Single, old and alone? (John and Charlie discuss)
Two men of different ages (John, 67, and Charlie, 22) put questions to each other about what singleness has meant to their life and what it means to them now.
Questions from an older man to younger man
John: Society has become more liberal since I was your age. What are the greatest pressures you feel in order to conform to society’s expectations of being in a relationship?
Charlie: There’s a pressure to think of sex not as something that is holy and sacred, but as little more than satisfying an appetite. I know some of my non-Christian friends have found it confusing to see the seriousness with which Christians treat sex. There’s also the idea that life’s meaning is in enjoyment, great experiences and self-fulfilment, so something like singleness seems foolish when we see only the challenges and frustrated longings associated with it. Singleness doesn’t have to be the life of despair that many think it is; following God is good even when I do find it difficult.
John: What are your hopes for a single life?
Charlie: I’m not sure yet. I hope to have friends who I can stay close with for the long term, even if that’s just a small number of people. I am graduating soon and I know I won’t see lots of my friends as regularly as I do now. I see the benefits of singleness in having more free time and flexibility, so a more short-term hope is that I could figure out how and where I could best serve God with that time.
John: What do you do, as a single person, to ensure that you remain a committed member of your local church?
Charlie: At university I have developed a few close friendships, particularly male friendships, which I didn’t have many of in school. I try to make sure I am being honest with them about the things I am struggling with (not just to do with sexuality). I know they would be worried about me if they weren’t seeing me at church! I am on different rotas and committed to some church activities; this is a good way of getting to know other people in the church better and stops me from being too focused inwardly. I try to prepare myself for church on Sunday by praying for the preacher and others involved and reading any Bible passages for the sermon in advance, which hopefully helps to counter apathy.
Questions from a younger man to an older man
Charlie: Have you felt loneliness and a lack of physical intimacy and how have you dealt with it?
John: Humanity was created to have a relationship with God, where Jesus should be central. Before becoming a Christian I went through phases in life where I have felt loneliness and a lack of physical intimacy acutely, and to some extent still do. I would try and fulfil these feelings in a relationship, but that was fruitless.The Bible tells us man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. TFT has been a great source of providing friendships of all different ages, who know the struggle and to be there as a sounding board and support. God has given us all gifts to use to help others in whatever way that we can.
Charlie: How has your relationship with God helped you to be content in your singleness?
John: We are told that in the beginning God said “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God knew that it was important for humans to have that fellowship with each other. My present and future are not dependent on meeting someone. Jesus said, “He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother” and I believe it is through Him that true contentment comes. Knowing that He is always there through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, unveiling His plan for us. By praying, trusting and being obedient to His Word will bring the contentment we desire. I put myself in His hands knowing He knows better than I do.
Charlie: From your life experience what advice would you give to a young person facing same-sex attraction today who wants to follow orthodox Bible teaching?
John: Some churches condone monogamous SSA relationships and the young can be confused and fall into believing a lie if they are not versed in God's Word. It is important to find a church that follows orthodox teaching, but also one that shows compassion, love and support through what maybe a difficult period in their lives. Finding good and faithful friendships are very important too. Young people can rely a lot on social media for their 'faceless friends.' Church friendships are good but eventually non-SSA friends can get married or move away, leaving a feeling of isolation. I was encouraged at my last TFT Conference to see a good number of young people who are striving to be obedient to God's Word.