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The Living Arrangements of Single Christians
by Tanya Shliahov
7/30/2019 / House & Home
Much is spoken and written about how hard it is to be married. There are many books written about how to have better marriages and even weekend-long conferences on how to survive it, but little is mentioned of the difficulties of singleness and how to survive that. When singleness is mentioned, the importance of being celibate is the only topic that is covered. It would be helpful for single Christians to have guidance on navigating the difficulties of living arrangements during the season of singleness and for churches to have instruction on how to support single Christians with this issue.
Many Christians are single because Christians are few in number. They are a remnant even in Christian-heritage countries so if you cannot find a Christian of the opposite sex to live with in the bonds of marriage, there is little chance of finding Christians of the same sex to live with during years of singleness. This means you must live with non-Christians. The Bible commands Christians to only marry other Christians (Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14). This is wise as a difficulty with marrying a non-Christian is that when you have an enjoyable spiritual experience, you cannot share it with them. They will not understand why you are so elated. To them, God is boring or does not even exist. This is true for single Christians too. You cannot share with your non-Christian house mates enjoyable spiritual experiences you are having. This is isolating and can cause a single person to feel very lonely, even when living in a share house where all the bedrooms are full. Even when living with fellow Christians, as there are many strains of Christianity, you may find yourself living with someone whose beliefs greatly conflict with yours, making it hard to walk together (Can two walk together, except they be agreed? – Amos 3:3).
Married people have the luxury of choosing who they live with often after knowing their loved one for a period of two years or more. The candidate is reviewed by the betrothed’s family and their compatibility tested by their pastor. This is not so for the single Christian. The single person is often living with a person they have known for two seconds, not two years. They live with someone who has answered a newspaper ad or a Facebook post. Consequently, their character has not been tested, and you may find that your fellow resident has disappeared during the night, leaving no money to pay the phone and electricity bill. Essentially, you have been robbed by someone you were hoping would be a friend. You have been betrayed (You shall not steal. – Exodus 20:15).
Many non-Christians partake in drunkenness and smoking (Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit – Ephesians 5:18). It is dull and lonely being the only person who is sober and tiresome when you must baby-sit adult drunkards, making sure they do not fall into ditches, choke on their vomit or get molested when unconscious. Living in a house that reeks of cigarettes is unhealthy and demoralising. Of course, you can ask your fellow residents to smoke outside, but if you are the only non-smoker in the house, you end up sitting alone inside the house feeling very lonely. Then you must suffer the annoyed looks of fellow residents who must now sit outside in the cold and the rain simply because of you.
Many non-Christians participate in fornication, sometimes with strangers (Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body - 1 Corinthians 6:18). The single Christian must watch their house mates risking the ruining of their lives through contracting fatal or lifelong illnesses. The single Christian sees the disrespect they have for each other and themselves, using others and being used themselves. He or she sees the disregard they show for the child that may potentially be born without a father or that may end up being dismembered through abortion if it is decided that this child is an inconvenience. Also disconcerting is the worry of not knowing if the stranger in the house, whose morals have led him or her to have sex with a stranger, would also rape and pillage! This sullies the atmosphere of what should feel like a home, not a brothel.
Non-Christians enjoy entertainments that are off limits to the Christian (Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8). They consume movies and music that deride Christianity and have multiple instances of swearing and blasphemy. They partake of movies that induce actors and actresses, who often are married, to prostitute themselves, behaving nakedly and sexually in front of a world-wide audience. The Christian single must remove themselves during these times of entertainment, sitting in their bedroom alone and lonely even though their home is full. Then, when the Christian single plays Christian music or watches Christian programs, even if nothing is said, the opposition to God can often be felt.
The single person must often live with those who are still learning to speak their language. A home is a place of rest. It takes extra patience to speak with people who have heavy accents or who lack fluency. Consequently, the home is no longer a place of rest but a place of constant misunderstanding and frustration (Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. – Genesis 11:7). It becomes a place of work, instead of a place to unwind. It becomes a place of teaching rather than a place of sharing. There was a household where five could speak French and English and one could only speak English. The bilingual residents spoke French ninety percent of the time. The pain from the sense of rejection, loneliness and isolation was immeasurable. The married person often has two years or more to decide if they have the capacity to show this extra patience and fortitude daily, in their own home, while the single person often has no alternative.
Married people share their income, so they are always in the same socioeconomic group (Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.- Acts 4:32). The single person has only their income. They end up living in the same house as people who are doing better than them financially and with those who are doing worse. As all are living in close confinement, this fact cannot be hidden. The single person experiences embarrassment around the resident doing better and guilt around the resident earning less.
There are also problems with knowing your role. For instance, The Bible declares how decisions are to be made in marriage but gives no guidance on who will have the final say when making decisions in a share house (Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. – Ephesians 5:24). Then there are problems with having the opportunity to fulfil your role. For instance, the married woman often has great influence on the décor of her house. In a share house, however, with three grown women living in it, all vie to be the one who decorates the house (She makes tapestry for herself -Proverbs 31:22), and in all male households, presumably they all vie to be the man of the house.
Many non-Christians have no qualms living with people of the opposite sex, and unfortunately, it is increasingly rare to meet fellow Christians who see the wisdom of only advertising for house mates of the same gender. Subsequently, the single Christian, even when living with those who say they are Christian, lives with residents who sometimes ask for sexual favours that they must say “no” to. Even when living with residents who are not like this, there is suspicion from outsiders that this is what is happening ( But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. – Ephesians 5:3). This damages the single Christian’s reputation and opportunities for ministry.
Lastly, there is the problem of not being allowed to live in a family (That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. – Genesis 2:27). House mates often do not assist each other, every resident lives for themselves. House mates come and go and often very quickly, longevity is not to be counted on. House mates often are not around at Christmas, Easter or other family occasions. House mates are often very different, very little can be shared, but for an adult single Christian to live with their parents or parent, even if the parent is ill, aged, widowed or divorced, it is considered immature, so if the season of singleness is prolonged, the single Christian lives without a family for a very long time. Married people on the other hand who allow their aged, sick, widowed or divorced parents to live in their house with them are considered kind, loving and sacrificial!
Of course, marriages, even those where both claim to be Christian, can be afflicted by the above problems, but for the single this is a certainty. Churches can support Christian singles by sharing spiritual experiences they have particularly enjoyed, praying for safety from theft and of having strangers in the house, having a safe place single Christians can go to when the trials and temptations of living with drunkards and fornicators become immense, creating family-like experiences for the single and not deriding those who choose to remain in the parental home (Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals. – 1 Corinthians 15:33).
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