As I’m sure everybody is aware, the word “single” is never used in the Bible to describe someone who is not married. It’s a modern day word of comfort. Oh, but you say just because it’s not in the Bible doesn’t make it bad. Well, sometimes that may be true. But in this case it’s not. Being single today is a legal/social status, not a biblical status. Much of it has to do with the insufficiencies of the English language and the breakdown of sexual ethics. For example, the Christian community used to expect faithfulness in marriage. Even though most couples never lived up to those expectations, marriage has been built up to represent the crown jewel of responsibility. Singleness has been built up to represent the crown jewel of adolescence. You can take your pick of any church on Sunday morning and attend a wedding or celebrate the wedding anniversary of two people who share the same last name. The longer they’ve been married, the longer the applause will be. Fidelity? That’s such a quaint old-fashioned idea. The bar for marriage today is to not get divorced. For many couples, an anniversary could mean they haven’t been caught in adultery yet. Remember the little couple that celebrated 50 years together and got the cake and pink carnation? He could have committed adultery every one of those years with a different woman. But faithfulness doesn’t matter. What matters to the church is that they are still legally married. Even the pagan world concedes that adultery is justification for divorce.
Does the Christian community expect faithfulness from singles? Has anybody in your church ever thanked you for remaining faithful to God and serving as an example of chastity for the next generation? Forget for a second what you’ve heard in sermons and read in Sunday School books. Does the church really respect singleness the same as it does marriage? The person who is genuinely and honestly single not only does not experience the respect of others for his/her singleness, but is now stigmatized even more because 1) the non-Christian liberals on the left judge him to be a prude or not normal and 2) the Christians on the right judge him to be engaging in sexual immorality since sex is so cheap and available. A priest or nun has experienced a celebration in which the church, state, family, and all the world affirmed the meaningfulness of singleness. It allows them to fellowship, socialize, form friendships, work, teach, and belong in close relations with both sexes, married and single, young and old, without their intentions being looked at with suspicion. Such an affirmation is denied the single who is not in a religious order. The lack of any formal affirmation of the adulthood of the single effectively makes marriage the only way to attain adulthood or, as we see today, the default idol of the age. If singleness ever had any meaning, it was tossed out the door when the church surrendered to defeat on cohabitation, no fault divorce, remarriage, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and every other sexual immoral arrangement you can think of. Society’s ongoing redefinitions of sexual standards and idol worship of the nuclear family has separated sexual relations from the married state and celibacy from the unmarried state. Not only that, it has separated sexual relations from life itself. Any church can sit back and smugly proclaim the goodness of its members and offer comfortable commentary on a “fallen” world. Most don’t have to worry about homosexuality amongst their members. In all but mega-churches, everybody knows everybody. After all, parents bring their children to daycare on Sunday mornings. But the church does live in the real world. They see the same news everybody else sees. They read about the Jersey City priest who was sentenced to prison for molesting three boys. They see the same statistics for the number of singles who have opted for cohabitation instead of marriage or celibacy. In short, the church has become the world. What kind of support has your church shown to those who have renounced marriage? Or do they even know what that means?
The church, like the world, takes it for granted that even unmarried people enjoy some kind of marital relationship. Why have they limited every man’s self control to the level of a predatory alpha male? Could it be that the church has alienated authentic single men of God with their low expectations? Meanwhile, church members continue to hunker down in family “prayer rooms,” trying to think of ways to protect their children from the evils of the world. When a society idolizes the family and starts circling wagons around children, the world becomes everybody who is not their spouse or one of their kids. Life becomes us vs. them. If you’re a single adult and have no history of marriage, divorce, adultery, fornication, children, sex trafficking, prostitution, soliciting prostitution, or sexual abuse – the church today does not know you – because you haven’t fallen from anything. You don’t have a remorseful story of hookups and heartbreak. You don’t have drama. You don’t have a need that can put money in the church’s coffers. Most preachers today don’t even believe sexual impulses can be controlled because they don’t believe in salvation and conversion from a sinful life. Churchgoers have given in to Calvin’s idea of “total depravity” of man and to the world’s belief that chastity is not even possible – inside or outside marriage. They believe that Adam and Eve bent the whole world toward sexual sin forever and that every man is a walking sexual time bomb. All that a man can do is warn women and children when he walks the streets. As the SBC’s David Platt puts it:
“The reality is we are all born with a heart of pride and we are all bent towards sexual deviation, every single one of us. Every single one of us is bent towards sexual deviation . . . If you have gone through adolescence in our culture today you are guilty. You are guilty of looking for sexual expression or sexual fulfillment outside the design of Genesis 1 and 2. Every single one of us is in this boat.”
What I find particularly humorous is his expression “bent towards sexual deviation.” Not quite broken, but bent. How comfortable. I wonder, what would Platt consider a sexual thought that is not bent towards sexual deviation? A statement like that has to mean one of two things: Either man is totally incapable of controlling his sexual desires or that every sexual thought a man has is sinful. Considering he’s a Calvinist-bent Southern Baptist, it’s probably both. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word bent means “sharply curved or having an angle.” Accepting Christ straightens even the most crooked tree. Even if the tree had bent to the point it had fallen, a salvation experience would redirect its straight up. At one time in Protestant theology, a conversion experience caused a man to completely change direction. I still think it does. After that point his natural tendency is to please God and continue growing upright – not lean in the direction of sin. Hanging everybody on the same bent tree reflects the church’s new theology of accepting and affirming sexual depravity. A new low standard for mankind.
The Southern Baptist’s ethicist Russell Moore, who is known for his attacks on singles, even takes it a step further and says that fornication and sexual immorality are inevitable:
“The preparation for fornication happens when we are young. And we are never beyond the point of being destroyed sexually even when we are old . . . God has hardwired men for sexuality. Sexuality is not like addiction to cigarettes. Sexuality is always and continually raging within a man because God has hardwired a man to be husband and father. Every aspect of sexual desire is to drive you toward that one flesh union that God has designed you for.”
Yes, hardwired with hormones raging and ready to bang every woman he meets. Such a glowing opinion of mankind. I need to keep my batteries charged. How unfortunate today that the Protestant church doesn’t even consider Paul’s celibate exception other than bring it up in the same sex marriage debate. Rather than representing the only Christian lifestyle choice other than marriage, celibacy has come to mean nothing more than the remedy to a homosexual lifestyle. Even though Jesus lived it and Paul recommended it, the church today has turned its back on it. Celibacy, a thing of honor in one era and a thing of dishonor in another. This change in our vocabulary is profound. Christ himself was very aware of the importance of our words. He tried to redefine the word “eunuch” for the skeptical Pharisees in Matthew 19 by taking sexual anatomy out of the definition and making it equivalent to a person who chose to live a celibate life for the kingdom of heaven. “And there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Matthew 19:12). But have we learned anything from Christ’s English lesson today? I’m afraid not. The church today is more ignorant than the Pharisees who questioned him along the coasts of Judaea 2000 years ago. Introduce yourself to a new church as a eunuch and see how many dinner invitations you get. Rather than asking Jesus if it’s okay to divorce their wives, the Pharisees today would ask him: “What is marriage?” “Can I marry a goat?” “What is a man?” “Who is that single man?” Somebody disconnect my wires because I’m feeling so . . . bent and out of control.