Tag Archives: christian singles

Reclaiming Friendship Love

13 Jan

Meerkat09 left a great comment on my last post–in fact, Single People Are Not the Enemy received a LOT of thoughtful comments; it’s obviously a hot topic! But I want to talk about Meerkat’s comment today.

Meerkat pointed out that married Christians might not realize what they’re doing when they deny us friendship, because “Singles don’t get to be friends with Christians of the opposite gender.”

It’s a sad but true phenomenon in many Christian circles that friendship between a man and a woman is seen as something dangerous. I don’t know if it’s just a case of too many Christians having seen When Harry Met Sally a few too many times or what, but right up there with belief in the triune nature of God and the resurrection of Jesus seems to be the “fact” that women and men can’t be friends without sex getting in the way.

What drives me crazy about this idea is that it isn’t an honest reflection of the Bible. Men and women in the Bible are friends and counselors to each other in many situations without sex getting in the way. Let’s look at a few:

Deborah and Barak (Judges 4 & 5)

Deborah was a prophetess, one of Israel’s judges. She passed along God’s order for Barak son of Abinoam to wage war on Sisera. What was Barak’s response? “If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” Incidentally, this has always been one of my favorite stories in the First Testament, not only because a woman was judge, but also because of the gruesomely awesome way in which Sisera was defeated: while he was running from Barak, a woman gave him shelter in her tent. Sisera fell asleep, and the woman drove a tent stake through his head. Pretty badass.

In any event, Barak thought highly enough of Deborah that he wouldn’t go to war without her advice. When they won, they sang a long victory song together. Then Deborah went back to her husband Lappidoth and Israel “had rest for forty years.”

Paul and Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:1-3, Romans 16:3-5)

Paul met Priscilla and her husband Aquila in Corinth. They were tentmakers like Paul, so he stayed at their home and they worked together. Priscilla and Aquila were such good friends and helpers to Paul that when he left Corinth for Syria, they went with him. Later, when Paul is sending his greetings to them in Romans, he writes, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life…” That’s a pretty strong friendship!

Paul and Lydia (Acts 14: 14-15, 40)

Lydia was probably a wealthy woman, because she was a dealer of purple cloth, and purple was the color of royalty in those days, a very expensive dye. When Paul’s little band of missionaries got to Philippi, Lydia heard Paul’s preaching and was baptized. She invited Paul’s group to come and stay at her home. While they were there, Paul (that rabble-rouser) drove a demon out of a slave girl and got himself arrested. Lydia could have turned away from these dangerous missionaries, but she was a true friend to them. When Paul was released from prison, he went back to Lydia’s home to encourage them before he left town.

Jesus and Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-45)

Let’s not leave out our Savior when talking about friendships between men and women! Jesus was incredibly liberal when it came to attitudes towards women at that time. He allowed Mary to sit at his feet and learn, which was a role usually reserved for men. We know Jesus was also friends with Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus, but look at how Luke 10:38 puts it: “he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.” It doesn’t say Jesus stayed with Lazarus, but with Martha. Maybe Lazarus lived with Martha, but that isn’t indicated.

Later, when Lazarus was sick, John says, “though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”, which I find telling–it lists Martha first. Maybe Martha was the head of that family, or perhaps her friendship with Jesus was stronger than the others. Martha’s faith in Jesus was so strong that, even when Jesus let Lazarus die, she knew said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Then she went on to confess she believed Jesus was the Messiah.

So often all we remember about Martha is that she was too busy to sit and listen to Jesus during one of his visits. But I think the evidence is there that she had a strong relationship with Jesus, both as a friend and as her Savior.

Jesus and Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:1-3, John 20:11-18)

If we listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber or Dan Brown, Mary Magdalene was in love with Jesus. But what the Bible shows us is a relationship far more complicated and inspiring. Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary, and she believed in him and followed him. Mary is one of several women who are referenced multiple times in the Gospels as being active in Jesus’ ministry. In fact, her friendship with Jesus was so important that she was one of the first to see him after his resurrection.

