Singleness, Discipleship and the story of God

At the moment I’m reading a really interesting book, ‘Resident Aliens’ by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon. This book is full of fantastic wisdom and provoking thoughts for Christians living in countries like mine where the Church has ceased to have a moral majority in society.

One specific passage really challenged me:

If our society has lost good reasons for getting married and having children, we appear even more so to have lost good reasons for staying single. About the best we can muster, in regard to staying single, is that we do not want to be “tied down,” or we want “to keep our options open.” Yet for those who are on the adventure called discipleship, singleness becomes a sign that the church lives by hope rather than biological heirs, that brothers and sisters come not through natural generation but through baptism, that the future of the world and the significance of our future is ultimately up to God rather than us. The telos, the end, gives meaning to our choices. Ultimately there is for us only one good reason to get married or to stay single, namely, that this has something to do with our discipleship. (Page 66)

Now, if you’re still here, some reflection.

I suppose I am guilty of regarding singleness for the kingdom of God in rather the same way I would regard it in relation to a career: So I can be better at what I do. In the way someone might stay single to devote time to a job, I thought I would remain single in order to devote time to Church.

Though this does not seem to be the case.

God does not need me to remain single in order to devote more time to his Church. Frankly, he doesn’t need me to do anything for his Church. It is his body which I have the privilege of being a part of.

Then, if I am called to singleness in my journey of discipleship – my journey of becoming more like Christ, perhaps the way in which God is moulding me is to be a beacon of faith, faith that the Church exists by faith and not by procreation.

Now, thats not to say those who marry are not saying that, and marriage is discussed very helpfully in the book. Marriage is the faith that in God’s kingdom, it is safe and reasonable to become intimate with one person for your whole life, when the world would have us become strangers.

Marriage demonstrates to me that true, intimate community can exist because of God. Then I am single to demonstrate that this community exists by faith and obedience.

This book is a great challenge to stop engaging the world on the worlds terms (Liberal, Conservative, Secular, Religious…) and to start engaging with God in his redeeming story, reflecting his character and shining his glory.


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