Thursday, September 23, 2010

Singled Out (Pt6)

A lot of discussion about Christian singleness tends to centre upon (and not move beyond) the question of “How can I be content as a single Christian?” Whilst this is clearly an important issue for single Christians to grapple with, one of the strengths of Singled Out is that you seek to move the readers past the contentment question, and instead ask them to consider what actual purpose their singleness serves in the Kingdom of God (pages 166-171). Why do you think it can sometimes be so difficult for single Christians to clearly perceive (or even acknowledge) that they are in a position to reveal unique spiritual truths about God, the way he relates to his people, and his purposes for them this side of the cross?

I think part of the problem is that we are taught to think of singleness as a transitional phase. The assumption is that after a short time of singleness, we will eventually marry. The idea that some of us may remain single and many will become single again after divorce or the death of a spouse doesn’t seem to be part of the conversation. Singleness, then, is often simply seen as preparation for the “greater” work of marriage. With this focus on the goal of marriage, the value of singleness in God’s kingdom gets lost. While some might acknowledge the value of a few special individuals devoting themselves to God through celibacy, that seems reserved for a select few with a specific calling. The reality is, however, that many of us will spend much of our lives as singles, and the idea that God isn’t willing to use us in that state is ridiculous.

I think the greatest breakthrough for us as we wrote the book was the recognition that there is a positive theology of singleness. As singles, we reveal important aspects of God’s love that aren’t fully revealed in marriage relationships: that God’s love can be all sufficient, that God’s love is available to all, and that union with God must always be our ultimate goal. This is not to say that singleness tells us more about God’s love than marriage, but it is to say that both must be seen as ways for God to reveal truths about Himself. In our world today, I think churches do a pretty good job talking about the truths revealed in marriage, but very few explore the truths revealed through singleness. Contentment is important, but if that is as far as the discussion on singleness progresses, we miss out on some pretty amazing spiritual truths.

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