"It is not good that a man should be alone" (Gen
How true these words are. With the exception of the hermit or
proverbial "loner", nearly all human beings crave the comfort of companionship.
In fact, it has been common throughout history to punish people by depriving
them of companionship and human interaction. They call this solitary
confinement. This punishment is so devastating and severe that it is used on
only the most uncontrollable and incorrigible inmates as a matter of last
Everyone has at some time in his life experienced the emotion
we call loneliness. For a few, the experience is short-lived and insignificant,
while for others the experience is a tremendous burden and seems to last
forever. There is a difference between being alone and loneliness. Being alone
simply means not having anyone else around. This can be a very positive
experience. A young mother may cherish a few hours alone to recharge her
batteries. Jesus himself on several occasions left the crowds to go into the
mountains to be alone. In contrast, loneliness is a feeling. You can be in a
room full of people and still feel lonely.
Since loneliness is a feeling, it is a mistake to project our
definition and concept of loneliness upon other people. Loneliness is really our
need for human interaction minus the interaction we actually get. It is as
individual as the individual. For some it is the depth of relationships that is
missing from their lives, while for others it is the breadth of relationships.
It is intuitive for us to think of a certain type of person as
lonely: a person who has been searching for -- but never found -- a mate, a
person who after years of raising children finds herself in an empty house, a
person who has physical limitations which do not allow him to get out much. Yet,
many of these people might be quite content in their condition. On the other
hand, some whom one might assume to be anything but lonely may be the loneliest
people of all: the young mother who craves adult conversation, the leader on
whom everyone depends, but who has no one to which to turn, the 'life of the
party' person who never develops deep friendships, or the spouse in a loveless
The ecclesia should be a haven for the lonely. The ecclesia is
supposed to be one big family. As anyone knows who ever grew up in a big family,
being alone is difficult in a house full of people. Too often we fall short of
this ideal. People get busy with their lives and fail to realize that an
ecclesial member is lonely. People tend to hide things such as loneliness fairly
well -- so that to the casual observer everything seems fine. You don't have to
pry into people's personal lives to see if they are lonely. If you suspect
someone is lonely and you wish to help, even the smallest efforts can make a
huge difference. Invite the older widow to come with you to your child's soccer
game. Ask the young mother if she would like to grab some lunch and chat in a
place where the kids can play. See the young man who is far from home if he has
plans for the coming holiday, and would like to spend it with your family. Tell
your friend in the difficult marriage that you are there for them if they ever
want to talk.
If you are one of those lonely people, perhaps the best way to
relieve your loneliness is to find a way to help people in an interactive way.
Go and serve once a week in a soup kitchen, nursing home or orphanage. Get
involved with the youth at your ecclesia by taking them on outings or helping
with your youth group. Think specifically what it is that you feel you are
missing from your life and what behaviors contribute to that state -- and put a
plan in place to change it.
No, it is not good that man should be alone. Maybe TOGETHER we
can overcome it.
"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be
alone; I will make him an help meet for him." Following this observation, God
created woman and thus the institution of marriage. From this simple chain of
events, we could easily draw the conclusion that marriage is the Divine answer
to loneliness and since loneliness is "not good" in the eyes of God, everyone
should marry. It is the highest ideal for which we should all strive.
If this is true as a blanket statement, it seems odd that the
Apostle Paul would suggest to us that, "I would that all men were even as I
myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and
another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for
them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it
is better to marry than to burn" (1Co 7:7-9). The Apostle has suggested to us
that remaining chaste and single is a higher calling than being married. Doesn't
this fly in the face of what we have read in Genesis?
We can't make that judgment without examining Paul's
So what are Paul's reasons for remaining single?
- It is a matter of TIME. He tells us in v 29 that the time is short. One can
sense in Paul that things concerning the Son of God and the Gospel message are
incredibly urgent as we are racing forward toward the culmination of human
history -- the Kingdom of God on earth.
- It is a matter of PRIORITY. Things
of this life, including taking a wife or husband, are wasting precious time and
energy that could be devoted to "the Lord's affairs". Paul declares, "What I
want is for you to be free of concern. An unmarried man concerns himself with
the Lord's affairs, with how to please the Lord; but the married man concerns
himself with the world's affairs, with how to please his wife; and he finds
himself split. Likewise the woman who is no longer married or the girl who has
never been married concerns herself with the Lord's affairs, with how to be holy
both physically and spiritually; but the married woman concerns herself with the
world's affairs, with how to please her husband. I am telling you this for your
own benefit, not to put restrictions on you -- I am simply concerned that you
live in a proper manner and serve the Lord with undivided devotion" (vv 32-35,
Complete Jewish Bible).
- It is a matter of WILL. Some people are stronger
than others and more ready to endure suffering for the sake of Christ. There is
no sin in "doing well" (marrying) and doing better (not marrying). Paul makes
the distinction very clearly when he states, "Now if a man thinks he is behaving
dishonorably by treating his fiancee this way, and if there is strong sexual
desire, so that marriage is what ought to happen; then let him do what he wants
-- he is not sinning: let them get married. But if a man has firmly made up his
mind, being under no compulsion but having complete control over his will, if he
has decided within himself to keep his fiancee a virgin, he will be doing well.
So the man who marries his fiancee will do well, and the man who doesn't marry
will do better" (vv 36-38, Complete Jewish Bible).
- Finally, it is a matter
of FEELING THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD. Paul does not deal with it in the 1Co 7
passage, but he does deal with it elsewhere. We are the bride of Christ. We are
to be to Christ as the wife is to the husband. If we feel the real and tangible
nature of this relationship, we are never truly alone. Jesus has promised us
that "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb 13:5). The good shepherd
is always with us. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they
comfort me" (Psa 23:4). Yes, it is true that it is not good for man to be alone.
Yet, once we come into the saving name of Jesus Christ, how can we ever again be
truly alone? (KT)