I think it’s on its way out at this point. A lot of that is still impacting us, and how we talk about dating and singleness in relationships in the church.

Number one, there is nothing more sanctifying than marriage and motherhood. We hear this a lot. I think a lot of times, people don’t mean it in an offensive way. In fact, I would say, 99% of the time, it’s not meant in an offensive way, it’s not meant in a way that downplays the difficulties of singleness, but that’s exactly how it comes across. Because what a single person hears is, “Oh, so, I cannot have a full relationship with God, a thriving spiritual life that sanctifies me and grows me unless I’m married and have kids.” And also, the flipside of this actually goes back to our episode on Motherhood Culture, where the idea that motherhood and marriage are the most sanctifying ways to live your life, points to a negative view of motherhood, that only trials sanctify, first of all, that’s the assumption there. Only trials can sanctify and motherhood is by nature a trial. We have to remember that sanctification is much bigger than this. If you don’t know what sanctification is, this is a theological term for the transformation of your character by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will use people, He will use the consequences of your sin, He will use the word of God, He will use all sorts of circumstances to refine us into the image of Christ. That’s what sanctification is. 

When we say motherhood and marriage are the most sanctifying experiences that you can have, we’re basically saying that the Holy Spirit can only transform you into the image of Christ, if you’re married and if you’re a mom. No, nobody who says that means that they aren’t thinking about the implications of it when they say it. But what I’m encouraging is that, we do think about the implications of what we’re saying to a single person, a person who’s being sanctified by waiting to meet somebody, or going on bad dates, or a tough work environment, or the uncertainty of whether she should live where she is, or move away, or family relationships that are difficult. All of those things can be sanctifying for her, even though she’s not married or a mom. This particular phrase just isn’t consistent with Scripture and I want to look at a few verses actually that talk exactly about this. The first one is 1 Timothy 221, which is talking about our sanctification and where sanctification comes from. Because sanctification, again, it’s not just coming through trials, it’s not just coming through our relationships or our marriage relationship. It comes from the Holy Spirit first, if He uses all sorts of things. 

I think it’s 2 Timothy, actually. I’m flipping all over here in my Bible trying to find what I’m looking for. Okay, here it is. “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, sanctified, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” I don’t see anything about relationship status here. [laughs] If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, this is done through the Holy Spirit, then she will be a vessel for honorable use set apart as holy, ready for every good work. Here we see a lot of things. This is spoken to all Christians, male, female, all relationship statuses that we can be set apart as holy, useful to God, and ready to do good works through His sanctification and relationship status has nothing to do with that. 

Another passage on this is Colossians 2. I’ve been studying Colossians for the last six weeks. It’s been so encouraging. In Colossians 211, it says, “In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God.” We are a new creation, a complete inner change has been made a shift in our identity, and we put off the old regime or no longer in the kingdom of darkness, and now we’re in the kingdom of light. Again, there is no relationship status requirement for this sanctification. Then in Colossians 3:1, it says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” We’ve been raised with Christ. We are new, new people and that’s incredible.

The next way that Christians fail singles is by referring to them or assuming that they are in a second-class status. That singleness is a second tier, less valuable. It’s a holding pattern. A place where you wait until real life happens, real life happens once you get married. That’s when things are really moving, when your life has value and makes sense in the world. What’s interesting is, we will often say this is a patriarchal mindset or super fundamentalist, purity culture mindset. But it’s actually in the world as well. It’s not just in those far-right wing, super conservative circles. Our world presents relationships as the end all as well. How does every movie end? Have you ever watched the Hallmark Channel? [laughs] There’s always this happy ending in the relationship. I think one of the most unique movies in its handling of a relationship was actually the movie, La La Land, which I love. But that’s beside the point. One of the reasons I love it is because it didn’t end the way we “wanted it to end.” She didn’t end up with the guy and it just didn’t make sense. They’re perfect for each other, they loved each other, they wanted to make it work, but they end up not staying together and their lives look totally different. I think that that movie unsettled a lot of people, at least that’s the feedback I heard from many people. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like how it ended. 

