In his wonderful book “Redeeming Singleness,” Barry Danylak does much to help us understand the role of singleness within the big story of the Bible. In the following quote, he comments on 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, and explores how Christian singleness has a very important role to play now that Christ has come. You may need to read these paragraphs slowly and carefully, but it will be worth it!
The Stoics with whom Paul dialogued in Athens (Acts 17:18) had argued the necessity of marriage on cosmological grounds. The social universe depended on cities, which in turn depended on family units, which in turn depended on marriage. Human being has a duty to marry for the sake of preserving the world and its institutions. Paul counters the Stoic argument by appealing to a more expansive cosmology [i.e. view of the universe]. The survival of the world is not dependent on human marriage since the very form of the present world is already passing away in anticipation of the coming eternal kingdom of God. Something greater than the present age had broken into history, and Christians were to herald its coming.
The cosmological horizon of the Christian subsumes [includes or absorbs] the present age into the eternal one. This means that the plans and purposes of the present age are subsumed [included, absorbed] into the plans and purposes of the anticipated eternal kingdom of God. This is not a denigration of the present world but a radical relativizing of the current age in light of the eternal age, recognizing that one’s true sufficiency and fulfillment will be realized ultimately only in the coming age of the King and the kingdom.
From the standpoint of Paul’s expanded cosmological horizons, singleness is no longer to be considered a liability because it does not further the physical race of humankind. Rather, it can be viewed as a cosmological asset and visible sign of the coming new age [i.e. the New Creation]. However, the fact that individuals may be single and Christian does not necessarily make them vibrant witnesses of the new age. When people choose to remain single for the sake of the kingdom of God because they recognize that their true sufficiency is found only in their relationship to Christ and the coming of his kingdom, and they orient their lives around this conviction, they become in their singleness visible signs of the coming new age.
They serve as signs because the world does not have a category for this kind of intentional singleness. Singles who live with this conviction provide powerful testimony to the sufficiency of Christ for all things—to those both inside and outside the church.”Barry Danylak, Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life. Crossway, 2010. Page 207-208.