The Bible is very clear on the high value of women - as wives and mothers of Christian families, but also as individual members of the body of Christ. Despite this, unmarried women often feel that somehow God has forgotten about them or passed over their prayers for a husband. Their trust in Him grows shaky as they begin to question His plan for their lives.
Using biblical examples of the single woman's role, Carolyn McCulley encourages readers to recognize that their singleness is not a burden, but a gift from God that allows them to perform a unique role in the church. Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? focuses on building a relationship with Christ as the most important goal for single women.Publishers Description
Through personal anecdotes and careful examination of Scripture, Carolyn McCulley challenges single women to regard their singleness not as a burden, but as a gift from God that allows them to perform a unique role in the body of Christ.
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.52" Width: 5.56" Height: 0.6"
Weight: 0.58 lbs.
Release Date Aug 1, 2004
Publisher GOOD NEWS PUBLISHING #65
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|McCulley Demonstrates How to Treasure God in Singlehood Jul 27, 2008|
|In our efforts to untangle ourselves from a culture that disparages the Biblical standard of femininity, so often we women in the church tragically trade in our "worldly" idols of self sufficiency and independence for new "Christian" idols of the perfect husband, children, and home. In doing so, we not only audaciously tell God that He is not quite good enough for us, but we also often cause our single sisters in Christ to stumble as they lament being the "less than" female image bearers of Christ. In her excellent book, "Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred," Carolyn McCulley urges single Christian women to rejoice in the goodness and sovereignty of God while stewarding their singleness as a God-given gift intended for fruitfulness. While acknowledging the loneliness and hardships that come with living with the deferred hope of one day being married with children, McCulley, a single woman in her forties, addresses her fellow unmarried sisters with dignity, humility, honesty, and loving firmness, often drawing upon illustrations from her own struggles. Rather than relegating female singleness to a pre-Proverbs 31 holding pattern, McCulley urges single women to cultivate Biblical feminine virtues to the glory of God in their current season of life. Using Scripture as her guide, McCulley explores the Proverbs 31 qualities that should increasingly characterize any female follower of Christ, irrespective of her marital status. Accordingly, her book is a treasure to both married and unmarried women who desire to submit to the Biblical standard of femininity. McCulley premises her book with the concept of treasuring and trusting God above all. Recognizing that our Heavenly Father works in and through all of our circumstances for our good, she asks the wise question, "What is God doing with and through my singleness?" (Indeed, similar questions can be asked of married women as well: "What is God doing with and through my marriage? What is God doing with and through my motherhood? What is God doing with and through my infertility?") Viewing her singleness as a "gracious endowment" for the good of those around her, McCulley goes on to describe how the Proverbs 31 picture of femininity applies to the single woman in a way that blesses others. She discusses how a woman can be trustworthy and begin to do her potential future husband good and not harm all the days of her life by guarding her heart and seeking purity now. She calls single woman to submit to what scripture says of marriage, the roles of husbands and wives, and the characteristics to seek out in a godly husband. McCulley gives practical examples of how single women can practice homemaking and hospitality in ways that bless others in their lives now. She directs single women to be wise stewards of their finances and make career decisions that are congruent with their Biblical femininity, taking into account both their current seasons of life and their future. McCulley shows single women how they can seek to be a blessing to children, even if they have none of their own. She urges single women to cultivate inward and outward beauty while guarding against the deception and vanity of charm and outward beauty. She discusses the ways that single woman should be wise and kind in their speech, guarding against disrespect, sinful judgment, and gossip. She offers examples of how a single woman can extend her arms to the needy in her community and in the world. Finally, she concludes with how a single woman can laugh at the days to come, knowing that there is joy in what is to come with or without the blessing of marriage and children. Although I am a married woman, I was deeply convicted and edified by McCulley's teaching on Biblical femininity. She states what is obvious in scripture- we derive our worth and true joy from God himself, not the gifts He chooses to give us (like marriage and children, for example). We must steward the season of life in which we are. Rather than yielding to what our culture or own desires dictate, we must let scripture guide us in our femininity regardless of our circumstances. The reward is fruitfulness to the glory to God and joy for us in each stage of our lives as daughters of the King. |
|Encouraging the Single Woman Mar 1, 2008|
|Carolyn McCulley has written Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? for Christian single women, particularly for women who remain single beyond the time when most women are married. It's a book full of encouragement--encouraging the single woman to trust God with his plan for her life and to live her life fully for His glory.|
After establishing in the first three chapters that singleness is a valuable gift from God, and that God is sovereignly working in all things to bring about his good his plan for our lives, Carolyn McCulley gets to what I consider to be the meat of this book: the nitty-gritty of living the life of a single woman for God's glory. And she bases it all in that famous passage of scripture from Proverbs 31--you know, the Excellent Wife passage.
