Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Who is this guy "Norm"?

Our young friend is about the same age as our older married daughter. She is a single adult Christian woman pursuing a graduate level degree with the end of entering upon a career. And she is doing so with a sense of God's calling and purpose for her life. No desire to marry. Not even looking for a guy. No Christian singles retreats. No Christian internet dating services or chat rooms for her.

Though she has not gone into detail, our young friend has alluded to the kinds of things that are said to her at her home church where she is still a member. You know the comments... "Any young man in your life these days?" "Why don't you go to the Christian singles retreat at blah blah blah..." "God has someone special for you..." And implied in all of that, "Why are you pursuing a career instead of a husband and children?"

A few years ago I had a conversation with one of the pastors at her home church regarding the issue of singles in the church. His comment was to the effect that in the Bible it is the norm for young adult women to marry and if possible, bear children. The context of the conversation and the implication of the statement was to apply that "norm" to specific situations in his pastoral counseling, especially to young single adult Christian women.

Do you see the fallacy in that statement and application? We are not talking about the world's norm for sinful behavior such as drunkenness, cussing, or other obvious sinful behavior patterns. The Bible no where makes the issue of marriage or non-marriage in and of itself a matter of sin. But this pastor is going to take an observable norm for a general population as a whole, and make it law and gospel in a specific situation for specific young people.

Pray tell dear pastor, who anointed you with such a gift of "prophecy", that you know for certain that just because something is a general norm, you can bind the conscience of young Christian single adults as the "norm" for them specifically, and in this case specifically, young single adult Christian women? Since when did any Protestant Christian church elect this guy "Norm" as pope?

This pastors comment is a reflection of a cultural scholasticism that has afflicted his particular church and the particular movement his church is a part of. The expectations in that setting for young single Christian women in particular have more to do with that scholasticism then with honest wrestling with all the Bible has to say about Christian singleness. Yes, the family is an important part of the church, but families are not all there is to the church, and the Bible makes clear that all members of the church, married and unmarried are equally important.

That last statement sums up what Wendy Widder is saying in her recent books, Living Whole Without a Better Half and A Match Made in Heaven: How Singles and the Church Can Live Happily Ever After. Wendy is an adult single Christian woman who was blessed to run into Christian friends who affirmed her in her singleness as opposed to treating it as a temporary aberration to be quickly fled at the first opportunity. But Wendy's books are not just for young adult Christian singles like our young friend. She writes with a vision of the whole body of Christ, married and un-married, and with a reverence for the Scripture as God's authoritative Word.

We gave a copy of A Match Made in Heaven to our young friend, and I would encourage you also to read what Wendy has to say on the whole matter of being Christian and single.

~ The Billy Goat ~

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