Okay, this is getting long, so I’ll stop here, but I think my point is made. The Bible provides models of friendships between the sexes, and the church is remiss in ignoring this important type of relationship. The fact is, men and women think in different ways, and both perspectives are important when you’re trying to achieve wisdom. After all, God created humankind in His image–“male and female He created them”–so both perspectives are necessary.

As Meerkat said, “I really think that Christians need to reclaim friendship love. Love does not always equal romance/sex. Friendship love exists.”

I’m pretty sure I’ll be returning to this topic in future posts, but for now, what do you think? Can men and women be friends? How do we reclaim friendship love?

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BOOK REVIEW: A Year of Biblical Womahood

2 Nov Year Of Biblical Womanhood Cover

I know I’m not the first person to review Rachel Held Evans‘ new (and apparently controversial) book A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”. But I might be the first person to emphasize that this is a singles-friendly book.

Let me admit this right up front: my first reaction, when I see a book written for Christian women, is to turn up my nose. Oh, look, another book about how to be a great wife and mother, I think. I bet it talks about praying for your spouse or, if you aren’t married yet, your future spouse.

Year Of Biblical Womanhood Cover

Year Of Biblical Womanhood Cover

And no, Rachel doesn’t write a great deal specifically about singles, and she does write a great deal specifically about marriage. She is, after all, married. But she is clearly a married woman who is aware of the concerns of single women.

The premise of the book, for those of you who are male or have been living in a media vacuum, is this: Rachel Held Evans spent a year trying to imitate, as literally as possible, various Biblical depictions of women. A lot of people have disparaged the book as mockery of the Bible, while a lot of people at the opposite end of the spectrum have disparaged the book as old-fashioned or unnecessary. But if you’ve truly read the book, it should be obvious that for Rachel, this was a labor of love.

She didn’t set out to mock or disprove the Bible. She set out to wrestle with it. She set out to live in the tension. She set out to surrender to God’s stories.

And in the end, she didn’t come away with a blueprint or job description of a Biblical woman. She found plenty of descriptions of women in the Bible, though, and she found that the Biblical concept of womanhood is simply too complex and varied to be summed up as a to-do list.

Case in point: the chapter on the Proverbs 31 Woman. Did you know that in Jewish culture, it isn’t the women who memorize Proverbs 31? The men do! It isn’t a recipe for how to be a great woman, it’s an example of how men should praise their wives. The Hebrew phrase used in Proverbs 31, eshet chayil, is best translated as “valorous woman”, which means a lot more to me, as a single woman, than “a wife of good character”.

What really made me, as a single woman, love Rachel’s approach, however, was when I reached page 178 and saw this quote

Growing up in the Church, I must have heard a thousand times that my highest calling as a woman was to bear and bring up children. While men could honor God in varying capacities through work, family, and ministry, a woman’s spiritual aptitude was measured primarily by her ability to procreate. Even as a child I noticed that the church deaconesses hosted dozens of wedding and baby showers each year, but never a housewarming party for a single woman or a celebration dinner for a woman who passed the bar or graduated from medical school.

That passage told me two things: Rachel Held Evans understands how single people are overlooked in the church, and Rachel Held Evans doesn’t view me, as a single woman, as someone who’s worth less than a married woman with children.

I could go on and on about what a great book this is, but frankly, there are lots of people who’ve done a better job than I could–Ben Witherington, for one. I could talk more about the controversy that has grown up around the book, but Rachel Marie Stone has done a great job of discussing that.

I just want to recommend that single women not pass this book over thinking, “Oh, it won’t address single women.” I want to recommend that men not pass this book over thinking, “Oh, it won’t address men.” It does both.

And I, for one, am living for the day someone calls me eshet chayil.

Happy Birthday, You’re Single!

12 Oct

Today is my thirty-sixth birthday, and I have something I need to get off my chest.

I hate what people in the church call “the gift of singleness.” They talk about it like it’s a white elephant gift or one step below a lump of coal in your stocking. They call it a gift the same way my seventh grade health teacher tried to convince me my period was a gift. And we all know better than that!

