Danylak starts by examining the issue of singleness vs marriage in the Old Testament covenants and then methodically traces the development of the issue through Scripture. He notes, for example, the absolute centrality of childbearing in the Old Testament for continuing the family name and tenure of land, given that the barren and the eunuch were ignominious states at that time; whereas in the New Testament this centrality is removed and the barren and the eunuch like all other states may know the perfect sufficiency provided in Christ.
‘Neither marriage nor children is a fundamental marker of being blessed by God in the new covenant as all blessings come through Christ – Eph. 1.3. Nothing can remotely compare with the glory and weight of these new covenant blessings’.
He sees no contradiction between this and Gen. 2.18 (‘It is not good for the man to be alone…’).
Danylak also notes how the Apostle Paul did have some extended times of solitude, but that he also had many different companions, addressed many in robust family language and enjoyed deep spiritual intimacy with his converts and fellow believers. In explaining this, Danylak writes,
‘Neither Jesus nor Paul as single men were devoid of relationships. On the contrary, their relationships flourished in both number and depth by the freedom and flexibility their singleness afforded them’.
And he includes a wonderful explanation of the amazing eunuch passage in Matthew 19:12!
Danylak discusses the extent of the fulfillment of the Old Testament practices in the New Testament as opposed to it being a completely new paradigm; whilst Paul’s view on sexual morality is firmly rooted in the Old Testament, his take on marriage and singleness is not from a traditional Jewish perspective. He also attempts a thorough explanation of the challenging 1 Corinthians 7:1-40 passage on marriage and singleness.
Along the way you can also garner a lot of fascinating insights into marriage and related matters in Greco-Roman cultures, examining the contrast with Christianity’s ‘monotheistic sibling faiths of Judaism, Islam and Mormonism in affirming both marriage and singleness as something good within the new family of God’. He explains that these contrasts arise because ‘Jesus Christ has come in human history as God’s offspring and that through him come all the blessings of the new covenant.’
Forget this book if you are looking for the usual self-help guide, or practical tips on overcoming loneliness or how to live a fulfilled single life. BUT do pick it up if you are interested in a scholarly and in-depth analysis of the issue in Scripture – a book which clearly breaks new ground.
The main challenge for the reader will be the writing style, which is dense and academic. However, if you can cope with this, you will be blessed with many insights.
"Redeeming Singleness" by Barry Danylak
Published in 2010 by Crossway
£10.99 (£6.68 Kindle version)