Stuff the Bible Doesn’t Say — Episode 2

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Dear Church,

The Bible doesn’t speak of a gift of singleness, but of a gift of celibacy. And being single doesn’t mean you have the gift of celibacy any more than being in Latin class means you have the gift of tongues.

There is no gift of singleness except in the same sense that there’s a gift of poverty or a gift of illness. The difference is this: If you are ill, you will get prayed for, usually by name, every Sunday in church, and the request will be for healing. If you are poor, you will get prayed for, usually in a general way, every Sunday in church, and the request will be for financial provision. If you are single, you might get prayed for once in a blue moon in church, always in a general way, and the request will be for you to put up and shut up…oh, I mean, for you to be pure and content.

Please think better and do better than this.

Sincerely in Christ,

Your unmarried brothers and sisters

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5 responses »

  1. The Bible does teach us, on the one hand, that we should learn to be content in all our circumstances, and, on the other, that it is good to be married. So the church needs to pray the same way about the single who want to be married as it does about the poor who need more money or the ill who need more health. Emotional need is as important as physical. On the other hand, as Tevye would have said, those who are single, poor or in ill-health do need to pray for patience and contentment during the time, long or short, that they’re in their undesired circumstances.

  2. Exactly. The point isn’t that the Bible doesn’t teach us to be content, but that the church flippantly treats singleness as No Big Deal. In failing to promote marriage as the objectively better thing for anyone who doesn’t have the gift of celibacy (which, as far as I can see, is an extraordinarily rare gift), it dishonors marriage, encourages prolonged adolescence and immorality amongst young unmarried people, and fails to effectively love and serve those who want to be married. When the only message given to unwillingly unmarried folks is “Be content,” it’s the equivalent of James 2:15-16, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” The church is willing to pray and to help in any other affliction, but has become almost blind to the fact that unwanted singleness is an affliction, and so feels precious little compassion and almost no responsibility to help.

  3. Not all illnesses. Chronic, autoimmune type stuff, or those with a dubious prognosis are very hard for the wider body of Christ to know how to respond to. If you’re going to be ill it’s best to recover or die. Not spoken harshly, it’s just that that’s the kind of thing folks deal with best. I suppose the same could be said for singleness.The time factor is tricky for people to deal with. After 10 years without change? 20? 30? Single people often get the ‘Marriage isn’t all roses’. Chronically ill people get ‘I would love to have a few days in bed too’. But the desire for a husband/wife, for a baby, for health …. these are all natural desires, and when the Lord chooses to deny these to us, then I think it is a moment by moment battle to surrender to His will. None of this – ‘Oh yeh, I battled over that a few years ago, but now I’m at peace.’ We pray for change; we pray for contentment. My prayer to my Father is, ‘I’m thanking You for this now. Not because I understand or want it, but because I know that one day, when I see You face to face, I will be glad that I did.’

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