Singles Who Desire Marriage and 1 Corinthians 7 – but 1 Timothy 4:3 – Also: Singlehood and Messed Up Hermeneutics

Singles Who Desire Marriage and 1 Corinthians 7 – it’s benefits, drawbacks – also: 1 Timothy 4:3 and Christians cannot agree on biblical doctrine

I first began this post with only an intent on discussing 1 Corinthians 7 in mind, but as I began typing, it meandered a little into other (but related) topics, then I wandered back to the 1 Cor 7 discussion.

(Link): Read 1 Corinthians 7 Online, on Bible Gateway

My commentary is below this long excerpt.

Excerpts from 1 Cor 7,

    8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.

9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

…25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.

26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife.

28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

…. 32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.
33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—
34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.
35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

I have had a blog visitor who says she (or he? Though I think she is a she) loathes and hates 1 Cor 7.

I left her a reply under a previous thread which reads:

    • I actually rather

like

    • 1 Corinthians 7,

except

    when it’s used as a weapon or condescending slogan against singles who want marriage.

But, in other contexts, I like that 1 Cor 7 passage, because married Christians (who are the ones who idolize marriage) need to be reminded that marriage is not better than singleness… that is, churches / body of Christ need to stop showing favortism to married with children couples, as they often do.

If anything, I see some pastors (such as Mark Driscoll, whom I wrote about recently (Link): here ), twist and distort 1 Cor 7 and try to explain it away – because he (and other Christians) view singles as being abnormal, or they view the state of singleness as being abnormal, or not as good as, being married, which is an INSULT to adult singles.

I know it can hurt or be frustrating to want marriage when you are single BUT (at least for me), so long as you are single, until you marry one day (assuming you marry), don’t you want preachers and other married Christians to stop acting as though you are somehow lower or not as godly or mature, or not deserving of a church’s finances and time, just because you are single?

That is why I like to toss 1 Cor 7 in their faces (and other passages).

I’ve sort of written on this topic here:
(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

There are some never married Christian adults who actually LOVE the GOS (“Gift of Singleness” or “of celibacy,” “GOC”) talk, they have stopped by this blog before to say they like these phrases…

I can’t get these types of adult, Christian singles to see that not only is neither phrase in the Bible, but the phrases are mis-used and abused by married Christians and preachers to keep singles single – the ones who want marriage.

The GOS/GOC talk and terms are used to maintain discrimination against singles. (I’ve blogged about that before, just search the blog using the phrase “gift of singleness.”)

I also have many blog posts talking about the cliches that Christian singles who desire marriage get from married Christians, and it annoys me too. Here are a few posts about it:

(Link): Article: My Savior My Spouse? – Is God or Jesus Your Husband Isaiah 54:5

(Link): Annoyance of Being A Christian Single (has list of cliches’ one hears from married Christians and friends at church, in sermons, etc)

… I have similar blog posts, those are just a few.

To sum up, 1 Cor 7 can be a helpful ally and tool in the arsenal of an adult Christian single who runs into Christians who idolize marriage – the ones who behave as though single adults are losers.

I was at a right wing, political blog where all the married people were responding to a news story about childless and single women.

Many of these right wing people on that blog were insulting singles and the state of being childless.

Even secular right wingers tend to make an idol out of marriage, parenting, and the nuclear family.

Many married right wingers, even the secular ones, assume women who are never-married and childless past their 30s are man-hating, atheistic feminists who vote Democrat and have posters of Obama all over their bedroom walls with lipstick-kiss marks on them.

These types of right wing morons never realize that women can be conservative Republican and/or Christians and be single and childless into adulthood, based on circumstances they had no control over, or, based on their choice (but choices which are NOT based on atheism, feminism, liberalism, or hatred of God, country, conservatives, or babies).

Singlehood and childless/child-free are not bastions or life stations of liberal feminists and Democrats only. There are plenty of right wing, Republican, Christian, pro life women who choose to stay single and childless, or who find themselves that way due to circumstance.