Here's how she defends her use of this passage as the guide for the single woman:
"The role described in this passage is that of a wife, but her godly, noble character is what all women should desire. It will serve us in every season of our lives."
And she's right, of course. The passage may be about a noble wife, but what's noble in a wife is what's noble in any woman. The Proverbs 31 qualities are qualities of excellence, desirable for every woman in every situation. For example, the noble woman Proverb 31 is a hospitable woman. In the same way, a single woman can use her home to serve others. The excellent wife of Proverbs is generous with the needy, so the single women, too, can learn to look beyond herself and her own needs to consider how she can help meet the needs of others.
Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? is peppered throughout with interesting stories and anecdotes, many from the author's own life; and thankfully, she's not afraid to tell the stories that make her look less than perfect. All this makes for a lively and engaging read, but one that's challenging and thought-provoking as well. If you're a single Christian woman who's trying to sort through the challenges of "a hope deferred", you'll want to read this book. Or if you know a single Christian woman who needs encouragement, recommend this book to her.
|wow Feb 17, 2008|
that was...wow. very impressive! are there any books for singles you would recommend?
|Hard-Hitting (and Practical) Theology for Single Women and Those Who Counsel Them Jul 26, 2007|
|I recently finished reading a book on singleness. It's not the kind of book that I'm usually drawn to. I read hard-hitting theology, meaty fiction or compelling non-fiction. I particularly avoid this genre because experience has taught me that I roll my eyes approximately three times per page (I suppose that shows my own degree of sanctification ... but I digress).|
Historically, I find myself thinking that these books are written by women who are trying to convince themselves that they're okay. I could summarize them as: "I'm okay. I'm Okay. I'm OKAY, right? Okay? Anyone? Anyone?"
Carolyn McCulley is different in "Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred" (title is courtesy of her pastor, Josh Harris). She is not a single woman in search of identity and meaning; she is a woman whose identity and meaning are rooted in Christ ... and her situation happens to be "single." As I said, I usually avoid these books, but I actually sought this one out after reading an article about beauty and later learning that it was an excerpt from this book.
Carolyn McCulley examines the single life in biblical categories that transcend the "single Christian woman" genre and that show that the whole of Scripture speaks to me, as a daughter of God who happens to be single at this stage of my life. And so the book slides back into a genre that's more comfortable for me: hard-hitting (but imminently practical) theology.
As hard-hitting theology, McCulley makes five points that I consider for essential for every identity=Christian-situation=single woman out there. I'm working on internalizing this list:
1. Trusting God with a hope deferred.
2. Contentment while we wait.
3. Faithfulness to sow for the future, even when we're in tears.
4. Graciousness to rejoice when others receive what we would like to have.
5. Humility to pray to be a blessing, rather than to receive a blessing.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I've already recommended this book generously (I'm sure there are a few people who are sick of hearing me talk about it; good thing I've finished it!) -- I think it's essential reading for every Christian-woman-whose-situation-is-singleness, and also for people who are in a position to counsel or encourage single people (e.g. there's a humorous list of things NOT to say to single women at weddings).
Here are a few more brief reasons why I recommend this book so highly:
* She is Gospel and Christ-centered. what Christ accomplished through his life, death and resurrection has a direct impact on the way I live my life as a single woman. She tells us how and models it in a humble and humorous way.
* She emphasizes the sovereignty and the goodness of God in our singleness. Remember: these two characteristics of God go hand-in-hand! I think single people are particuarly susceptible to believing the world's lies about relationships -- especially less-than-subtle hints to "broaden our horizons" and then we'll find a man. Carolyn reminds us that the Lord of heaven and earth is our horizon ... how much broader can you get?!!!
