“It is not good for man to be alone.”
If you’re at all familiar with this verse, you’re probably used to hearing it in the context of marriage. Perhaps you’ve heard it in a sermon or during a wedding ceremony.
And if you’re living in prolonged singleness, perhaps every time you hear it, you feel somewhat less-than-sufficient for not having somebody. Or maybe the opposite is true, and you have a sense of smug superiority, and you think to yourself, “Relationships are for other people. Me? I can do it all on my own.”
But this verse is about more than marriage. Nobody, not even those who choose singleness, is ever called to do life alone. Jesus always sent the disciples out in pairs, and Paul always traveled with companions. Or consider James 5:16, which says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
In reality, we singles need to stick together. Those of us who live alone are especially vulnerable to temptation simply because there’s nobody there to walk in on us. So whether our temptations are to watch pornography or to waste our lives on TV or video games or to wallow in bitterness over our lack of relationships, accountability is critical for us to continue growing in Christ.
I was struck by this shortly before Thanksgiving. My pastor was preparing for a sermon on singleness based on 1 Corinthians 7, and he wanted feedback from some of the single members of the church. Personally, my accountability partner (another single Christian woman) has been the single most helpful factor for me over the last year. I’ve become healthier, less bitter, and more motivated to serve. As I reflected over the last year, I identified four reasons why accountability has been critical.
1. Accountability reminds us we are not alone.
For those living in prolonged singleness, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of self-pity and bitterness. This is especially true at Valentine’s Day or events like weddings or high school reunions. One friend mentioned that at a wedding she attended recently, there were only two unmarried men, and they both brought dates. Having an accountability partner of the same gender and relationship status means that you have someone who understands, and who you can turn to on those rough days.
2. Accountability keeps us healthy.
Did you know that single people die younger than married people? Granted, that statement is a gross oversimplification – most studies only look at those who have never married in comparison to those married only once, excluding divorcees and widows. But it touches on the principle that accountable relationships, be they marriages or support groups, tend to result in healthier behaviors. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Weight Watchers are founded on this concept. It also has a scriptural basis. James 5 says that we are to confess sins to God for forgiveness, and we are to also confess to each other “that you may be healed.”
I’ve found this particularly true in my own life. My impetus for accountability was weight loss; my accountability partner and I have each lost 30 pounds over the last year. Others may fall into unhealthy financial behaviors, spending money on things we desire instead of keeping budgets and donating to our churches or people in need. Still others of us may be tempted into sexual sin (either pornography use or sleeping around in pursuit of relationships). As Covenant Eyes proves daily through our Accountability software, being held accountable reduces the temptation to fall into such gluttonous patterns, instead replacing them with healthier behaviors.
3. Accountability keeps us involved.
1 Corinthians 7:32 reminds us that “One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.” However, most singles, when pressed, will confess that they “waste their singleness,” whether by playing video games or watching TV or becoming married to our job or obsessing over finding a spouse. Simply put, singles have more free time and flexibility than married people, but it also means we have more opportunity to be selfish with our time. Ideally, we need accountability partners who will encourage us to serve (or better yet, who will serve alongside us). Minimally, a regular reciprocal conversation with another single will get us involved in someone else’s story, and remind us that there’s more to life than what we personally face.
4. Accountability provides eternal perspective.
Often, the aforementioned selfishness with our time is accompanied by a false humility. This may manifest itself in a belief that because we are unloved, there is something wrong with us that makes us unlovable. Alternately, we may believe we are somehow better than others because we don’t need other people in our lives, unlike those married schmucks. Both of these lead to a lack of trust in God’s work, either that He can use us in spite of ourselves or that we need to rely on His provision.
The reality is that, as Galatians 3 states, as Christians “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” God is at work in all believers, and an accountability partner will be able to look at your life from outside and see where He is moving when we can’t see it ourselves.