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Being Single in Gods Plan Luke 20:207-4 Its been an interesting week.

Last Sunday at BOCC I was talking about sex and homosexuality. This Sunday I was to talk about not being married. And in the middle of the week the media picked up the story of Cecil Chao and his lesbian daughter, Gigi. Mr Chao has offered $62 million to any man who could lead her away from her lesbian lover and marry her. We dont often see pressure from parents to marry in such strong ways, but it is a big issue. Well, enough of Mr Chao and Gigi, today I am going to talk about being single not married. The way this is often done is to say, look at Jesus. He was single. If it was OK for him it must be OK for anyone else. So its ne to be single. Another way to do it is to say that single people have been really important to the church. The church grew from a few people in the year 33 to 20 million in the year 350, to most of Europe by 1200. Most of this was done by single people who took the word of Jesus to all parts of Europe. And in the recent past some great Christians have been single, John Chapman and John Stott. And many of my best Christian friends are single. But I dont think those ways of talking make many people happy. Because, no one asks why someone is married. No one ever asks me, Mark, why are you married? But my guess is if you are single, and stay single, sooner or later people are going to ask why are you single?. It may be your parents, it may be your friends. It may even be someone at church. Various answers are given, Im single because I haven't found the right person. Im single because I want to put all my effort into serving God. Im single because I cant nd someone I can trust. Thats why I was single until I was 30. It is the same around the world. Parents want their children to marry. And married people want their single friends to marry. I know this is a big pressure in China, but its big everywhere.
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So the question that we need to ask is, where does being single t into Gods plan? To start with, we are all born single. Ok, thats pretty obvious. But also, most of us will be single when we die. Even if every one of married, half of us would be single when we die. So all of us have a big period of being single at the beginning of our life and perhaps many years of being single at the end of our life. Some of us will be single all our lives. So where does singleness t into Gods plans for our lives? Our passage today is an odd one, but has some important truths. Jesus gives this teaching just before he is killed. He is being tested by a group called the Sadducees. They were the ruling Jewish priests who didnt like Jesus or his teaching. And they did not believe in resurrection. They did not believe that there would be life after death. So they tried to test Jesus. Its a pretty weird story. There is a woman who had a husband who died. Under Jewish law she was supposed to marry the brother of her dead husband. And this happened seven times. If this was a real story you would wonder what this woman was doing. Was she killing them? But its just a story to test Jesus. When asked which of the seven brothers she will be married to in the resurrection, in the life after death, Jesus says none of them. The message is very clear. There is no marriage in the remade heaven and earth. We Christians believe that sometime in the future Jesus will return, and remake the heavens and the earth. We will get new bodies that live forever. Jesus will judge us, and if we have believed in Jesus in our lives, we will live with him and his Father God forever. But none of us will be married to each other. Nor will there be new weddings in this new world. And if there is no marriage, there is no sex either. The Bible doesnt actually say this, but its hard to believe that God is going to change the rules on sex so we can have sex with anyone we like. That would be against all the teaching that sex is only good to God when it is in marriage. My point is that the goal we are working towards, in the new heavens and earth, is singleness. That is the perfect life we are all heading towards. So being married is
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only a temporary step for some people before we all end up single. So being single must be pretty good in the eyes of God. I don't know what that means when I see Kah Lin in the new world. I know I will be overjoyed to see her there. I will be really happy for her to not suffer the pain she has carried from her youth, and the fears and uncertainties of this world. I will still be able to love her, and enjoy her as part of Gods recreation. But beyond that' I don't know. But in another sense we will all be married. This is because the picture that we see in the Bible is all believers being married to Jesus, being united with him in a life long relationship of joy, happiness, love and intimacy. We see this in the book of Ephesians and also the last book in the bible, Revelation. Here the church of all believers is called the bride, and will be united in love with Jesus, the bridegroom. We will all enjoy this ultimate marriage with Jesus. We are all heading towards this wonderful day when there will be no distinctions based on family or race or language. We will all gather around the throne of our king in the most perfect relationship. People who are single now have some experience of this new kind of society. It will be a society not shaped, or twisted, by family or genetics, or where we were born or who we know. Because it does seem that people who are good looking, or rich, or cool, get more opportunities to marry than others. In the remade heaven and earth this will not matter. Single people today can show us that love and care and intimacy can go beyond family boundaries and being married. Single people can push married people out of our obsession with family life. As individuals, families and as a church we need to work against this obsession with married couples. The picture the Bible paints of being single has nothing to do with being lonely. We are all social beings and we need close friends. Married people shouldnt hold so closely to their immediate families that they let single people be lonely. I can say this because at various times we have had people from outside our family come and live with us. Thats good for us and good for them.

