Singleness as Idol

I’ve been debating whether to post about the topic above for a week or so. I have been brewing over the topic for years – especially pre-marriage.

I was one of those guys in college ministry that was gung-ho about almost everything – from playing bongos on the worship team to PowerPoint debate over overhead projector to whether I should be a celibate for the rest of my life.

I had equated true spirituality with privacy. God was most glorified in me when I was most alone with him. No distractions meant focus. I had adviced a lot of friends as to whether I should be single for the rest of my life or pursue marriage. Jim Elliot was influential in my life and I wanted to finish what he had started among the unreached peoples of the Amazon and Andes areas of South America.

To my post: I suffered from the idol of singleness. I exulted in the fact that I was not tied down physically nor emotionally to someone else. I thought it would be a hindrance to service and worship of God.

And so our culture today worships this idol – but for different reasons. Affluency, self-aggrandizement, freedom, autonomy, etc are the motives for such living. But I had to come to terms with the fact that I, too, suffered from the same motivations. Oh! That others would see my high-spirituality to forsake the status quo and live radically for the sake of the Gospel. It’s great to be able to say, “Lord, I will go anywhere and do anything for you” – and know that I can without consultation.

My fear is not that there will be single people in the world. My fear is that Christians – those who follow Jesus – have the same motivations I did to stay single.

Tomorrow: Marriage as Idol

7 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Family | Parenting, Interpretation, Theology

7 responses to “Singleness as Idol

  1. Well said, Matt. I’m looking forward to the next post.

    I was reading back through some of the recent posts I’ve missed. I must say I particularly like the “Comments on Commenting” post – it was well-written, technically speaking, and challenging. It’s easy to anonymously toss a hand-grenade at someone and run without really thinking about the consequences of one’s words. Being both an occasional hand-grendade recipient and tosser, I found your points very worthy of consideration.

  2. Great post Matt! Thanks for being authentic and real in your posts. Keep it up!

  3. Thanks, fellas! It is great seeing that you are enjoying and being challenged. I am looking forward to posting the next one tomorrow…

  4. This post has been removed by the author.

  5. You forgot what I think is the biggest reason modern society idolizes singleness: “guiltless” sex. Well, a general trend toward individuality also has something to do with it, I’m sure.

    I don’t think you have to worry Christians idolizing the single life. Do you know anybody who seems to desire lifelong celibacy? You are the only Protestant I’ve ever known who seriously considered that calling (among Catholics, it’s pretty common for obvious reasons). For some reason, I get the impression among people at Sojourn and other churches that singleness should hardly be considered a valid calling for most people. It’s almost like, if you’re really holy, you’re called to marriage. Maybe I’m wrong… just opening up and being honest about what I perceive. I especially wonder why more seminary students aren’t taking Paul’s advice about singleness seriously?

    I had equated true spirituality with privacy. God was most glorified in me when I was most alone with him.

    Of course, we aren’t ultimately called to be alone with God, whether single or married. Maybe there’s a season for that alone time, but Christianity is about worshipping God in community and relationships (I’m sure you know that… I just wanted to say it). Some people like to use that Genesis verse “It is not good for man to be alone” as a reason for marriage being the preferred calling over singleness, but it’s wrong to say that single Christians are alone. That’s a lie. Christ promises us a much larger family through the Church.

  6. Great points, Jason.

    Hopefully the post I write today will answer a lot of the issues you were brining up. I resonate on a lot of points with you and hope to clarify how we view singleness and marriage. We need to take into account the fact that we are living in the last days.

  7. We need to take into account the fact that we are living in the last days.

    Of course we are… it says so in the New Testament writings. We’ve been in the last days for about 2,000 years now🙂

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