* But while encouraging trust, she does not encourage apathy. She deftly, honestly and biblically maneuvers through the "singleness as a gift" passage by the New Testament's second most prominent single guy (Jesus being the first): the Apostle Paul. Your singleness is a gift TO THE CHURCH, not something akin to a birthday gift that you can trade in for a better color if the original doesn't really suit you. Singleness is a call to wise stewardship, which involves investing ourselves in Christ's body in ways that we are uniquely suited to do. She emphatically rejects the lie that we are of less use to God or to the church -- but in such a way that I was convinced Scripturally, not under the impression that she was trying to convince herself! (By the way, she also recognizes that being single while you desire to be married is a form of suffering and directs readers to the manifold biblical wisdom and counsel to those who suffer.)
* She also offers highly practical advice, both for now and to sow for the future. This ranges from cultivating womanly skills by learning from older women, to counsel to invest for the future, use money wisely and even to buy a house (debunking the "you're giving up hope if you buy a house" myth).
* There are two sections that I would specifically commend: the one on modesty/beauty that first intrigued me, and a passage on speech, especially what our grumbling says about our view of God.
I think what I appreciated about every page of this book is that I was at once affirmed, encouraged and challenged. Affirmed to see that I've already been doing some of the things and cultivating some of the thought patterns that she commends. Encouraged because I was consistently reminded where my deepest identity lies -- in a loving Savior who will withhold no good thing from me, and who cares about the smallest detail of my life. Challenged because there's so much room for maturity -- Carolyn helped me identify several specific areas of thought patterns and serving others where I can target change in the short run.
In the long run? Who knows -- God willing, I'd love to be married and enjoying the fruit of the seeds that I'm sowing now. If not, I have a godly pattern set out before me -- through this hard-hitting theology, a hermeneutic for reading Scripture for a lifetime of biblical womanhood, and through the examples of the women around me, made more recognizeable through this book -- to keep living a cross-centered life, whatever my situation happens to be.
|THE "GIFT OF SINGLENESS" BACKLASH HAS BEGUN May 26, 2006|
|This is not the kind of book that feels good to pan. The author candidly shares her experience of the losses that go along with prolonged unwanted singleness in the family-focused world of evangelical Christianity and offers heartfelt encouragement to the many women who are finding themselves in the same situation today. However, like the overwhelming majority of Christian self-help books on this topic, she hauls out that patronizing, over-used and utterly unbiblical cliché THE GIFT OF SINGLENESS, devoting an entire chapter to its defense titled "Esteeming the Gift". Published two years ago, its timing is most unfortunate as a backlash "rethinking the gift of singleness" has just started to build with a spate of new book writers, such as Debbie Maken, and bloggers appearing on the crest of the wave.
It may seem like a matter of petty semantics and theology, but is it really a problem to call singleness a gift? Yes, if you're suggesting that the Bible calls it a gift, which it does not (see my review of Al Hsu's "Singles at the Crossroads"). Yes, if you are suggesting that if someone is single that it's "God's will" which McCulley does when she says "Ultimately, we are single because that's God's will for us right now. That's it." Who is she to tell us what God's will or plan is for anyone, now or at any time?
This is what one critic calls "outcome based theology", the idea that whatever happens is "God's will", including those things that are caused by sin. It's a springboard to logical leaps contained in the teachings on God's sovereignty particular to late 20th century evangelical leaders including one of her sources, John Piper (author of the infamous post-September 11th article titled "Why I Do Not Say, 'God Did Not Cause the Calamity, but He Can Use It for Good'"). In defending the sovereignty of God (something we should all do), those who lean heavily on these teachings become too quick to frame events in terms of God's personal plan for an individual's life. Aside from leading to the patently presumptuous, insensitive declarations and judgments common to Christian culture, it can overlook, and even justify, the larger sin-based causes of a problem such as protracted singleness.
Indeed, the church currently has a widespread epidemic of protracted singleness on its hands, particularly among women, and it is caused by sin: most notably, the shortage of marriageable Christian men, due to men leaving or avoiding the church. McCulley seems oblivious to the pervasiveness of this problem: "It's not because there are more women than men in our singles group." Hello? Singles group?? How about the whole western world, which has been suffering a dearth of Christian men, as evidenced by CampuslifeCollegeGuide.com male/female ratios, and Barna's calculation of a shortage that's in the MILLIONS. Only recently has Christianity Today identified the gender imbalance as being the issue that "rises to the top" for Christian singles. For years, these women have been living with their failure to find a mate and with no one willing to confirm the true reason for their predicament, going back and forth between self-blaming and blaming God (by-products of outcome-based theology), leading to the invention of "the singles contentment sermon".