Every time these types of right wing jackholes bash liberal feminists for being single and childless, they are also inadvertently bashing Republican, Christian, childless/ childfree women too.

When I tried explaining to these people that I am right wing also, but I am single and childless myself, some of them mellowed out in their criticisms and slams against singles and the childless, but some actually ramped the vitriol up… UNTIL… I quoted this at them:

    8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.

Once I quoted that from 1 Cor 7, that shut the married Marriage and Baby Idolaters up pronto.

Several replied, “You’re right; the Bible and God are okay with singleness, and women are not expected by God to have kids if they are single, and marriage is a choice, not a commandment. You are right.”

So, 1 Cor 7 can come in handy for an adult single who is getting damn tired of hearing she is a failure or weirdo for not being married past her 20s.

Oddly, the fact that Jesus Christ and Paul were single seem to usually not leave much of an impact on married Marriage and Family Idolaters, when that fact is thrown in their faces.

But, and stranger still, Jesus’ and Paul’s singlehood and childless status is none-the-less a tid bit that Married, Christian Condescending People like to remind Non-Content Adult Singles of.

Seems like 30% – 40% of articles I read for singles by married Christians likes to offer the chirpy reminder, “Remember, singles, Jesus and Paul were single and childless too!”

Okay, Enthusiastic Christian Married Guy, it’s good for you to respect singleness and being childless by recognizing that Jesus Christ and Paul was single and childless.

Married Christians should indeed keep that in mind, that Christ and Paul were single and childless, because God knows, Christians often go blank on that and assume Marriage and Kids are God’s default for EVERYONE.

However, while that is great for Jesus and Paul, I personally would like to marry so I can bang a man weekly (ie, get my sexual lusts fulfilled), have some constant companionship, to stave off bouts of loneliness. Maybe get chocolates in a heart shaped box on Valentine’s from a sweetie pie, instead of eating Campbell’s soup for one over the sink again. That sort of stuff.

On the one hand, 1 Cor 7 can be used as a weapon against married Christians by singles, against the types of married Christians who tend to elevate marriage at the expense of singles and singleness. That is to the single’s advantage.

On the other hand, some Christians, usually married idiots, misuse 1 Cor 7 as a battering ram against adult singles who want to get married.

And that is not right; the twisting or abuse of 1 Cor 7, borders on this:

1 Timothy 4:3

    3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.

I’m an American in 2014. There is no “present” crisis going on with me personally in 2014 America, as there was when Paul wrote to people telling them it is better for them to remain as they were (single if single, or married if married), given their “present crisis.”

Whatever that crisis was – maybe Christians were being persecuted for being Christian?

Continue reading “Singles Who Desire Marriage and 1 Corinthians 7 – but 1 Timothy 4:3 – Also: Singlehood and Messed Up Hermeneutics”

Oh geeze. Another married Christian condescendingly patting single Christians on the head, reassuring them they are dandy as-is, and to remember they have the fictional Gift of Singleness

Oh geeze. Another married Christian condescendingly patting single Christians on the head, reassuring them they are dandy as-is, and to remember they have the fictional Gift of Singleness

It’s just amazing that Christian publications keep getting MARRIED people to write these editorials about SINGLEHOOD, where they condescendingly lecture us adult singles not to feel like crap because we are single.

Well, gee, thank you, married guy! 🙄 Like I really need to be validated by married people. 🙄

I mean, you look at this headline (“Loveology: Biblical Understanding of Singleness”) and naturally assume it might be written by an adult SINGLE, but the first sentence says,

    I asked my wife to marry me on Christmas Eve.

🙄 🙄 🙄 🙄 🙄

Is it really THAT HARD for The Christian Post to find an unmarried adult who is over 30 or 40 years of age to write content for other singles? Why do they always go to married people?

The author also compares occasional problems he faces in his teaching career to the plight of a person over age 35 who desires marriage but who finds herself still alone.

