There is a tendency to restrict the word “single” to a person who has never been in a marital relationship; that is someone who has never been married. Although this is true, it is worthy of note that the single person is not limited to people in this group alone. In reality, there are six types of single people:
- The never-been-married single person.
- The never-been-married single parent.
- The once-married-but-widowed single person.
- The once-married-but-divorced single person.
- The married-but-separated single person.
- The never-been-married senior single
Now, irrespective of the category of single person you belong to, you are called to the same life of holiness and chastity as the rest. In other words, chastity in singlehood is not just limited to pre-marital sex, but also sexual abstinence outside the sanctity of the marriage institution.
However, the challenges of the never-been-married single and those of persons in other categories of the single life, although similar, tend to be more pronounced for various reasons.
In order to understand the peculiarities of these different groups of single persons, it would be necessary to attempt a concise description of who they are:
- The Never-Been-Married Single Person
This is the traditional single and, perhaps, the easiest category of single persons to define. These are often adolescents or youths, and ideally include female persons within the age bracket 16-29 and males in the age bracket of 16-35 and above. Of course, these age brackets vary with race, tribe and culture. In some cultures where a lot of importance is attached to marriage and childbearing, these represent the period young people are expected to marry and start a family.
- The Never-Been-Married Single Parent
This refers to the man or woman who is a parent outside marriage; that is, he or she has never been married. This person, although not married, must have been involved in pre-marital sex at some point which invariably led to the birth of a child or children, as the case may be. For this category of persons, particularly the woman, the challenge often is not only limited to the need for companionship for herself, but also for assistance, probably, and a father-figure for her child. These needs put the woman at risk, as some unscrupulous men would readily take advantage of her vulnerability and needs.
When a woman is in such a position, she needs to be extra careful, as she may find herself giving in to sexual demands out of pressure.
- The Once-Married-But-Widowed Single Person
This refers to the category of men and women who have been married but became single by reason of their spouse’s death. Again, age plays a significant role in determining how much and how well a person in this group can handle the pressure of sexual desires. Unfortunately, people can be widowed at any age. People have been made widows/widowers in their 50’s and above. At the extreme side, some people have also been widowed in less than a week after their wedding.
For this category of people – the young widows/widowers who are still sexually active – the primary challenge is that of adjusting to the rude shock of unprecedented loneliness. Another type of challenge, especially for the woman, is the tendency for men to seek to take advantage of her situation by subjecting her to sexual pressures during this trying period of her life.
- The Once-Married-But-Divorced Single Person.
This refers to a person who was once married but, for one reason or more, is out of the marriage as a result of divorce. By implication, this person has gone through the legal means of annulling his/her marriage; therefore, he/she is no longer responsible to his or her spouse by the dictates of civil law.
Here, the challenge is similar to that of the once-married-but-widowed single. Unfortunately, certain cultures erroneously regard such persons as irresponsible. And where the person is a woman, she is also considered loose, the term ‘loose’ signifying a woman of easy virtue. Ironically, in cultures where this position holds sway, the man is not so discriminated against!
Naturally, a woman in such circumstances is subjected to undue sexual pressure from men. The challenge here will therefore include, but not limited to, warding off untoward advances.
Culled from Sex and the Single Life
By Pastor Bimbo Odukoya