Thursday, February 23, 2006
We're Not 'Special' But We Deserve a Voice.
I am speaking of single people. And when I say we are not 'special', I mean that we are not 'special' because of our marital status. We are indeed special because we are children of the King of Kings! It has been my concern for a couple of years now that single people have been and are being neglected by the church and above all are being seen as 'odd'. My concerns were amplified by comments coming from the group of churches I used to be associated with making sincere but unfortunate comments about marriage and how young men should just "get on with it". Get on with it? When there were no suitable single women in the church? Great care is needed and great sensativity. I do realise and appreciate that some young men indeed do need a proverbial boot up the backside, but my concern is linked to the fact that the Word of God has MUCH to say about single people and none of it is to do with "getting on with it".
I was greatly encouraged therefore to re-read the foreword to John Piper and Wayne Grudem's monumental "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" (available to read online). Piper's foreword is called; "For Single Men and Women" and he has eight vital theses on singleness that must be heard. By the way - he wrote; "We know you are there ... and we are listening". I wonder if that is true - many subscribe to RBMW but are you really listening to the single men and women in your church? Here are his eight theses:
1. Marriage, as we know it, is not the final destiny of any human.
"There is some warrant for thinking that the kinds of self-denial involved in singleness could make one a candidate for greater capacities for love in the age to come".
2. Jesus Christ, the most fully human Person who ever lived, was not married.
(In answer to the common argument; 'A life of slavery to virginity would mean being only half human') - "The most fully human person who has ever lived, or ever will live is Jesus Christ and He never once had sexual intercourse ... We will always have mountains of truly human Christ-likeness yet to climb, but sexual intercourse is not one of them. For He never knew it. And He is infinately whole".
3. The Bible celebrates celibacy because it gives extraordinary opportunity for single minded investment in ministry for Christ.
To quote the single yet hugely used of God David Brainerd; "I cared not where or how I lived or what hardships I went through so that I could but gain souls for Christ ... All my desire was for the conversion of the heathen and my hope was in God".
4. The Apostle Paul and a lot of great missionaries after him have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 19:12; "For some ... have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of haven".
By the way! I haven't heard THIS verse preached on ... ever!
5. The Apostle Paul calls singleness a gift from God.
"Single people are not generally treated as the bearers of a superb and special gift from God. They are sometimes treated as abnormal in the Church".
6. Jesus promised that forsaking family for the sake of the Kingdom will be repaid with a new family, the church.
7. God is sovereign over who gets married and who doesn't. And He can be trusted to do what is good for those who hope in Him.
8. Mature manhood and womanhood are not dependent on being married.
"We are persuaded by Scripture that masculinity and femininity are rooted in who we are by nature. They are not simply reflexes of a marriage relationship. Man does not become a man by getting married. Woman does not become woman by getting married".
So what ... ?
This is more than just a rant on my behalf to try and influence church life generally for the better, for myself and my fellow single Christian brothers and sisters in this country. I actually passionately believe that John Piper has touched on something absolutely key - although he didn't specifically allude to it. I have been writing much about Restoration and the glorious end-time church. I do believe strongly that part of that glorious end-time church will be martydoms. I don't say that lightly - but simply from a view of Scripture that is unavoidable. It is going to happen! For too long now, the West has avoided the persecutions that our brothers and sisters across the world are going through - whether that is the mercy or judgement of God - it is not for us to decide. But I am certain that it is coming. And I believe that single men and women are ideally placed to become those who just might step forward as martyrs for the glorious Kingdom of God. I could be wrong - but I suspect that it was for a good reason that Paul said it is actually BETTER that some do not marry! We are placed strategically to have absolutely NOTHING to lose for Christ and His Kingdom! But we do have EVERYTHING to gain! So even if the church isn't actually listening to single people as Dr Piper said (but secretly pitying) I strongly advise that we begin to change our attitudes.
Marriage isn't the be-all and end-all of human destiny. Jesus Christ lived the fullest human life possible and He never married. There is a un-tapped huge resource in remaining single for the Kingdom and glory of God. Singleness is a GIFT! Meant for our GOOD! The biggest fear of singleness is defunct because we do indeed have a family - the glorious church. And at the end of the day all our destinies lie in the hands of an awesome God who knows exactly what and where He is going. And He promised that as SURELY as He lives - all the earth, ALL the earth WILL be filled with the glory of the Lord!