The gift of singleness isn’t a present you open on your twenty-fifth birthday, when you realize all your college friends are married but you aren’t. It isn’t something that arrives in your Easter Basket, when you realize you don’t have anyone to share a huge, clove-studded ham and chocolate bunnies with. It isn’t something you get for Christmas, along with your annual AAA membership and airline tickets to Disney World.

The gift of singleness is sort of like the gift of patience. It’s something you know better than to ask God for. It’s a gift you want someone else to have. It’s a consolation prize.

Or at least, that’s always how it comes across when it’s discussed at church. It’s not something that’s really treated with the Paul-esque glory it truly deserves.

The gift of singleness is described in 1 Corinthians 7. Paul says, “I wish that all men were [single] as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” (v. 7-8, emphasis mine)

Did you get that? It is good to stay unmarried. Paul considers the state of singleness as a state to be preferred. It’s better than being married. In fact, in verse 28, he even has to reassure people, “If you do marry, you have not sinned.” And then there’s the part of that verse that makes me laugh: “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”

So Paul is pretty clear in stating that singleness is better than marriage. He spends an entire chapter talking about this. And yet you know how my Bible describes this chapter? “Marriage.” Excuse me while I take a minute to LOL at this piece of editorializing.

So how does one get the gift of singleness?

I’ll tell you up front that it’s not available at your local department store. You can’t order it from Amazon.com. And to be honest, I didn’t really spend years of my life praying that God would grant me this gift.

It’s something that comes on slowly, at least in my experience. You move forward in your life, worshiping God, watching friends get married and have kids, trying to find your place in the world, making friends, losing friends. Sometimes you spend a lot of time wishing to be married. Sometimes you don’t think about it unless you don’t have a plus one to attend a wedding or other formal event. You pay the bills by yourself and learn to enjoy going to the movies alone (hey, no one talks during the show that way) and probably end up buying a pet.

And somewhere along the way, you realize that you are content with your life. You are happy living with only God as your life partner. You enjoy the fact that you don’t have to share the bed with anyone. You don’t open it like a present. It opens inside you like a blossom.

You’re single. And it’s a gift.

Family–Blessing, Idol, or Both?

7 Oct

I have to admit up front: I’d never heard of Ben Witherington before, but from looking at his CV, he’s a widely-published and acknowledged Bible scholar and theologian. And last week, he rocked my world.

His blog post, “Family First!–Not a Biblical Viewpoint” called out the church for its emphasis on physical family over everything else. He pointed out that, while the family was created by God and is a good thing, it’s very clearly not supposed to be the most important thing. The article had a mixed reception, based on the comments to that page, but it really resonated with this single, never-married.

He discusses the Greatest Commandment as well as the Great Commission. He discusses Jesus’ instruction from the cross for his birth mother Mary to adopt the Apostle John as her spiritual son, thereby giving Christians a new definition of family. He also addresses that wonderful, validating scripture passage, 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul expresses a preference for singleness over marriage.

I would encourage everyone to take a look at his entire post. The comments are also worth your time. There are naysayers and those who agree with him, and those who seem unconvinced but willing to listen. But the comment that stuck with me the most was from a single woman who had a heartbreakingly sad experience as a lifelong single in her church.

Another article worth reading is by Ben Ponder, editor-at-large of Media Rostra webzine. Entitled “Idolatry of the Family“, it touches on some of the same points Ben Witherington makes, albeit with a slightly more convicting tone. His last paragraph struck me the most:

The world is a mess because we are a mess. We are a mess because I am a mess. I am a mess because my heart is a mess. And the heart condition of each of us is the heart of the issue. Any other agenda, any other moralistic totem or golden calf half-truth, any political platform or religious soapbox should receive our careful scrutiny. Because an idol carved in the shape of a smiling family is still an idol.

