Item description for Singles at the Crossroads: A Fresh Perspective on Christian Singleness by Albert Y. Hsu...
Overview IVP Print On Demand Title A fresh perspective on Christian singleness. Christian singles need neither more how-to books for meeting the prefect mate nor trite advice on suffering through the single life. What is lacking is a truly Christian understanding of singleness - what it means to be single and Christian. Hus suggests that a balanced, biblical view is one that honors singleness as a status equal to marriage.
Publishers Description One of the 1998 Academy of Parish Clergy Top Ten Books of the Year Nearly half of adults today are unmarried. But most churches emphasize marriage and family, leaving many Christian singles feeling marginalized or alienated. Though they look to Jesus and Paul as role models, many suspect they would be more acceptable to the church--and God--if they settled down and got married. Albert Hsu challenges this view. Christian singles don't need tips on finding a mate or advice on suffering through the single life. What they need is a truly Christian understanding of singleness--a biblically grounded, theologically informed perspective that honors singleness equally with marriage and family. Moving beyond pat answers, Hsu debunks the myth of the "gift of singleness" chronicles how the church has overemphasized both singleness and marriage works through discerning God's will as a single Christian explains why searching for the right marriage partner can be misguided--even unbiblical grapples with loneliness, aloneness and community warns of common mistakes regarding dating, love and sex Hsu draws insight from an interview with John Stott as well as from the stories of other Christian students and professionals. Ultimately, singleness is not a problem to be solved by marriage, he says; rather, like marriage, it is an opportunity in which to follow Jesus.Singles at the Crossroads points the way to a Christian community where all members are valued, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, married and single.
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Studio: IVP Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.16" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.56" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Nov 27, 1997
Publisher IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN 0830813535 ISBN13 9780830813537
Reviews - What do customers think about Singles at the Crossroads: A Fresh Perspective on Christian Singleness?
ALMOST Debunking the "Gift" of Singleness Myth May 22, 2006
"The Gift of Singleness" has recently (finally!) become a hot topic among Christian singles. Used almost universally among Christian writers ministering to singleness (13000 websites and counting), its most recent detractors argue that it is too closely linked with "called to singleness", an obsolete notion that places inordinate emphasis on receiving special revelation or "word from the Lord" about his plan to either marry or stay single. Debbie Maken is one of the critics who believes that it also overemphasizes contentment in the face of a growing problem of protracted singleness that affects mostly women, creating confusion about God's will, as well as complacency about taking timely action towards marriage. What's more, it's an entirely modern term, unheard of by previous generations of Christians who never considered singleness or marriage to be a gift or a calling, and weren't afraid to use agency to find a spouse.
A predecessor to this movement, Albert Hsu's book promised to debunk the "myth of the gift of singleness", but added to the confusion by putting another spin on it. In this write-up of how he did this, I hope to illustrate how we've gotten stuck with this lousy gift and why it needs to go, not back to the gift shop "for an exchange" as Hsu cheerfully suggests, but straight to the Christian lexicon trashcan.
Hsu's "gift of singleness" begins the same way as with other Christian writers on the topic: with a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:7: "Here's how we can read verse 7. `I wish that all were as I myself am [single]. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind [singleness] and another a different kind [marriage]' (NRSV). Some have one gift and others have another. Some are single and some are married. If you have one gift, you don't have the other. They're mutually exclusive." He credits these insights for this passage from The Message, which reads the latter part of the verse as "God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.", even though that is NOT what Paul said or meant!
This misinterpretation all started with the Living Bibles of the early 70's that were most likely trying to downplay the "gift of celibacy" or bring modern relevance to the passage by making it about singleness. But even Gordon Fee says no one can be sure if "I myself am" in the first half is referring to singleness or celibacy. One thing that Fee and other scholars have overlooked was the Greek word IDIOS that precedes "gift" ("charisma": Greek for grace gift) in the second half of the verse. Idios is more correctly translated as "particular" or "peculiar", as a matter of fact, it's the root of the English word "idiosyncratic", and the French word "idiot", which means "peculiar one".
Now, why all the fuss about IDIOS? Because: Paul was talking about something idiosyncratic, not something either/or. Your thumbprint is idiosyncratic, there's none other like it. The rh factor of your blood is NOT idiosyncratic: you're either positive or negative. Also, Marital status is not idiosyncratic: you're either married or you're not. The "idios charisma" Paul was referring to was neither singleness nor marriage: he was talking about his own preference and relating that with an aside about the uniqueness of our gifts from God. He accentuates his point about uniqueness using a Greek expression still common today: "hos men houto de hos houto", most closely translated in the KJV and NASB as "one after/in this manner, and another after/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", or vice versa, as the Living Bible, The Message and Al Hsu have concluded! Nor can we assume that Paul was claiming to have some special gift of celibacy: whatever was his gift that allowed him to proceed on such a perilous mission alone, he probably didn't quite understand himself. Certainly, there's no biblical evidence to suggest that God took away his sexual desires, (but plenty that suggests he struggled with something of a fleshly nature), nor has this happened to anyone else. However Paul may have been gifted, he was gifted in his own particular way.
