Emotional Purity and Broken Heart Syndrome
Betrothal and Emotional Purity: is it Biblical?
The Way of a Man With a Maid
Bill Gothard and ATI
In my reading I frequently come across authors idolizing singleness or promoting it above marriage. Not infrequently, young people are urged to ‘be content with singleness’ or to take advantage of the ‘gift’ and ‘opportunity’ of singleness at precisely that time of life when they ought to be looking for potential spouses. Consider the following comments.
“...unless we are content with the Lord in singleness, we will not be content with another person in marriage.” (Bill Gothard, The True Significance of The Wedding Covenant.)
“Having been discontent while single, satisfaction in marriage becomes elusive… She should enjoy the Lord with gladness and contentment. Should God send marriage, it will be a wonderful gift. For now, encourage your daughter to serve her Savior without distraction where God has placed her; that too is a beautiful gift from Him.” (Brook Wayne, ‘Of Princes and Fairy Tale Dreams’, article available at www.biblicalbetrothal.com/)
“Are you unmarried at thirty or forty, filled with that sinking feeling that perhaps you never will find a mate? Don’t be dismayed or despair. God’s best gifts are never rushed. Perhaps his best for you is to remain single. Perhaps you will marry when you are fifty…. Do not waste your single years pining after what is not. Rejoice for what is. Use these years to do what you could never do if you were married. …give thanks to God for such an opportunity. …He is in control.” (Michael and Judy Phillips, Best Friends for Life, Minneapolis, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 1997, p. 107.)
“For a long time I did not consider that my single status was a gift from the Lord. I did not resent it – to be frank, in my earlier idealistic perio
d I thought that because I had chosen singleness I was doing God a favor! But in later years I was severely tested again and again on that choice. Then…it gently dawned on me that God had given me a superb gift!” (Ada Lum, Single and Human, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1976, p. 22.
“If there are singles who find the waters of singleness dark and deep, who feel, ‘I sink in deep waters; the billows go over my head; all his waves go over me,’ this is my message to you concerning singleness: ‘Be of good cheer, my brother, my sister; I feel the bottom, and it is good.’” (Margaret Clarkson, So You’re Single, Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw, 1978, p. 11.
“…there is some warrant for thinking that the kinds of self-denial involved in singleness could make one a candidate for greater capacities for love in the age to come.” John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, Wheaton, ILL: Crossway Books, 1991, p. xviii.
While not denying that there may be elements of truth in some of the above statements, they all represent a general tendency to promoting singleness as an end in itself and even, in some cases, a devaluing of marriage by implication. In answer to this chorus of voices, I suggest Debbie Maken’s book Getting Serious About Getting Married: Rethinking the Gift of Singleness. She makes a good case for the fact that it is unbiblical to be content with singleness. Also Steve Hayhow has a good article on his blog on the subject of singleness and marriage, answering those who erroneously read 1 Cor. 7:1-40 as a promotion of singleness. Finally, see my earlier post about Why I Am In Favour Of Teen Pregnancy!
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