December 2011


 

Hallelujah by MaMuse

Every time I feel this way
This, old familiar sinking
I will lay my troubles
Down by the water
Where the river
Will never run dry

Hallelujah Hallelujah (I’m gonna let myself be lifted, I’m gonna let myself be lifted)
Hallelujah (I’m gonna let myself be lifted)
Bye and bye
I will lay my troubles down by the water
Where the river will never run dry

It’s been said and I do believe
As you ask so shall you receive
So take from me these troubles
Bring me sweet release
Where the river will never run dry

Hallelujah Hallelujah (I’m gonna let myself be lifted, I’m gonna let myself be lifted)
Hallelujah (I’m gonna let myself be lifted)
Bye and bye
I will lay my troubles down by the water
Where the river will never run dry

There is a river
In this heart of hearts
With a knowingness
Of my highest good
I am willing
I will do my part
Where the river
Will never run dry

Hallelujah Hallelujah (I’m gonna let myself be lifted, I’m gonna let myself be lifted)
Hallelujah (I’m gonna let myself be lifted)
Bye and bye
I will lay my troubles down by the water
Where the river will never run dry

Where the river
Will never run dry
This river
Will never run dry

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This won’t really be a book review. More like a collection of my favorite quotes from the book Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today’s Church by Christine A. Colon and Bonnie E. Field.

I have a memory of this book being advertised a few years ago in a Biola magazine, as the authors are Biola alum. Honestly, I was not attracted to the book… I probably thought something to myself along the lines of, “Lame. Another book for single people.” At that time I wasn’t exactly interested in the concept of singleness and the depth that it encompasses. But now, happily, I am.

While attending the Christian for Biblical Equality conference in Seattle earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop session facilitated by the authors of this book. They began with their stories that were strikingly similar – as I believe still is for a lot of women attending Biola today – that they anticipated being married within a few years of graduation. But it didn’t happen. And it still hasn’t happened for them.

I appreciated the content of the workshop so much that I bought the audio recordings of both their sessions and their book. It didn’t disappoint. The book takes the reader through a brief history of celibacy in the church and in Scripture, positive and negative messages from both secular views and the Church, confronts the inadequacies of the current dialogue on singleness in the Church today, and seeks to expand our narrow definition of sexuality to be more holistic. Acknowledging that the book is not all-inclusive, the authors communicated at the conference that they desire this book to be a launching point for deeper dialogue about singleness in the Church today.

Grab a taste and see for yourself:

“We tend to refer to our singleness as a ‘season of life’: we cannot imagine it lasting forever. While Rolheiser does not try to persuade everyone to take religious vows, he does warn us of the dangers of being unable to view celibate singleness as a potentially permanent state. If we only think in temporary terms we run the risk of never fully seeing our lives as worthwhile and actually worth living.” (200)

“What would it mean, for instance, to radically reconceive our ideas of celibacy to empower Christian singles to live our lives fully for God without remaining in stunted adolescence, searching obsessively for a spouse, or wallowing in depression and self-pity?” (203)

“If you are single right now, you are called, right now, to be single – called to live a single life as robustly, and gospel-conformingly, as you possibly can.’” (quoting Lauren Winner, 209)

“What we need is another category: those who are committed to celibacy until God reveals a different plan for them.” (208)

“While we believe…that God wants us contented and fulfilled, we would argue that God wants us to be contented and fulfilled in him. If we are truly delighting ourselves in the Lord, he, not a potential mate, will be the desire of our hearts. Of course this doesn’t mean that we will necessarily stop desiring marriage, but it does mean that we will realize that a spouse will not provide true fulfillment.” (134)

“’A challenge of the contemporary Church is to claim a theology of sexuality that names, validates, and embraces the sexuality of singleness.’ One place to start is to realize that singles, like all humans, are sexual beings. Sexuality for Christian singles isn’t magically ignited when the wedding ring hits the finger.” (quoting Lisa Graham McMinn, 213)

“Sexuality, then, provides us with our drive to connect with others, for “our existence as sexual beings gives rise to the desire to enter into community, and thereby to actualize our design as human individuals. Sexuality, then, is an expression of our nature as social beings… This need to find fulfillment beyond ourselves it the dynamic that leads to the desire to develop relationships with others and ultimately with God.” When we look at it from this perspective, sexuality has a much larger purpose than simply compelling individuals to find a mate.” (213)

“As we consider the needs of single as well as married Christians, we must also recognize that there resides within all of us a need that will never be satisfied here on earth: a holy longing, as Rolheiser calls it, that ultimately should drive us to God. In contemporary American society we are used to thinking that every need that we have will be satisfied if only we work hard enough or pray hard enough, but the reality is that we all experience dissatisfaction. As Rolheiser reminds us, ‘It is no easy task to walk this earth and find peace. Inside of us, it would seem, something is at odds with the very rhythm of things and we are forever restless, dissatisfied, frustrated, and aching. We are so overcharged with desire that it is hard to come to simple rest. Desire is always stronger than satisfaction.’” (217)

“We are not asking God to remove the pain of incompleteness that we all must struggle with, but rather we are asking Him to use this pain precisely as it was intended: to draw us closer to him and to help create the empathy that allows us to be witnesses for him in the rest of the world.” (219)