Some experts estimate that in Western nations as much as 50 percent of the adult population is now single. That is a statistic with tremendous significance for our nations, culture and churches. It is surely a statistic that is without historical precedent. Of course the decline of marriage coincides with increased sexual activity, showing that people like to enjoy many of the benefits and securities of marriage, but without the commitment. The Christian response to this new cultural landscape will prove interesting and will tell us much about the church’s commitment to hard truths.
Alex Chediak, currently apprenticing at The Bethlehem Institute in Minneapolis under the direction of John Piper and Tom Steller, addresses the particular challenges of singleness, marriage and dating in his new book With One Voice: Singleness, Dating and Marriage to the Glory of God. Alex previously edited 5 Paths to the Love of Your Life, an excellent book which I have previously reviewed here. In With One Voice he takes the controversial position that marriage is God’s normal expectation for humans in general and that celibacy is primarily for those who have been given the gift of celibacy. Those who are single and have not been so-gifted are, therefore, responsible to ensure that they are actively preparing themselves for marriage. The theme of this book, if it could be tidily summarized, is that singles should focus less on looking for a certain kind of person and more on becoming a certain kind of person.
To guide a person in this challenge, Chediak defines and explores God’s design for biblical manhood and womanhood. He looks at traits that men and women (both married and single) will want to develop and cultivate in their lives. He turns to the always difficult topics of leadership and submission, showing how a mature man and woman will relate to each other in a godly way. He shows that mature masculinity is neither chauvinistic nor passive and that mature femininity is neither obsequious nor domineering. Having laid a foundation for understanding the nature of the marriage partnership, he provides practical, biblical wisdom on making a wise choice of partner, showing the importance of both objective and subjective criteria. The final chapter exhorts those who form a relationship to proceed cautiously and wisely. He defines four stages of a relationship: friendship and initiation, the beginnings of romantic involvement, later stages of a romantic relationship, and leaving & cleaving. The book concludes with a FAQ which asks and answers pointed questions about difficult topics such as so-called “>If there was a criticism I would make against this book it is that perhaps the scope is a little too wide. After all, the wider an author’s scope, the more difficult it is to do justice to each topic. This is especially true of a book that is reasonably short at 150 pages. Still, this does not detract from the book as much as it makes me wonder if it could not have become two or three books, each more narrow in scope.