It reminds me that ultimately, married and single people are on an even footing when it comes to salvation. My married friends are no more saved than I am, because no one can save them but Jesus–just as no one can save me but Jesus. Your spouse can’t convert you. Your child can’t get you into heaven. Your parents can drag you kicking and screaming to church, but they can’t force you to list your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Family is important. I’m grateful for the amazing family I grew up in, and I’m also grateful for the amazing spiritual family I have created for myself online. But when it comes down to it, everything relies on my relationship to Jesus.

Single-and-Not-Dating…With Caveats (Part 3)

27 Sep

Last Monday I started answering a question Edarnut asked me: There seem to be 3 kinds of Christian singles: Single and looking for a spouse, single and dating but not really spouse hunting, and single and not dating. Which are you? And how is the “singles ministry” dynamic between the 3 types?

Then on Thursday I continued my response and talked about how I came to realize I was content with singledom.

Today I want to explain the caveat I added to her category–that is, that I’m not opposed to marriage.

First I need to clarify that I’m not talking about marriage across the board. I’m not opposed to that, either, but I mean specifically that I’m not opposed to my own marriage. I don’t dislike men. I believe in the institution of marriage. (I also believe the government shouldn’t be defining it, but let’s not get into politics today, huh?)

I’m just not actively seeking marriage. I’m not actively seeking a spouse.

Christian readers of my blog are probably familiar with the story of Isaac and Rebekah, how the servant set out to find a wife for Isaac, prayed to God for a sign, and was granted that sign. The servant asked Rebekah for water at the well, and she offered to draw water for his camels too, whereupon he decked her out in jewelry and proclaimed her the bride God had chosen for his master.

Well, I like to joke that if God sends a dude with camels and bracelets to ask me for water, that’s about the only way I’ll end up married. That might sound flippant, but what it boils down to is that if God wants me to get married, He’ll place the right man in my path at the right time and cause me to know His will.

At which point I hope to heaven I’m wise enough to recognize it!

But I’m not anticipating that day. I’m not holding my breath waiting for a Prince Charming. I’m not praying every day for my future husband. Frankly, I don’t know if he even exists, and I’m not fussed either way. Why should I pray for some dude who may not even be real, especially if I’m not even staying awake nights hoping he is?

What I want to focus on is the here and now. The missions God has placed in my life. The passions God has given me regarding how to serve Him. The conditions in which I currently serve God.

So I’m not opposed to marriage. I’m just not out there looking for it.

Single and Not Dating. That’s me. With caveats. 🙂

Single-and-Not-Dating…With Caveats (Part 2)

20 Sep

On Monday I started answering a question Edarnut asked me: There seem to be 3 kinds of Christian singles: Single and looking for a spouse, single and dating but not really spouse hunting, and single and not dating. Which are you? And how is the “singles ministry” dynamic between the 3 types?

As I said Monday, I’m Single-and-Not-Dating-or-Actively-Seeking-a-Spouse-(Though-Not-Opposed-to-Marriage). I paused in my Singledom Narrative at the ripe old age of a broken-hearted twenty-five. My first serious, long-term relationship had just ended.

It took me about a year to really get over that. In the meantime, I was happy to flirt and go on occasional, casual dates, but there were no real connections. Then about nine years ago, through a coworker, I met a really nice guy who was, intellectually, academically, a Christian, but who had no true emotional or passionate faith in Christ. He professed Christianity, I liked him, he liked me, we started dating.

It didn’t work out. I’d gone back to grad school that summer, I was diagnosed with chronic depression that summer, and the relationship was just one thing too many for me to put energy into. The fact that I chose to let the relationship go probably speaks volumes about how well it wasn’t working.

I changed jobs a couple of times, including a career change. I left the church I’d grown up in for a more Biblical, dynamic, growing church. I hit thirty, still single. I began to think it was impossible to meet single, Christian guys.

Then…

…slowly…

…I started wondering if I still wanted to meet single, Christian guys. At least in a romantic capacity.

I’m an only child with a close relationship with my parents. I grew up able to entertain myself for hours by reading, thinking, or telling stories in my head. Eventually I started writing–a fairly solitary hobby. I come from a family where bachelor uncles and unmarried aunts are perfectly normal.

