Regarding the debates over the so-called “gift of singleness,” we should not be overly strict about language, but we should strive to speak Biblically. More important than language, though, is that our doctrine is Biblical.
If a Christian is talking about the “gift of singleness” in a way that means the single person is sexually pure and can serve the church, then I do not think it is helpful to quibble over the language used. Perhaps we could encourage people to use “celibacy” instead and endeavor to use that word ourselves, but having an argument over which word to use is a distraction amid a serious cultural crisis that Christendom (all denominations, all churches, and certainly parachurch organizations) have utterly failed to address.
It’s increasingly clear to me that when people talk about the “gift of singleness,” they are not talking about the gift of celibacy, which actually is in the Bible. But if someone does not have the gift of celibacy, they do not have the gift of singleness. Sexual purity is important, and expected of all Christians whether single or married. Given that 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 teaches us that it is better to marry than to burn, the church should be encouraging young men and young women to get married, and get married younger. Scripture is clear that marriage is the normal state for people, and nature confirms it. Any person driven by hormones will agree that “it is not good for man to be alone.”
But while the marriage rate has fallen, and is lower among young people than older generations, that has not brought sexual purity with it. Yes, many statistics have shown that young people are actually having less sex, but that is because we live in a digital age where pornography is rampant. We hear people speaking of “the gift of singleness” with no expectation that gift will include celibacy and sexual purity – completely perverting the intent of Scripture’s teaching on this matter.
So while I maintain it is not helpful to argue about the language of singleness vs. celibacy, it would be good for us all to use the word the Bible uses to emphasize sexual purity. The church, meanwhile, must address the decline of marriage by teaching about the good of marriage and the very serious sin of sexual immorality. This is the gap in the wall, and this is where the gap has been for 60 years. We must defend where the Enemy is attacking, not where our fortress is already fortified.