The church also needs to work against this idea that everyone would be better off if they were married. We can do that by making life less lonely for single people, and also by not pushing people towards marriage. Sometimes you hear people say, oh he or she has not married because they are too choosey. But marriage isn't about choice. I didn't marry because I chose to. I did not wake up one day and say, I choose to marry kl and then everything just happened. No, I offered myself to kl and she offer herself to me. Marriage is not so much about choice as consent. Two people graciously offer to marry each other. The language of choice is unfair for single people because usually they have not chosen to be single. And often they do not marry because they have a very high view of marriage. It is not ok to marry anyone just for the sake of being married. You should marry someone you can love and who willingly offers themselves in love to you. Better to not do marriage than to do it badly. So we should support people in being single. Sometimes the pressure that is put on single people can be cruel, as if there is something wrong with someone who does not marry. Also, married people who want to have children, and cant, often grieve for the family they cannot have. We join them in feeling sad. BUt many single people want to have children, and dont because they are not married. Do we feel sad with them when they are sad? I think we should. I am saying two things. First, we should be more understanding of being single. Second, single people can show married people how to break out of their marriages and be the loving brothers and sisters God has made us to be by welcoming us into his family. Single people can model this new community, not based so closely on couples. I have spoken in the last three weeks about marriage being part of Gods plan for his creation. But nowhere does he say we must marry, or that being married is better than being single. In 1 Corinthians Paul says if you are single, like he is, stay single, but if you want to marry, marry. He says being single is ne as long are you are not tempted to have sex outside of marriage. Which brings me back to the subject of sex, and you probably heard enough of that from me last week. We have this weird idea that comes from our society that sex is the only way we can understand closeness and intimacy. It is something we should all desire, and if we don't have it we are incomplete. So what does sex bring? If all
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goes well it brings pleasure, closeness, intimacy, and a long stable relationship where we can bring up children. Our experiences of this differ, but it is clear that lots of people who have sex do not get all these things. After all, half of marriages end in divorce. It is also it clear that you can have loving, close, life long relationships without having sex. I dont know if you have noticed, but Jesus never cured someone of being single. He gave blind people sight. He made disabled people walk. He cured sickness, and brought dead people back to life. But never did he say, Oh, you poor thing. Still on the shelf. I had better nd someone for you to marry. And thats because there is nothing wrong with being single. If you want to marry, and nd someone who shares your views on marriage, please marry. But you will only be married for 20, 40, 60 years. And we do need to keep our eyes on where we are heading. For the picture of the end is Jesus Christ as the bridegroom and the church, that is all believers, being married. In a sense, God the Son will bring his chosen people into the family of God We may think this sounds a bit weird, but step back. I have been saying over these four weeks that God made marriage. It is part of his plan. It is for our good and his glory. It's a place of love, care and intimacy. It's a place where we don't have to hide. Its a place where we dont need a special human helper, as Adam did with Eve, because we will be with Jesus. And that is what eternal life looks like. Our loyalty is to God, our destiny is with God, our hope and joy are with God That is a marriage we can all enjoy forever. That is what we are looking forward to with Jesus. Let me explain. draw chart.

In our lives there are somethings that are common to us all. Health Family Friends Work Wealth Marriage
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Sex

Some good some bad But the way I see heaven and earth remade is all topping the chart. But I said it looks like no sex and marriage in the end. Because the image we have in the Bible is all believers being married to Jesus Christ. Not is the sense of each of us having a separate wedding with him, and buying a house and going to bed with him each night, but is the sense we have the most wonderfully intimate, lasting, and satisfying relationship with him. That takes over all the things in our life where wealth and marriage and sex currently t in, only much better. Conclusion The point is we don't need to marry to be complete humans. Neither marriage nor singleness makes us our true selves. We can be single badly and we can be married badly. We nd our true humanity, our true being, in following Jesus, letting him shape every part of our lives. So lets all follow Jesus, and love each other as he teaches us to do, whether we are single or married.