Well, a lot of times, they didn’t like how it ended, because it didn’t end the way they wanted it to end, which was for the couple to be together. I think that belies this assumption that to be happy, to be fulfilled, to wrap up the story with a pretty bow, you have to end up in a relationship. This is what the church believes, it’s what the world promotes, and while relationships are wonderful and marriage is great, marriage is not the end all for gospel centered people. Being in a relationship is not the end all. It doesn’t make you a more valuable person in God’s eyes, it doesn’t give you a special status, it’s not a shift in your identity when you are in Christ. You are the same person before and after marriage when you are in Christ. For us to treat singleness as a second-class status is not only inconsistent with the gospel, but it actually belies a slight idolatry and a worship of relationship. 

Another thing I want to mention about this that I find concerning in the conservative church is that, we tend to treat singles as if there’s something wrong like, “Oh, when are you going to move on to your next thing, which is a relationship? Are you in a relationship? Oh, you’re not married, yet? Oh, why doesn’t a girl like you have a husband etc.?” But when we talk to same sex attracted Christians, so, people who either struggle with homosexual desires, attracted to the same sex, to them, we exalt singleness and celibacy. We say this is what your destiny is, and it’s good, and you should enjoy it, and that is where you’re going to stay. We talk out of two sides of our mouths. To the heterosexual man or woman, singleness is a second-class status. It’s, “Oh, you know, you’ll get there one day, dear.” But then when we talk to those who are struggling with same sex attraction, we act as if singleness should be everything they’ve always dreamed of. We have to be consistent. We have to look at what the Bible says about singleness and its value in order to be consistent in what we’re saying about singleness and celibacy.

I do want to look at a few of those passages, but actually, the first one, I’m not going to read the whole book, because it is a whole book is Ruth. Ruth came to mind when I was writing my notes for this episode, because we often think of Ruth as this incredibly brave woman, she’s so loyal, she goes with her mother-in-law back to Israel, which she is not from. She’s a Moabite, which is a whole cluster based on Israel’s history with Moab. But she goes back to Israel and then we think, “oh, love story, Boaz and Ruth.” Boaz and Ruth, it’s not really a love story. It’s really a story of honor, and how honor operated, and how Ruth basically called Boaz up to care for her family. It’s incredible, incredible story, and Carolyn Custis James has a great book on it, but here’s the thing about Ruth. When Ruth chose to go with Naomi, she was choosing long-term singleness. That’s what happened in Chapter 1 of Ruth. Ruth’s husband had died and Naomi told her, “Stay here and remarry.” Ruth’s sister-in-law, Orpah, left Naomi to do that. But Ruth stayed. In staying, Ruth was choosing long-term singleness. She didn’t know Boaz was coming. We all know that because we know the story, but Ruth didn’t. She was choosing long-term widowhood, which basically meant long-term poverty as a foreigner in a foreign land.

I think we forget that because we all know the ending of the story and we know what happens with Boaz. When we treat singleness as a second-class status and then we exalt this love story of Boaz and Ruth, we have to remember that Ruth didn’t go into her life decision [giggles] with Naomi thinking, “Now that I’m content being Naomi’s right-hand woman and single for the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll meet this wealthy man at one of these fields that I’m gleaning.” That was not what Ruth was thinking. Ruth gave everything up. She laid it all down, surrendered it, and chose this path. I think that’s extremely weighty. It actually it’s just a powerful way of seeing her and see what she was giving up before we ever bring Boaz into the story. She’s a great example of the power of singleness and what she did with that season. But the Bible also speaks to singleness a couple other places. The primary spot is in 1 Corinthians 7. This is where Paul talks about how he wishes that everybody was single like him. Actually, he has a very high view of singleness and says, “Look, you get married, you’re going to have a lot of stuff on your mind, and honestly, I think it’s better to be like me. But you know what, if you don’t want to, if you’re engaged, and you’re really struggling with your desires for one another, then go ahead. Get married.” 

He continues to say and I’ll read a little bit of a portion here. He says, this is verse 25. “Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that in view of the present distress,” so, persecution of the church, “it is good for a person to remain as he is, single. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.” So, if you are single, stay single. If you are married, stay married. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” He knows that those who are getting married are going to have not more struggles, but they’re going to have responsibilities that single people don’t.

