Can Single People Become Mature?


To all of you single Christian men, I wish God finds you a good wife. Don't despair.

Marriage is not easy, all of your passions and imperfections will come to the surface, you'll learn about all of your flaws and will have to face them over and over again until you take control of it.

I oftentimes struggle with bursts of wrath, my pride, egoism, selfishness and sloth. Which I believe are lingering side effects of my previous single life where I was the center of my world.

A few years of being married and especially having a kid, however, made me more mature then my whole pointless life before that. This and seeking God of course.


I have a work-at-home husband, toddler who likes to climb on things, cat who chews on wires and knocks down icons, and a bunch of outlets that randomly don't work (not feline-related) in my apartment box. Pleasure-ensconced would be pushing it a bit.

I got some unsolicited advice in my 20s that it's harder to merge lives when you're older-- not because of any fault of each person, but because you're just more set in your ways and don't want to break your routine or make concessions. I think it's easy to idealize relationships, or be overly critical when you're single.

Parental divorce also sort of sets you down the "oh well nothing is going to work out anyway" road.

Max Roscoe

Orthodox Inquirer
I understand where you are coming from here Roosh, but your experience and what you see in the world (unhealthy prolongation of singleness in general and shunning of marriage/kids) are majorly biasing you.

A married person with kids can idolize his kids and do the exact same type of destructive worshipping of his own genes.
I agree. I too resonate with the gist of the article, and have great respect for the institution of Holy Matrimony and the greater purpose that comes with being responsible for a family you lead.

But I don't put people with families on higher levels than the single, nor do I think it's a solution that will fix any missing piece of a man. If anything, a man who is not a strong leader, teacher, a kind, patient and generous soul already will only have his problems amplified by becoming a father. And we certainly see the evidence of so many weak and poorly led families (OnlyFans?) that I don't consider superior to a man leading a chaste and single life.

Going to the opposite extreme, I have friends whose entire life revolves around their children in an unhealthy obsessive way. Decisions are deferred to the satisfaction of the children. They literally make every decision based on the children, in a circular manner where no one ever truly lives but is always deferring to the next generation.

Family should be held high as a great and wonderful aspect of our society, but it is not everyone's goal.

And anyway, while our family is arguably our most important group while we are here on earth, never forget the great contributions in art, philosophy, religion (theologians and missionaries), architecture, literature, science that came from the man who devotes himself to a discipline that benefits the entire society, as so many of history's great men were.

I personally long for a loving family of my own, but I also look at Jesus sent here to earth to live as a man, and he did not take a wife. 1 Corinthians 7 basically says you will serve God differently whether single or married, but there is no preference to one over the other.

Eusebius Erasmus

St Silouan the Athonite: “In the last days there will be many with the monastic spirit living in the world as a witness to the Faith, neither married, nor having taken the monastic vows, but single, yet monastics at heart.”

The single life should not be thought of as a "default position" for those who can't find someone to marry, or don't have a monastic vocation. It is true that there are three kinds of people who embrace the single vocation: those who want marriage but cannot find someone suitable and (wisely) will not enter into a bad marriage; those who sought the priesthood or monastic vocation but couldn't make it for some reason; those who feel called to be single from the very outset.

Being single is everyone's state in life for at least a short time. Not everyone will become a monk, nun, or get married. However, every monk and married person was single until their profession of vows or marriage. Those who fall into the first two categories of people who are single can accept their state without bitterness as a manifestation of God's will and thereby make their vocation as meritorious as those who choose it from the very start of their adult life.

Where does St. Silouan say this?


Being single is noble and people are called by God to live their life in that way. It is a state superior to marriage.

Being a single Christian is not superior to being a married Christian; nor is being married superior to being single.
Matthew 6:3 states, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

To remain single in the world and live a life of perfect chastity is to act as an ambassador of Christ representing Him and doing all for His greater glory.

God ordained the family as the foundation of human civilization. A man and woman's marriage is the family - child(ren) are the blessings.
The decision if we are to be single or to be married is God's; not ours.


