Amazing story about recovery from brain cancer. Also, why aren’t you following her blog already?
Recently, I’ve become aware of past controversial comments made by Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on Christian singleness.
In previous years, Dr. Mohler has directed heavy criticism at kingdom singles. He has labeled as sinful the practice of delaying marriage by those who lack the “gift of celibacy”.
Singleness is not a sin, but deliberate singleness on the part of those who know they have not been given the gift of celibacy is, at best, a neglect of a Christian responsibility. The problem may be simple sloth, personal immaturity, a fear of commitment, or an unbalanced priority given to work and profession. On the part of men, it may also take the shape of a refusal to grow up and take the lead in courtship. There are countless Christian women who are prayerfully waiting for Christian men to grow up and take the lead. What are these guys waiting for? (Link)
Hailing from a Baptist paradigm that appreciates marriage’s Biblical shine (and having actually read the qualifiers in Mohler’s comments), I get what he was aiming for.
Nevertheless, if you ask me (and I know you didn’t), he’s left a lot out. Mohler’s comments are only a sliver of the much bigger message that Christian singles really need to be hearing. And that message is difficult, because not every single is created equal. God in his sovereignty is painting with a great many shades.
We singles are…complicated. A diverse bunch. Far more than is commonly recognized. We land somewhere on a spectrum best described so: I want someone, yet at the same time, I’m not sure I do. But I totally do! Yet…am I sure?
Some are tired of being judged entirely by, and being asked only about, their marital status. They feel unseen for themselves. That matters to millennials.
Others feel they lack the tools or a conducive personality (e.g. introverts) to move towards marriage.
And still others have tried to find a mate, spent countless nights bedside in tears praying for someone, and…nothing. They’ve put real effort into finding someone – and been resisted so serendipitously and relentlessly that they can only conclude God is the one keeping them single. Relationships buckle. Peace evaporates. Parties are called to move away. Or…nobody notices.
One friend, a passionate youth pastor who has served God far harder than some marrieds, lives in a formidably atheist country where kingdom singles are slightly more plentiful than unicorns (to say nothing of quality). Others live in rural areas, where they start wondering whether God has left them to the rules of probability.
This is the reality for singles at the street level. Needless to say, it might be a disservice to fall short of honoring these stories. Lack of pursuit is hardly the sole generator of singleness.
There are some life skills I’ve picked up that have pretty much made the adult me.
The ability to apologize. You wouldn’t believe how far that takes you with people.
The ability to laugh at oneself. Which, naturally, makes me a one-man comedy.
The ability to say no to purchases I don’t need. No TV/Netflix, used cars…it adds up over the years.
But probably the most valuable life skill is the ability to articulate the hidden lies I’m believing.
I submit that we have two kinds of beliefs: head beliefs and heart beliefs. Head beliefs are the ones we’re aware of, the ones we’ve explicitly processed and given mental consent to, like the existence of gravity, or the depth of God’s love. It’s easier to articulate those beliefs, though we don’t necessarily act according to them.
I posted last week about a sensitive topic that’s been on my heart for a long time but eluded my words: that it’s a little awkward for us to be teaching people to “stop comparing themselves to others” when we ourselves hold a considerable amount of power over whether they feel the need to compare.
We all have a part to play. Whenever we choose someone else’s companionship or potential over another, we make a comparison. Everyone’s got their A-lists and D-lists, and I’m no exception. I’ve been rejected, and I’ve done some rejecting. And when people learn, in their youth, that they are being compared to others by others, it is only natural that they’ll join in. Lonely people can tell you this better than anyone.
To be sure, our lives are jam-packed and we don’t have time for everyone or everything. But even that feels like an excuse at some point. I know I’ve missed opportunities to show the love of Christ. It makes me wonder what the kingdom would look like if we really celebrated everyone as an image-bearer of God.
What is the Biblical solution?
It’s not popular theology, and it doesn’t naturally put butts in pews, but it’s actually the best news out there.
*Trigger warning* While I keep things as vague as possible (and the news article just states the facts) please don’t read the news article if you’d rather not. The title alone may be all you can stomach: Man gets 60 years in prison for trying to sell 4-year-old daughter for sex. Most of this blog post will move on from this initial news story.
GK Chesterton is often remembered for his remark that:
“Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology that can really be proved.”
Chesterton saw it as the one doctrine that could actually be verified by the observation of human behavior and history. I agree. How some can deny human sinfulness is beyond me. We are all sinful, and need a Savior. Yet many people, even Christians, can struggle with this doctrine. Many insist than humanity is really good at heart…
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