Why devote an issue of the 9Marks Journal to pastoring singles?
One, it’s a growing demographic in our culture and therefore in our churches.
Two, it’s a demographic that is particularly impacted by our culture’s removal of all barriers on sex; by the culture’s eroticization of all forms of intimacy, especially among same-sex friendships; by its delay of marriage; by its lies about the ad-vantages of the self-indulgent and autonomous single life as well as the growing enslavement of consumerism; and, in turn, by the extra emphasis churches have given to marriage in order to counter the lies of the sexual revolution. In other words, a number of cultural and pastoral roads all collide in the intersection which is the single life.
Three, it’s a biblical theme replete with eschatological promise. Matt Smethurst’s article, drawing from Andreas Köstenberger, observes that singleness in creation is nonexistent. Singleness in the Old Testament is uncommon and undesirable. Singleness in the New is treated as advantageous for kingdom ministry. And singleness in the new heavens and earth is universal, when there is neither giving nor receiving in marriage.
Could it be that we as Christians have given too little biblical and pastoral attention to this topic?
Certainly, a single person is far more than his or her singleness. Nonetheless, it’s often experienced as a trial (see Eccl. 4:9–11), even while Paul de-scribes it as a gift (1 Cor. 7:7, 32, 38). So, trial and gift. We need to maintain both perspectives in all our speaking and praying and preaching on the topic. And doing that requires wisdom.
Why devote an issue of the 9Marks Journal to pastoring singles? To help pastors and members both grow in conscientiousness and wisdom and love for singles. That way, singles and marrieds both can grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.