Book Review: Singled Out, Part 1

By | November 28, 2011

Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today's ChurchSingled Out is the best book I’ve read in years—I can hardly say enough good about it. It directly addresses a couple of issues most fundamental to those of us living in our western culture, and does so in a way no one else that I am aware of has done. Beyond that, the conclusions that the authors, Dr. Christine Colón and Bonnie Field, come to are Christ-centric and in line with the new testament in contrast to the vast majority of churches and Christians today, particularly within conservative evangelicalism. Unfortunately, the title and promotion of the book focuses on singles and celibacy. I say this is unfortunate because I fear that this will limit its audience. While these things are central to the discussion in this book, the topics addressed are very important for any Christian today—married or single—and especially for church leaders.

This is certainly one of the best researched and most thorough books I have ever read, as the eleven pages of bibliography and nine pages of end notes—all in small print—attest to. The authors don’t simply talk about their own personal feelings on this subject. They thoroughly examine the all modern view points, both inside and outside of Protestantism, as well as covering the breadth of church history. They examine and debate each view point. This certainly strengthens their final conclusions as well as giving the reader a clear understanding of the whole subject. However, while the book has the thoroughness of a dissertation, it isn’t written on an academic level but is instead quite accessible.

While I love this book and am wholeheartedly convicted of the importance of its conclusions, I can imagine a couple of related groups of Christians who may be strongly opposed to its message. In both cases, it will be people who idolize marriage (or at least romantic love). A focus on the family seems to be a deeply rooted value in conservative evangelicalism. I can imagine some would oppose this book simply because they can’t let go of the idea that it somehow downplays and/or weakens the family. The second group would be those Christians who put their hope in marriage. A number of years ago I was surprised by how despised Josh Harris’s book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” was by many people. Though I can’t say for certain, my best understanding was that people who were frustrated by lack of relational success felt that his book would make getting a boyfriend or girlfriend just that much more difficult. I imagine these people will feel similarly about Singled Out, since the authors affirm that it is ok to be single, and encourage singles to focus on God rather than searching for a mate.

I would certainly encourage any Christian to read Singled Out. Even non-Christians may find this book interesting. While singles will probably find it especially helpful, I want to specifically encourage church leaders to read this book as well. If we operate out of a paradigm that doesn’t match truth and reality, we end up hurting people. When this happens, we must shift to a more accurate view, one which is closer to the truth. Singled Out offers this kind of paradigm shift. For this reason, many will no doubt find its message quite challenging.

In part 2 I will offer an overview of the paradigm that Singled Out champions.

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