I experience loneliness, but I had learned by then that relationships are no guarantee against loneliness.

I had become accustomed to making decisions without having to consider other people. I had grown used to being able to take all the closet and dresser space for myself. I have never wanted children, so I felt no biological clock nagging at me to marry and reproduce.

In short, I was content in my singledom.

And in a couple of days, I’ll explain my caveat. Until then, anyone else want to weigh in on this?

Single-and-Not-Dating…With Caveats (Part 1)

17 Sep

A while back…uh, okay, a long time ago now…I invited questions from people here. Then I neglected to answer those questions, and it’s too bad, because there were some really great ones.

Today I want to try to answer one of Edarnut’s questions: There seem to be 3 kinds of Christian singles: Single and looking for a spouse, single and dating but not really spouse hunting, and single and not dating. Which are you? And how is the “singles ministry” dynamic between the 3 types?

First of all, as of right now, a few weeks from my thirty-sixth birthday, I’m definitely in the Single-and-Not-Dating category of Christian singles. And to sub-categorize myself a bit, I’m Single-and-Not-Dating-or-Actively-Seeking-a-Spouse-(Though-Not-Opposed-to-Marriage). But that hasn’t always been the case.

Just a few days ago I was going through some old papers and I found some of my abysmally depressing journal entries from college. When I was eighteen, I was certain I wanted to get married. When I was nineteen I even thought I was madly in love with someone who might make me agree to have children. When I was twenty and newly disillusioned with my corner of the Christian subculture of my big State U, I started looking at men I met outside of church. When I was twenty-one, I was desperately and secretly in love with a man who I imagined–no, not getting married to–but meeting again in ten years and having a passionate affair.

Please keep in mind, if you will, that I had all of these feelings and beliefs and odd ideas all before I received my first kiss.

Yep, you read that right. I’d never even had more than the most basic sort of Christian non-relationship*, but I had daydreamed about marrying at least a dozen different Christian guys, and having a torrid affair with a non-Christian guy.

Fast forward to the mid-twenties and I actually started dating, but I was a serial monogamist. I never really got the mindset behind playing the field. The summer I was twenty-four I met a younger guy and fell head over heels in love, and for once it seemed mutual. But he was still in college, and at the end of the summer, you can guess what happened. The relationship ended on my twenty-fifth birthday. It broke my heart, but I was in the middle of a quarter-life crisis anyway; I’d reached twenty-five without having a book or story published. The melodrama of having my romantic hopes dashed had to fight with the melodrama of career angst and self-doubt.

And that’s where I’m going to pause this story until the next blog post. (I promise, I’ll post the rest in a couple days, not a couple weeks!)

—–

*You know what I mean when I say “Christian non-relationship”, right? It’s that torturous state of hanging out with someone of the opposite sex in all kinds of group situations, where all the other members of the group know you like him, and a lot of the other members of the group think he likes you, and the people who know what’s really going on feel superior, and you end up with your heart broken.

What? Bitter? Me? Pssht.

Book Review: Five Love Languages for Singles by Gary Chapman

9 Jun

When I started this blog, I decided I need to read as many books written for or about singles as I could. Years ago I read a few books that I probably will refrain from commenting on, because my memory is short, and all I remember is that I hated them. (When God Writes Your Love Story, I am looking at you.)

Side note: I’ve been hampered in this effort by the local library’s poorly developed collection of books on single life; there are six books on singleness in the online catalog, and one of them is Jennifer Love Hewitt’s book about needing to be in love. Yeah, seriously.

Anyway, the first book I read on this topic was Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages for Singles. It was probably a good book to start with, because Dr. Chapman gets a lot of things right.

For one thing, he didn’t write a book that ought to be subtitled: Why You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You or How to Get a Spouse. In the introduction, Chapman writes,

Married or single, young or old, every human has the emotional need to feel loved. When this need is met, we move out to reach our potential for God and good in the world. However, when we feel unloved, we struggle simply to survive. I am deeply convinced that the truths in this book will enable single adults to learn the skills that lead to loving and being loved.

