Book Review: A Match Made In Heaven

A Match Made In Heaven: How Singles And The Church Can Live Happily Ever After, by Wendy Widder

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review.]

When I read the author’s previous book [1], I commented that the book did not really address the plight of singles but was a more comprehensive account of godly living that would be applicable to anyone regardless of their marital status. In contrast, this is very much a book that deals with the thorny place of singles within the modern church. As a single and a very active member of my church denomination and local congregation, I appear to be far more integrated into the local congregation (having always had luck in being adopted by families, as well) than most of the would-be readers of this particular book, but there is a lot about this book that rings painfully true with my own personal experiences. In light of the fact that singlehood and its travails makes up a pretty substantial portion of my church life, it is hard to write about a book like this without being too painfully personal, but I will try to keep it in balance.

There is a lot of tension in this particular book, and it is fortunate that the author recognizes that tension. On the one hand, there are cultural trends towards greater independence (especially for women) and a declining interest in taking the time and effort to let people in or to do the difficult work of making one functioning marriage out of two people. On the other hand, the book is written with a clear goal of legitimizing the status of singles in a church culture that has (largely in response to cultural trends) made a big deal of defending and supporting nuclear families, which tends to attack the legitimacy of those who are unmarried through no fault of their own simply because of a lack of suitable opportunities. On the one hand the book is a pretty clear indictment about the many ways that churches treat singles like escapees from a leper colony (many of which, painfully, I can relate to from personal experience), while on the other hand the book talks about how singles are often pretty jaded and cynical and disinclined to commit to serving a local congregation and community. On the one hand, the book talks about the importance of marriage and family in the Bible (whether we are talking about the extreme importance of marriage in the Talmud or the importance of the family of God, and the marriage of Christ), while on the other it talks about the ways in which our relationship with God is what makes success in all other relationships possible, and that we often make idols of marriage and our earthly families. This sort of tension demonstrates the author seeking to steer a very narrow course between all kinds of possible extremes.

Given the seriousness of the subject and a certain witty and humorous perspective on a part of this author, the tone of the book varies widely across its pages from incisive social commentary, darkly humorous personal stories, thoughtful biblical exegesis (1 Corinthians 7 gets an entire appendix), and what appears to be pre-celibacy counseling similar to that which was dispensed in the previous book of hers that I read [2]. To be fair, some of this difficulty (a lot of this difficulty) is due to the nature of the task. Few people reading this book, and certainly not this reader, are going to be really immediately receptive to the idea of singlehood as a desirable gift, even though it is a proper season for moral development that can offer some benefits of focus on God, if we do not spend all of our time focusing on finding relationships and leaving singlehood far behind and otherwise feeling bitter and put-upon. Singles and the church may seem like an odd couple, but they don’t have to be a match in hell, so long as both sides are willing to take the time to get to know each other, and serve joyfully, seeking to build others in encouragement and share out of the gifts that God has given us all.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/book-review-living-whole-without-a-better-half/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/it-is-not-good-that-man-should-be-alone-an-antidote-to-pre-celibacy-counseling/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/every-day-a-false-start/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/and-will-no-longer-call-me-baali/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/nobody-wants-to-be-lonely/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/cog-bachelor-coming-soon-to-a-webcast-near-you/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, Love & Marriage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Book Review: A Match Made In Heaven

  1. Pingback: Union And Intersection | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. This situation is an on-going dilemma. I have experienced the frustration of singlehood in the church (with all the gossip and lack of appropriate suitors that come with it), marriage to a confirmed bachelor who succumbed to the very culture you describe (trapped with no options without any of the perks), spiritual widowhood (single without the dating perks), and then after a few years of singlehood again–happy marriage, unconventional as it is. When I was a single young woman, the “conduct police” were all over the place with constant accusations of inappropriate conduct. It seemed like we were always called into meetings with an elder or deacon presiding demanding that we answer terribly intrusive questions in order to account for the “questionable” behavior that they had heard about through the rumor mill. I was SO happy when the Tampa congregation began!!!

    Don’t buy into the sexual hype that Satan advertises throughout the airwaves all around us. He ballyhoos sexual activity as though its the best thing since sliced bread–when truthfully, if it happens without mutual intimacy–true love–especially for the first time, it’s messy and not all that great. It can even be a real turn-off. The emotional vulnerability is what makes the experience so special.

    In my own case, God had to choose my mate and then let me know, at the right time, who he was. It took total faith and trust but, if I really wanted happiness, I had to stop thinking about it and let it go. And it also meant understanding that it was God who shaped my future. I had to be prepared, if it was He will, to live out the rest of my natural life without a mate. In the meantime, I had to put that part of my life aside and concentrate on other things. People eventually stopped approaching me about the matter when I simply told them that I was relying solely on God to handle it and that I had already asked Him to let me know the details. That usually sounded weird enough for them to change the subject.

    Young men are especially “singled” out in this church’s culture, which really needs to shift more toward the Pauline train of thought. We, too, are living in dire times and those already married–especially newly so and the younger couples–could be at a disadvantage when it comes to focusing on the necessary matters. You are not alone but you walk an often lonely journey. Your viewpoint must be heard, for it is valid.

    • I’m glad you appreciate the viewpoint, and it is certainly a difficult matter to talk about. This is a subject that pops up a surprising amount in my conversation with others, as part of the context of life, I suppose.

  3. I only wish that we could visualize the true reality. Christ is really at the helm of the tank we are in; dodging the underground IEDs and navigating the twists and turns of mountainous terrain and craggy wilderness deep within enemy territory as He guides us to freedom. Because in the here and now, we often feel that we are struggling through the minefield on our own with everything exploding all around us. But that is the smokescreen–and the antidote is faith, with vision goggles a vital part of the Christian uniform.

  4. Pingback: No Hater Thus Who Rose In Pride | Edge Induced Cohesion

  5. Pingback: Book Review: Play With Fire | Edge Induced Cohesion

  6. Pingback: Book Review: Why You’re Still Single | Edge Induced Cohesion

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