Most of us are used to hearing about the goodness of marriage and family in the church. At church, we see proud parents celebrating their newborns at baptism and bringing their children to Kidzone. In the Bible, we read about the marriage of Adam and Eve that begins the story and the marriage of Christ and his Bride that consummates it. So, why a conference on singleness?
One reason is that many of us in the church are single, whether for a season or for life, whether by choice or by circumstance. More importantly, the Bible is not silent on singleness, and the passages that address this topic are meant to be read by the whole church. At last weekend’s Single Minded Conference, speaker Sam Allberry addressed the topic of singleness through the lens of Scripture.
In his first talk, Sam pointed out that the Bible’s storyline develops in a “pro-singleness” direction – the widowed and childless were considered vulnerable or unfortunate in the Old Testament, while in the New Testament, singleness is a positive concept and a way of serving the Lord without distraction. Contrary to the secular worldview that we are somewhat incomplete if we are unmarried, he reminded us that Jesus, an unmarried man, is the most perfect and complete human being who ever lived. Sam challenged us to think about how “marriage shows us the shape of the gospel, while singleness shows us the sufficiency of the gospel.”
In the second talk, Sam debunked four myths about singleness, challenging the assumption that singleness means no intimacy and no family. He pointed out the importance of deep, meaningful friendships that can be rather neglected in our culture in contrast to romantic relationships. In addition, the church is the family Jesus promised his followers (Mark 10:28-30), and a single person can have many spiritual children through his or her mentoring and guidance.
Besides the talks, we also heard from event panellists and participants from church sharing their own experiences of singleness. There are many difficulties: one unmarried sister shared about her struggle with being childless, another sister spoke of the pressures from her family, and others spoke about the difficulty of staying connected in meaningful ways with their married friends. But there are also joys that come with singleness – one man was thankful for his deep friendships with other brothers, and a divorced sister surprised those around her with her joy and deep confidence in life that she has in the Lord.
In our group sharing with other singles, one recurring theme that came up was how much we appreciated friendships across different walks of life: single, married with kids, married without kids, widowed, and single parents. One brother shared his thankfulness for a few older couples at church who had “adopted” him, welcoming him to their family dinners and sharing deep fellowship together. Let us pray for more ways we can demonstrate love for one another as a family, regardless of whether we are single or married, and demonstrate the spiritual reality that we are one in Christ.