Book Review

5 truths for the single I learned from “7 Myths about Singleness”

February 14, 2020

It’s not the singleness that’s hard as a woman in my 30s in the church. I would love to be married, but I’m not desperate. If that’s what the Lord has, great. If not, then that’s OK. In the past that hasn’t always been easy to feel or say, and it may not always be easy in the future. But, I want what God wants, and I’m happy serving him single. 

The hard part is the cultural shame of singleness; being seemingly unwanted and undesirable is painful. The shame in the Church of being abnormal or feeling as if I’m being perceived as a pariah presses in. The older I get, the weirder I feel. However, Scripture gives honor and belonging to singles like me. Our Savior, the perfect picture of humanity, was himself single, which gives dignity to my single status. And Christ has placed all of us, whether single or married, in a family, giving us a place, a purpose, and an ultimate aim—Christlikeness. 

Because of the fight against shame and the desire to think rightly about singleness, I was thankful to pick up Sam Allberry’s book 7 Myths about Singleness. Whether you are single or married, you probably can check one or two boxes from his list of myths that you have believed or partially embraced. As one who has encountered many of these myths, here are five of my takeaways from this book:

1. Singleness shows the sufficiency of the gospel.

Marriage is a good gift designed by God. Yet, sometimes it is communicated that the family is the primary way God chooses to work, display himself, and advance his Kingdom. Marriage has a unique role in displaying the gospel, but so does singleness. Allberry points out, “If marriage shows us the shape of the gospel, singleness shows us its sufficiency” (120). 

We live in a day and age where sex is ultimate and is believed to be best if it is without restraint. Allberry, however, shows that the Bible’s way is different, teaching that sex is designed to be exclusively experienced in marriage between one man and one woman. Many in the Western world believe that “our sense of personhood is directly attached to our sex life” (18). As a result, celibacy is unthought of today. 

Sex is not supreme or our identity. And life is not incomplete or lacking for the single person in the Church who is faithfully pursuing sexual holiness. Instead, singleness in devotion to the Lord displays the sufficiency of the gospel to a world that makes sex ultimate. 

2. Everyone needs to understand God’s view of singleness, not just singles.

If you are married, you need to read this book too. This is true for several reasons. First, “the Bible’s teaching on singleness is given to all of God’s people” (14), including passages like 1 Corinthians 7. When this epistle was delivered, it was read to the entire church—wives, husbands, singles, and children—because all Scripture is profitable, not just the portions that most directly apply to you.

Christ has placed all of us, whether single or married, in a family, giving us a place, a purpose, and an ultimate aim—Christlikeness.

Secondly, singleness relates to everyone. We all were single at one point, and all who are married now will one day be single again (14). Furthermore, Scripture gives the analogy of the body for how a church functions. We affect one another, so singleness affects all of us (15). Allberry writes, “I have a stake in the health of the marriages in my church family. And those who are married have a stake in the health of my singleness. It’s part of what belonging to one another involves” (15).

3. Singleness isn’t necessarily selfish.

The Church, in rightly honoring the family in a culture that has devalued marriage, has sometimes spoken about singleness in an unbiblical or unnuanced way. While addressing the delaying of marriage in culture today, I’ve heard pastors chastise singleness itself. But Paul wrote that he wished more were like him in his singleness (1 Cor. 7:7), acknowledging that it has its advantages for the Kingdom (1 Cor. 7:26-35). 

Singleness can be selfish, but it can also be purposeful. Allberry writes, “The issue is what singleness is being used for. To call singleness itself a ‘threat to marriage’ is to speak about it in a profoundly unbiblical way that I am sure would astonish Paul . . . We mustn’t blame selfishly deferring marriage on singleness any more than we should blame selfishness in marriage on marriage itself” (45). Allberry righly challenges those who are selfish without demeaning those who are single and serving well.

4. Singles should find a family in the church. 

All of us were created to live in community. It wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, but it’s not good for singles to be alone either. Marrieds and singles need one another. And God has given us a forever family through the Church. 

Allberry talks about married people welcoming singles into their families and routines. Allberry points out that “the boundary of your family life needs to be porous for your family’s own good” (78). While it may sound crazy to a young parent to invite someone to kid drop-offs or pick-ups from school or to chop carrots and help prepare dinner, some of us singles enjoy those things. Being invited into the ordinary moments of a family is a real joy and gift. When we seek to incorporate one another into our lives, we’re often blessed because “the physical and spiritual families we belong to need each other” (77). 

5. Singleness and marriage are both good gifts.

God is the one who created us, knows us, and gives us the gifts of singleness or marriage. Allberry writes, “He is the Creator who made you and knows you. He is the One who orders all things and does so for your good. . . . If we balk at the idea of singleness being a gift, it is not because God has not understood us but because we have not understood him” (38). 

Allberry is biblically balanced and honest about the challenges and blessings of singleness and marriage. He writes, “The fact is, both singleness and marriage have their own particular ups and downs. The temptation for many who are single is to compare the downs of singleness with the ups of marriage. And the temptation for some married people is to compare the downs of marriage with the ups of singleness, which is equally dangerous.” The contrast between the two is not between good and bad or easy and hard, but between “complexity and simplicity” (31). 

Even now as I review several of my takeaways from this book, I’m encouraged. As a single, I am of benefit to the Church. And, as a single I’m not waiting for marriage to be able to display the gospel; I display it now by showing the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t point to rejection, but reminds me of my great acceptance by a loving and sovereign God. 

If you want to understand God’s design and purposes for singleness, read this book. It’s needed in the Church and in this day and age to help us understand God’s purposes for singleness and his plan for singles. It has helped remind me that my singleness isn’t a source of shame but simply another way that God is working for my good and his glory. Anyone would enjoy this well-written, thought-provoking book. You will be encouraged and spurred on to love, good deeds, and service in the body of Christ.

Jenn Kintner

Jenn Kintner is the associate dean of academic affairs at Gulf Theological Seminary. Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24