And so what does this mean? THERE IS NO SUCH THING FOR ANY OF US AS "THE GIFT OF SINGLENESS" OR "THE GIFT OF CELIBACY" for that matter. The Bible almost always talks about marriage and singleness pragmatically in terms of PERSONAL VOLITION, rather than divine calling: a man "finds a wife" in Proverbs 18:22, or "takes a wife" in 1 Corinthians 9:5, "made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven" in Matthew 19:12. And it seems that Hsu is trying to affirm this volitional quality by stating that "The "gift" of singleness is descriptive, not restrictive. It does not prevent singles from getting married if they so desire and circumstances permit."
However well-intentioned Hsu's attempts at this revision of the term, it still carries with it the heavy history of biblical misinterpretation and mid 20th century church leaders, (proliferated particularly by the never married but later disgraced Bill Gothard) who used the term to over-emphasize the need for divine revelation for being "called" to marriage or singleness, creating untold agony and distress for countless numbers of single people, as described by Ellen Varughese in The Freedom to Marry. "Called to singleness" and "gift of singleness" are inextricably linked.
We don't need to call singleness a gift to encourage people to work with its advantages and be content, or use it to honor those who devote themselves to celibate service (and they don't need the flattery of having it called a gift, if indeed their service is sincere). Even if God values single people and married people equally, it is patronizing and dismissive to suggest that singleness and marriage are of gifts equal value to the majority singles who indeed want to marry but can't find partners, as is the case with the many Christian women today who vastly outnumber their male cohorts. Deeming singleness a gift has become a Pollyanna ploy for avoiding issues, like the gender imbalance and other factors behind widespread protracted singleness, such as the bad teachings that go along with calling singleness a gift, as outlined in Maken's book (and my review of it).
Let's all stop using it, 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 go back to translations of 1Corinthians 7:7 that conform more closely with the original Greek.
Best book ever written on Christian singleness Jun 28, 2005
Most books written for Christian singles center around preparing for marriage or what to do while you're waiting for Mr. Right to come along. But what happens if Mr. Right never shows up? Albert Hsu is one of the few writers bold enough to take on this disturbing (to some) issue. He demolishes this "gift of singleness" talk and rightly points out that anyone who is currently single has been given the gift of singleness, at least for now. The history of how singleness was viewed in the church was also very instructive, considering the current emphasis on the family and "family values." As someone who has been single far longer than she expected, I reread this book from time to time to remind myself that God does not consider singles in any way inferior to those who are married.
Yay Oct 30, 2004
If you are single and Christian, read this book when you graduate from high school and again at the end of every decade of your life. Yay.
best in breadth and depth overall on the subject Jan 22, 2004
Dear friends of singles and singles. First things, though I read the this site reviews and use this site lots, and have thought of writing a review, this is the first I have written, ever. Why? Because, after countless discussion on singleness and marriage with folks, God and myself, I have found Hsu's book to be the most well-rounded and comprehensive, taking into account the breadth, depth and width of the worldwide and historical Church/Body of Christ, though clearly evangelical. After working with college campus ministry for 8 years, teaching college students 8 years, and teaching secondary for 6 years, this issue is very much discussed, debated even. And after living overseas for 6 years and visiting a dozen plus nations and the ethnicities, languages, ideas, religions, pedagogies, denominations, worship styles, theologies, etc., I realize in a much more profound way how so much of who I am and what I think is very much a construct of the culture and subcultures I am and were a part of. Short of it: all of us wear tainted lenses (though we seldom see it--"the fish never thinks of the water he is in" !!!), Hsu helped me to see that (though not his goal I am sure) and thus a fresh "perspective" on singleness/celibacy/chastity and I stand once again in wonder at Christ the Creator's diversity, greatness and goodness for all of us, single or married, and His Kingdom Will.
I wish I had this book before I got married Jan 2, 2003
This may sound disheartening coming from a married Christian, but I've come to take the Bible seriously when it talks about singleness and marriage - Singleness should be actively encouraged, and Marriage merely tolerated. Paul was every bit as inspired by the Holy Spirit when he advised the Corinthians to stay single unless sexual frustration would lead to adultery or fornication as he was when he wrote that Jesus was the one mediator between God and humankind. I was delighted to find a book that finally takes the Bible seriously on this issue, and upbraids the Church for celebrating earthly marriage (lots of Genesis 2) without balancing it with the New Testament's teaching (1 Corinthians 7). Looking back on my life, I'm not sure that I'd repeat my marriage if I had it to do over again. Paul was 100% on the money when he wrote that married people will experience distress in this life. Too many people are getting married; they've been sold the notion that marriage is necessary for a person to be complete, along with silly idealizations of marriage. There probably isn't a "soul mate" for you. Marriage is a struggle between two people who need to limit themselves for each other, often requiring mutual disappointment (like when you want to rent Blade Runner, your wife wants to rent Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and you settle on Austin Powers). Men and women don't share the same sexual priorities - men want to constantly experiment, women generally think anything but the usual reproductive coitus is icky and degrading. Most men are really indifferent towards children, and fatherhood has very few rewards - women, however, have an uncontrollable urge to spawn and ga-ga over babies. Marriage is hard work, sex is unrewarding (with five years of marriage under my belt, let me tell you that there is no great mystery or fabulous personal growth to be gained through sex - it's simply an itch that needs to be scratched). A single person who is content in themselves can accomplish much more in life, and Hsu gives us the Biblical ammunition to fend off the Promise Keepers/Focus on the Family mob that'd brainwash us all into thinking that marriage is a requirement for the Christian life. If you're an unmarried young person, I'd advise reading books like this to get a full picture about what the Bible says about marriage and singleness, and to keep an open mind about what God has planned for your life.