Although McCulley mercifully refutes the common misconception that contentment with being single is a prerequisite for God to reward us with the goody of marriage, she erroneously claims that either singleness or marriage is given by God to each of us as our "own grace gift" or "gracious endowment", based on her misreading of 1 Corinthians 7:7. "It's not because we are too old, too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, too quiet, too loud, too smart, too simple, too demanding, or too anything else. It's not wholly because of past failures or sin tendencies." Actually, some of these things can decrease someone's chances of marriage. Making this assumption undermines dealing with the realities of mate-finding that past generations of believers handled with much greater shrewdness and agency. This pragmatic attitude is also reflected in the Bible, where marriage is almost always talked about in terms of human volition: a man "finds a wife" in Proverbs 18:22, or "takes a wife" in 1 Corinthians 9:5. Prior to the reformation, marriage was an agreement, a vow with God, not a gift or a calling.
McCulley's misinterpretations of 1 Cor 7:7 occur because she overlooks the Greek word "idios" preceding "charisma" (grace gift), a common mistake among Christian singleness writers who use Bibles that translate the word as "own". Idios is more correctly translated as "particular" or "peculiar". It's the root of the English word "idiosyncratic", and the French word "idiot", which means "peculiar one". In speaking of this "idios charisma" or "idiosyncratic grace gift", Paul was referring to something much more unique than the either/or status of married or single. He accentuated his point about uniqueness by using a Greek expression still common today: "hos men houto de hos houto", most closely translated in the NASB as "one in this manner, and another in that." It's a figure of speech! "This" and "that" are non-specific: "this" does not mean marriage and "that" does not mean "singleness". As much as he recognized the advantages of singleness at that time of "present distress" v.26, we have no reason to believe that he saw it as a gift or calling. (Nor is McCulley's reference to verse 17, also regarded as non-specific by most Bible scholars, a strong argument for it.) Whatever was his peculiar gift that allowed him to proceed on such a perilous mission alone, Paul probably didn't quite understand himself.
The Living Bible of the 70's was arguably the first to mistranslate 1Cor7:7 to mean that "God gives to some the gift of singleness and to others the gift of marriage", and later, "The Message". With these late 20th century biblical revisions, rogue doctrines on singleness have proliferated throughout the Christian world. The never-married, later disgraced Bill Gothard taught millions who attended his Basic Youth Conflicts seminars that singleness as a gift and a calling, using the terms interchangeably, with the underlying assumption of divine assignment or "rhema". Into the 80's and 90's there may have been some softening attempts that stressed "gift" over "calling", but the two remain inextricably linked. Obviously, this is damage control because there has been damage done. Ellen Varughese in "The Freedom to Marry" wrote at length about Christian singles immobilized in their intent to pursue marriage without any clear "word from the Lord", having been taught to view their default singleness as "God's plan" for their lives, rather than as something that could be caused by individual or generational sin.
From its biblically specious roots to the careerism of Christian singles writers who keep passing it on, "the gift of singleness" does not have an honorable history. It has become a thorn in the side of a generation of surplus Christian women that dismisses their collective grief and allows leaders to hide behind sermons about sovereignty and contentment instead of addressing the sinful causes of this epidemic, such as the flight of men from our churches (as well as teachings that have sown seeds of doubt, ambivalence, and complacency towards pursuing marriage).
We do not need to call singleness a gift to effectively encourage spiritual essentials such as gratitude and contentment, or to honor those who have devoted themselves to celibate service (and wouldn't need the flattery of calling it a gift, if indeed their service is sincere). Even if you take the strictest view on sovereignty, there are plenty of things that God has given that are not considered gifts. When was the last time you heard the Ten Commandments referred to as a gift?
Let's all send "the gift of singleness" to the Christian lexicon trashbin, and work together to persuade church leaders to do the same. We can begin by appealing to the editors of The Message and other modern translations to restore translations of 1Corinthians 7:7 so that they once again conform more closely with the original Greek. If we care about the future of the church, we will need to restore the ordinariness and universality of marriage enjoyed by previous generations of Christians by putting the emphasis back on God's revealed will about marriage, which puts the onus on human volition and agency. And we will once again give singles exactly what they have been lacking: a wholehearted blessing to pursue marriage.
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