Only a married person can seriously think the two are the same. It’s like equating a paper cut to cancer and saying “There, there, I know how scared you must be to have cancer, but, see, my paper cut is also painful at times.”

(Link): Loveology: Biblical Understanding of Singleness, The Christian Post

    • BY JOHN MARK COMER, CP GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

 

    December 21, 2013|8:41 am

I asked my wife to marry me on Christmas Eve. It’s such a good memory. The kind that makes you smile when it comes to mind. For some reason, Christmas has always been a romantic time for me. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because love is a gift.

Maybe that’s why when a couple is in love, they are filed with a childlike joy. Remember when you were a kid? That feeling of trying to fall asleep the night before Christmas? It was torture, but the pain was so good! Love is like that. It’s like Christmas time. And the wedding day is like Christmas morning.

Marriage is hard work, long hours, and it’s anything but heaven on earth…but…it’s a gift. That said, contrary to what you might think, the same is true of singleness.

Continue reading “Oh geeze. Another married Christian condescendingly patting single Christians on the head, reassuring them they are dandy as-is, and to remember they have the fictional Gift of Singleness”

The Myth of the Gift – Regarding Christian Teachings on Gift of Singleness and Gift of Celibacy

The Myth of the Gift – Re Christian Teachings on Gift of Singleness and Gift of Celibacy

Excerpts from a book by Hsu below (same material is available for free on Google books). Some aspects of this material are good, as it clears up some of the nonsense about the insipid “GOS” (Gft of Singleness / Gift of Celibacy) teachings one often sees from Christians.

However, and this is a very big sticking point with me and other singles from Christian backgrounds, Hsu does not deeply or meaningfully deal with unwanted, unexpected, prolonged Christian singleness*, which is going on in spades these days *(at least not in the free excerpts I read).

Christians who desire marriage but who remain single are left wondering: if you prayed since childhood for a spouse, earnestly believed God to send a spouse, and you also put yourself in positions to meet spouses (such as attending church singles classes, joining dating sites and so on), and are still not married into your 40s, what then? Hsu glosses this all over in a mere statement or two by saying something about “of course if you desire marriage, then marry, if the opportunity presents itself, if one can find a partner able and willing to marry you.”

Hsu says as long as you remain single, then by default you have the “gift of singleness” (though he explains that this is not a “gift” in the sense most Christians teach it as being – he clears up several misconceptions. As I’ve noted in other posts, the phrases “gift of singleness” and “gift of celibacy” do not even appear in the original biblical text).

I don’t want to be single forever – that is the crux of the matter – why has God not directed a spouse cross my path, despite all the years of waiting, praying, and joining dating sites and going on the odd date here or there? Hsu does not wrestle with this. I have included below this excerpt, a rebuttal by a book reviewer who calls herself “NoGiftofSingleness” .

Singles at the Crossroads: A Fresh Perspective on Christian Singleness 

By Albert Y. Hsu

Chapter “The Myth of the Gift”

“Do you have the gift of singleness?”

No question makes singles more uneasy. And no concept generates more confusion for singles. “Ah, the gift of singleness,” one single friend mused. “Sometimes I wonder if it’s like a Christmas gift you want to return. You know, you get something from someone, and you’re like, ‘Okay, this is nice, but I’d rather have another sweater than this one.’ Well, I’d rather have the gift of marriage than this gift of singleness!”

“If you were to ask me, ‘Do you think you have the gift of singleness?’ I’d probably say no,” Maria said. “If you asked me why, I guess because I have a desire to be a wife and a mother, but I’m not necessarily sure that someone who has the gift of singleness doesn’t have those desires – that they’re completely not there. Some people imply that someone who has the gift of singleness doesn’t even have a sex drive, and I’m not sure that’s true.”

Is there such a thing as “the gift of singleness” or “the gift of celibacy”? What is meant when people talk about a gift of singleness? And if it really is a gift, why doesn’t anybody want it?