But he’s not talking just about finding a spouse. His book acknowledges all the relationships in a single person’s life, from family to friends to roommates to coworkers, and, yes, to romantic relationships. Though there is a slight emphasis on dating and marriage, he doesn’t sideline all the other important relationships in a single person’s life.

In fact, in the situations he writes about where a single person wants to find a mate, he actually teaches them about the five love languages, then instructs them to try learning the love languages of their parents. This would seem to imply that Dr. Chapman knows singles are whole people regardless of our marital status, and that a romantic relationship might not be the most important one in our lives.

If you’re not aware of the five love languages, Chapman defines them as Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. I believe I’m a Quality Time person myself, but my mom is an Acts of Service person, and my dad, I think, is Words of Affirmation. Mom and I have discussed this, though, and neither of us is sure about his language.

Something I really liked about this book was that I could immediately apply what I took away from it. I didn’t have to wait until I was dating someone. Learning to speak someone else’s love language is useful whether you’re trying to win over a stubborn coworker, get a messy roommate to be more considerate of your neat-freak habits, or just show your parents or friends how much you appreciate them. Since reading the book, I’ve tried to focus more on performing acts of service for my mom, whether it’s helping her with her yard work or designing a logo for her new market garden business. We’ve always had a great relationship (my mom is my best friend), but I can honestly say I think it’s better now that I’m speaking her language.

Something else I like about the book is the chapter for single parents. I’m not a single parent, and I hope never to be, but I’m glad Chapman doesn’t overlook the fact that a huge number of people are either having children without ever marrying, or becoming the sole provider and caregiver for their children after a divorce. I had a friend and coworker my age who had three children, none of whom shared a father. It gave her some unique challenges to face. Love languages can be applied to kids and teenagers as well as adults, and Chapman gives clear ideas on how to do this.

Chapman categorizes single adults in five ways, and admits there may be other categories they fit. He writes about singles who have never been married, who are divorced, who are separated but not divorced, who are widowed, and single parents. He acknowledges just how many single people there are in the world today, especially in the United States (as of the book’s publication in 2004 he cited 4 out of 10 adults as single. I think we’re closer to 49% of the U.S. population now). And he makes it clear that we single adults matter to him.

I confess, Chapman also got points for quoting my favorite Christian scholar and writer, C.S. Lewis:

Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you love someone, you will presently come to love him. (Mere Christianity)

This has got me thinking, even more, about how I deal with some of those Christians I was talking about earlier this week. I need to remember, as Bird pointed out, that a gentle answer turns away wrath. And I need to act as if I love them, whether I’m angry at them or annoyed with them or not. And that will lead to me being a more loving person.

That can only be a good thing, right?

I’m Not Married to Jesus

28 Apr

A recent post in a blog I follow (OurSinglePurpose.com) got me thinking. It’s a very well-written and carefully considered post called My Maker My Husband — and I completely disagree with it.

I know, I’m starting out with fighting words. But I want to explain that, while a lot of Christian singles may find comfort in the idea of being “married to Jesus” or viewing God as “our husband”, I’m not one of those singles. And, in fact, if I were a straight guy, that idea would creep me out even more than it does as a straight girl.
20120428-005016.jpg

I don’t want to be married to God. The concept of marriage is a lovely one, and thankfully my parents have portrayed a good example of a lasting, loving marriage for me. But that isn’t how I see God. That isn’t how I experience God.

Especially when you start thinking about one of the greatest privileges of marriage. You know the one I’m talking about. And when people say “he’s a god in bed”, that’s one thing. But I really don’t want to think about having sex with God.

It isn’t that single people are naturally asexual. We have urges. We’re physically attracted to people. Heck, a lot of us have kissed other people. Some of us have done more than kiss. But if the church tells me that sex is a sacrament of marriage and that I should view myself as married to Jesus, isn’t that the logical conclusion? How many of the people who tell me to view God as my husband really think that analogy through?

