The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield, Free for CAPC Members
Butterfield isn’t proposing hospitality without personal boundaries, but hospitality that is open to having those boundaries widened for the sake of the gospel.
Humans may be social creatures, but we could use some help when it comes to relating to Others. Others–capital O—are the people who are not like us. It could be different in terms of language or culture or gender or profession or politics or age or faith or whatever. Differences cause humans social distress. And social distress can lead to insensitive comments that widen the gap between them. One difference in particular that immediately calls awkwardness to the table is marital status. Singles often feel like the odd ones out in social settings, and marrieds aren’t quite sure how to relate to those who haven’t yet found their better half.Sadly, singles often feel even greater distance within the Church, where mixed up theology and outdated social norms make for some painful conversation.
You might think these differences and distances fade within Christian circles, where supposedly “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). Sadly, singles often feel even greater distance within the Church, where mixed up theology and outdated social norms make for some painful conversation. And this is why Gina Dalfonzo wrote One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church. She brings a fresh perspective, helping us all understand that differences in marital status do not need to divide our company—especially in the Church. Christians, both married and single, should read this book to discover ways that we can find greater unity as a whole. If unity and edifying community is to be found anywhere, it seems the Church should be it.
Dalfonzo starts by covering the common frustrations singles face in Section 1: Stigmas, Stereotypes, and Shame. So often the way we relate to singles and speak of singleness casts it as a problem to fix or a plague to avoid:
Frankly, a lot of the time, the church simply doesn’t know what to do with the single and childless. We haven’t followed the standard path. Marriage seminars and couples’ weekends are not for us. There aren’t a lot of sermons about how we should navigate our lives and relationships—and when there are, as my friend Eric once remarked, they usually boil down to “Don’t have sex.”
In Section 2: How We Got Here, Dalfonzo identifies various influences that have shaped the way we see singleness, dating, and marriage. By recognizing our negative perceptions of the single life and the inputs that fuel them, we can move past situations like the one Dalfonzo describes here:
The next time you hear a Christian equate marriage with godliness, or say something about marriage and children being the best things in life, or express the thought that “you’re not complete unless you’re married” . . . stop a minute and consider these ideas from the perspective of a person who’s single and childless, and not necessarily by choice. Imagine how brutally they might fall on your ear if you had no spouse and no children.
Awareness of our insensitive comments and negative perceptions is a good first step. But Dalfonzo gives it momentum in Section 3: Where Do We Go from Here? She affirms the good that awaits in facing our differences head on, casting a vision for the Church to truly be the place where unity reigns in the midst of diversity. Even the marital sort.
CAPC Members receive a One by One promo pack, which includes an excerpt of the book and printable conversation cards.
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