There is no doubt the God’s original plan for the continuation of the human race was the concept of marriage and family. Genesis 1:27 states, “And God created him, male and female, He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them be fruitful and multiply.” But what about women who don’t marry? Under normal circumstances, they live their lives without a family and children. What is their place in the kingdom of God?
Interestingly enough, Paul had an alternative to marriage in a time when it was expected Jesus would soon return. He proposed it might be better not to get married. “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am.” (I Corinthians 7:7-8) It seems that Paul considered that his effectiveness in ministry was enhanced by his unmarried status, so much so, he, in turn, encouraged others to follow his example. Let’s look at the example of one woman who was like that, not married, and lived a very fulfilling life. She was one of the great Christian educators of the 20th century. Her name was Henrietta Mears (1890-1962).
“Henrietta Mears founded Gospel Light Publishing company and served with distinction for many years as the Christian Education Minister at Hollywood Presbyterian Church. When she began her work at that church in 1928, there were fewer than 500 enrolled in the Sunday school. Two years later, the enrollment had increased to over 4000. Her first love was her large college class, and she dedicated her life to this ministry in a way that she could not have done were she married.
“‘ Henrietta modeled singleness to thousands of college students. She insisted that choosing a mate was one of life’s greatest decisions. When collegians asked why she had not married, she answered because she had not lived in the same dispensation as the apostle Paul. Moreover, she had never found anyone in this age, to match him, although she kept looking.’
“Years earlier, on a spring night in Minnesota, she had faced the difficult decision of whether or not to marry. The young man was a banker who had many things to offer, but he was not fully committed to God. “Lord,” she prayed, ‘You have made me the way I am. I love a home. I love security. I love children, and I love him. Yet I feel that marriage under these conditions will draw me away from you. I surrender Lord, even this, and I leave it in Thy hands. Lead me, Lord, and strengthen me. You have promised to fill all my needs. I trust in thee.’
“Did God fill her needs? She was certain He had. “The marvelous thing has been . . . . that the Lord has always given me a beautiful home, he has given me thousands of children. The Lord has supplied everything in my life, and I’ve never felt lonely . . . . I’ve never missed companionship.” Henrietta’s single status gave her influence and authority that she may never have had were she married. She was a strong woman and was accepted as such.” She had a powerful ministry, and her life touched many significant leaders.
HENRIETTA MEARS AND BILLY GRAHAM
One of the ministers that God used Henrietta Mears to influence was Billy Graham. Prior to the great Los Angeles crusade, Billy Graham was a speaker at a student conference at Forrest Home, a retreat center east of Los Angeles. Henrietta Mears was the head of the conference. Billy wrote, “During the week, I had prayer and private discussion with Miss Myers at her cottage. Rarely had I witnessed such Christian love and compassion as she had (for the students). She had faith in the integrity of the Scriptures, and an understanding of Bible truth, as well as modern scholarship. I was desperate for every insight she could give me.”
It was during that week that Billy Graham came to settle his belief in the Scriptures as the Word of God, declaring, “Father, I am going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe that this is Your inspired Word.” That was a turning point in Billy’s life, and ministry and Henrietta Mears had been in the lead up to Billy’s decision. Billy Graham himself described her as, “Mears, the great Christian educator and Bible teacher, who had been instrumental in my spiritual growth in Los Angeles.”
HENRIETTA MEARS AND BILL BRIGHT
Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, now called CRU, said that the most significant influences in his life were all women. There were three; his mother, his beloved wife, and Henrietta Mears. He went on to say, “Don’t feel that God has shortchanged you. In fact, as a single person, you can give even more time to loving and serving Him because you do not have the responsibility for children or for responding to a husband. Dr. Henrietta Mears was a single woman and was so used of God to touch the lives of multitudes, including me, Billy Graham, and others.”
Although in this article, I have emphasized women who have never married, it also applies to widows, widowers, single mothers, and even single men. We need to recognize and affirm the callings of single people who are seeking to serve the Lord and extend the Kingdom of God.
UNMARRIED WOMEN IN THE BIBLE
You may not find many examples of unmarried single women in the Bible, simply because most women were usually given in marriage at an early age. Deborah, a judge in Israel (Judges 4), is an example of a woman in leadership and ministry, but she was a married woman.
I chose Esther as an example. Simply because, although she was married to the king, she acted like a single woman in bringing deliverance to Israel, albeit with the help of her uncle Mordecai.
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE
My thoughts have gone back to Lynette, a young lady who enrolled in Vision Bible college in Sydney, Australia, when Dorothy and I were the principals. On completing the course, she became part of a volunteer team to help us in a ministry called “The Temple Trust Task Force,” a group of young people desiring to serve the Lord. She later became a member of our staff and gained experience in many areas of the ministry, including administration. She even joined Dorothy and I, for a season, in helping us establish a new base in America. She later returned to Australia and, for a while, worked with Dan Armstrong and was the administrator for several national conferences featuring John Wimber. Later, she returned to work in the secular business world, and more recently, she has served on the team of a Christian organization in Brisbane, Australia.
She is, for me, an example of a woman who never married who has used her God-given talents to serve the Lord and to extend his kingdom. And after a lifetime of service, as she approaches retirement in the future years, she, for me, is a godly model of a single woman serving the Lord.
A FINAL WORD
If you are a single woman or man, for whatever reason, be encouraged. As Bill Bright put it, “Don’t feel that God has shortchanged you. God can use you mightily” (and probably has already). So rejoice in your position and serve the Lord with joy. I, with others, want to praise you and say, “Go for it! You are blessed.”
Billy Graham’s Wrestle with the Bible – Bible Gateway Blog. https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2018/03/billy-grahams-wrestle-with-the-bible/amp/
Forest Home Christian Camps – When Billy Graham Overcame …. https://www.foresthome.org/a-small-moment-in-the-amazing-legacy-of-billy-grahams-ministry/
Bill Bright: “The Three Most Important Influencers in My …. https://womendoingwell.org/bill-bright/