He says, “This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods.” I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife.” 

He goes on to say the same thing about married women. He 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. If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes, let them marry. It is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity to marry, but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So, then he who marries is betrothed and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.” In Paul’s mind, singleness was actually better, as far as responsibilities go, freedom to minister et cetera, given the current state of the culture. What we’ve done is we’ve taken this one verse, where he says, “If you can’t control your passions then you should marry.” We’ve expanded that beyond the context of what Paul said to say, “You can’t control your passions, so, y’all should marry.” Basically, speaking this over everyone, nobody can control their passions. Everybody is a sexually crazed animal and we all need to get married to solve it. 

That is not what Paul was saying here. Because we see clearly throughout the rest of Scripture in regard to sexuality that our desires are able to be brought under the control of the Spirit, we are able to reject our sinful desires or lustful desires, and we are able to control even our good sexual desires until the right way to express them. We have to be very careful in how we steward passages like this, not to miss the forest for the trees by bringing one verse out, and blowing it up out of proportion, and ignoring everything else that Paul said. If you look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7, at least three times, he emphasizes how he thinks singleness is actually the better option if you can take it. He goes back and forth in the passage saying, “I really think this is a great idea, but it’s not a sin if you marry. I really think singleness is a great idea, but it’s not a sin if you marry.” We just want to be careful to steward that and not treat singleness as a second-class status or give a double standard in the church when we are talking about it. Singleness is a valid way of life, even for those who are not same sex attracted. 

In fact, when I meet women and men, especially women, who are happy, single, enjoying it, that’s a wonderful thing. I’ve had them say, “I feel something’s wrong with me, because I talk to so many girls who are really discontent being single and I’m not. Is there something wrong?” And I always say, “No, enjoy this. This is wonderful. It’s amazing that you can live this period of time or the rest of your life if that’s how it works out to such a full fullness.” I believe that that’s a beautiful thing and Scripture supports it. It’s a beautiful thing. 

One of my primary missions with the Verity Podcast is to supply theology in an approachable and understandable way for the new believer or the longtime disciple of Christ. I know that theology can be overwhelming and sometimes, it feels you don’t know what book to pick up or where to even start. That is why I wrote Theology Basics. Theology Basics is not a systematic theology, it’s not a book that is going to weigh as much is a dictionary. It’s just a simple eBook that introduces the concepts and basic fundamental principles of theology on the nature of God, the nature of man, authority of Scripture, and salvation. If you’re starting out and you don’t know where to begin, this would be a great resource for you. Theology Basics is only $10 on my website, in our shop, and it’s available all the time. So, if you head to, you can click on shop and you’ll find Theology Basics, as well as my other eBooks all available right there. I hope that Theology Basics opens a door to your excitement and curiosity about what it means to be a Christian and how to truly understand what it is that we believe. 

Another way that Christians fail singles is in an emphasis on sex. You need sex in order to be fulfilled. We just touched on this in the 1 Corinthians 7 passage. But what’s interesting is, sex is not a need for survival. It’s not. We need look no further than a couple of things. One of the places I want to look is Matthew 22:30. This was a verse I really didn’t like when I was single, because I felt it was the death knell of all my dreams and it was why I prayed. Finding our passage here. I prayed that Jesus would not return before I could get married. [laughs] It says Matthew 22:30, “Jesus is answering the Sadducees regarding a widow, who died before producing offspring to her brother” that would be a lover at marriage. He answers them about who she’d marry in the resurrection. He says, “You’re wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Well, I was not happy when I heard that when I was single. [laughs] Please, Jesus, don’t come back before I get married and can have sex. Who hasn’t prayed that maybe once?

