What Romance Means to Me

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You may not think that a man who has been single all his life would know about love and romance, but I do. After growing up in the church and over 20 years of ministry I have seen a lot. What I have seen causes me to take love, romantic love more seriously. The media today shows you a shallow love, consisting of  plastic faces, plastic breasts and plastic hearts. I have seen way more than that.

I have stood in the hospital hallway with an 87 year old man, who was crying like a little boy because his wife of 67 years lay sick in the room nearby, close to death. She was his life. They never went anywhere without each other. They washed the dishes together every night because whatever the other was doing, the other wanted to be there. Neither of them ever ran to the post office alone. They went together because they loved being together. I ask myself, am I ready for that kind of love? By the way, the wife did not die. She is still alive, but her husband died a few months ago. She still talks about him all the time.

Marriage is for life. If I fall in love like that, will I one day have to mourn the death of my spouse? Or will she mourn my death? I remember a story about an old man standing at the fresh grave of his wife of many decades. As he stood there, he was overheard saying, “It ended  exactly how I wanted it to. She died first.” Let that sink in. It may not mean what you think. If I fall in love and get married I will not want to lose my wife and hopefully she would not want to lose me. Selfishness would make me want to die first so that I can get out of grieving her death when she goes. A lot of selfless love was behind the old man’s words when he said he was glad she died first so that she would not have to grieve. He grieved instead. That’s love. I believe that’s what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13.

I have seen a wife taking care of her sick husband day after day year after year. Because of his sickness it has been years since he was capable of doing anything for her. Even when he was well he was not the most faithful. Still she cares for him night and day year after year. Why? Because she made a vow 35 years ago. In her eyes, his lack of integrity on his vow did not loosen her from her vow. She still makes good on that vow every day. Wow! That’s love. That’s romance.

Being single is such a convenient way to be selfish. I am single so I can say that. I am not saying I am selfish, or all single people are selfish. I have heard it said that God gave us the Sabbath and tithing plan to help us systematically overcome selfishness. The Sabbath helps us overcome selfishness with our time, and tithe, the same with our money. Well I believe you can add marriage as another way to systematically overcome selfishness with both time and money.

I see married men and women spending their time and money unselfishly and making sacrifices every day. I may have never married yet, but I know what real love is. I have seen it, not on the silver screen, but in the daily lives of ordinary people.  Well, ordinary people to Hollywood maybe, but they are heroes to me. Heroes not because of a one-time heroic effort, but life long day after day heroes.

I am sorry if this post appears morbid or depressing. I just want people to know how I think. In my ministry I see things others may or may not see. When I think about romance, and believe it or not I do think about it, I don’t think about William and Kate in a fancy carriage. I think about the man who spends his last dime to keep his wife alive from some rare disease. I don’t think about the rich doctor who shows up at ritzy parties with his cute little perfectly proportioned nurse. I think about the man who works two jobs and comes home every night to care for his wife who is recovering from a mastectomy. That’s the world that I live in and see every day. That’s what love and romance means to me.

Matthew 19; Single People Are Kind of Like Real People

 
 
 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

 

 

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”   Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:10-12 

 

  I don’t usually make a big deal either way about being single. I don’t think of myself as a “single person”, I just think of myself as a “person”.  While I have heard other single people complain about married people treating them differently, I can only count on one hand the number of married people who have treated me differently because of my single status.  98% of the people I come in contact with treat me no differently than if I was married.    I don’t believe in discriminating between marital or single statuses any more than race or anything else. I simply think of myself as a person regardless of single staus or race or religion and I simply think of other people as people regardless of their statuses.

 

 