Well, St. Paul is not speaking of simply being a single person living in the world. He is speaking of being totally and completely dedicated to God, which for the Orthodox means monasticism … the person is following Christ's commandment to die to himself or herself in order to pick up their Cross and follow Him. That is significantly different from "the single life."
St. Paul definitely does not mean that living the secular, single, “clubbing”, or career-centered life or anything remotely like it is preferable to marriage. I’m not Orthodox, I’m Catholic, so I can’t speak to Orthodox thought, but within Catholicism, there is room for vocations for singles.

I’ll give two examples I’m personally aware of. There’s a British guy named Lee Saville. He’s Christian, not Catholic nor Orthodox. He’s in his late 50’s or 60’s now. Back in the 90’s, he was a young wealthy partner in a British law firm. He wasn’t particularly religious. However, he strongly felt God’s call to serve the Roma people in Romania. So he left everything behind and has been living with them in poverty and serving them near Arad in western Romania ever since. He is single. He’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met.

Another guy is a Costa Rican doctor who serves with the Sisters of Charity in San Jose, Costa Rica. He graduated from medical school in Mexico in the 1970’s, then served his residency in NYC. From there, he had the choice to pursue a lucrative medical career in America or return to his native Costa Rica. He decided to return to Costa Rica and has served with the Sisters of Charity at their old folks home in San Jose ever since. He plays the role of handy man, janitor, and doctor for the home. After a few years there, he took a vow of poverty and lives in a simple apartment provided by the sisters. He never married. I met him in the old folks home’s kitchen where we were both scrubbing pots. As we scrubbed, he told me his story in response to questions I asked him. I never got his name. In addition to Lee Saville above, he’s also one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met.

It goes without saying that those two guys are living the sort of single life that Paul says is preferable to marriage. Paul is absolutely not saying that what most of us experience as the single life in America, Canada, the UK, or anywhere in the modern world is preferable to marriage.


Here is a more balanced Orthodox perspective:

Nowadays so many people, so many friends and acquaintances of mine, especially middle-aged, are disappointed, drained, left alone with children, empty and lonely (both in and out of relationships), feeling robbed. What are we to do with our lives in order to avoid self-centered ends and the spiritual abyss? Marriage and monasticism most certainly lead to the most intimate communion with the Creator and fellow creature and fulfill their promises: the soul can still be purified through either of them. They restore the soul’s appetitive drive to its divine orientation. The roads are narrow, their gates straight, but they lead to the deification of the soul. But maybe this path is not open to us — yet? — for a variety of reasons and circumstances. So WHAT is to be done?

Apparently, there is also a third way. Jesus Christ teaches that certain people are called by God to the single life.

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery. The disciples said to Him: “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is expedient not to marry.” But He said to them: “Not all people can receive this saying, but only to those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made so by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.” (Mt 19:9-12)

The apostle Paul elaborates on Jesus’ teaching.

It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation to immorality each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband… I say this by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion… And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. … Only let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him. (See 1 Cor. 7)

The single calling

The single life is a calling. It is a way of life which is given by God. A person, certainly a Christian person, does not choose to be single or to be married. He or she rather discovers the way of life which the Lord provides within the conditions of his or her existence. People really only chose to receive, or to reject, what has been given them. They do not determine it.

There are any number of reasons why a person may be single. They range from the sense of having a positive calling to the celibate life for religious purposes, to the plain fact of being unmarried without one’s own conscious choice, and perhaps even against it, just because this is the way that things have happened to work out. Whatever the reason for one’s being single and however mysterious or ambiguous, willed or unwilled the causes for one’s being in this state, at some point in our adult life each of us must accept the form of life which is ours and consciously offer it to the Lord, freely and voluntarily, for the sake of the love of God and neighbor.

Sanctifying the single life

The single life is sanctified the way every life is sanctified: by perfecting it according to God’s will. The first task of the single person according to God’s teaching as revealed by Jesus Christ and the apostles, martyrs and saints of the Christian Church, is that of maintaining and developing one’s sexual chastity.

