Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, I think I know why. I could never have traveled or written as extensively as I have done if I had had the responsibilities of a wife and family.
God created us as social beings. Love is the greatest thing in the world. For God is love, and when he made us in his own image, he gave us the capacity to love and to be loved. So we need each other. Yet marriage and family are not the only antidotes to loneliness.
Some pastors work on their own, isolated from their peers, and in consequence are lonely. But the New Testament plainly envisages that each local church will have a plural oversight. See, for example, Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5. So in All Souls Church in the heart of London we have always had a team ministry, and we have found it an enormous enrichment. I have also been greatly blessed by Frances Whitehead, my faithful secretary for more than 40 years, and by the "apostolic succession" of my study assistants.
In addition, single people are wise to develop as many friendships as possible, with people of all ages and both sexes. For example, although I have no children of my own, I have hundreds of adopted nephews and nieces all over the world, who call me "Uncle John." I cherish these affectionate relationships; they greatly lessen, even if they do not altogether deaden, occasional pangs of loneliness.
Final words of advice for single people:
First, don't be in too great a hurry to get married. We human beings do not reach maturity until we are about 25. To marry before this runs the risk of finding yourself at twenty-five married to somebody who was a very different person at the age of twenty. So be patient. Pray daily that God will guide you to your life partner or show you if he wants you to remain single. Second, lead a normal social life. Develop many friendships. Third, if God calls you to singleness, don't fight it. Remember the key text: "Each person has his or her own gift of God's grace" (1 Cor. 7:7).
Adapted from Singles at the Crossroads: A Fresh Perspective on Christian Singleness, by Albert Y. Hsu. Copyright(c) 1997 by Albert Y. Hsu. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press; PO Box 1400; Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.
See our full coverage area on John Stott.
Christianity Today's earlier coverage of single living includes:
Every Older Single's Battle | With Singled Out, Christine Colón imagines what celibacy might look like for today's evangelicals (Aug. 5, 2009)
Choosing Celibacy | How to stop thinking of singleness as a problem. (September 12, 2008)
Practicing Chastity | A lifelong spiritual discipline for singles and marrieds. Lauren F. Winner reviews Dawn Eden's The Thrill of the Chaste. (March 15, 2007)
Sex in the Body of Christ | Chastity is a spiritual discipline for the whole church. (May 13, 2005)
30 and Single? It's Your Own Fault | There are more unmarried people in our congregations than ever, and some say that's just sinful. (June 21, 2006)
Solitary Refinement | Evangelical assumptions about singleness still need rethinking (June 11, 2001)
Two Cheers for Celibacy | People who expect a sudden reversal of the century long clerical requirement show an inadequate understanding of why the Vatican is committed to this policy. A Christianity Today editorial (June 10, 2002)
A Singular Mission Field | There are more single people in America than ever—and they need the church as much as ever. (June 4, 2001)
Sex and the Single Christian | What about the unmarried in their post-college years? (July 7, 2000)
Women Churchgoers 'Face Growing Difficulty in Finding Partner' | British magazine says church is out of single men, especially older ones. (June 7, 2000)