In this chapter we will examine the traditional view of the gift of singleness We weill see where these ideas come from, what problems this view may create, and how we’ve come to believe misconceptions about it. Then we will correct these misconceptions by examining the biblical material. Let’s discover what Paul really meant when he talked about singleness as a gift.

Continue reading “The Myth of the Gift – Regarding Christian Teachings on Gift of Singleness and Gift of Celibacy”

There is No Such Thing as a Gift of Singleness or Gift of Celibacy or A Calling To Either One

There is No Such Thing as a Gift of Singleness or Gift of Celibacy or Being Called to Either One

The following reader response (by gortexgrrl) appeared on a blog by a guy named Jeremy, who read a blog post about singleness by another guy named Kostenberger and blogged about it.

Gortexgrrl references Debbie Maken in passing in one of her posts below. I do not agree with all of author Debbie Maken’s views.

Maken pushes for something called “marriage mandate,” and despite what goretexgrrl states below, Maken does go a little “blame the victim” on women who desire marriage, yet who still find themselves unmarried into their 30s and older.

Yes, Maken seems to most heavily blame men for women being single, but I’ve read comments by Maken on other blogs and excerpts of her books, and she does blame women a little bit – she assumes if you are a woman who is still single at 35 or 40, it’s because you didn’t do enough to get a spouse when you were 25, or there was something more you could have done.

The Makens of the world refuse to acknowledge that marriage is often beyond a person’s control: you can join every dating site on the planet and go to every singles church function known to mankind and still find yourself single at 40.

Here are the posts where “Gift of Singleness/ Celibacy” was discussed:

Regarding “Gift of Singleness / Celibacy” and 1 Corinthians 7:7

By gortexgrrl 

The confusion created by the three different meanings of the “gift of singleness” that you’ve aptly described in your first post would seem to be good enough reason for everyone to just abandon the term altogether.

The “gift of singleness” is a term that appears nowhere in the Bible. Nor does “the gift of celibacy”.

When I posted my concerns about the problems created by the “GOS” [Gift Of Singleness] on Kostenberger’s blog, they were removed (along with others, particularly those that questioned whether or not he had actually read Maken’s book, since he seemed to suggest that it was about blaming women, when the blame was really more heavily directed towards men).

Free speech. Academic freedom. Do any of those things have any meaning in the minds of theologians? Here’s one of my posts, you can critique my thoughts on “the gift of singleness” as well as the question of censorship while you’re at it:

Unfortunately, I must vehemently disagree with the glowing reviews in the posts above and object to this mischaracterization of Maken’s book. She does NOT say “women who are in their late 20s or in their 30s and still unmarried have got only themselves to blame for lack of effort”.

If anything, she lets the women off the hook and blames single men and faulty church teachings for the current epidemic of protracted singleness among Christians.

Maken’s critique of the man situation would have been better if she had not indulged in an imbalanced “man bashing” and if she had acknowledged the severe shortage of men in our churches (which is indeed the greatest cause of protracted singleness among the female faithful). However, her indictment of problematic church teachings was ABSOLUTELY GROUNDBREAKING, especially in “rethinking the ‘gift of singleness’”.

With all due respect, there’s no such thing as “The Gift of Singleness”. The original biblical texts use no such term.

“GOS” first appeared in the Living Bibles of the 70’s, and later in The Message, perhaps to mitigate or update the Catholic notion of “the gift of celibacy” (also not biblical). 1 Cor 7:7 in the NRSV reads

“I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.”

Paul states his own preference regarding singleness/celibacy (scholars have debated for years which one) and makes a aside about the uniqueness (“IDIOS”) in how God gifts us (“CHARISMA”: grace gift, not ’spiritual gift’ per se) using a phrase common to Greek speakers to this day “HOS MEN HOUTO DE HOS HOUTO”, which has an INDEFINITE meaning: “like this and like this (and like this, etc.) It’s meaning is NOT either/or, as in “gift of marriage” or “GOS”, it’s less specific than that!

