7.10 The Single Life
7-10-1 Christian Singles
There's no point in discussing all the pains, frustrations and angers
which single Christians may feel. Each will have a different experience.
Absorption with marriage to the neglect of true spirituality was the sin
of the pre-flood world, and an obsession with relationships is a similar
characteristic of our age, living as we are just prior to the second coming.
In any thinking about marriage, therefore, we must be on our guard to
avoid this kind of obsession. The point is, what guidance does the
word give about the single state? Far too much of the literature about
singleness is no more than self-help psychology, trying to paper over
the problem, offering some kind of surface solution, ameliorating some
of the pain for a while. The Biblical solution is radical. Yet it really
does offer the only thorough and realistic answer to the agonies
of singleness which so many complain of. The real solution is like that
to so many other Christian pains and complaints: we are here for a few
brief moments compared to the infinity of the Kingdom, a few millimetres
compared to an endless line. 99.99% of our eternal destiny will be joy
and fulfilment beyond our present comprehension. Frankly, what do we expect
but some suffering now? These brief moments are just a few quick blows
of the hammer on our nature, preparing us to appreciate just
a little what we will be given. There is an anonymous line
which has gone round and round in my mind: " I vowed that naked I
would follow the naked Christ" . Would any of us, Christian singles
included, really doubt that this ought to be our attitude? Are we so much
on the animal level that we are in Christ only for what we can get out
of Him here and now? The ultimate purpose of most peoples' lives is to
have a fulfilling relationship, with the concomitant procreation this
normally involves. The view of the world is bound to compete in our minds
with the view of God: which is that the ultimate purpose of our
lives is not to perpetuate and fulfil ourselves, but to manifest His glory.
If Christian singles allow the reality of the Lord's cross to sink in,
that the peerless Son of God died for us, that He showed us personally
the greatest love that a man could; and if we just begin to grasp some
sense of the eternity and moral perfection of the Kingdom ahead...surely
we will echo Paul's response: " I count all things but loss for the
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil. 3:8).
Surely we will be willing, in our finer moments, to give our all; the
shirt on our back, our career, our relationships in this petty human life.
The world we live in teaches, shouts at us, sings to us, implies to us....that
the greatest love there is, is the love between a man and a woman. But
this isn't so. " Greater love hath no man this, that a man (the Lord
Jesus) lay down his life for his friends. And ye are my friends..."
(Jn. 15:13). And consider how David and Jonathan loved each other, as
a type of the love between Christ and His church- with a love passing
the love of women (2 Sam. 1:26).
Despite the self-sacrifice which receiving this love must entail, God
gives us so much that we can legitimately enjoy: a beautiful planet
on which to live, sometimes material blessings, sometimes fulfilling family
relationships. By doing so, God is almost spoiling us. We deserve death,
or a few years of intense physical and mental suffering. But God has given
us an easy ride. And therefore, as children accustomed to too much, we
tend to get grumpy when we don't get some of these extra things. Marriage,
material ease, fulfilling careers...these things are all icing on the
cake, sugar in our tea. We should expect to be without them.
After all, we are called to carry a cross. The Lord spoke of His followers
as those who had forsaken houses, wife, families etc. for His sake. He
said that in this life, they would receive an hundredfold of " houses,
and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands"
; but He makes a pointed omission of promising that the forsaking of a
wife will be recompensed in this life.