Thursday, September 04, 2008

Going It Alone

I usually am better about updating my blog when a new month rolls around. Sorry this has taken a while, but life has been hectic recently, especially considering that Tropical Storm Hanna has her eyes on the Carolina coast, and Ike and Josephine appear to be right behind her. I've had a lot of work to do when it comes to helping prepare my school for the possibility of a mandatory evacuation, so I've been a little stressed.

Still, I've been wanting to blog. I've had a list of different topics to write about and I thought I'd go ahead and try to knock one out, so here goes. I read this article by Debbie Maken in the Boundless webzine a month or so ago, and I really had some problems with it. I suggest reading the whole article, but if not, my best summary of it is that Mrs. Maken wants Christians to "rethink the gift of singleness."

In other words, she seems to take on the attitude that the Church isn't hard enough on people who "prolong the single years." I could start, I suppose, by asking what church she is attending, because as far as I know the idea of people being content, holy, and single for long periods of time is a pretty new one for Christians... and most still haven't caught up with it.

Mrs. Maken goes on to talk, somewhat favorably, about how singles were viewed and treated in the 1950s, mentioning how bachelors were seen as "eccentric" or "late bloomers" and unwed women were pitied as "old maids." I'm not sure how much we've moved beyond that, to be honest, though I can see where Mrs. Maken is coming from when she mentions how the Church is getting to be more understanding and kind towards singles. The only problem, of course, is that she doesn't really see it that way. She thinks a healthy dose of '50s shame is what churches need to get their singles in line. I can't say I agree.

Look, I understand that marriage is important. I really, really do. And I will agree with Mrs. Maken in that someone who has all the opportunity in the world to marry, but doesn't out of fear of responsibility or something equally trivial, might need to put themselves back in the game just a little. However, I disagree with her strongly when she says that the "supernatural removal of sexual desire" is the only reason one can remain single. For one... does that even happen? I don't think so.

Two, she calls this "supernatural removal" celibacy. Any person with a dictionary can see that celibacy has nothing to do with desire and everything to do with behavior (and, specifically, the lack of sexual behavior). Lack of sexual desire is called asexuality, and I don't think that's supernatural. Anyway, I think anyone who feels called to singleness, for one reason or another, should have the freedom to pursue that calling without being judged. Period.

I personally take great pleasure sometimes in the thought of going it alone. I've always been a bit more of a loner by nature and, though I sometimes fear total abandonment, I can get by with much less social interaction than your average guy. I think this gives me some unique abilities when it comes to potential for service and travel.

It's certainly not out of fear of responsiblity that I'm pursuing singleness. It's because I really feel that that's where I should be, based on my circumstances. I'd rather be single than force myself into a marriage I don't want (and due to my homosexuality, wouldn't be able to fulfill properly), simply to satisfy others around me. Will this desire for singleness change when I'm older? Possibly. Of course, Mrs. Maken seems to imply that if your'e a young single Christian, you need to get married right away.

What I find funny about that particular line of thinking is that later on in the article she quotes C.S. Lewis, a man who didn't marry until he was 58 (and in the 1950s, no less, so there goes the "later bloomer" argument as well). Lewis was married for a short four years, after which his wife, Joy Gresham, died of bone cancer. Lewis had been single for his entire life before that.

I don't think any Christian nowadays would say that he was "immature" or not fulfilling his Christian obligations by remaining single, although he certainly didn't have the excuse that Mrs. Maken would have wanted for a man in his position (i.e. he wasn't a monk and there's no indication he was asexual). So maybe she just needs to take a look back and realize that some of the best Christian thinkers and leaders of our time didn't have the perfect little marriage thing down the way she thinks they should have.

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