One of the things I think that we forget is that Jesus left entirely fulfilled life on Earth without ever having sex. Not just was He fulfilled, but He was also under self-control. He set this pattern, this example for us to follow. Now, we know we’re to imitate Christ in so many other ways. But when we talk about Christ’s sexuality, first of all, we probably get a little nervous like, “What do you mean Christ’s sexuality? He had a sexuality. He was born male. He would have had desires just like any other human male and yet, He kept those desires under control by the power of God and He gives us those same abilities through the Spirit of God in our inner being.” Jesus did not have to live out His sexuality to survive, nor did he have to act on His sexuality to have a well-rounded identity. This is pivotal to the entire sexuality conversation we have in the church in the world today. Because if Jesus, who was our example, and He’s always who progressive Christians want to keep, everybody wants to keep Jesus. Jesus is our example and He did not have to have sex to be a whole person. He did not allow His sexuality to define Him or become His identity. He is the example that we follow. 

For all of us, we can look to Him as His example. This is not that we are rejecting our sexuality, because Jesus was not an ascetic, but He was someone, who lived completely in the Spirit of God and surrendered His sexuality to God, who was able to live as a human male person with joy and fulfillment, while not being married and not having sex. That example is one that we should be able to celebrate for the singles in our lives and not act as if there’s something wrong with them, if they aren’t married by 33 [laughs] or 40, etc. I think that we can buy into this cultural idea that the worst possible thing you could ever be is a 40-year-old virgin. You look at that movie and it’s a mockery of somebody. It’s meant to be a joke like, “How could you last that long, who would want to, etc.?” Really, shame on us for buying into any narrative that shames singles for walking in holiness and their sexuality, because that’s exactly what Jesus did. 

The fourth way that Christians fail singles is only being interested in their love life. When I talk to my single friends, a lot of times what I hear is, I just want somebody to ask about something else. Now, if you’re close to somebody, you’re in their personal life and they’re giving you updates on the dates they go on, that’s different. But when we see people once every year and our first question is, “Are you dating somebody? Are you in a relationship?” and you never ask about their work, or their school, or what their goals are, their dreams. It can feel very much like they have no value unless they are tied to somebody else unless they’re in a relationship. We have to ask really, “Would we rather than just be in a relationship or would we rather than being a good godly relationship?” Because anybody can get into a relationship, but it might not be the best thing for them, it might not be a good thing for them. By looking at them as a whole person, apart from who they might be tied to, we can celebrate all the angles of our single friends. 

Then the fifth way that Christians often fail singles is to offer up the contentment equation. I remember, in high school, I went to a talk. I was in a group called the Purity Ring. Yes, so, definitely very purity culture, but there was much good that came out of the group. It really blessed me in many ways. I still have many of those friends to this day. But we definitely were reading all of the books that are part of the purity culture regimen and we talked about a lot of those topics. At this particular session that we went to, I remember the speaker sharing that she became content in her singleness and then met her husband. I thought, “Oh, that must be the key.” If I get content, then God will bring me my husband. Got it. I have to work on being content. This equation is a fundamental of purity culture that many of us have bought, many of us have thought, “Okay, if I’m content with the Lord, then He’ll give me what I want,” which is literally the opposite of contentment. I want to read a little bit about what Scripture says about contentment starting with Philippians 4, which you’re probably familiar with. This verse often taken out of context, but in context, it gives us an incredible way to view contentment. 

It’s Philippians 4:12-13 and it says, “I know–” this is Paul talking, while he’s being tried and persecuted. “I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” In verse 11, a little before he says, “Not that I’m speaking of being in need, but I have learned to be content.” His strength, the strength he needs to do all things is directly related to contentment. He’s basically saying, “I can be content through Christ who strengthens me.” Contentment isn’t something that we get to. It’s not a plateau. It is a daily choice. It’s a lifestyle of contentment and we’re able to walk it out as Christ strengthens us to contentment. You want to know something? I learned in the first year of marriage that I needed contentment just as much then, as I had needed it during my single years. Now, that I’ve been married seven years and I have three kids, I need contentment just as much as I needed it in my single years, and I need Christ to strengthen me for that. This is not something that we used to goad God into giving us a relationship. It’s not an equation, it’s a practice of walking with Christ and abiding in Him.