The single person who says “yes” to God and to his or her calling to the single life automatically says “no” to all forms of physical, sexual activity with the opposite sex, with one’s own sex and with oneself. This is so because sexual actions other than the conjugal act of married love destroy the wholeness and integrity of one’s being through the dissipation of one’s spiritual and physical energies. No matter how loving, fulfilling and pleasurable they may at first appear to be, sexual commitments without the totally faithful commitment of unending love in marriage – with all of the responsibilities and obligations for inter-personal communion and the pro-creation and protection of human life which this involves – cannot but result in dissatisfaction, disappointment, despondency and despair. this is so because human persons are made in the image and likeness of God who is Love, and as such can find fulfillment and happiness only in ways of living and acting which express and image His own.

A hard saying

The teaching about sexual purity in the single life is a difficult one. When many people hear it they are moved to say what Christ’s disciples said when they heard other of His teachings: Lord, this is a hard word. Who can hear it? Who then can be saved? And the Lord’s answer is always the same. He said that His teaching has to be hard because “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few”, adding as well the fundamental point that as far as His teaching is concerned, “with human being it is impossible, but with God all things are possible”, particularly to those who believe. (See Jn 6:60; Mt 7:13-14; 17-21; Lk 18:27; 35)

Like all forms of Godly life and behavior, the single life of celibate chastity is a way of the Cross. It is a way of sacrifice and suffering which alone brings joy and happiness to a human being.

Conditions for perfection

For the single life to be perfected according to God’s will, with the preservation of sexual purity as its heart and foundation certain conditions must be fulfilled. First of all there must be firm spiritual discipline for the sake of a lively interior life. The single person must have a rule of prayer which is diligently kept, with the reading and pondering of wholesome and edifying words and images. Great attention must be given to keep oneself free of all thoughts and images which lead to spiritual and physical defilement and disintegration. The “spouse” and “life partner” for the single person in the most direct and specific way must be the Lord himself.

The single person must also have a firm rule of external life and behavior. Capricious and willful actions, things done without order or form, but just as they happen to come up, must be avoided at all costs. Forms of responsibility and accountability to others must be found and fulfilled with conscious obedience. This is especially true for those who do not have such natural obligations as, or example, the care of elderly or infirm parents or relatives, or duties within a religious community.

The single person must also be committed in a formal way to a spiritual father or mother, which can be a member of the clergy, a monastic, or even a lay person mature in the faith. If, due to specific circumstances this should prove impossible, then the single person must, as everyone else, draw his strength and knowledge from the Holy fathers, the lives of the Saints and, of course, the Scriptures.

Some might say that such conditions are necessary for all who are living a human life according to God’s will, whether or not they happen to be single. This is true. But these conditions are particularly necessary for the single person precisely because of their single state in a world which renders them particularly vulnerable to self –centeredness and loneliness on the one hand, and lack of commitment and accountability on the other, with the additional cross of often being misunderstood and taken advantage of by those around them because of their single status.

Christ and the Saints

It is common in the modern world to think that one cannot be fulfilled as a human being in the single state, especially if living a sexually continent and chaste life. The claim is that without sexual activity and intimacy, a human person is diminished and even distorted in his basic humanity. If this is true, then the Christian faith as understood and practiced by the Orthodox, and by millions of other Christians, is wholly false.

The Lord Jesus Christ was single and celibate, yet He was the most perfect human being who ever lived, the Son of God and God Himself in human form. Jesus’ mother Mary, though legally married, remained a virgin her entire life. John the Baptist, whom Jesus called the greatest man ever born of woman, was clearly a chaste celibate according to the Gospels. So was the apostle and evangelist John. So was the apostle Paul who, as we have seen by his own report was single at the time of his conversion and ministry. Indeed, the calendar of Orthodox Church saints is filled with single people who are praised and honored for their chastity and devotion to God and their neighbors. In this perspective it is clearly the Christian conviction that being single is conducive to the highest and most perfect for of fulfillment possible to human beings: the life of sanctity . (Source: St. Luke’s Orthodox Mission)
Where does it say that Mary, though legally married, remained a virgin her entire life? Both Matthew 12:46-50 and Luke :19-21 say that Jesus had brothers. Matthew 13:55-56 names the brothers and says also he had sisters.


