False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): God’s gifting of singleness is rare – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage and God gifts only the rare with the gift of Marriage

False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): “God’s gifting of singleness is rare” – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage -and- God gifts only the rare the exceptions the few with the gift of Marriage

Before I get to the main point of this post: About the chastity thing, or celibacy thing. Technically, all Christians are called to a chaste life, not just singles.

If you are married, you are not supposed to be diddling anyone but your spouse, and per Jesus’ comments of (Link): Matthew 5:27-28, that means no dirty web site, movie, or magazine viewing for married people, either.

First of all, the Bible does not teach the concepts of “Gift of Singleness” (GOS) or “Gift of Celibacy” (GOC).

Nor does the Bible teach that God fore-ordained in eternity past who would remain single, or who would be married, which is the faulty method in which some Christians understand the term “gifted with singleness” or GOC.

I will not address those points here, because I have discussed them in older posts here:

(Link): The Myth of the Gift – Regarding Christian Teachings on Gift of Singleness and Gift of Celibacy

(Link): The Gift of Singleness – A Mistranslation and a Poorly Used Cliche’

(Link): There is No Such Thing as a Gift of Singleness or Gift of Celibacy or A Calling To Either One

Does God Gift Only A Few With Singleness?

I want to address one somewhat common falsehood and assumption I see crop up in televised Christian marriage seminars or sermons, or in Christian blogs and pod casts about dating, sex, and marriage, which is this:

Often times, a preacher will pause to say during a presentation about marriage that “only a few are called to singleness.” But is this true?

Preachers will sometimes use this “only a few are gifted or called to singleness” rhetoric to shame singles into getting married.

I believe preachers and conservative Christian organizations feel this way and keep quoting “only a few are chosen for singlehood,” since they assume that the once-common American cultural situation of one marrying in one’s twenties and having children was typical, that it remains typical.

Most troubling, such Christians seem to assume that the Bible commands, or expects, all Christians to marry and have children, and that not marrying, or not procreating, is sinful – but it does not. In the New Testament, singleness is regarded as being fully acceptable.

Preachers, and even many Non Christians, continue to assume that marrying young and having children is the norm.

However, census data of the past ten years reveal that getting married young, if at all, is no longer the norm.

More and more people – including Christians – are either skipping marriage altogether, or getting married later in life, due to circumstances beyond their control, or, some are deliberately choosing to stay single for a lifetime, or at least until their 30s or later.

Some figures I have seen have stated 44% of American adults over the age of 18 are single, while other figures cited have been as high as 50%.

When close to half the American population of adults is single, and this applies to conservative Christians in Baptist and evangelical contexts as well, how can Christian preachers, Christian talking heads and speakers at Christian marriage seminars, keep making the BOGUS claim that only a few are called to singleness?

When half of adult conservative Christians are single, is it not more accurate to say (if you believe in the “gifting” or “calling to” of singleness, which I do not), that God has called a heck of a lot of adults to singleness, and that God has only called a piddling few to marriage?

The New Testament does not prescribe or describe marriage or having children as being normative.

The New Testament does not depict being married, getting married, or having children as requirements, commands, mandates, or expectations for anyone, for most, or for all.

Marriage and having children are presented as valid options for believers, but as being no more valid or worthy than being single and childless, whether by deliberate choice or by circumstance.

I do not believe God calls or pre-ordains anyone to singlehood or marriage, but if one insists upon using such terminology, and wishes to be accurate about the state of culture today, it looks like God has called only a few to marriage and childbearing / procreation.

Look at these American statistics:

(Link): Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low

    New Marriages Down 5% from 2009 to 2010

by D’Vera Cohn, Jeffrey S. Passel, Wendy Wang and Gretchen Livingston

Barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data.

In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years. Other adult living arrangements—including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood—have all grown more prevalent in recent decades.

(Link): Facts for Features: Unmarried and Single Americans

Single Life

102 million

Number of unmarried people in America 18 and older in 2011. This group comprised 44.1 percent of all U.S. residents 18 and older.

Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2011
Table A1.

Percentage of unmarried U.S. residents 18 and older in 2011 who had never been married. Another 24 percent were divorced, and 14 percent were widowed.
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2011
Table A1

55 million
Number of households maintained by unmarried men and women in 2011. These households comprised 46 percent of households nationwide.
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2011
Table A2

33 million
Number of people who lived alone in 2011. They comprised 28 percent of all households, up from 17 percent in 1970.
Source: America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2011
Table H1 and HH-4

(Link): Single Adults-A Population Group Too Large To Ignore 

(but churches keep right on ignoring singles anyway)


Author and speaker Carolyn Koons said, “The church needs to expand its term ‘family,’ moving from a traditional family definition to one that includes singles, widows, single-parent families, extended families, expanded families, stepfamilies, and blended families. We must become the family we are—the family of God.”1 Statistics on single adults in America are growing rapidly and affecting lifestyles and family types.

(Link): For Many Adults, Marriage Can Wait, Census Shows – WSJ.com

Updated Sept. 29, 2010

The long-term slide in marriage rates has pushed the proportion of married adults of all ages to 52% in 2009, according to the Census, the lowest share in history. In 1960, 72.2% of adults over 18 were married.

The U.S. began tracking marriage statistics in 1880. The latest figures on marriage come from the Census’ annual American Community Survey, the government’s deepest and broadest look at economic, social and demographic trends.

(Link): Why Are There So Many Single Americans? – New York Times

Published: January 21, 2007

THE news that 51 percent of all women live without a spouse might be enough to make you invest in cat futures.

