An Alternative Lifestyle For Christians: Apostolic Counsel On Single Living An Exposition Of 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 21:1 (Summer 2012)
Article: An Alternative Lifestyle For Christians: Apostolic Counsel On Single Living An Exposition Of 1 Corinthians 7:25-40
Author: David J. MacLeod


An Alternative Lifestyle For Christians: Apostolic Counsel On Single Living1
An Exposition Of 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

David J. MacLeod

Dave MacLeod is Dean for Biblical Studies at Emmaus Bible College and Associate Editor of The Emmaus Journal.

Introduction

Ours is a day of “alternative lifestyles.” The secular world offers as legitimate a wide variety of options, including marriage (i.e., normative heterosexual marriage); “living together” without marriage as heterosexual lovers (sometimes called “common law” marriage); “hooking up” with a person from either sex for a sexual encounter lasting no more than one evening; “living together” as homosexual lovers; and same-sex marriage. The last of these, viz., same-sex marriage, is a historical novelty, but has been legally established in a number of nations and several states in the United States. There are, however, only two choices offered to the follower of Jesus Christ: heterosexual marriage and chaste (i.e., non-sexual) life as a single. Yet this second alternative is rarely presented as a serious alternative or taken as such.2

Modern society has made erotic love synonymous with happiness. Books, magazines, television, motion pictures, billboards, and songs all

proclaim the message, “You’re nobody till somebody loves you.”3 No one ever asks the young believer in Christ, “Will you marry?” It is assumed that everyone will marry unless some sort of unfortunate circumstances dictate otherwise. We will all marry unless we are forced to remain single. “Celibacy”—even the word itself seems strange and abnormal. It sounds medieval and regressive, certainly not contemporary and fun.

Failure to present celibacy (single, chaste living) as a real alternative has some undesirable consequences. First, it is unbiblical in that both our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 19:12) and the apostle Paul present the single life as a legitimate alternative to marriage. Second, it is cruel in that many who do not marry consider themselves failures—oftentimes because those around them consider them as failures. The unmarried wear the brand of rejection.

Two major “myths” support the anti-celibacy pattern of our time: (1) The “Myth of Fulfillment,” i.e., the message communicated to us by the mass media that you will never be really happy or fulfilled until you have found the right person to love. (2) The “Myth of Normality,” the ...

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