Wilderness of Singleness?

Kris Beckert has an important reminder of the church’s responsibility about singleness:

But what if there is another voice to be heard – in what sometimes feels like a wilderness of singleness?

Scripture and early church history bear witness to a story that bucks both culture and religious culture. It’s a story that bases a person’s value not on status, family, gender, or background but on relationship – bearing the image of and capacity for relationship with his/her creator, through Christ. While culture placed low value on single people, especially women, the community that was created by the early church defined people through their faith. Slaves, eunuchs, the lame, and Gentile men and women responded to the message of the gospel regardless of being single or married. In Acts, the Gospel breaks all types of relational walls. Historically, young first-century converts who often left their family of origin were baptized into a new family, literally. They would be adopted into a Christian family who would take them in and care for them as their own if their parents disowned them. Their “church family” did more than just pray for them; they shared life together….

Therefore, the Church has a unique opportunity.

In the midst of Lonely Sundays and joyous Mondays, the Church has an opportunity to be a God-honoring, literal family for single adults. Instead of just pushing them off to join segregated groups, making them help in children’s ministry, and telling them what to do and what not to do, the Church can choose to do life together. We can embody a different community who speaks in a voice that is different than that which singles hear in secular and religious culture. We can hold each other—both single and married—accountable to the standards set by God. We can look at singles not as lepers but as leaders—men and women with a call to ministry in worship, in their workplaces, and even in the pulpit. We can go out of our way to invite, to include, to eat with, and to grow close to those whose place or stage in life we may never have experienced but who we know can be complete in Christ. We can respect their struggles as real and their desires as God-given. We can guide one another and those who come after us and show them we do not need to succumb to the voices we’ve heard, which tell us to buy their fantasies and sell ourselves. For those of us who will marry, we can illustrate the reality of family life, and for those who will not, either through circumstance or choice, we can be brothers and sisters in the family connected through Jesus.

The problem to be fixed isn’t singleness—it’s a singular view of what it looks like to have a complete life.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.