The following thoughts are from a presentation given by my pastor at Life on the Vine Church, David Fitch, this past Saturday, Jan 20, 2007. The presentation was titled "Singleness in the City of Endless Desire: Why it is Spiritual Formation or Die." As part of the presentation, there was a handout highlighting seven cultural myths about relationships/singleness/marriage that predominate in our society and in the evangelical church. I thought these thoughts were so good that I want to share them here with my readers. Both the sub-headings, and the text that follows are Dave's. In this post, I will feature the first three myths. I hope these are an encouragement to you or at least provide you with some good food for reflection. I hope over the coming weeks and months to offer a number of posts featuring encouraging and thoughtful theological reflections/writings on singleness by various authors.
Also a word of warning: To those who wish to debate the issue of the so-called "gift of singleness" or the mandatory marriage teachings and the like, please take it elsewhere. There are a number of sites where that issue is regularly discussed and debated if you wish to do so. At this time, I have no desire to debate that issue any further. I wasted a lot of time and energy following and being involved in that debate during 2006 and I found it to be a largely fruitless and rather acrimonious debate that generates far more heat than light. Any attempts to drag it up here will be summarily deleted. Rude remarks will also be deleted. You have been warned.
Myth 1: A woman or man is incomplete until (s)he is married. (then (s)he is finished).
American society reinforces that each person must have a soul mate, a complimentary partner who makes him or her complete, but this is neither Scriptural nor possible. The picture of marriage is one of spiritual formation (Eph 5), not soul complementarity, of growing in Christ, a oneness achieved over time. This is why marriage can in fact be forgone in anticipation of the completion of the Kingdom whereby in Christ we can live in his reign (Matt 22:30). Man and woman's ultimate true end is God, and his/her purpose is His glory/His purposes/His mission, not marriage.
Myth 2: I would rather die than face life not married.
Culture says"to deny ourselves sexually" is to deny the essence of life. It shapes us to believe "Who we are" is based a.) in marriage and children, and b.) in our job status. We can't imagine being single as a calling - a station to be embraced as vocation. Yet if we are ever to be in God's will in regard to marriage, we must also be in his will regarding being single. We have the MEANS TO RESIST THESE SHAPING FORCES (emphasis Dave's) via the nobility and superiority of singleness in the church. 1 Cor 7:25-35
Myth 3: If you're going to be in ministry you need to be married.
The message around the evangelical church is that you are not fit for leadership if you are not married. Yet this is a lie contradicting the apostle Paul. The prejudice should be for single pastors and ministers of the gospel. If you are single you have less encumbrances towards pursuing a life of service and mission. And it is in that service that the will of God for your marital future will be made possible (whether single or married). Matt 19:12