On page 203 you ask, “What would it mean, for instance, to radically reconceive our ideas of celibacy to empower Christian singles to live our lives fully for God without remaining in stunted adolescence, searching obsessively for a spouse, or wallowing in depression and self-pity? Think of the transformations that could take place if we as singles embraces our freedoms and began to participate fully in the work of the church”. What do you think are some of the unique freedoms that single Christians have? In addressing our single readers, how would you encourage them to use their freedoms to fully participate in the work of the church?
When talking about the freedoms of singles, I think it is important not to automatically assume that singles will have more time than married couples to participate in the work of the church. While this can be the case, it is also true that many singles have the responsibilities of work, a home, and even children without the support of a spouse. Each single person will have a unique situation that may give him or her certain freedoms but may restrict others. Overall, though, I would say that the greatest freedom for singles comes from the opportunity to love more widely and engage in a wider community than many married couples. This is not to say that married couples don’t participate in a wider community, but singles often feel the need for this type of community more acutely and may be more attuned to others’ needs for community as well. Singles, then, may have an important ministry within the church as they help to remind others that community must be enacted more widely than just within families.
I think the key issue, though, is that singles need to recognize that God has given each of them particular gifts for the edification of the church body and the world at large, and they need to be willing to put those gifts to work as singles rather than just waiting until marriage to engage fully with the work of the church. Church leaders need to recognize this as well. Too often, singles are treated almost as a problem in the church. The goal seems to be to get them married as quickly as possible so that they will then be able to participate fully in the work of the church. This type of thinking means that many adult Christians remain in spiritual immaturity for far too long. I think single Christians must prayerfully consider the gifts that God has given them and then actively pursue opportunities to use these gifts. I also think that in this process singles should consciously make an effort to engage with the wider church body and not remain locked away in a singles ghetto. Singles and married couples need to work together to form a strong community where everyone is encouraged to use his or her gifts to serve the kingdom of God.