Charlie Grantham’s article “Three reasons singleness should be praised” describes some interesting advantages to the single life. The reasons expounded by Charlie deal with singleness being a calling, a gift, and a provider of unique opportunities. These and other points touched on in Charlie’s article are worth a response.
Charlie suggests that marriage has become idolized within the contemporary evangelical church. This suggestion resonates with my experience of the church’s approach to marriage. I believe many of us have bought into the lie that marriage equals achieving a mandatory milestone in life.
If we believe this lie, fed to us by our society, then we also believe that singles are inferior in some way. We are proud of our friends and family for “achieving” marriage, and we are less impressed with those who have not taken on this brave commitment.
I’m not for one moment saying that marriage is unremarkable, nor am I suggesting that single people are perfect. I am suggesting that the reverse is equally possible: that married people are not perfect, and that singleness can be something to be proud of.
Sometimes we make the mistake of assuming that God thinks like we do. If we think that marriage and family is the greatest achievement life can offer, then we run the risk of assuming that God must think that way too. But what if we were wrong?
It’s interesting that Charlie’s article touches on the perception of singles being selfish, a point I have raised in previous blogs. Charlie describes how some single women have been condemned for pursuing their own ministry prior to getting married. According to Charlie, such women have been accused of rebelling against God’s calling.
I would love for someone to explain to me how any person, regardless of gender, who takes the initiative to pursue God’s calling can at the same time be accused of rebelling against God. Comment on this blog if you think you have the answer. I would be interested to discuss this further.
I do not know of anywhere in the Bible that speaks of specific gifts and callings being designated to specific genders. At times certain genders are addressed in certain churches to address problems specific to those churches – such as women letting others speak, men giving their lives for their wives as Christ gave His life for us, and fathers taking care not to exasperate their children. (We don’t hear much teaching on this one.)
These unique examples can be taken out of context and used against either gender. I would hate for the Bible to be misused to prevent any person from entering ministry or doing what they believe God has asked them to do. Surely obedience to God is most important and up to each person to work out in tandem with God.
Charlie’s point about singleness as a “gift” is an argument based on perception, that is, one can choose to view their circumstance of singleness as a gift from God. While this argument is not necessarily one I agree with, I don’t vehemently disagree with it either. I think the “gift” can be a helpful concept for some and unhelpful for others, depending on its usage.
Some see their singleness as a gift, others as a burden; some as an interim state, some a permanent one. I discuss this concept in some detail in my upcoming book, Surviving Singledom, so I will not do it justice if I attempt to address it here.
Suffice it to say that I think the “giftedness” of one’s personal circumstances is up to that person to determine, rather than having the concept of the “gift” thrust upon them by others. Let each single person decide how they perceive their circumstances in partnership with the Holy Spirit.
No matter our situation, may we all pursue selflessness and service to one another. May we encourage one another in pursuing the task God has placed before us.
For Charlie’s full article, read here.