Saturday, June 17, 2023

In Praise of Singleness

(Circle of prayer)
(I'm re-posting this to keep it in play.)

There is nothing wrong with you if you are not married. There may be a lot right with you.

Some of our best friends are single. It's worth noting that Jesus, and the apostle Paul, were single. "Until the Reformation, most of the superstars of Christianity were single." (David Bennett, A War of Loves, p. 127)

When I became a Jesus-follower, God told me to lay off trying to hustle women, and take a full year away from dating. I did. 

That was a wonderful year for me. I began to find out about what Colossians 1:18 calls "the supremacy of Christ." Christ was my "head," I was part of his "body," the body of Christ, his "Church." (Col. 1:18 again)

I felt free from cultural pressure to date. My life-goal was no longer to find a "soul mate," because my soul was mated to Christ. The great quest was to find Christ, to be found in him. I was beginning to understand this. I was allowing God to change me in ways that would be good for any future relationship I might be in.

If you are not dating, or not married, give thanks to God. You have a Pauline opportunity (1 Corinthians 7:8) to draw so very close to the only One who purely loves your soul. Take advantage of this, and rejoice!

If you feel pressure to date and mate ask yourself, where does this come from? I have seen Christian parents who lay pressure on their children to date and get married. Too many times the child ends up marrying anyone, just to please, at least unconsciously, their mother and father. This pressure is not from God. It creates the idolatrous idea that marriage is life's greatest thing. It is not. Like any false god, this will let you down.

I've seen a lot of "Christian" marriages that are toxic, not because of "irreconcilable differences" or "incompatibility," but because of spiritual and emotional immaturity. These marriages are particularly hellish because both partners are Christians. If you are not in a marriage like this, give thanks. You have been spared from a dark existence. And, be thankful if you are not making babies with an adult baby.

Simply because a husband and wife are Christians does not guarantee their marriage will be wonderful. There is a ton of ongoing marital work to be done, and this never ends. Few people count the cost of marriage, and end up paying in ways they never imagined.

I don't want to minimize loneliness. I do want to inform you that there are plenty of lonely people in their marriages. 

There's nothing wrong in desiring and praying for a life partner. There is something wrong with the idea that life will never be flourishing without one. Imagine how Christ feels about that! David Bennett writes:

"Jesus was an unmarried, childless man in a Jewish society of family values, and a celibate in a Roman society of sexual liberation that mocked singleness. In a world of two-sided sexual obsession, Jesus invited others into pure intimacy, modeled loving friendship, and lived in life-giving singleness." (A War of Loves, p. 129) 

(What if you are in a marriage that is troubled? See my post - How to Save Your Failing Marriage.)