Does Loneliness Cause Us to Make Poor Relationship Decisions?
With St. Valentine's Day being just two days ago, this is easily one of the most lonely weeks for some. Mostly because everything surrounding this holiday involves being with someone you love. But, not everyone has someone. In fact, so many deal with loneliness. Not only do we have to deal with loneliness, we often struggle through different levels of loneliness. It's this loneliness that causes us to seek out relationships with others and can often lead to unhealthy decisions surrounding who we spend time with and who we chose to commit ourselves to.
That's what we're talking about in this episode. Thomas mentioned the importance of understanding the role that loneliness plays in bringing us to church, drawing us into a dating relationship and eventually marriage. We go on to talk about how being lonely can be the foundation we use to make excuses to allow ourselves to consider divorce as an option. So, let's talk about being lonely...
Why are Christians Lonely?
We talked about a couple different reasons. The bigger reason lies within the separation created from Adam and Eve's fall in the Garden of Eden. That event created a gap in our relationships that we have been trying to close ever since.
The other reason is a bit closer to home and, we believe, has to do with the way that mainstream (institutional) church is structured. Unfortunately, church, as a system, does not often lend itself to offering authentic and close relationships. Some of the loneliest Christians are those sitting among a 2,000 person congregation. Sadly, the way we structure traditional church actually feeds the needs of the organization, but fails to fulfill the needs of the organisms within the walls.
So people come to church hoping for connection and believing they will find it in the group. But, when the superficiality of that connection becomes evident, they decide that maybe the group isn't intended for connection and their loneliness convinces them that they can find fulfillment in an individual. So they find someone, and date, then marry... even if they don't get along with the person, being with someone is better than being alone. Until it isn't.
The Second Level of Loneliness
The second level of lonely occurs after marriage. It often comes with the realization that the person you married cannot fill that desire for connection. Really only God can, but at this point you're less concerned with that and more concerned with how to get out of the misery. This is typically when people, who may have never previously considered divorce, talk themselves into it being the "only way" or the "best decision for everyone involved". So we ignore the bible and do what we feel will alleviate our suffering. (To be fair, sometimes divorce may be a necessary thing. We're not broad stroke painting divorce.)
God Doesn't Leave
God's message to everyone, all the time is, "I will never leave you." We may feel alone, but if we're in Christ, we're not; in fact, it's impossible for us to be. God's word is clear...
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. - Deuteronomy 31:6
A Note to Singles (But really to the church)
Church, two things.
- Stop expecting single people to figure out where they fit into the body. Go find them and welcome them in.
- Stop making marriage the highest form of worship or holiness or whatever we make it. There's a ton to this, but stop acting like the thing singles should aspire to is marriage. Just invite them in and be companionship for them.