 Okay, I agree that celibacy is not the norm. I also totally agree that being single does not make you more holy. (Of course being married does not make you more holy either.) Yes, the Scriptures tell us that Peter was married. However the scriptures also tell us Paul was not married at the time of his ministry and even more so Jesus was never married. So- are Paul and Jesus unnatural misfits?  While Jesus and the scriptures never forbade marriage, Jesus and Paul both have given us enough counsel to see that celibacy has many spiritual advantages. (Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7)Satan always takes things God says to extremes. For example Satan suggested to Eve that God told her she could not eat of “any” of the trees when in reality He only told her not to eat from one. While the Bible clearly suggests that it is good for some people not to marry, the Bible never forbade marriage and even warns us in 1 Timothy 4 that the antichrist would be the one who forbids marriage. Clearly extremism is to be avoided. No one has to get married and no one has to remain single. I will gladly admit that being married can and should lead one to be a better Christian, and also admit that being single is a very convenient way to be selfish. There is no one as free as a single adult. You answer to neither spouse nor parent. You just do whatever you want whenever you want. (Now in my case add to this that even my job is really not a job but rather my passion. So I have no one in my world telling me what to do other than my boss who just tells me to do what I want to do anyway! I can not begin to describe what a wonderful feeling that is!). While marriage calls for self sacrifice there are many wonderful single Christians who crucify self every day while there are many married people who never think of their spouse or children. While many people say that you have to be married to understand what it takes to make a marriage work, I somewhat disagree. I do know exactly what it takes to make a marriage work and maybe that is why I have chosen to remain single to this point in my life. On the other hand you have married people who are married only because they did not know what it took, or they found their wedding vows to be too inconvenient. I know of many single people who have sacrificed to care for the needs of neglected children who are not their own, even though they never made a vow to. There are many single aunts and uncles, “big brothers” and “big sisters” out there who will never get a Father’s Day or Mother’s Day card though they are quite deserving of one.There are those who believe an elder must be married to give counsel to families. While I have never been a husband or father, I have been a son, brother, uncle, nephew and grandson. So I have been in a family and I do know how families work. Also please don’t slaughter Paul’s counsel to Timothy to mean that you have to be married to be an elder. As 98% of Bible scholars clearly understand, Paul simply meant no more than one wife. Not that you must have one wife. Is ones ability to be a spiritual leader dependant upon being married or being anointed by the Lord? I had someone tell me once that I could not be an elder because Paul says that an elder must rule well his own home. Well I do rule my own home well, by not marrying anyone who would corrupt my home. I heard someone say once that I could not be an elder because I can’t counsel with married people because I don’t know what it is like to be married. So if married elders are the only ones who can help married people then wouldn’t single elders be the only ones who could help single people? But single people don’t need or deserve elders who understand them? Only married people deserve elders who can relate to them? See what happens when we slaughter Paul’s teachings? The logic just gets more and more absurd. 
 
 
 
  Okay now I am going to talk about an obvious issue here- sex. Single people long for intimacy just like everyone else. However not all sex is intimacy and not all intimacy has to be sex. As a matter of fact I read a book once about sexual purity that stated that many people will have sex to avoid intimacy! Intimacy takes place in the mind and heart, not the sex organs. Getting naked together does not make you intimate until you have shared your heart and mind.  I know married people who are still very lonely and some even celibate. In the 5th volume of the Testimonies Ellen White writes of a man who had sexual issues that not even marriage could cure. Marriage is not the sole solution for intimacy.  Neither is marriage necessarily the solution for sexual desires.  What I long for is a woman that I can sit and talk with for hours while it only seems like a few moments. A few years ago, I lost a friend to breast cancer, who had a double mastectomy. When I started visiting her in the hospital, we quickly became friends and could talk and laugh together easily. I really enjoyed her company and while I don’t know what was going on in her mind, the day she died, she told me that she really wished we could have known each other longer here on earth. I’m not sure, but it seemed she was implying that she may have liked me for more than just a friend. If she had lived, the fact that she didn’t have a perfect body would not have gotten in the way of our relationship. She and I could talk together forever, and I loved every moment with her. Please understand that marriage does not guarantee intimacy and being celibate does not prevent it.  The Bible condones marriage or celibacy. Married people can be beautiful Christians, and their marriages can be a living example of what a true self sacrificing Christian ought to be. On the other hand single people can be very devoted to their families, church families and most of all to Jesus.

 

 

 

 

  

I really appreciated a recent men’s ministry convention I attended. For years our church’s preaching and teaching has centered around married people and the message to single people has been, “Listen to this message – it will help you when you get married.” But this time, while they talked about married men and their ministry to their family, instead of telling us single guys that we could apply these teachings later when we get married, they taught us how to apply them now to our church family and our friends who are all around us. They emphasized that even though we are single, we make a significant impact on the lives around us today. They treated us like we were real people!

 

  

What a contrast to the Valentine’s banquet I attended in another state around ten years ago. Several of us singles sat at a table while the emcee spent the evening recognizing married couples and their accomplishments. That is all well and fine, after all it was a Valentine’s banquet, what do you expect? The problem came at the end when the emcee tried to “console” us single people by telling us even though we were single, we were still “kind of like real people.”

Thank you to the 98% who treat me like a real person even though I have chosen to remain single up to this point in my life. Thank you for letting me live my life as a “person” instead of a “single person.” To all I pray these thoughts will be enlightening and a blesssing in your christian walk and fellowship.