An old (2007) sermon from John Piper: “Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters.”
I will start and end with my main point and, in the middle, cover a wide terrain of Scripture to support it. My main point is that God promises those of you who remain single in Christ blessings that are better than the blessings of marriage and children, and he calls you to display, by the Christ-exalting devotion of your singleness, the truths about Christ and his kingdom that shine more clearly through singleness than through marriage and childrearing. The truths, namely,
- That the family of God grows not by propagation through sexual intercourse, but by regeneration through faith in Christ;
- That relationships in Christ are more permanent, and more precious, than relationships in families (and, of course, it is wonderful when relationships in families are also relationships in Christ; but we know that is often not the case);
- That marriage is temporary, and finally gives way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church—the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face to face;
- That faithfulness to Christ defines the value of life; all other relationships get their final significance from this. No family relationship is ultimate; relationship to Christ is.
To say the main point more briefly: God promises spectacular blessings to those of you who remain single in Christ, and he gives you an extraordinary calling for your life. To be single in Christ is, therefore, not a falling short of God’s best, but a path of Christ-exalting, covenant-keeping obedience that many are called to walk.
Watch the video above, or check out the whole sermon at Desiring God.
I liked it. I liked it a lot… Except this:
“The mother of God is the obedient Christian…”
But I’m catholic.
Thank you for sharing this; just finished watching it and was so blessed. What hope for those of us who are single!
I think these are good points, but I have the following concerns.
I’m not sure that this thinking can succeed so long as we continue to improperly privilege the nuclear family. And while I don’t have any experience with Piper or his church, the churches that fall under the TGC penumbra don’t tend to be places that are too friendly to singles. They may say the right things when asked, but they don’t practice church in a way that suggests that they actually believe what they’re saying. In most cases, such churches cater almost exclusively to middle-class, middle-aged families with kids at home.
Also, most TGC folks tend to treat marriage as a pre-fall institution and treat heterosexual desire as something to be celebrated and expressed. Paul and Jesus, by contrast, treat marriage as a post-fall institution that will disappear at the Parousia, and generally view sexual desire of any sort as something to be controlled and restrained. Piper may be right regarding singleness. But those words ring hollow when you simultaneously espouse a philosophy of marriage that suggests that horniness is next to holiness (as long as said horniness is directed to your marital partner).
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