I want to also look at Hebrews 13:5, which gives us another picture on this topic. It says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”’ Here, contentment is connected with God’s presence, and love, and intimacy. He’s talking about money, but this can apply to any idol we have in our life. Our contentment is directly related to our level of trust in God’s presence. That is applicable to anybody regardless of their life stage. Contentment is a choice in every life stage. It cannot make God act. It’s not a way to force His hand, it’s a means of relying on God’s strength and walking in intimacy with Him. Those are the five ways that Christians have failed singles. I now want to address a few quick questions and I can’t go super in depth on these. But when I asked on Instagram for topics that you all wanted to see addressed in this episode, these were some of the topics. I want to start with one of the most popular, which is, can women pursue men? If you are single, can you as a single woman, biblically, pursue a man? The short answer, absolutely, yes. Absolutely, yes. 

Now, some people hold up Ruth as an example of this. Technically, what Ruth was doing was not really pursuing a romantic relationship with Boaz, so much as calling him up to fulfill his obligation. It was more of an honor-shame situation, a responsibility situation as opposed to a romantic act, but will still give you the pursuit thing with Ruth. Ruth did in a sense pursue Boaz and God blessed it, and He encouraged it, and King David came through it, and the Messiah came through it. It’s pretty incredible right there. But what I want you to think about and the questions I want you to ask regarding pursue are these. Why would it not be okay for a woman to pursue a man? Purity culture would say, because it undermines his leadership. Well, where in the Bible does it say that A, a man is to be the leader? I know you’re probably get a little wiggly when I say that, but I want you to think about it. Where in the Bible, what passage does it say that a man is to lead a woman in a dating relationship or even in a marriage? If we’re going to get really tricky here and we’re going to talk about this in the Marriage episode. So, don’t worry, we’re going to deal with this biblically. 

But especially in a dating relationship in what context is a man supposed to lead and why would it not be okay for a woman to express interest to contact a guy to say, “Hey, I find you attractive, I find you interesting, would you like to go out to coffee?” What would that undermine biblically that would make it not okay? We really have nothing in Scripture to say that it would be sinful, or wrong, or unadvisable for a woman to express interest in a man. What I often hear when I talk about this is that, if a woman pursues a man, then he will not have as much motivation to pursue her and he’ll probably be passive in the relationship. I think that depends on the guy. If you are dealing with a passive guy, a guy who isn’t as interested in you as you are in him and you don’t know those red flags, if you’re going into it with desperation, you just want a relationship and you’re ignoring the red flags, if you are in a relationship with a guy that you’ve pursued, and he doesn’t prioritize his walk with God, and he’s passive, and he doesn’t care about that stuff, then sure, I think we could have a problem. But to blanket statement, you can’t pursue a guy, because then he won’t lead, or then he won’t follow God or then he won’t be interested in you just is not scriptural, and isn’t even consistent with many women’s experiences. I know dozens of women, who have been the first to express interest in someone, and the guy reciprocated, and they’re happily married, or they’re in a dating relationship. 

Just because she started it, it doesn’t mean that his actions were dependent upon that. Can women pursue men? Absolutely. There is nothing in Scripture that makes this out to be a sin issue. Will it always work out in a relationship? No. But it can be a great way to get to know people, a great way to step out, and take a little more initiative in your dating relationships or in your dating experiences, and there’s a way to do that while still honoring the Lord and following His leading. The second question is, is singleness a gift or why do we only ever use this phrase in regard to singleness? I think, sometimes, married people will call singleness a gift for a few reasons. They’re looking back fondly on that freedom of their single days of the ability to pick up and do things quickly or not have to check in with people when their husband and wife when they make decisions, because those are things that you do have to do. There are responsibilities with marriage and parenting that do come with the territory and there is more freedom in that sense with singleness. But what can happen is in saying singleness is a gift, it seems we’re downplaying the trials of singleness or we’re making other stages of life seem they’re less of a gift. Really, it can end up being a double-edged sword.

