Monday, August 28, 2006

Singleness: Köstenberger versus Maken

Although I don't always agree with Andreas Köstenberger on gender-related issues, I appreciate what he has to say about singleness, part 1 and part 2. But I don't appreciate Debbie Maken's response, preaching that for most people it is wrong to remain single.

Unlike either of these two protagonists, but like significant Christian leaders such as John Stott and Mike Pilavachi, leader of the event I just got back from, I am single myself. This is neither from deliberate choice nor from a settled conviction that God has called me to singleness. In fact I rather believe that God has called me to get married at some time. But, from a combination of circumstances and a belief at various times that now was not the right time to look for a partner, this has not yet happened, even though I have now passed 50. A few years ago I was engaged briefly, but it didn't last. More recently I signed up for a short time with Christian Connection, a dating agency, and made a few friends through it but it didn't seem right to pursue anything. I continue to struggle with loneliness, as one of the very few singles anywhere near my age in my church or among my friends. And the attitude of the church is not always helpful. But for the moment I also appreciate the freedom from other responsibilities that gives me time to serve God, and to pursue other interests which are mostly related to God's work. And I continue to trust God to bring the right marriage partner into my life at the right time if that is right, and to continue to provide for me as a single man if that is his better way for me.

5 Comments:

At Tuesday, August 29, 2006 1:17:00 am, Blogger lingamish said...

You wrote: In fact I rather believe that God has called me to get married at some time.

I'd like to introduce you to my sister... (just kidding!)

Thanks for writing this post. I appreciate your perspective. As a "husband of not yet one wife" would your church allow you to be an elder? I like the fact that you are positive about where you are but open to trying options like "Christian Connection." That's cool.

 
At Tuesday, August 29, 2006 3:11:00 am, Blogger Henry Neufeld said...

Peter said:

This is neither from deliberate choice nor from a settled conviction that God has called me to singleness. In fact I rather believe that God has called me to get married at some time.

I did have a conviction that I was to remain single, but God removed that conviction with some vigor, and I got married just short of my 43rd birthday, inheriting three step-children, one of them in chemotherapy for cancer at the time. My life has been full of new and different distractions ever since. Nonetheless I heartily recommend it. Grandchildren are fun, and I now have 4 with a fifth on the way!

I do believe that God can and does call people to singleness, either for a period of time, or sometimes for life, but you do have to be prepared for the sometimes odd reactions of church congregations.

You sound like you're taking a very constructive attitude.

 
At Tuesday, August 29, 2006 5:02:00 am, Blogger lingamish said...

Henry,

What a terrific story! I'm sure there was serious adjustment involved as well but your hearty recommendation speaks volumes!

 
At Tuesday, August 29, 2006 10:54:00 am, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thanks for the comments, Lingamish and Henry. My attitude hasn't always been so positive, and still fluctuates.

My church has no definite rules to stop singles in any position, but I guess that for some jobs like elder I would be less likely to be selected as a single. But that's not a problem, there are plenty of jobs which I can and do do!

I'm sure I would find adjusting to married life difficult at my age, especially if as quite likely it involved taking on step-kids. That's one thing which is currently making me reluctant to seek a relationship. Is that wrong? If Maken has anything good to say, it is that we shouldn't avoid marriage just for a quiet life. I don't think I would turn down a good opportunity just because I am stuck in a rut, I hope not, but I don't feel the need, or God's call, to search for a way out of the rut just at the moment.

As for Lingamish's sister, I would like to meet her if she is anywhere near me, near London. But if she is in Oregon or somewhere like that, however beautiful it may be, I would not want to pursue anything. I got into an even longer distance relationship, originally by e-mail, a few years ago, and it did not turn out well, so I am reluctant to follow the same path.

 
At Thursday, August 31, 2006 12:57:00 pm, Blogger Henry Neufeld said...

Peter,

I can agree with Maken that marriage will not produce the quiet life.

What I did find was that the process of courtship and of marriage was the biggest single boost to my prayer life in my entire Christian experience. It is not that it was that difficult, but rather that there are simply many decisions to be made, and you find that suddenly decisions that you once would have regarded as personal have a much wider impact.

It was humorous to watch our friends in the congregation and elsewhere. It seems that there is no "right" speed at which to conduct a courtship. I would get my ears bent several times per week by at least a couple of people who thought I was going to slow, that under the cirumstances (child in treatment, especially) I should get things moving, and several others who thought I was being reckless. (For reference, we courted just under a year and then had about a 3 month engagement.)

Since you're on the other side of the pond I can't resist one other story. Prior to our engagement I had agreed to go to England with a team to speak at a number of Methodist churches. The group were conducting small pastors conferences. As it turned out we also stopped in Wales, and I spent a weekend in Germany speaking at a conference there. So for three of the last four weeks of our engagement I was across the sea. Some folks told her I had gotten cold feet and wasn't coming back!

But that actually set the stage for our lives. We were in our sixth year of marriage before we were in the same town on her birthday, and we only celebrated our anniversary together once during that same period.

 

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