By Debbie Maken
Crossway Books, 2006
This book comes at a crucial point in my life. Over the past few years, I have gradually become aware that many of my firmly entrenched beliefs and pet philosophies have absolutely no Biblical basis. This is quite a painful thing for my prideful self to admit, for agreeing with God has meant that I’ve had to restructure my life in almost every area.
One major area that I have had to rethink is life purpose. As God has opened my eyes to see more clearly His design, I find myself becoming distressed as I see how far the world has strayed. Speaking candidly as a twenty-four year old woman longing to follow God’s pattern of marriage and family, I am saddened to see the many other singles who wait…and wait…and wait for that special someone to drop on their doorstep. I’m horrified at the rampant immaturity of young people who put off responsibility in favor of self-indulgent autonomy. And I have a bone to pick with today’s stupendously protracted, ineffective educational system.
It’s been said before that the Christian’s theme song shouldn’t be "Que Sera, Sera" (What will be, will be). And yet many seem to embody this lackadaisical attitude in regards to marriage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered people who refuse to think or talk about it for fear of discontentment or disappointment. They would rather suddenly experience the Big Surprise: one day, poof, they’ll get married. Permit me a cynical laugh.
After reading this book, I don’t feel any better. If anything, the situation is worse than I’d imagined. Debbie Maken doesn’t hesitate to make some rather bold statements about current popular teachings on singleness. She’s not just being a reactionary. She’s careful to point out that what she has to say is nothing new, rather, it has strong Biblical, as well as historical, basis. On this point, of course, I must encourage my readers simply to read the book in its entirety, and to study their Bibles for themselves. I’m not foolish enough to miss the fact that there are plenty of books that say exactly the opposite of what Mrs. Maken sets forth.
The first surprising idea that Mrs. Maken suggests is that marriage and singleness are not two equally valid options for the Christian. In fact, she believes that marriage is God’s normative pattern for His children, with only a few clearly defined exceptions.
“Marriage remains God’s revealed will (revealed in his Word, the Bible, as what he wants), even if as a culture we have made its attainment an elusive, secret, perpetual guessing game. Scripture states that ‘God created man in his own image…male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1:27). This means that the male-female union is for God’s own glory; marriage reflects his image far better than either sex individually.” (p.22)
Second, she posits that intentionally prolonged singleness (as distinguished from celibacy—see chapter 10) is sin. “…The belief that remaining single is legitimate and godly is a work of the devil. Read that again: Satan dishonors marriage by fooling us into believing that singleness is okay.” (p.43) While discussing the meaning of Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that man should be alone”, she quotes Martin Luther:
“It is not good…[this means that] God knows what is better for you than you yourself…. If you deem it otherwise…you neither understand nor believe God’s word and work. See, with this statement of God one stops the mouths of all those who criticize and censure marriage.” (p.24)Third, she states that a lack of male leadership in both families and churches is a major reason that there is such confusion about what God says about marriage and life purpose.
“ It is no longer considered cowardice not to take on responsibility. Many men wish for a return to their collegiate days, preferring to live in an environment requiring little responsibility, maximum autonomy, and few, if any, expectations of family or for family. They want all the pleasures of childhood and the pleasure of being treated like an adult without the pain of adulthood.” (p.72)
Many other equally explosive observations and conclusions are contained in this small volume. But most revolutionary of all, Debbie Maken actually suggests that the Christian’s life and thought should be based soundly on the Bible and not on what’s currently popular, socially acceptable, or traditionally taught. Biblical Christianity is not defined by what makes us feel the most comfortable.
It’s much easier to point out a problem than to present a solution. I would have liked more elaboration from Mrs. Maken on this point. But perhaps she is wise, for what she suggests is hard enough: a radical change in our thinking. As A. W. Tozer said, “The dearer the error, the more dangerous and the more difficult to correct, always.” (The Divine Conquest, p. 16)
It is humanly impossible to write a book free from error or omission. In this respect Debbie Maken is no different than any other author. I think she has more to learn regarding the differing, yet complimentary, design of men and women. She greatly underestimates the effect of radical feminism on the church and fails to fully delineate the paradoxical nature of Biblical contentment. But these are minor faults compared to the great service she has done in issuing the call for a return to a Biblical understanding of marriage and singleness. I am extremely grateful.
Go here for a Q&A session with Debbie Maken.