Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Jesus Was Single

by john alan turner

I'm headed to Nashville this weekend to speak at a retreat for single adults. The main theme is Fear -- something I've been struggling with over at my own blog. But one of the sessions is going to be devoted to being afraid of singleness. First of all, I am aware that it may be strange for a married man to talk about this topic. I promise I will try to be as sensitive and gentle as I can be. I will do my best not to sound patronizing or superior.

As I thought about this topic, a bizarre thing occurred to me: Jesus was single. I think and write and talk about Jesus for a living. But I've never given much thought to him as a single man. Yet I tell people all the time that he's the model -- go to him to learn the art of living.

I had never thought that Jesus -- in a very special way -- understands what single people experience. Many people think of Jesus as an invulnerable superhero who just pretended to walk around in a human body. But the Bible is very clear: Jesus was a real person who can sympathize with our weaknesses because he was tempted just like we are.

We readily acknowledge that Jesus struggled with physical exhaustion, hunger and feelings of abandonment. Is it too much of a stretch to imagine that he struggled with his sexuality? With sexual boundaries or lust?

If he was really human, he surely knew the struggle of sexual temptation -- perhaps even sexual dissatisfaction. And yet he was flawless in thought and word and deed.

Jesus knows all about the single life. He watched married couples and knew he would never have what they had. He went to weddings as a single man in his 30s. I wonder if people asked his mother, "Why isn't he married? What's wrong with him? Does he think he's God's gift to women?"

He was! And yet he created a safe community for close friendships with both men and women -- married and single -- that was unprecedented in his day. Being single for him did not mean being alone. Neither did it mean that there was something wrong with him.

Can someone tell me why we still think of sexual intercourse as a basic human need? Apparently, Jesus didn't think so. And, then, can someone explain to me why we still tend to think of and treat single people as something "less-than" normal? All too often, people in the church have made single people afraid of being single.

We who would be Jesus in our world must build communities that value people regardless of marital status -- communities where there is no stigma attached to being single -- no idea that marriage is normal and singleness is abnormal. Perhaps then we will know and experience what Jesus would do next.

3 Comments:

Blogger Keith Brenton said...

On the other hand, Jesus was also anticipating - I'm sure - a wedding feast with His bride described in John's Revelation.

I know I am!

4/19/2005 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Derek Wilson said...

I think a lot of times we get caught up into the lie that marriage is the epitome of adult life. That everything prior to that is building up to getting married and starting a family. Great post.

4/19/2005 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Fajita said...

Marriage perceived as cure/fulfillment/magic bullet etc is a set up for:

1. Perpetual single loneliness
2. Getting married out of desperation
3. Massive marital disillusionment

Christians overstate marriage. Jesus was single. Paul was single. Good greif, I am so glad they were.

I recently counseled a single person and told this person about thre benefits of the freedoms of singleness. This person's ministry potential is nimble, flexible, and can turn on a dime. Married people have a much harder time with it.

5/03/2005 08:44:00 PM  

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