Friday, January 04, 2008

The Gift of Singleness?

I came across this article at Better Bibles blog about the idea of singleness being a gift from God. A Carolyn McCulley book on women's singleness is looked at (along with a linked critical review) in light of a mistranslation of the bible to give the impression that singleness is a gift from God. It brings back some memories of being single and observing the lives of other singles.

I don't believe singleness is a gift in the biblical sense, like tongues or prophesy. Singleness is often a grave difficulty for those who desire to be married. I should know, I was single for a number of years. But there's a problem because there are often blame and guilt games being played by people who think they have the final word on the subject. Some wallow in self pity. Some blame the church. Some blame women. Some blame men. Those blamed blame back. Some just drop the "God is Sovereign" bomb and demand contentment from others. The critical review in the link I provided blamed the flight of men from our churches as to why so many women are single.

In my experience, there is a shortage of women in the churches. But that's only because I have attended doctrinally oriented Reformed churches that place a high emphasis on analytical theology. Women aren't drawn to doctrinal zealots. In my first church, the single men outnumbered the women by 10:1. And the women were beyond homely. But the men were just as weird. My next church had a few women, but their potential for being my wife was obscured by a neo-puritan prairie muffin Little House on the Prairie type of aura. Some of my friends needed to recruit good looking, socially normal women from large Arminian or Charismatic churches and convert them to being Calvinists. Some engaged in "missionary dating" with attractive unbelievers. Then there are the giddy married women who act as self-appointed matchmakers who don't always produce good things. There are plenty of teachings about dating and courtship, the internet, arranged marriages, all in competition.

Contrary to those who harp on God's sovereignty in providing a wife from within one's own church, I went outside as well. I don't envy those Christians who are single and having a hard time finding a mate, but I have little sympathy for those who play the blame game. I'm glad I didn't marry one of those. Singles should be encouraged - to whatever they can be, either as single or married - but not condemned for dating or internet matchmaking. We have enough legalists without issues of singleness, dating and marriage being added to the forbidden list.


  1. I used to go to church and I used to have a Christian girlfriend. I heard lots of complaints about how there was not very many single men in the church. After a few months of dating this Christian girl I found out that she was rummaging through my home, personal belongings and reading my mail when I wasn't looking and reporting what she found to the elders of the church. I got a call from a church elder who wanted to talk to me about some friends I had that he considered "inappropriate" for a church going Christian. I told him that a Christian rummaging through someone else's mail was also extremely inappropriate if not also illegal. I don't go to church anymore and I no longer date Christian women. Life is much better for me but I still hear complaints about how there aren't enough single men in the church. Go figure?

  2. Steve,

    You are right about the demographics. In Independent and Southern Baptist Churches lots of women. Many were older. There are some "blessed" singles in the Church that were "single" for a reason. :)

    I went to a Fundy Baptist College. It was a "girl" storehouse. Most everyone in the dorm was married off by the third year. It was so bad that that they had a rule against freshman marrying. I married my sophomore year.

    I do wish Polly and I had married at a little older age (19/21) We were very immature. My 2 oldest sons were in their mid 20's when they married and I saw them to be much more mature AND much more financially secure.Both of them married Catholic girls they met at work.

    I am not so sure about the singleness being a gift. With few exceptions, most people desire a partner. It is the way we are hardwired I suppose. Singleness is just that state you are in til marriage.

    Polly and I will celebrate 30 yrs of marriage in July. I can't imagine "not" being married.

    I think there is a Reformed guy, Steve Schliessel, that runs a matchmaking service. Seems to be a help for some.


  3. Hi Steve,

    Sorry I have not commented on awhile but I always enjoy reading your posts and try to read them every day.

    I agree with your thoughts here about singleness. What a trial it can be to be single yet have the desire to be married. Singleness has it hard times and struggles and my singleness has caused me to cry out to God. I need to be reminded that He is my everything and He knows the desires of my heart. Marriage would be wonderful (don't get me wrong, I know it too has challenges and struggles) in many respects but it can never completely satisfy. Marriage is not an end all to all things or the best stage that one can obtain in life. God and God alone can only truly satisfy one's heart.

    Singleness is not a gift in the sense of other gifts. Singleness is a season (for some it is much longer and may even last an entire life) and I am learning that regardless of my martial status I must live TODAY for His glory (in my singleness), tomorrow is in His hands if it be single or married.

    There is an attitude from people, even well meaning, doctrinally sound believers who are critical of my singleness. They outright state that I am not doing enough or "getting myself out there" or that something is wrong with me. Comments and attitudes like these hurt my heart and I must go to my Savior to assist me. There is so much that I have done to "get myself out there". Along with internet dating, church singles events (have much to say about both of these but that can be for another time), I am faithful to God's church and His people, I know many of folks who might know a good Christian brother who they think might be a possible match.

    Another attitude that other's try to share with me is that almost any man will do. As you know and as you posted, any person will not do. There is so much involved with God bringing a man and woman together. I will not settle for a man that I don't feel God is calling me to. Then the attitude comes across that I am too picky. There is no truth in this at all.

    People need to be very careful and sensitive in their efforts to assist a single person to find a spouse. I am not saying that they should not assist because I know God may use some of my married friends to introduce me to a wonderful godly man. In fact, I would highly regard the recommnedation of a friend to consider a godly man.

    There is much to be said but here is not the avenue as a comment on your blog. Thank you for your thoughts. On a side note to a the comments already posted here, if you are a true Christian, you should only be considering a Christian who is like minded in essential doctrinal stances for a possible person to date or marry.

    So, let me know where are those churches with an abundance of down to earth men who strongly hold to the 5 "solas". Think I would like to meet one of them.

  4. Shelly wrote:

    >"...if you are a true Christian,
    >you should only be considering a
    >Christian who is like minded in
    >essential doctrinal stances for a
    >possible person to date or marry.

    A supposedly Christian girl told that exact same thing to me several years ago. She claimed that it was the reason to break up with me. Several months later she married another man who told her exactly what she wanted to hear. She claimed he had an exact doctrinal match with her. Their marriage lasted just barely a year. I had to laugh when she added a new twist to her so called "essential doctrinal stance" - if you get re-baptized then any previous marriages don't count. Its amazing how a Christian's doctrinal stance can change to benefit one's preferences of the moment. Take my advice about marrigage - Love, honor and respect for your spouse (in good times and bad) is so much more important as a value system than any doctrinal stance.

  5. I had long discussions about religious compatibility with my sons before they married. (Baptists marrying Catholics)

    It is very dangerous to ignore religious compatibility. When the first child comes then all kinds of issues are raised.IF a couple has talked these things out ahead of time things tend to go a lot smoother in the relationship

    So far my Catholic daughter in laws have been more than I could ever asked for. Great girls who take following Jesus seriously.

    I have seen a fair share of the "i'll get saved so I can get the girl"