The one thing that bothers me as a single Christian is how people will hold Paul up as my beacon of singleness.
He chose singleness for good reason. Paul was constantly beaten for preaching the gospel of Jesus. He was probably so severely beaten that he walked hunched-back (according to my pastor).
We don’t know if he felt lonely. He never really says, but I am sure he would not have wanted to put his wife through the heavy persecution the church was going through at that time.
I read this on the Internet about my beacon of hope: “Paul goes on to explain that married people have extra problems; while the unmarried are freer to serve the Lord. Many biblical scholars believe that Paul wrote this chapter in Corinthians at a time similar to our own day in many respects–a time when the Church began to suffer persecution. He repeats several times that it is better to remain single. Perhaps you think that Paul’s words were for another day. If you are single and unhappy, it may be because you believe that service to the Lord is a poor substitute for marriage. We forget that God created us for Himself. Only when we put Him first in our lives will everything else fall into proper order.” (http://aglowinternational.org/resources/free-resources/bible-studies/master-list/188-the-gift-of-singleness-part-1)
It makes me feel like I am doing something wrong. If I do “A, B and C”, then God will bless me with a husband. There are times when I have been sitting at my desk at work and felt hopeful. I felt it inside of me, bubbling over, and I know it had nothing to do with work or my dating situation.
The author also says, “God never intended that singleness should be considered second best. The Bible makes a good case for remaining single. Let’s look at some of the single men and women God has used to establish and spread His kingdom.”
Yes, the Bible makes a good case for remaining single, but Solomon said, “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22; NLT)
And, Solomon should know because he had like 100 wives or something. (For the sake of accuracy, I just googled how many wives he actually had – “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3). That’s a lot of women for one man.
What is striking to me is that women are called “treasures” and the husband will “receive favor from the Lord”. What an interesting little twist on the value of marriage.
The Book of Ruth shows how important it was for a woman to have someone to protect and take care of her. Naomi took great pains to ensure her daughter-in-law Ruth, a widow, would be provided for.
We could argue back and forth about what the Bible says on all sorts of “issues”.
I had a conversation with my pastor about how difficult it is for a single woman. We need our Christian brothers to come along side of us. But, the dynamic between a single man and a woman is complicated, so single men stay away.
I can’t become friends with a married man because that is obviously inappropriate.
“So, where does this leave me?” I asked.
My pastor immediately said, “You need community.”
So, there it is. Now how to build and find this community?
Question: I think that is the question for today. How do we Western-Christians, who value individualism, begin to adopt a more Eastern approach to community?
Copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Potvin