But one of the things that encouraged me as a single was understanding that while singleness is indeed a gift. It can also be a trial. Sometimes, the gifts come through the trials. It was funny when I asked you all for input on this episode, I had some people writing in saying, “Can people stop saying that singleness is a gift?” Then other people messaging and saying, “Singleness is a gift.” [laughs] Obviously, y’all are very divided on this, because of where you’re at emotionally and personally. Singleness can definitely feel like a gift at times of freedom and just the uncertainty can be fun. On other days, the uncertainty can be a curse in ways. It can be a trial. What I would say is, it is both a trial and a gift. Through that testing, gifts are given, God is going to make great things come out of this season. Those great things might be a relationship or they might just be how you are transformed and all the goodness that comes out of it. Either way, there are gifts, and there are hardships, and both can be found in this season.

The next question I have is, how do married and singles relate to each other? Now, I have a lot of single friends in my circle. Josh and I were one of the earliest couples to get married, I guess, in our circle or we’re just older than everybody else. [laughs] Many of our friends are just married or single. Watching them walk through this season and the unique things they’re doing with their time, the unique ways they’re bringing their gifts to the world, how they’re pursuing their dreams, not waiting around to buy a house, or move to a new city, or try a new hobby or a career, I think that’s so exciting and inspiring to watch. What’s also so neat to me is to have the single women in my girls’ lives. They love their aunties and it’s so fun to just watch the example of these women and how they pour into my girls. I think that the single women, I know men are included in this, too, but especially women, who are able to be involved in our families gives them a place to feel like they belong, but it also gives mentorship and love to the children in those families and to the married people. Because I learned so much from my single friends. Maybe they learned stuff from me and from my marriage, too, but we can learn from each other. You don’t have to be in the same relationship stage in order to learn from each other and to unite around a table, to unite around activities. I think this is something that we really need to consider as married people, how can we bring our single friends into our lives and invite them along? 

I do think it’s going to require some conversations. If you’re a single person, and you want to be included, and your married friends invite you along, try to understand that they don’t see you as a third wheel. They aren’t trying to treat you as a third wheel. They really just want you with them. They want your presence. Then, if being a third wheel bothers you, explain to them how it could be made more comfortable. Should they invite other people, would it be weird if they invited another married couple, and then you’re the only single? How would it be making you the most comfortable? You’re going to have to have those conversations, so that you’re both on the same page regarding what works for your different relationship statuses.

The last question. How do I know if my sexual desire as a single person is an idol and what do I do about it? Now, we had a whole episode on sexuality. I have so many blog posts about sexuality and our desires, what to do with them on the blog. I’d encourage you to go there. You can go to the blog tab, and click the search bar, and there are a bunch of categories underneath the search bar that you can click, and it’ll bring up all the posts under that topic. 

But what do we do with our desires? How do we know if they’re an idol? Pastor Brad Bigney has an entire series on idolatry that was very helpful to me. One of the things that stood out was that, idolatry can be identified often by our emotional reaction to the removal of the idol. If we feel like we’re losing the thing that we worship, we react by getting intensely emotional. So, angry, depressed, weeping, sad, we do not want to lose this thing. Maybe, for me, it’s an opportunity that I was just so set on having maybe a book contract, let’s use that example. I find out that I didn’t get it, and I’m angry and lashing out, and extremely emotional at the loss of it. I have to ask myself with the Lord, “Am I worshiping that opportunity? Am I so devastated by this because I was actually worshipping it instead of worshipping you?” We have to ask that with our sexual desires. I know looking back that my frantic anguish over the idea of Jesus returning and me not having had sex before then [giggles] was an idolatry. That urgency, that idea that I must have this to live a fulfilled life, even in the face of Christ Himself, that Christ Himself could not be better than that, that’s an idolatry. You have to ask yourself, “Where you are emotionally in regard to sexuality, and having sex, and really work through that with the Lord?”

