As a community blog, PiE invites you to submit guest blogs for us. This weekend we welcome Amanda Zehr as our community blogger.
In my thinking about singleness recently, I considered, as I have so many times before, that this single way of being I am currently in was like Jesus, and like Paul.
I don’t know if either of these men had the opportunity to marry and chose otherwise, or weren’t interested in pursuing anything, or whatever, but both were single, and both have significant roles to play in the narrative of the gospel.
This, I have recently come to discover, shows us that the single people among us have important things to teach us and show us about the life of Christ; in terms of marital status the lives of singles more closely resemble Jesus’ life.
I’m certain that Jesus was seen as a bit of an oddball by those in society for the way he lived his life. From what we can tell from history, Mary and Joseph were insanely young by our standards to be getting married and starting a family – barely into their teenage years.
If the common practice was for young teenagers to be married already, think about how different Jesus’ life would have looked like from others being single at 30 years old!
I wonder if in his home town he was considered a failure of a man, or a lazy drain on Mary and Joseph, or just a weirdo guy. No matter what was said, I’m sure Jesus’ different lifestyle was noticed and commented on by neighbours.
Marriage has changed a lot since the time of Christ. Rather than being an advantageous economic exchange, marriage in North America happens for love now.
As such, having a significant other is seen as the ideal way of achieving happiness, no matter if that’s actually true or not. A spouse is seen as an all-in-one sort of a person, someone you can’t live without.
As followers of Christ, we know that this isn’t true. There isn’t any way that a spouse can complete your life the way that Christ can. Humanity can live without significant others – we can’t live without Jesus.
Since the church has bought into the societal idea of marriage as the ideal, we look to Jesus to show us how to have a relationship with God that goes beyond that of a relationship with a spouse.
Since single folks don’t have this mystical unicorn idea of a spouse that is sold to us, the very lives of single people are a testament to the counter-cultural way of Christ.
The world tells us we need a significant other to complete us; the church says (or should say) we need Christ. Of course we have those in the church to be interdependent with and to grow with, but the church would be absolutely nothing without Emmanuel.
Marriage is used in the Bible to illustrate the love of God for his people.
But in a world full of broken and hurting families, neglected children, abounding affairs, and a “my happiness is the most important thing in my life” attitude, perhaps that metaphor doesn’t mean as much anymore.
Perhaps in this selfish and shallow world, the life of the single Christ-follower points us to the most holy relationship, the only one that completely fulfills (even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes), the relationship with the one being who will never, ever let us down; the relationship with our Saviour. Thank God for the example and inspiration that single Christ-followers are to the church! Where would we be without them?
Amanda is living the dream in Listowel, ON where she serves Listowel Mennonite Church in a beautiful rural setting and regularly makes pastoral visits to dairy barns (fun fact: she has a cow named after her). Check out the blog she runs with her Little Sister (of Big Brothers and Big Sisters) at https://denverandamandadostuff.wordpress.com/.