In light of “the present distress” (v.26) the option of singleness/celibacy is presented by Paul as a RECOMMENDATION, not a “gift”.

Continue reading “There is No Such Thing as a Gift of Singleness or Gift of Celibacy or A Calling To Either One”

The Gift of Singleness – A Mistranslation and a Poorly Used Cliche’

The Gift of Singleness – A Mistranslation and a Poorly Used Cliche’

A lot of times, Christians like to toss the phrase “gift of singleness” at singles, though I have seen some intriguing arguments online that most Bible translations get the phrase wrong.

It’s also interesting to note that one seldom hears Christians refer to marriage as “the gift of marriage.” Christians apparently feel a need to sugarcoat singlehood, because some singles are not happy or comfortable being single.

The problem with the “Gift of Singleness” rhetoric is that there is a sizable percentage of Christians who wanted to be married, and who expected to be married, but who remain un-married into their late 30s, 40s, 50s, and older.

The majority of Christians who are in this position do not regard singleness as a gift, nor has God lifted their sexual desire, nor has he removed their desire for marriage. It is quite insulting and a slap across the face to such singles to tell them God has “gifted” them with singleness.

(This is a post for those Christians, the ones who wanted to be married, but it never happened. This is not a post for the ones who frequently pipe up when this discussion comes up: “Oh but golly, I’m fine with being single, and I do think it’s a marvelous gift!” If you are one of those singles, I beg of you, please don’t chirp in with how gifty you consider singleness, otherwise, you will be one of those Christian singles I’ve blogged about before: (Link): Types of Christian Singles Whom I Find Annoying)

I have seen various arguments put forward that Paul was not saying that singleness is a gift, not in the sense American Christians make it out to be.

Here are links to other sites, blog pages, or comments by everyday Joe’s who are commenting on the “Gift of Singleness” teaching:

From the blog, “Single, Unexpectedly”

Before I get to the links: I find it a tad amusing that the woman who writes it is already lamenting being single at 30 years of age: I’m in my early 40s! I’ve run into marriage minded Christian women who have never married and are in their 40s. If you think it’s bad at age 30, try being early 40s or older. Here are the links from “Single, Unexpectedly”:

(Link): Is Singleness Really a Gift? – Part 1

(Link): Is Singleness Really a Gift? – Part 2

(Link): Is Singleness Really a Gift? – Part 3

(Link):Is Singleness Really a Gift? – Part 4

Excerpt from the above page:

    … the GoS [Gift of Singleness] doctrine is a relatively new doctrine, a Johnny-come-lately interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:7. It is not how this text has traditionally been understood through the annals of Christian history but has come up only in the last forty years or so to try to explain the recent explosion in singleness among adults. // end of excerpt

Regarding the next link or two: they mention Debbie Maken. Please note that I do not agree wholly with Debbie Maken on each subject: from excerpts of her books I have read, she goes overboard on the topics of marriage and singleness, where she denigrates singlehood, and where she’s into blaming and shaming singles for being single.

Maken acts as though if you just go out a bit more often, or sign up for a few more dating sites, you will get a husband. She is wrong. It doesn’t necessarily matter how much effort a single woman puts into getting a spouse – she can try and try and go out all the time – and still remain single.

Where Maken gets things right is where she criticizes Christians and churches who over-sell, or over-spiritualize, singleness, and who discourage or shame singles who want to be married from trying to get married.

Here’s the Maken link (remember, Maken gets very much into a “blame the single for being single” perspective, so really think if you want to read this – it may be more offensive than uplifting if you are a single):

“Rethinking the ‘Gift’ of Singleness” by Debbie Maken

That page references this one:

(Link): Rethinking the Gift of Singleness

Continue reading “The Gift of Singleness – A Mistranslation and a Poorly Used Cliche’”