Young Adults: Flying Solo

The Bible suggests that some people will be called to singleness, while others might be currently single but still on the prowl for Mr or Mrs Right Enough. How can our faith communities embrace and make space for single people? And what qualities should followers of Jesus look for in a future mate?

A study on 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 for young adults from the Society of Salt and Light, in Christchurch.

flyingsoloSTHE STORY

A quick introduction to the week’s bible passages and theme, which aims to engage people in the big picture of God’s story, and the challenge of living faith in light of that.

If ever there was a time when the energy of single people attempting to impress each other was as thick in the air as gravy – then it was at this year’s Date My Mate event. 100 or so single Christians tried to calm their nerves with mulled wine, and at just the right moment, a surge of broad smiles, peppermint breath, coy smirks and smooth one liners were unleashed. There was something amazingly uninhibited and honest about the whole thing too. Finally a room of single people could just be upfront about the fact that they were looking for love, that they were officially on the market.

The funny thing was, lots of people felt embarrassed about the idea of attending. It was almost shameful to seem too proactive in looking for love,
and yet, at the same time, our culture can often make single people feel like oddballs. This becomes a very tricky balancing act of trying to find love without looking like you want to find it too badly.

Our passage in 1 Corinthians has Paul dealing with this issue of whether it’s good to be single (or in his lingo, virgins, which may be a touch optimistic for our singles now days) or good to get married. It’s worth noting that this whole thing was written to the Corinthian church during some sort of “crisis” in the city (some think a famine) which has an obvious impact on Paul’s relationship advice here. But interestingly enough – even though he leaves it open for each individual to decide on – Paul paints singleness in a very positive light.

It leaves those of us who follow Jesus in our love obsessed culture with a question we don’t often think about: Could God intend for some people
to stay single and not have romantic relationships at all? In fact – could single people, if called to it, have a special part to play in building God’s
Kingdom?

Or what if we are single, but we don’t want to be, what qualities are we looking for as we keep an eye out for a partner? What qualities does God
hope we’ll look for? And how should followers of Jesus deal with the pain and awkwardness of breaking up?

Discussion Questions

Choose from questions for the Scholars  |  the Dreamers  |  the Realists  |  the Activists

For the Scholars

Discussion questions focusing on exploring the bible passage.

1. What are some of the things that are good and hard about being: a) single? b) actively looking? c) in a relationship? d) married?
(if there are people in, or who have been in, each situation in your group, they should speak. If not, use your imagination.)

READ 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

2. Paul’s words here are in the context of a ‘present crisis’ (perhaps a famine?). Yet there are wider principles at work too. What ultimate desire drives his thinking? (hint: see especially verses 32-34)

3. In verse 35, he has to assure his readers that what he is saying is for their good, and he isn’t trying to restrict them (literally, to ‘put a noose around’ them!). How might we be inclined to hear his words here as a noose? How might they be for our good?

4. Get a few people to read one each of these verses, one after the other: verses 28, 35, 38. On balance, what would you say about Paul’s attitude to singleness and marriage from this passage?

5. How does that attitude fit with yours? Can you echo the sorts of thoughts Paul had? Why or why not?

6. In the light of what the Spirit says through Paul in this passage, have any of your answers to question 1 changed? If so, in what ways?

7. Does verse 39 have implications for who we might enter into a relationship with? What might be the underlying reason for this?

8. Singleness in our culture can have really strong elements of a. sexual temptation (and/or giving in to it), b. loneliness, c. feeling like you don’t fit in. How can your community be part of a movement that counters this problem and appreciates singleness for the Kingdom advantages it has?

FOR THE DREAMERS

Discussion questions focusing on mulling over the theme.

1. What are some of the things that are good, and hard, about being: a) single? b) actively looking? c) in a relationship? d) married?
(if there are people in, or who have been in, each situation in your group, they should speak. If not, use your imagination.)

2. Watch Belinda Stott’s ‘How to Ruin Your Chances of Finding A Partner’ video. Do you think there’s a stigma attached to the idea of actively looking for a relationship? Why is that? Do you think our culture lives by a “love should always be easy” attitude? What about us as Christians – do we think love should be easy?

3. What qualities do you look for in a partner, and why do you think they’re what you look for and you’re attracted to? What qualities do you think God hopes we’ll use when looking for eligible mates? Do they contradict each other at all?

4. Breaking up with someone and being broken up with is one of the hardest experiences young adults go through – often ending with social groups being split, and even one person leaving their faith community for good. How should Christian’s break up with someone? How should we deal with heartbreak without becoming bitter or spiteful? How could a faith community help those going through a breakup?

5. Our passage from 1 Corinthians deals with the dynamics of singleness, during a ‘present crisis’ of some kind in Corinth at the time – perhaps a famine – which may have impacted on their relationship plans. Yet there are also wider principles at work in Paul’s whole approach, made clear in V32-35. What is the ultimate desire that drives his thinking? How does that challenge your priorities both in love and in faith?

6. In verse 39 of our passage it’s interesting to see that those who have had their partners die, are told to remarry people who also follow Jesus. But it’s often tempting to flirt with the idea of entering into a relationship with a non-believer, or to even pursue it, and justify it under the “flirt and convert” motto. Why would Paul say this? What issues can you see arising from being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t follow Jesus? What impact has a relationship with a non-believer had for you or your friends in the past?

7. Singleness in our culture can have really strong elements of a. sexual temptation (and/or giving in to it), b. loneliness, c. feeling like you don’t fit in. How can our community buck the trend and appreciate singleness and single people for who they are, for the gifts they bring, and even the Kingdom advantages it has?

FOR THE REALISTS

Possibilities for on topic testimonials, sharing and story telling.

Ask a happily single person (be sensitive about this – so maybe ask your minister for suggestions) in your church from outside your group to talk for 5 minutes about what it means to be single and happy – and what role they think churches should play in embracing people who are single and the gifts they offer us as a community.

Remember to give them at least a few days warning so they can prepare well.

FOR THE ACTIVISTS

Activities and adventures beyond the couch.

When the lovedrug takes hold, our standards and good sense can become overwhelmed by that intoxicating “falling in love” feeling. So it might be helpful to think about what vital qualities you actually want in a person – rather than just letting the sparkle of their eyes become the main deciding factor.

Split into small groups and choose the top three qualities from the list beside that you look for in a romantic partner. Discuss why you’ve chosen those three, and how they line up with your faith and God’s values.

Self-respect, Freedom, Peace, Respect, Self-control, Honesty, Enjoyment, Equality, Obedience, Trust, Commitment, Truth, Faithfulness, Love,
Gentleness, Giving