[the celibate] Christ.
I am not saying that singleness is easy and marriage is hard. No, the contrast [in I Cor 7] is between complexity and simplicity. Married life is more complicated; singleness is more straightforward.
A significant temptation for many singles, especially if we live on our own, is to become self-centered.
Singleness Requires a Special Calling
What is the gift of singleness? Is it the gift that no one prays for? Allberry argues that we wrongly think of it as a superpower to be single. But thinking this way denies the goodness of singleness. It can encourage bitterness for those who don’t want to be single and are struggling. He argues Scripturally, a gift was given to build up the body of Christ. He calls out some Christian leaders when he says the problem is not singleness but selfish singleness.
- Single people are unmarried, while we would never think of married people as unsingle.
- The gift-ness of being single for Paul lay in the freedom it gave him to concentrate on ministry.
Singleness Means No Intimacy
Allberry insightfully argues we have collapsed intimacy and sex. But you can have intimacy without sex. The Bible speaks richly of friendship, that is a relationship that is not your relative and not just a companion.
- We can manage without sex. But we are not designed to live without intimacy.
- In the West we have virtually collapsed sex and intimacy into each other. Where you have one, it is assumed to have the other. We can’t really conceived of genuine intimacy without being ultimately sexual.
- C.S. Lewis, “Those who cannot conceive Friendship as substantive love but only a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a friend.”
Singleness Means No Family
Allberry reminds us that Jesus reconstitutes family and promises family. The NT uses family language and encourage us to act like a household. Singles can beget spiritual offspring. This chapter also provides some insight into how biological families have included him in their family.
- Our spiritual family needs our biological family, and our biological family needs our spiritual family.
- Sometimes it’s actually not making a fuss over a visitor that make them feel more special and at home.
- No two parents can be everything their children need them to be.
Singleness Hinders Ministry
Here Allberry understands that congregations want their pastors married, but argues that there can be special benefits to being single. And he gives numerous examples of how being single has helped him minister to those who are married.
Singleness Wastes Your Sexuality
Marriage can be worshiped. A Gospel-focused marriage does not demean marriage because it points to Christ. But marriage also is not to be idolized. In the resurrection, there will be no more marriage. Rather there will be one marriage, with Christ.
- “If you marry someone expecting him or her to fulfill you, you’re going to be a bit of nightmare to be married to. You’re demanding something only Jesus can deliver.”
- This reminds us that marriage now is not ultimate. It will be absent in the age to come and I not vital in this present time…The most fully human and complete person ever to live on earth did so as someone who was single, and yet called himself, “the bridegroom.” His singleness on earth bore witness to this ultimate marriage he had come to establish. Singleness for us now is also a way of bearing witness to this reality.
Singleness is Easy
This chapter is raw. Allberry pulls the curtain back and talks about some of his own struggles. Singleness can be hard. I am thankful for his honesty. But if some of us who were married were to be this honest, there would be plenty of raw revelations in our marriage. Life involves suffering – whether single or married.
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Get this book and read it, teach from it, incorporate it into your ministry philosophy, incorporate it into your understanding of family.
We need to be careful that we don’t promise our daughters that “Someday their prince will come.” Unless that prince is Jesus.