But consider, too, the flip side: about half of all men find themselves in the same situation. As the number of people marrying has dropped off in the last 45 years, the marriage rate has declined equally for men and for women.

(Link): Marriage Rate Declines To Historic Low, Study Finds

    Posted: 07/22/2013 2:28 pm EDT | Updated: 07/22/2013 3:07 pm EDT

We’ve been hearing for years that fewer and fewer people are tying the knot, and a new study reveals just how much the marriage rate has declined in the last century.

A new report released Thursday by Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Marriage and Family Research found that the U.S. marriage rate is 31.1, or 31 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women. That means for every 1,000 unmarried women in the U.S., 31 of those previously single women tied the knot in the last year. For comparison, in 1920, the national marriage rate was 92.3.

Meanwhile, the average age at women’s first marriage is 27 years old, its highest point in over a century.

In 2011, the Pew Research Center found that 51 percent of Americans were married, compared to 72 percent in 1960. However, rates of cohabiting couples are rising — according to private research company Demographic Intelligence, less than half a million couples were cohabiting in 1960, compared to 7.5 million in 2010.

Earlier this year, Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum offered a reason for declining marriage rates: cultural “rules” now compel couples to wait to marry until they have reached upper-class status. Pew researcher D’Vera Cohn told HuffPost in 2011 that the decline could be due to more acceptable living arrangements, including unmarried cohabitation.

(Link): Table for One Ministries – Singles Stats

(Link): Facts About Single People Demographics – Unmarried America

    There are 106 million unmarried adults in the United States.

Singles constitute more than 44% of the adult population in the nation.

About 44% of the nation’s workforce are unmarried employees

The Census Bureau estimates that about 10% of adults will never marry.


A majority of the nation’s households are headed by unmarried adults

Married couples with minor children live in fewer than 25% of the nation’s households.

Single adults living alone comprise about 27% of the nation’s households.

Another 13 million single adults are living with unmarried relatives.

Considering that 44% – 50% of all American adults are single, it can just as easily be argued or said that ‘God calls only a few to marriage and/or procreating.’

Marriage has not been the norm in American culture for at least the last ten years now, maybe longer, depending on how one wishes to look at things. It is therefore dishonest and misleading for Christians to keep insisting that only a “few” “chosen” are called to lifelong singleness or celibacy or are “gifted” with it.

Related topics, this blog:

(Link): Statistics Show Single Adults Now Outnumber Married Adults in the United States

(Link): Four in 10 Adults Between the Ages of 25 and 54 are Single, Up From 29% in 1990

(Link):  Nearly 4 in 10 American Adults Live Without Spouse or Partner As Single Population Grows: Pew

(Link): Federalist Magazine Staff Annoyed that Other Outlets Publish the Down Side of Motherhood and Are Requesting Sunny Motherhood Propaganda Pieces – As If Conservatives Haven’t Pushed for Motherhood Enough? The Mind Boggles

(Link): Fewer Americans Think Marriage is Needed To Create Strong Families, New Poll Suggest

(Link): Do You Need a Partner to Have a Happy Life? by D. LaBier

(Link): Instone-Brewer: Ancient Jews Expected All to Marry, Was Illegal to Remain Single in Ancient Rome

(Link): Lifeway Research: Pastors Encourage Single Adults, Some Provide Targeted Ministries (How Churches Are Ministering to Adult Singles in 2022)

(Link): Misapplication of Biblical Verses About Fertility (also mentions early marriage) – a paper by J. McKeown

(Link): Jesus Christ Removed the Stigma, Shame From Being Single and Childless – by David Instone Brewer

(Link): Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles? by S. Hamaker

(Link):  Ever Notice That Christians Don’t Care About or Value Singleness, Unless Jesus Christ’s Singleness and Celibacy is Doubted or Called Into Question by Scholars?

(Link):   Typical Conservative Assumption: If you want marriage bad enough (or at all), Mr. Right will magically appear

(Link): Fewer Americans See Their Romantic Partners As a Source of Life’s Meaning

(Link): Can We Stop Saying Singleness is God’s Will? by Anonymous via Sheila Wray Gregoire

(Link): If the Family Is Central, Christ Isn’t

(Link):  Newlyweds Forced to Be Celibate After Bride Diagnosed With Cervical Cancer Just Days After Honeymoon

(Link): Stop Believing God Told You to Marry Your Spouse by G. Thomas

(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

(Link): Never Married Christians Over Age 35 who are childless Are More Ignored Than Divorced or Infertile People or Single Parents

(Link): Remarriage rates plunge as divorced Americans have doubts – and about Christian culture and divorce and remarriage vs singleness

(Link): Candice Watters and Boundless Blog Gets It Wrong / Christian prolonged singlehood singleness singles ignored

(Link): It’s Not Your Imagination, Single Women: There Literally Aren’t Enough Men Out There – Re: Man Shortage – Follow Up Interview 

(Link): To the Christians (especially married ones) Who Like to Instruct Single Christian Adults They Should Only Marry Other Christians, Listen Up (Re: Equally Yoked Rule)

(Link):  Nearly 4 in 10 American Adults Live Without Spouse or Partner As Single Population Grows: Pew

(Link): Marriage-Pushing Zealot Wilcox Suggests that Being Single is Immoral: National Review Article

(Link): Why We Thought Marriage Made Us Healthier, and Why We Were Wrong by Bella DePaulo

(Link):  What If Marriage Is Overrated? – A social psychologist has been chipping away at many claims about marriage changing one’s life for the better

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