Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Significance of Singleness

Hitchcock, Christina S. The Significance of Singleness: A Theological Vision for the Future of the Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2018.

Christina Hitchcock, who is no longer single herself, attempts to provide a theology for singleness for 21st century Evangelicals. While she is correct that 20th and 21st century Evangelical leaders encourage marriage, she may be drawing conclusions in their attitudes toward singles with which the leaders themselves would challenge. Certainly many singles are lonely and friendless in churches. They can't be friends with married members of the opposite sex without being accused of trying to come between the person and spouse. They can't be friends with members of their own sex in the 21st century without people wondering if they are homosexual. People automatically assume a relationship if befriending a single member of the opposite sex. It's a lose-lose-lose situation all around. Hitchcock upholds three historic women as "role models"--Macrina, Perpetua, and Lottie Moon. Hitchcock's entire theology seems to be based on her idea that single people are called to serve God in a more profound way. Everyone is called to serve God--not just single people. Not all single people are called to be missionaries. Her use of the ancient saints fails to add anything to her argument as most Evangelical readers lack familiarity with the figures--and even her efforts to introduce them do not particularly make the readers want to be like them. It's unfortunate the book was written for an academic audience. The laity of the church needs to be reminded single people are human. Churches quit trying to minister to singles. Many of them simply encourage them to go into classes composed primarily of married persons. The lonely single remains lonely because the couples gravitate toward each other, failing to include the single. Secondly, the author fails to acknowledge the range of singles. Some have never been married--and that number is on the rise. Some are divorced. Among the divorced, some have children and some do not. Some are widowed. Ministering to single people is difficult because of the variety of ages and causes for the singleness. Her singleness theology is only geared toward the "single, never married" crowd. I was hopeful this book might contain something that will help the church minister to the needs of a diverse group of singles. Instead, I suspect we'll continue to see the church missing on opportunities to minister to this group and to see the number of single persons in churches dwindle in spite of a growing demographic. I received an electronic copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

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