Today’s blog is a guest post by Justin Campbell. Justin is a 40 year old single guy living and working in St. Louis. You can read more by him at his blog More Than Don’t Have Sex, where he writes about singleness, Jesus, the church, and how we can all be in it together.
When I was a much younger single person, I remember a lot of conversations with older folks (mostly married) in which I was challenged with the thought of, “Is Jesus enough?” In other words, “You’re single right now so Jesus will have to be enough.”
Man that sounded holy to me (It also made me want to sing the Doobie Brothers version of Jesus Is Just Alright – still does actually). That’s right dang it, Jesus is enough. I don’t need someone else. However this is only sort of true, depending on what question you are actually asking.
Part of the problem with the Church’s response (or lack of) to increasing singleness is that we say stuff that not only sets singles up to fail, but also in turn sets marriages up to fail. The reality is that we need a good theology of both marriage and singleness. One will not work without the other. We need a lot of help with both.
When we say to a single person that Jesus is enough that implies several things. First off, it could mean that Jesus needs to be enough for right now. But this makes no sense. Jesus is enough for now, but not for later? If you get married, then Jesus won’t be enough? This goes right along with what I’ve written before about the idea of singleness being a “season where you focus on the Lord.” This idea is so rampant and so just flat bad. There is no season where you should not be focussed on the Lord. And again, if singleness means being closer to the Lord than marriage, no one should get married. Marriage is not a concession to not being tight enough with God. Yikes!
Which leads to point two. Marriage happened while Adam had a perfect, sinless relationship with God. In other words it wasn’t a lack of God being enough that made Him create Eve and put them together. God looked at Adam and said it was not good for man to be alone. Wait! You mean even when he was totally with God, Adam still needed someone else? Whoops.
Finally there is the idea that gets floated that if Jesus is enough for you, that means you must be called to singleness. Once again, Jesus wants us to be focussed on Him regardless.
The question in regards to the call of singleness is not a question of how much you are focussed on Jesus. It is a question of calling to vocation – to what type of ministry you will do. It’s the second vow, not the first vow. The first vow we have to make is to Jesus. We all have the same first vow. WE HAVE TO GET THIS.
In addition, the Jesus is enough question can lead us to other bad places as a single. Mainly that we don’t find true community. In other words, regardless of marital status, it is truly not good for “man to be alone.” We need other people. We were created relationally, by a relational God, for the purpose of relationship. If we are told enough that Jesus is enough we can end up not only avoiding marriage based on personal holiness but avoiding true community as well.
At the end of the day Jesus is actually enough in a lot of ways that matter most. Jesus is enough for salvation – in fact nothing else works for salvation. Jesus is enough for full life, but when we follow Him, He usually helps us get that by leading us to others and speaks to us not just directly but through the Church (his people) and the Scriptures. But the truth is that we are not guaranteed that. In other words He doesn’t promise earthly community and in fact lots of people have followed Jesus without the Bible. We certainly are not guaranteed a spouse.
But a married person doesn’t have any of those guarantees either. I could get married this week, and my spouse could be taken away the week after. Would Jesus be enough? Get what I’m saying?
I think a better question might be, what are you staking your life on? Now our answer to that needs to be Jesus. Because at the end of the day He is the one sure thing. And that has absolutely nothing to do with marital status.