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« Links Mentioned on the 3/18/16 Show | Main | If Morality Is Objective, How Can We Know It? »

March 19, 2016

Comments

Well said Amy. I am a mother of seven and I would like to encourage single people that we married with children desperately need your involvement in our children's lives. These children God gave us are not only ours but firstly God's and also the community's and we need support just in daily life. It is very hard to raise a family and there are times I lament about the other side of the fence. This is what God has given me and I am glad for it but I also value the role single people play in our family. You are extremely necessary!!

God bless you, Amy. Well said!

I believe Paul speaks volumes here;

“For I would that all men were even as I myself (single). But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Corinthians 7:7–9)

Good point, Dave. It seems Paul viewed marriage as a concession to human weakness at best. Christ Himself also lauded those who left their families for His sake.

So much for "family values"!

I don't think it's accurate to say that Paul viewed marriage as a concession to human weakness. At one level such a view of marriage just as such wouldn't even be coherent. Marriage is a result of God's intentional design of human sexuality, not a solution God had to find to human weakness.

I think what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7 should be read in light of what he says in verse 26: "...in view of the present distress...". There is some debate as to whether Paul has in mind a temporary local hardship in mind or the eschatological hardship that all believers face in this final age. But I think Brian Rosner makes some good points that favor the former (local) view in his book Paul, Scripture, and Ethics: A Study of 1 Corinthians 5-7 on pp. 161-163.

Amy, I appreciate your addressing this. I apologize if I came across as though I meant Greg was saying this deliberately, to be hurtful or insulting. I know he would never do that. (That's what I get for typing in the emotion of the moment.) I am sorry if that's how it sounded.

"The problem in our culture today is that it does minimize the value of marriage and children."

I would disagree to some extent. Even in the world, if you're not in a relationship of some kind, you are looked upon as deficient. Always.

This is a world designed for couples. We see it and feel it, 24/7. So much so, that single travelers pay the same (and sometimes more) for hotel rooms and other arrangements. Now, obviously, it's a simple cost effectiveness issue. It is not a deliberate ploy on the part of hotel management to be cruel to single people. But that doesn't make it any less painful. It is a constant and tangible reminder that you are alone.

As to the church as a whole, marriage/family often becomes the entire focus. I was fortunate when I first became a Christian at 18 because my church was very small and made up mostly of singles. It was wonderful because there were no real divisions between the singles and the couples/families who were there. We were all just focused on Christ. We all hung out together. Their children became our children. And those singles who lived far from their families of origin were "adopted" by families for holidays, meals, or just hanging out.

And it all happened organically. No one told us to do things that way. It was wonderful! I did not fully realize at the time how lucky I was until little by little, the church grew and everyone started getting married off and having families. It still worked well for some years. But it did begin to feel like everyone else had grown up and gone on in life... and we were left behind.

Now I am at a new church where the majority of people are college age (young enough to be my children), dating/engaged couples, young married couples, and now one by one, new parents.

It was fine at first. I've never had much in common with people my own age, even when I was younger. But at some point you look around the room and realize you are not only 20 years older than every other person there, but you're still single/childless, while most of the others are dating, engaged, married, pregnant and/or with their first babies. Or at least have hope to be in the future.

The troublesome thing is that marriage/kids always end up becoming the focus of a church. Already I've lost touch with some couples that I had come to know through small groups because they are now in a new group for young couples.

It's like a members only club where you are left out. Even if they try to include you, you still don't really belong. The worst part is at the end of any event, you still go home alone. While for them, it's the ubiquitous "we".

If it was just not so constantly focused upon, it would make life so much easier. I've never cared if someone's married or single, kids or no kids, old or young, or anything else. I've always had friends of all kinds. But the church as a whole focuses on marriage and children to an unhealthy degree.

Mo, I don't know if it's unhealthy (well, it is unhealthy to separate the married people from everyone else on purpose). The simple truth is that marriage is the position most people are in, so it's central to what most people are concerned about, so the way church is set up is going to reflect that. I've had very similar experiences to yours, though, and it's true that every reminder is painful. But I'm not sure they ought to downplay marriage and family for the sake of the few like us, except in this way: I wish families in churches would be more intentional about drawing single people into their families (like you described in your comment about your first church). I do think it's a terrible idea to have a small group for "young couples." Small groups should reflect the diversity of the body of Christ.

There are some Christians who have same-sex attraction (e.g., Wesley Hill), who, because they know for sure they'll be single for the long haul, have been thinking carefully about loneliness and singleness—how the church can be a better family to everyone, and I'm grateful for that. Their work will be helpful to all single people, whether they're same-sex attracted or not.

You and I will have a difficult time in life in many ways as single people. I'm still trying to figure out how to bear it graciously; this is something we need to figure out how to do. We can't dwell on all the ways that its difficult, or it will lead straight to bitterness. Long ago, I had an older person tell me how important it is to be someone who can celebrate other people's marriages and births, even in the midst of sadness. I never forgot that. I still don't know how to manage all of this, but I pray, and I will remember to pray for you.

Thank you, Amy.

Two words. Amy Carmichael. And the amazing things she was able to accomplish because of her singleness (along with many other single Christians in history). I have to admit there have been times I wish I were single again. Don't get me wrong. I love my husband and my children. And I am content being obedient to my Savior. But oh to be responsible for only myself again! To be on MY OWN. To be able to make all my own decisions without having to consult someone or ask their permission. To be accountable to ME. To not be on the hook for four little lives and have to tend their every need every waking and non-waking hour and be on the hook for their eternal salvation and sacrifice my own personal desires for basically the rest of my life. Sound incredibly selfish? Well, it is. But that doesn't mean my flesh doesn't long after it every once in a while! You don't know what you got 'til its gone.

We are called to die to our selves and follow Him in whatever condition He calls us. When you are single, this is painful. When you are married, it's also painful. But more than that, we count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, for whom we have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that we may gain Christ...Phil. 3:8

To any and all who are single but long to be married but can't seem to be. Know this: this is your trial. THIS is what God is using to sanctify you. Let there be no doubt in your mind. God is in complete control of your life and He could bring a spouse at any moment but He is choosing not to. Because He loves you. He always, always does what is best for His children. Know it and believe it. You must draw near to Him. You must wrestle it out with Him. And you must forgive Him. I know that seems counterintuitive. God does nothing wrong and certainly He never does anything that would require forgiveness. BUT the forgiveness is not for God. It is for you. You must lay down any bitterness in your heart towards Him for this thing, denying you a spouse and family, and learn to walk with Him the way He has called you to. You must be able to say with Paul, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." Phil. 4:11 You must ask God to teach you the secret of this contentment. Only He can. Search for it as for hidden treasure and don't stop asking Him and beseeching Him and spending time listening in His presence until He gives it to you. You MUST wrestle Him as Jacob did refusing to let go until He blesses you with true contentment.

Seek first HIs kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. Matt. 6:33

Blessings!

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