Now, what do we do in turn? I don’t want to just say, “Okay, so, now, ignore your sexuality and your sexual desires and good luck, hope you get married one day. Rather, I would say there is a way to celebrate our sexuality to understand that our desires point to something good that God created us good. Our desires can be good things. Sexual desire is not evil or bad, but it is something that has to be submitted to Him and walked out in holiness. We have to consider that when we are dealing with our desires, they are not bad. We don’t have to berate ourselves for feeling these things. Women will often have heightened sexual desire around their period. They’ll struggle more if they’re single with those desires and what to do with them. That is a time when you can thank the Lord for those desires and say, “Thank you for creating me good. These are good things.” Because when we tend to look at them as bad, or dirty, or we try to control them from a standpoint of desperation, we will often fight a losing battle. But when we come at our sexuality from a standpoint of celebration, seeing it as good, thanking God for it, inviting Him into it, then, we can have a different experience with our sexuality. Doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult or that we won’t struggle? I’ve been very open about my own testimony. You can read it on my blog, you can read it in my book, Christian Cosmo. I know how difficult it is to struggle with sexual addictions, to struggle with desire. I get it. But God truly can transform that. He truly can come into that and help us have a more positive view of ourselves of that struggle, of our desires, seeing it the way He sees it, and helping us to steward it. 

I want to make a quick note here. If you’re a mom, and you have kids around, you might want to put your headphones in, because we’re going to talk about something more sensitive for a minute. Masturbation. I have heard different views on this issue. Many singles who do struggle with this, in one of the reasons there’s different views is because there’s been some really poor teaching on masturbation over the course of the centuries, when the Christian church was talking about it. Things like that it was a mortal sin to the idea that it was causing blindness or many other things. Here’s where I’ve landed after I’ve studied Scripture on this, and read different sources over the course of history, and how the views have changed on the topic. Most of the time in my experience, masturbation is connected with porn. If it is connected with porn, most people cannot practice it without fantasizing. The real issue, the real problem with masturbation is lust and fantasy. That’s the sin issue. It’s not the biological response to stimulus. It’s what’s going on in your head. 

The other problem is that it can be intensely addictive. If you are practicing it from an addiction standpoint, if you need it because you’re stressed or tired, you can’t go to sleep, etc., or if it’s connected to a porn problem, or romance novels, or even past relationships, and sexual acts that you’re replaying over in your mind, those two things are sin issues. For people, who struggle in those areas, I can’t in good faith recommend masturbation as a way of releasing sexual pressure. Are there people, who can practice it without lusting? I think there are. But I think they’re very rare. We have to look at this issue from an honest standpoint, be honest with ourselves regarding what’s going on in our hearts and minds. Are you practicing from an addiction standpoint or are you practicing it from a lust-filled standpoint? Because neither of those honor God, nor are they going to serve you in marriage. Because those addictions actually will follow you into marriage? 

Because it’s honestly, sex with a spouse is not the same. So, that’s something that you do need to consider and I would encourage. I wanted to address that, because I think it’s the thing going on a lot of our minds when we’re single or a lot of you might have had that question. I just wanted to address it as lovingly as possible, and I’m speaking as somebody who did struggle from an addictive standpoint, and from an erotica, lustful standpoint. I just want to encourage you to be honest with yourself about what’s going on in your heart and mind, get counsel, get help, get an accountability partner, who is not your boyfriend to help you if this is something that you deal with.

Guys, this was a little bit of a longer episode on singleness, but I really hope that if you are single that this was an encouragement to you that you felt like you were seen and some of the struggles that you are going through are addressed in this episode. Maybe send it to some of those elderly aunts, who ask you why you’re single on Thanksgiving. They might blush a little bit at that last part, though. A couple of resources I wanted to mention that I love on the topic of singleness and some people who have actually walked out singleness well into their 30s and 40s. Sam Allberry writes often about same sex attraction and also about singleness. He has an entire book on singleness that is fabulous and that’s one of my top recommendations. Annie Downs has been single, up until the age of 40. She has some resources on this. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, married. I believe in her 50s and has written about this and then, Lore Wilbert also has written about being single into your 30s. I think all of them have some great resources that could be encouraging and helpful to you as you are walking through this season. Next week, we will be discussing marriage, complementarianism, egalitarianism, submission, and all of those hot topics as another woman’s issue.

Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Verity. You can connect with fellow listeners by following me on Instagram @phyliciamasonheimer or on our Facebook page by the same name. Also, visit for links to each episode and the show notes.

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