Monthly Archives: April 2016

Things I want to tell the Married People in my Seminary

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So this last term, I had a class called Christian Marriage.

I enjoyed it! My professor is an excellent communicator, knew the material really well, and used real-life experiences (most of which are his own, which are mostly hilarious) as illustrations.

And because the class is called Christian Marriage, and because majority of the student population of IGSL are married, naturally, majority of the class was composed of married people. And because most of the students lived on campus with their own families, a lot of the married couples attended the class together. So they basically got to attend a two-hour weekly Marriage Seminar.

Then there are the singles. The singles, a small fraction of the population of the class. It’s like they didn’t know what to do with us, so they just dumped us into the class. But maybe I’m just being cynical.

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We are just a few of the single population of IGSL. We exist!

So I sat there in class, listening to my professor talk about marriage problems and how to relate with the in-laws, trying my hardest to relate to the interesting, but unrelatable topics. Some of my single classmates had given up altogether trying to relate and simply went to class just for attendance.

And like these fellow single classmates, there are some things I wish I could tell the married people / teachers / curriculum-developers / whoever-is-in-power-and-in-charge-of-the-courses here in seminary:

  • Why does it seem like everyone assumes that all the singles want to get married? Marriage is good, I get it. But singleness is also good. I don’t hear enough of THAT here.
  • Why not have a Christian Singleness / Celibacy class?! It’s a brilliant idea, if I may say so. Or okay, fine, so I might concede that there are certain topics about marriage I need to learn about, for future reference in the ministry. In that case, the class should be renamed Christian Marriage and Singleness. It would be divided into two parts: the first part would be a combination of Marrieds and Singles, and in the second part, the Marrieds and Singles would have their own classes.
  • This two-part class would be great, especially when it came to discussing some topics like sex and sexuality. Yeah, sexuality from a single person’s perspective – there’s an idea! It would also eliminate awkwardness from the marrieds and singles.
  • Speaking of which, I wonder why the marrieds assume that we know nothing about sex? Why treat us like naïve children as if we won’t be able to handle the discussion about sex? Seriously?

WHY GO THROUGH ALL THE TROUBLE?

The other day, one of the people-in-authority here said she read my Single’s Manifesto, and she commented that we did use to have a Christian Singleness class. But then they thought, Oh they’ll all get married anyway, so let’s just scrap that class off.

I was genuinely saddened when I heard that.

Because I don’t think we hear enough of the perspective of single ministers / missionaries, if at all. Already, in many cultures, singles are deemed less qualified to minister. This seminary, this unique place of learning, could’ve been that place where this notion could be challenged and examined, or at least this could have been the place where a conversation about this could be started. Sayang.

Also, I know how the desire (take note, desire!) for marriage can be enslaving. This desire… it can possess you, control you, and rule your thoughts and motives. It creeps in slowly, subtly, until it has grabbed ahold of you. Then it starts suffocating you.

I think communicating that not being married is also fulfilling can be liberating! And it doesn’t mean eliminating all longings for marriage. I know I still dream of marriage someday.. It’s just claiming the freedom of knowing that singleness and marriage are equally good and fulfilling in their own ways.

Last but not least, it would communicate that they value the singles. I’ve heard it said once or twice that the community here wants to be sensitive to singles. Well, this is one way of putting your money where your mouth is, methinks.

All this to say: I just wish for an avenue, a safe space for authentic communication of these really relevant issues. 

“Well, why don’t you start it?” some of you may say. Well, my impact won’t be as great as when it comes as a mandate from the authorities / leadership, will it?

ALL THAT BEING SAID, in no way am I saying that the people in my seminary are complete jerks to the singles. And I hope you don’t walk away cynical of the Christian community consisting of married people. We are not all insensitive. But I think, I believe, we can be more sensitive.

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I am Loved to the Skies (A Single’s Manifesto Pt.1)

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In this last term of my first year in seminary, I had a class called “Christian Marriage”.

The class was dominated by couples attending the class together. While I found the class interesting, I think what I appreciated most is my teacher’s effort to make the conversation relevant to the singles such as myself, although I think more can be done about this.

(Because until IGSL* comes up with a class called “Christian Singleness / Celibacy,” profs will be left with the awkward responsibility to try to make the class relevant to single students. But that’s another blog post for another time.)

Going back: so while the couples did their married couple-centric assignments, we were tasked to come up with a Single’s Manifesto, which I actually really enjoyed writing!

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ATTITUDE TO MYSELF

As a single person, I embrace my identity, and it is this: that I am someone of infinite worth, a precious child of the Ruler of the Heavens, formed intricately from the womb, whose paths have been determined before the hinges of the world were in place, and who God Himself went down to the depths for and who He loved to the skies.

I will, only by the everlasting grace of God, live in this Truth moment by moment.

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I recognize and celebrate how God designed me as a unique Person: as someone with specific legitimate needs which ultimately will only be met by God, but which God allows to be met through other legitimate ways. I will not apologize for my needs, but be open to the ways in which God will choose to meet these needs.

I will strive to take responsibility for my own words, actions and choices. I will remind myself that in almost everything, I have a choice to make. However, I will understand the consequences of my choices and take myself to task regarding these. I will seek ways to grow in making wiser choices progressively.

I will seek opportunities to develop my talents and skills, knowing that this is the best way to honor God and steward these things. By committing to hone these talents, I am celebrating God’s unique design of me. Moreover, I commit to dedicate these talents for the sole purpose of glorifying God.

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I will be patient and gracious to myself, knowing that God Himself is patient and gracious with me, and that this is one way of loving myself. I will be kind to myself, because I understand that a lack of grace for myself is an indication of pride.

I will look at the present with joy, knowing that the only Person ever whose love for me is the purest, strongest, holiest is with me, has always been with me and will always be with me.

And I will look to the future with a calm, joyous assurance that this same Person has a plan and path laid out for me from the beginning of beginnings.

Whether this plan includes another human being I shall join with in marriage or not will not shake my faith, will not steal my joy, nor will it make me paralyzed with fear, because God Almighty is with me.

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*IGSL = International Graduate School of Leadership. My current school.