Okay, I know in the Bible, Paul seems to compare the husband being the head of the wife to Christ being the head of the church. So apparently we’re supposed to draw from that the concept that the church is the bride of Christ. I guess maybe I can get that, but in that case we’re talking in complete metaphor, right? Because how else could a whole gigantic group of people stretching around the world and through time from 2000 years ago until today marry the same guy and have that work out?

And while we’re at it, I’m going to agree with commenter Jubilee at this post on Jon Acuff’s “Stuff Christians Like” blog. Jubilee points out (if you scroll way WAAAAY down in the comments) that Isaiah 54:5 is addressed to Israel. Corporate Israel, Jubilee points out–not a lonely single lady. If each individual Christian was supposed to view God as his/her husband, Jubilee says, every married Christian would be committing adultery against Jesus! (I’d like to add, as well, that would make God a huge polygamist.)

All joking aside, I know there are a lot of Christian people out there who do take comfort in the idea of God as a spouse. There are probably married people who view Him that way as well. (The sheer number of “Jesus is my girlfriend” songs would lead me to believe a lot of worship song writers view God as a lover.) Holly Howard, who wrote the blog post that got me thinking about this, certainly does. And she makes some fantastic points. I really like her table, in particular, showing the parallels of what a single asks for in a spouse, and what God offers us. While I don’t enjoy thinking of them in terms of Jesus as my spouse, I do take a lot of value out of being reminded that the Bible is God’s love letter to me, and that I can have an intimate relationship with God. Don’t think I’m writing this merely as a criticism of Ms. Howard’s post, because it’s not. It’s just another viewpoint.

And from my point of view, I’m not married to Jesus.

Stop Focusing on the Family and Start Serving the Singles

17 Apr

Every Christian in the U.S., and probably most non-Christians as well, has heard of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. After all, they are actively anti-abortion, want abstinence-only education, and are vocal in speaking out against homosexuality–all political hot-buttons these days, for Christians and non-Christians alike.

My issues with Focus on the Family are numerous, but I’m going to focus on a single issue today: singleness.

You see what I did there?

Focus on the Family is, by definition, a family-oriented organization. That’s great, but what I object to is their treatment of singles. Rather than ignoring singles altogether, they seem to view singleness as a condition to be cured or, at best, grown out of.

Scanning their Boundless website

  • I see articles with titles like: “In the Meantime”, “Addicted to Adultescence”, “Powerful Attraction”, “How to Relate to Men”, “He’s Not My Type”, and “Prep for the Wedding Night”.
  • I see advertisements for books like Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, The Ring Makes All the Difference, and I Kissed Dating Goodbye (ugh).
  • I see the tagline of their Boundlessline blog: “Bringing focus to the single years”.

Do you see a trend here? Everything on the website and blog, all the resources recommended and articles written, tell singles we need to grow up and get married.

Okay, there are a few articles that acknowledge that some people may be “called to singleness”. Frankly, I loathe that phrase. Whether or not I am called to singleness, I am content being single, and that is as Paul has commanded. But apparently, according to articles like “A Balanced View on Singleness” by Alex Chediak, I just have “too little desire for marriage”. Chediak’s solution? I apparently need a “kick in the pants”.

Never mind that I don’t feel that labels such as “extended adolescence” or “fear of commitment” are applicable to me. (In fact, in that same article, Chediak advocates that pastors should interfere if they think a single person is stuck in neutral and needs to get married. I can’t think of anything that would make me leave a church faster than if my minister got up in my grill about being single.)

I could keep going. I actually printed off several articles I wanted to respond to when I started this post. I’m angry and feeling alienated by Boundless’ attitude towards people like me — people who are single and content to remain so.

But frankly, I’m not sure there’s much point in railing against Boundless and its parent organization, Focus on the Family. After all, they are self-admittedly focused on the family.

I think, rather, it’s time for singles to start focusing on ourselves. After all, if singleness was good enough for Jesus and Paul, who are married people to tell us it’s a bad thing?

So how about it? Anyone want to help me start an organization called Serve the Singles?

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