Thursday, April 9, 2015

Joy in singleness, though you'd never know it by Christian social media or church life. Part 1

 Joy in Singleness, part 2: Gifted to live singly for Jesus
Joy in Singleness, part 3: Famous biblical singles
Joyful in Singleness part 4 conclusion: Personal Note and Opinion

I am currently reading through and studying 1 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul outlines responsibilities of life to marrieds & singles, and mentioning young men, virgins, and widows. It is a great chapter. Paul is specific, loving, and clear, focusing on marriage, lust, and conjugal duty.

Marriage is the foundation block of society, procreation is strongly urged, (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 9:7, Psalm 128:3, Proverbs 31:27), and divorce is considered a violent act, (Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:6,8; Genesis 2:24). As a matter of fact, unauthorized divorce prohibits men from serving in leadership capacity, (1 Timothy 3:2) so it is no wonder that churches spend a good deal of time preaching to and discipling marrieds. There are many marriage retreats, books, Sunday School curricula, and sermons given over to the subject. This is a good thing.
Marriage, the Bible tells us from the beginning of the Book of Genesis, is a divine institution. That is, it is something established by God. It is a covenant that is given by God and for that reason it is traceable to him. It has also been consecrated by him, for he has blessed the marriage relationship. And, of course, it’s the means of the preservation of the human race. ~S. Lewis Johnson, Marriage Counsel, part 1

 However oftentimes so much attention is given to married couples and their issues, that an overly myopic focus descends upon any given church that leaves the other half of the population out. There are young unmarried men and women, honorably divorced folks, and widows and widowers. Because of the excessive focus on marriage and married Christians' concerns, one would be led to believe the entire church was composed of couples. But it is not so.
Census data from 1970 show that 70 percent of American households contained a married couple. The 2006 report from the Census Bureau disclosed that fewer than half of American households are now maintained by married couples. Eye on Unmarried America
In this series I'll focus on singleness, its joys, benefits, church life, and ministry and civic opportunities. There are several kinds of singles: singles who are frustrated in the waiting for what they know will be God's gift of marriage to them, or who have had that gift and are now widows or widowers and are grieving the loss. Some in today's world are temporarily single also by the fact that their spouse is serving overseas, working far away, or are incarcerated. (Yes it happens). For these singles, a different kind of ministry is needed. Many of these people desire comfort and love and support as they yearningly await a change in their marital status.

Those aren't the singles I am discussing. I'll address the fact that even if some singles are acknowledged and gasp! ministered to, not all singles are in a waiting room for marriage. Some, like me, know they will be single forever, and are happy with that gift. Yes, gift. Rarely is the gift of singleness discussed in the church, or even preached about, looked upon as an enhancement to the Body, let alone acknowledged as a normal segment of the family He is creating.
Churches are so committed to the idea of a family-centered church that they’re just not sure how to handle rising rates of singleness. "Are Single People the Lepers of Today?"
Further, I'll reject the subtle cloud that usually attaches to a discussion of singles: depression, sadness, longing. There are singles out there which God has granted a life of joy and fulfillment, with nary a search for the soul mate in sight but only having eyes for the Groom.

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it. (Matthew 19:11)

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 Joy in Singleness, part 2: Gifted to live singly for Jesus
Joy in Singleness, part 3: Famous biblical singles
Joyful in Singleness part 4 conclusion: Personal Note and Opinion

5 comments :

  1. Elizabeth, I'm so thrilled you are doing this series.

    What you wrote about not being one of those singles who is dying for marriage, but instead is content with Him alone is a perfect description of me. I've done the dumb relationship mistakes in my life and even met a potential godly mate (we're staying friends, thank you lol). I have often said I am happy to be His alone forever.

    With this mindset, I have very often struggled with "fitting in" in the body of Christ. It's already hard enough for me with my personality to fit into a group, but there's all this subdivision within the group. If you're married, you may look at singles as a threat. If there's a single guy around, and you're talking with him, then you must be interested (no?). If you have no children, then you "don't really get it."

    Very much looking forward to what you bring out here!

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  2. Hi Jennifer,

    You encapsulated it so well! I've never had any maternal murmurings, not one. When I say I never wanted children and I'm glad, the funny looks deepened to horrified concern, lol.

    As I mentioned I'm reading thru 1 Corinthians. Though I've read it before, yesterday this time the Spirit really focused me on the passage about the gift of continence, as S. Lewis Johnson delicately put it in his sermon on the same verses. I've been studying on it ever since and decided to postpone today's new reading so I can dwell further on that passage and fold into it the verse from Matthew, too. It feels like there is so much more depth to cover. Of course it helps that my new commentaries arrived yesterday ;)

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  3. If you believe marriage is the foundation block of human society, how do you reconcile Matthew 19?

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    1. The very Matthew 19 where Jesus says God ordained marriage immediately after creation in Genesis 2, and said they are one flesh? If you *don't* believe marriage is the foundation of society then *how* can you reconcile Matthew 19?

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  4. Congratulations, what a super addition to your home library! I have the Matthew, John, and Revelation volumes myself.
    A side note: I recently began studying Romans with my 25-yr-old son and decided he would really benefit from the MacArthur "Romans" commentaries, so I went to our Family Christian Bookstore (where my other volumes were purchased). Imagine my surprise when I found they no longer carry MacArthur's commentaries in the store (only online) but instead, they made room for a big, new in-store section called "Charismatic."
    I ordered Romans from GTY and no longer give Family Christian my business!
    --Chris M, NC

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