Marriage, singleness, and rugby in heaven.
Some say that rugby is the game that we’ll play in heaven (I assume it won’t be compulsory). The idea is that if we’ll play it then, then it’s worth watching and playing now! While they don’t have the Scripture to prove it, they do have the somewhat scary Notre-Dame-du-Rugby chapel in South West France.
Putting rugby to one side (phew!), there is truth in the idea that what we do in the New Creation brings dignity and authenticity to what we do now. As Andrew Cameron argues in Chapter 36 of Joined-up Life, singleness is an example of this. Whilst there will be the ultimate marriage of Christ and his church, in the New Creation, in terms of our person-to-person relationships we will be single (Matt 22:30). This gives singleness a revolutionary dignity and authenticity that our society (and even churches) can rob from it in their idolatry of ‘coupledom’ and ‘the family’.
I wonder if you’ve ever heard one of those sermons on Singleness which ends up being 10 tips on how to get married and which simply doesn’t uphold Paul’s teaching that both singleness and marriage are two ‘right answers’: ‘So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better’ (1 Cor 7:38). Singleness is not a problem to be solved by churches, parents or friends. However, as churches we are to provide a network of close, chaste supportive friendships to help the loneliness that single people (and also married people) can face, and we can pray that God might provide a partner in his time, if that’s what they want. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be married. There is a lot wrong with cultures (in church or wherever) that suggest you need to be.
This is a fabulous chapter from Cameron. It’s so good. I particularly liked his comments on how single people are harbingers of the New Creation - offering a glimpse a glimpse of heavenly society: ‘they show how care and intimacy can go beyond family boundaries. They nudge members of families out of the introverted obsession with family life that becomes its dark side’.
This raises thoughts for me like:
· When did we last have a single friend over for dinner?
· Does the language I use uphold an idolatry of coupledom?
· How can I learn from the example of my single friends not to be overly distracted by family stuff?
· I no longer want to ask ‘is there anybody on the scene?’ (implying they are lacking if there is not) but rather ‘how are your friendships going?’ or something similar...
We may not play rugby in heaven, but as Cameron explains, in the new future we will gather on a new basis – not culture or genes or kinship – but our united worship of the lamb on the throne! (Rev 7)