‘Single’ Is Not the Opposite of ‘Family’
A bit of understanding that could change your life as a single in God’s Church

The word “single” implies aloneness. It seems to be practically the antithesis of “family.”

If that thought has found lodgment in your thinking, I’d like you to challenge it.

There is a specific aspect of family life that you need—and that God offers you in a pretty unique and special way. But you have to embrace it.

I want to show you what that is, and give you a thought to replace the one I mentioned at the beginning of this article.

Remember Your Big Life’s Goal

What is your big goal in life? Like it or not, for true Christians, the answer is family.

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “The Kingdom of God starts with a family relationship—first the physical human families, second, the one compacted together Church, and finally, when the Church is changed to immortality, the God Family—which is the Kingdom of God” (Good News, February 1979).

What an awesome goal! What an astounding truth about our life as Christians: We are destined to be born into the God Family as Gods! Our entire lives today are meant to prepare us for that future—to teach us to become more and more like God!

Righteous character is God’s greatest, most magnificent creation—His masterpiece! And He is working on that masterpiece within you. However, this requires your acquiescence, your full cooperation, your total submission. That is what makes it so challenging for Him.

Your part in allowing God to create His character is your greatest, noblest challenge! We all have a selfish, inward-focused heart. God’s whole way of life travels in the other direction: out toward others—out toward the creation—out toward the Family of God. God wants to teach us that way. He has a big job, preparing us and converting us.

We all have to recognize how our selfishness limits our willingness to give and serve others. God wants to help each one of us to conquer that by encouraging us, even forcing us, to do the opposite.

The First Thing God Uses

Look again at that statement from Mr. Armstrong. There are three levels there, culminating in a birth into the Family of God. The first two prepare us for the third.

Physical human families are the first thing God uses. Physical family is one of His most powerful tools for destroying human nature and helping us grow in godly character. Done God’s way, family forces each member to recognize and confront his or her own selfishness. A man has wife and children waiting for him to get home from work, to give of his time and attention, to provide for them, teach them, love them. A woman must devote her heart to her family in countless ways. Marriage and family teach how to give consistently and unconditionally. They instill patterns of giving even when you don’t feel you have anything to give—to love even when you feel the other person doesn’t really deserve your love.

If you don’t have that immediate physical family, you don’t necessarily have those obvious, pressing responsibilities toward other people in your daily life. However, you are not off the hook. It is a mistake for a single to think, I’m on my own—I can just look after myself. God gives you another powerful tool to help you—the second of those three levels of which Mr. Armstrong spoke: your spiritual family, the Church!

The Church family is a fantastic way to crush your human nature and get you ready for the God Family! Those in the Church are people with whom God wants you regularly practicing His love!

Jesus Christ—Himself a single—actually put a higher value on the spiritual family than the physical! In one instance, when He was told that His mother and brothers wanted to speak with Him, He responded, “Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:48-50).

Confront the shallow notion that “single” is opposite of “family.” God is preparing you for eternal family life—and He wants to use your experience as a single in His Church to help in that process!

Your spiritual family provides you unique opportunities to confront your carnality and to build righteous thinking and godly character.

Behold Your Family!

I want to challenge you to increase your sense of family duty—family responsibility—family obligation—toward those in God’s Church, especially your fellow singles.

Imagine what the singles culture in God’s Church would be if you were truly treating each other as the family you are. It is inspiring to think about. But it will take real effort on the part of you and a lot of other singles to get there.

Imagine regular communication with others of God’s singles—on the Sabbath, even occasionally during the week. Imagine going to the Feast and having a full social calendar taking care of and being taken care of by other singles, men and women, as well as the greater spiritual Family.

What can you do to realize this goal?

Women: Don’t feel like you have to sit there as if handcuffed. Reach out in friendship to both men and women. There is nothing wrong with e-mailing someone out of the blue to say hello.

Men: Look after the single women in the Church the way you would look after a sister. The benefits will go both ways, and extend outward from there.

Notice how Christ refers to His Bride in Song of Songs 4:9-10: “my sister, my spouse”—or my bride. “Why is Christ saying ‘my sister’?” Gerald Flurry asks in Song of Songs—God’s Greatest Love Song. “He is a Husband—but He also views this spiritual woman as His sister. In fact, He always puts ‘sister’ first! This gives us a beautiful perspective of the God Family that we must always remember. God’s Family is bigger than just Husband and wife. It is about sisters and brothers, as well as Husband, wife and Father.”

The women in the Church—the women you date—are sisters first! “First of all, she’s a sister—a member of the Family of God! The Family of God comes first! The man who finds a bride who has already filled her role within that Family configuration has truly found something breathtakingly wonderful!” (ibid). Notice: This is talking about the woman playing her part within the spiritual family as well!

Mr. Flurry continues, “Do you fellows look upon the woman you want to marry as a sister? Is she really like a sister to you, spiritually? Or do you just skip over that part?”

Dating is a service—an act of giving to the family. It is a way of providing companionship to brothers and sisters in Christ. When you serve in this way, you are drawing those you date closer into the spiritual family and enriching their experience within God’s Church. And on top of that, you are also taking a hammer to your own selfishness! You are becoming more like God!

See this as the responsibility—but also the wonderful opportunity—that it is.

You Need It

Recognize the gap between who you are and who God wants you to be. Have a realistic appraisal of your human nature. Realize that naturally, you resist going out of your way to serve others.

Then—embrace the means that God has given you to combat that carnality. You need it!

Try it! Serve! Men: Serve your sisters—look after them! Carve out the time to date them, and then date them unselfishly. Women: Serve those men as your brothers! Be willing to look past what you might consider obvious flaws and appreciate them for who them are. Reach out to and serve even those of your own sex. Build friendships and family bonds. And see if this doesn’t help you identify and combat those parts of yourself that haven’t yet been fashioned in God’s image.

Replace the thought that being single means just looking after yourself with the godly truth about your special place and role within the spiritual Family! Doing so could change your life as a single in God’s Church—not to mention other fellow singles.

Truly viewing your fellow singles as brothers and sisters will help you avoid writing each other off over minor offenses. It will open the door to more and better relationships. And it will ultimately strengthen the Church—and better prepare us all for the eternal Family!