Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Belated, Counter-Cultural Holiday Observance

I had grand schemes of observing last week's holiday with a thorough review of some of the recent literature on singleness. Maybe I was just oblivious to what existed before, but it seems as though a wealth of teaching on the subject has sprung up in the years since Josh Harris wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Some of what is out there is enlightening, some is provocative, and some is just downright annoying. A healthy portion is helpful.

Of all that I've read and heard, nothing yet has surpassed the very first text I read on this theme—John Piper's foreword to Recovering Biblical Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Looking back now, it seems a little strange that this was the first chapter from Piper that I had ever read. The whole book is worth reading, but I doubt you'd regret buying the book for the foreword alone.

Piper observes eight principal themes related to life as a single person in the life and ministry of Jesus and his followers:
I. Marriage, as we know it in this age, is not the final destiny of any human.

II. Jesus Christ, the most fully human person who ever lived, was not married.

III. The Bible celebrates celibacy because it gives extraordinary opportunity for single-minded investment in ministry for Christ.

IV. The Apostle Paul and a lot of great missionaries after him have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God.

V. The Apostle Paul calls singleness a gift from God.

VI. Jesus promises that forsaking family for the sake of the kingdom will be repaid with a new family, the church.

VII. God is sovereign over who gets married and who doesn't. And he can be trusted to do what is good for those who hope in Him.

VIII. Mature manhood and womanhood are not dependent on being married.

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