The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: L

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"It is not good that a man should be alone" (Gen 2:18).
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 resort.

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 marriage.

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 reasoning.

So what are Paul's reasons for remaining single?

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