Where does it say that Mary, though legally married, remained a virgin her entire life? Both Matthew 12:46-50 and Luke :19-21 say that Jesus had brothers. Matthew 13:55-56 names the brothers and says also he had sisters.
It does not say she was married, it says she was betrothed. The “brothers” mentioned in Scripture have been traditionally thought of as either cousins or children from a previous marriage of Joseph.


Where does it say that Mary, though legally married, remained a virgin her entire life? Both Matthew 12:46-50 and Luke :19-21 say that Jesus had brothers. Matthew 13:55-56 names the brothers and says also he had sisters.
You can have your disagreement but I don't think this is the right section forum for an official debate on positions people have. Like general non-orthodox discussion board
It does not say she was married, it says she was betrothed. The “brothers” mentioned in Scripture have been traditionally thought of as either cousins or children from a previous marriage of Joseph.

At least on that front there wasn't a universal agreement among the Church Fathers like Tertullian, Victorinus and Irenaeus . But I don't think this place is an appropriate arena for this kind of discussion any farther. So I will stop here.
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Orthodox Catechumen
From my own observations I would say a man that can control his passions can definitely mature and grow in wisdom. I believe Saint Paul stated that celibacy is preferred when possible. A woman on the other hand is a perpetual child with marriage and children bringing a modicum of maturity.


Scripture tells us in 1 Cor 7:8-9, “Now to the unmarried and to widows, I say: it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, but if they cannot exercise self–control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire.”

So, God is telling us that something about the single life is preferable for a Christian if a person is able to manage it. As always, we know, “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” (1 Cor 1:25). So, even though what God is telling us about being single may not make sense, I must defer to God’s wisdom over my own or any other person’s wisdom.

There is more on this topic later in 1 Cor 7.

I'm not so sure St. Paul is only talking about monks. It seems like he's talking about focusing completely on God instead of having one's attention divided, regardless if one has taken monastic vows or not.

I agree, St. Paul's ideal is clearly not the modern single lifestyle of today.

I realize the Orthodox point of view is these passages apply only to monks, so maybe a discussion about this belongs in a different place.

I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife... Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.

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 deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

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, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 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.


Personally I do struggle being single and living alone. It's easy to become selfish in such an environment. I become very much accustomed to my time and my space etc. I find that I can become upset by small intrusions on that and stuff. It's not a spiritually good state to live in. I know that I cannot blame my circumstances for my own sins, but I do feel strongly that my living situation doesn't help my propensity towards self interest and indulgence. I pray that God helps me in this.

Max Roscoe

Orthodox Inquirer
In Italy (among many other countries) men live with their parents until marriage. Of course, after college I was excited to be free and individual, but looking back this seems like a pointless and expensive endeavor. How quickly would I have married if I was living at home with my parents until finding my wife?

If I was at home with my parents, I can't imagine I would have continued on my path of individualism as long as I did, but instead would have moved to the next step--my own family. It also would have prevented a lot of sin and unproductive time playing video games and other pointless endeavors.


Personally I do struggle being single and living alone. It's easy to become selfish in such an environment. I become very much accustomed to my time and my space etc. I find that I can become upset by small intrusions on that and stuff. It's not a spiritually good state to live in. I know that I cannot blame my circumstances for my own sins, but I do feel strongly that my living situation doesn't help my propensity towards self interest and indulgence. I pray that God helps me in this.
Have you tried having a spare bed/room for house guests?


In This Thread:

*Lots of Cope as Single Men Deny the Truth About Themselves.

I was single for a long time, and in a sense still am (my wife and child live about 2000 miles away most of the time). I wouldn't knock the single life, and I'm not talking about "fun" or "modern" in any sense, or even comfortable. The (quasi)-single life I enjoy allows me to afflict myself by very early waking, frequent out-loud Bible reading, and many hours at the gym, which is beneficial for my soul. Also I find I am not able to hear God clearly when my wife is here. When I am alone, it's much easier to pick up on the gentle nudges my conscience gives me. "Let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him."

The passages I quoted above from 1 Cor 7 say it all, when it comes to the benefits of being single while striving toward self-improvement. Without getting too much into my personal situation, I'll say it's a blessing things turned out the way they did for me being alone 95% of the time, and I've been fortunate to mostly be able to "continue in the state in which I was called" as concerning marriage vs. singleness.