Sacred Singleness | Part Four | The Modern Church and Singleness

January 25, 2015

If you are just now starting this series, I would highly encourage you to stop by and read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three before going any further. This series is a conglomeration of pieces from the heart, pieces from my past dating excursions, and pieces of wisdom from Leslie Ludy's book "Sacred Singleness", which is is the reasoning behind the name of this series I have been writing for you lovely ladies and gents. 

In this, I hope to convey my strong convictions about the purpose and blessings of singleness, which-in all hopes!-will encourage you to take pride and joy in this season of your life, as well as combat the lies that have invaded modern Christian views and standards in the 21st century church. Us as singles do not have to fear this season. Instead, we need to take on this season with pride, determination, and joy as we use this time to NOT pursue, but lean on God and grow closer to Him. Waiting is hard, but being persistently engrossed with our Lord is the best love story you could ever imagine. Take the plunge. Dive into the crystal clear waters of a love that is like chaos and as sweet as honey. You are gonna love what you discover! 

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. {Psalm 34:5}
I am sitting in my classroom full of babies at nap time, thinking about how lonely rainy days feel to me. They are some of the hardest days to overcome when I am wishing I had someone special to dance in the rain with. Most of the time I daydream during rainy days like this. And wish. And hope. And grieve. 

I mean, after all, that is considered to be okay...right? It is okay to grieve this state of singleness and want to end it with a man by my side--in perfect wedded bliss? That is okay, they say. That is what the modern voices say, anyway. It is okay to be unsettled with being single. It is okay to put constant pressure on the opposite sex, to pursue heavily they type of man you think you want, to be discontent with this season of singleness--all because God made marriage; and that somehow means we MUST be married at ALL costs. 

But-is it really okay? Is it okay to live in greed and envy and lust? 

What is the "problem" with being single? It is almost as if being single were a crime against God or something. Gosh! Heck-it is not easy being single. Do people think we purposefully choose to be single knowing deep down our desire is to be married?! No. During this time, one has to surrender daily the dreams of being married back to God and learn to be content with being single. This is how we find the joy in this season. We work at it, DAILY. 

And yet, how can we learn to be "content" when being a single person-surrounded by fellow Christians-seems to breed discontentment? Impatience? Insecurity? Rather than joy, inspiration, and strength? (Ludy 58). Like I mentioned in Part Two, this modern Christian view appears to appeal to the self-centered human desires to do only for ourselves what is in our best interest. And of course, it has nothing to do with God's interests. Period. Apparently God takes too long to write this so-called love story. So, I guess because of this "slowness" the sinful human nature in us decided that it is our "right" to dictate when and how our love story should happen. But-isn't God the one who created marriage in the first place? If we are so dead set on getting married because it was created by God, should not we wait on Him to decide when it is best for us? 

The lie that these modern Christian voices would have you believe is that being single is BAD. Or, that it is unhealthy. However, in my opinion, it is what these Christian voices have to say about being single that poses a health risk. It is okay to take the "matters of God" into our own hands, is the message many voices preach. Really?! Since when did God need our help with ANYTHING? After all, He ALONE created all of Creation in...seven days. Hello!

Modern Christian voices have become insensitive towards young men and women who are single. And American Christianity does not offer any form of encouragement, nor do they support the "concept of letting god orchestrate our love story" (Ludy 58). Discouragement from the church is intrusive. It breeds sin and wreaks of dissipated faith, lost hope, and total denial. 

That is one reason why I had to stop going to my former church about a month ago. The small group I was in-The Hub-was geared towards singles. No problem there, really. But this "hub" of singles was a place for desperate singles to come and prey on other singles who were looking for love. I was one of those desperate singles. Believe me, it was not pretty. Or becoming. The Hub was a group of unhappy and seemingly hungry "zoo animals" ready to pounce on that one person they felt took an interest in them. And I was one of them, for a LONG time. 

Church should in no way, shape or form be treated as a free dating service! It was never intended to be a come-to-Jesus-and-you-will-get-a-husband-for-free kind of moment. Yet, these messages of "pursue, pursue, pursue" resonate "with our fleshly, selfish nature-the part of us that craves to be n control of our own lives and satisfy the desires of our hearts outside of God" (Ludy 58), because they allow wiggle room for us to be able to "justify" this "take it into my own hands" mentality.; and because God designed it (being marriage) for us. And of course, that makes it all the more appealing when we can add a spiritual umbrella on a selfish ambition.  

