Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Sunday, October 30, 2016

My spiritual gift

   Thursday evening,  I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Christopher Yuan speak. He lived a very wild life of gay sex, drugs, and drug dealing in his younger days, and was eventually arrested and sent to federal prison for dealing drugs. While in prison,  he was diagnosed HIV+ and also became a Christian. After serving 3 years of a 6 year sentence, he was released and went to Moody Bible Institute where he got his doctorate and now teaches. He has an amazing testimony and is proof that God can reach and save anyone, no matter how far gone they may seem.

    One of  the things he talked about is a subject important to me: singleness. He brought out something I have never heard anyone say about singleness. In 1 Corinthians 7, singleness is labeled as a gift. That isn't news to anyone who knows their Bible very well. However, something Christopher said was completely new to me. According to him, the Greek word used for gift in that passage is not the same Greek word used for a gift as a present,  but translates to mean a spiritual gift. So singleness isn't just a gift in the sense we think of gifts, but is a spiritual gift like teaching, preaching, prophecy, etc.

   I'll admit, that takes a bit to wrap my brain around.....singleness is a spiritual gift? That is kind of deep.

   I'm honestly not anti-marriage. Sure, the last wedding I attended was 16 years ago today....my little sister's. I had to go to it, since I was in it........But seriously, I may joke about marriage and women a lot, but I am very pro-marriage and I love women. I had to hide for so many years my true reasons for not dating and marrying, that joking about marriage and women became my cover. It was easier if everyone thought I wasn't interested in marriage....... and it still comes natural to joke about women and marriage.

   That said, could it be possible that we put marriage on too high of a pedestal? Yeah, I get it that God ordained marriage and said that part about it not being good that man is alone. But should marriage be our main goal in life? Should it be what defines us? Should being single be any less favored than marriage? Should single people be looked on with pity as if they are only half a person because they have no significant other? Should singleness be equated with loneliness?

   Honestly? I get lonely at times. There are times I wish I could meet a friend for lunch or shopping..... but how many guys like to shop? I occasionally am able to do lunch with someone, and am thankful for the times I get to spend with my nieces and nephews..... but it isn't that bad being single. Maybe I have just gotten used to it, for it used to bother me a lot and I lived what I thought was a lonely life for so long.

   The older I get, the more I realize there is no person who can truly complete us and make us happy. There are countless married people who are just as lonely and lonelier than the average single person. It used to be I only knew a couple of people who were divorced, but as divorce and remarriage has gotten more accepted in the church, I am seeing more and more couples break up their marriages. If marriage is so great, if it makes people so happy and completes them, then why do so many marriages break up?

  I am no marriage expert, but I have read and seen enough to know a little about it. I have many ideas of why marriages break up, and may be right on some, and wrong on others. There is one though that definitely holds true: too many people go into marriage thinking it is going to make them happy and will complete them......and it doesn't go at all like they thought it would.

   We all need to have our hope in Christ, and have a relationship with Him that overshadows and affects all other relationships and everything in life, Married people need that, and single people need it. If we were truly in love with Jesus, we might not feel the rush to marry. No, I am not in any way saying if you love Jesus enough you won't want to marry. I do believe that there is such pressure put on people, and marriage has been made into almost an idol even in the church, that too many people rush into dating and marriage before they even know who they are and whose they are.

   Thursday night's speaker spoke on sexual identity, and how our sexuality is not WHO we are. Could it possibly be true that we can make our marital status who we are and miss out on being everything God wants us to be? Who are we really? Are we a single person, a married person that is a spouse to John or Mary, or are we first and foremost God's child?'

   Singleness has challenges, but so does marriage. Could it be that neither is better than the other, and both are equal? I wanted to be married for years. There were nights I cried myself to sleep because I wanted it so badly. But would it really have made me happy? At this point in my life, I cannot imagine being married. I'd love to have kids, but a wife? Yikes. With kids, you can drop them off at grandma's or get a babysitter. With a wife though, there is no such thing as wife sitting. You can't drop her off with your parents so you can get away from her for a while. (OK, I admit my lack of attraction for women might play into that a bit.... or a lot)

    Back to singleness being a spiritual gift. A few years back, someone published a book with the title "if singleness is a gift, what is the return policy?" Sadly we have made singleness seem like a bad thing. There are countless girls and women across the globe who have never been asked out on a date, and may never be asked. There are boys and men who have never asked a girl out on a date, or did and were rebuffed. You would be hard pressed to convince most of these people that singleness is any kind of gift. They would look on it as a curse, and something that makes them unhappy and lonely.

   Now here's the rub. I know I am too outspoken... that got me banned from speaking in own church 10 years ago.......and you may think I am biased, but I think the church has done a horrible job with singles. If we did this family of God thing the right way, no one should sit in a church and feel they don't belong because they are single... or for any other reason. Marriage should never be held up in a church to the extent that it is at the expense of making single people feel like they don't belong, or are have a disease that needs cured.

   My former pastor and his wife started something at my church several years ago that my current pastor and wife carried on for a while, but it seems to have died out. On the Sunday closest to Valentine's Day, they would take both Sunday services and speak on marriage/dating relationships. I'm not knocking that, and I believe the church has failed in preparing people for marriage and what to truly expect and how to deal with problems and conflict. However, it isn't all that fun or encouraging to be sitting there as a single knowing you will most likely never marry. It is actually depressing, disheartening, and a reminder that you're an oddity. If a church is going to do something like that - and they should - it would be better to have a separate time other than the worship service where only married people would come.

   If you're married, imagine being in a service where singleness was being discussed, how to live life as a single, etc. Unless you're thinking of divorcing your spouse and living as a single person, you'd feel out of place and it wouldn't be relative to you. Welcome to my world.

  What if single people had just as an important part in the family of God as married couples/families?  What if singles were as an important part of the church as married people? What if it wasn't considered abnormal or unusual to be single? What if single people weren't pitied?

   Christopher Yuan related a story Thursday evening about a single female friend who went as a missionary to another country for a few years. When she returned to the US, her friends kept asking her if she had someone special in her life, if she was seeing someone, etc. When she said no, some friends wanted to pray for her.... as Christopher said, "as if she had cancer or some serious disease." That kind of flies in the face of it being a gift.

   There are both advantages and challenges of being single or married. According to Paul, single people can easier be about God's work without the attention needed for a wife and kids. To be honest, I haven't found the place yet to be that. I go to church and sit in my pew, occasionally comment in Sunday School, listen to the sermon, sing (unless I don't like the song), talk to a few people, and go home. Currently, I see no opportunities to serve God in any special way that married people do not.

   If singleness is a spiritual gift, how do I use it? If one has the gift of teaching, they teach. if someone has the gift of prophecy, they prophesy.... but how does one use the gift of singleness?

   There is my blogging. Especially since I have gotten more open about talking about same-sex attraction related stuff, I fairly often have guys thank me for what I wrote and get some help from it. Yeah, who knew... me being helpful and encouraging. Maybe God will lead me to use this gift in other ways.

  If all goes well, I will be moving into my own house within the next two weeks. For the first time in 10 years, I will be living all alone with no room mate or parents.... just me in a good-sized house. My single status will most likely become even more of a reality then, but I am not dreading it, but looking forward to this new venture and page in my life. I have no idea what is in store for me as a single Christian male, but I am hoping and praying God can somehow use me, and use this singleness status so that it actually is a spiritual gift, and one that I use for Him.

  People used to say "they are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good". Unfortunately, too many of us are the opposite. Whether single or married, we all need to be about God's kingdom a lot more than we are.

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