It does not surprise me anymore that most singles who choose to "embrace" their season(s) of singleness are referred to as ignorant and naive. What is so naive about "waiting on God" and bidding your time as a single person, enjoying life and freedom and wisely choosing to "be still" and lean on God? It has to do with the face that God is no longer front and center in the lives of many 21st century Christians; because the faith and beliefs of our ancestors have dissipated into a faith and belief that has "no real life or power", and "instead of zeal there is apathy. Instead of courage there is timidity. And instead of confidence in God there is paralyzing doubt" (Ludy 59).

It frustrates me to hear and read Christian authors and pastors preach God's Word with no real impactful insight or deep and meaningful commentary. At the church I used to go to there was a lot of glitz and glam. The worship service was a weekly concert and the services were all feel-good sermons. What agitated me was not the glitz and glam, but the presentation of God's Word vs man's. In each sermon (which was always a 4 wk series) there was barely a paragraphed passage to base the sermon off of; then a lengthy explanation about that certain passage that has been chosen: money, sex, etc., with very little cross referencing to make an impactful and insightful sermon dense and deep.  

it was different from what I had grown up with: verse by verse, book by book. No series (unless based off of a whole book of the bible), just a deep Bible study through each book of the Bible for sometimes months on end. Granted, it was sometimes a little dry, and sometimes it did not always captivate the imagination like the "topical" studies would. But-unlike those topical studies, those in-depth sermons were not humanly scripted narratives "that can be edited and changed to mean whatever we want it to mean", but they focused on the absolute, undiluted truth (Ludy 59). 

Anyway, what I am trying to get at is this: that compared to twenty years ago, the Gospel no longer has the same impact as it once had, which allows for humans to take advantage of the church's weaknesses and manipulate the Word of God into justifiably plausible to suit their desired purpose. And all of this has had a tremendous impact on the modern church's approach towards singles (Ludy 59). There are a lot of lies floating around hidden under the "banner" of solid Christian wisdom,: challenging Christian singles to rethink the gift of singleness.

Author Debbie Maken mentions in her book "Getting Serious About Getting Married" that "the belief that remaining single is legitimate and godly is a work of the devil. Read that again: Satan dishonors marriage by fooling us into believing that singleness is okay" (43). And apparently singleness is not only the work of the devil, according to Maken, but those who are single are considered to be "mutilated members of a mangled body" (28). 

That right there is a lot of pressure-pressure to "shed the stigma of singleness", mentions Ludy (61). The sad part is that Debbie Maker is not the only Christian voice out there sending these negative vibes and confusing signals to the singles community. In her book "Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen", Candice Watlers explains what singles can do to "help" marriage happen (22, 28). It is irrational to think that these messages are Biblically sound-let alone true-because the messages presented are ones that are basically stating that "Christ isn't enough to provide the fulfillment we long for" (Ludy 62). 

The struggle as a single is real. But-to have these negative connotations thrown at us from all sides only adds to the drama we face internally each day as we live the single life: trying to surrender daily, sacrificing human desires in order to have that deeper connection with Christ. Being single does not mean you have to feel guilty about not having that "special someone" to love. Or, that you have to put your life on hold, "assuming that marriage is when [your] 'real life' will begin" (Ludy 63; emphasis added).

The best kept secret to being happy while being single is to LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE. There are so many ways to give and receive love. Love is not specified for one person alone, but for a multitude of people. If it was meant only for one person then all of us would be destined for eternal enslavement in Hell. But because God loved the world, He died for all. And because of His never ending love, we are commanded to love the world as well (John 13:34).

 Embrace the single life with every fiber of your being. Go on missions. Lead a small group. Take a week off and go somewhere new. Spend hours on end growing closer to the ultimate Bridegroom. Learn something new. Become comfortable with who you are. Discover new places to eat with friends. And never stop pursuing that perfect love story with Christ. Because in the end, when it comes down to it, God remains constant...man does not. 

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