Book Review: “Redeeming Singleness” by Barry Danylak

Christian books about singleness are all the same.

I should know.

I think I’ve read every one of them.

They all have a couple of requisite chapters explaining why singleness is good before getting into the meat: a) how to be content and productive as a single and b) how to get un-single as quickly and in as godly a manner as possible.

Barry Danylak’s Redeeming Singleness stands out like an apple tree in a field of blowing grass.

In other words, it’s not a thing like the rest of the Christian treatments of singleness.

Redeeming Singleness seeks to establish a Biblical theology of singleness–starting from the beginning, when God said “It is not good that man should be alone”, and ending with Paul’s startling (within the Jewish culture, at least) statement that he “wish[es] that all men were even as [he himself].”

The epilogue neatly summarizes the main thesis of the book:

Christianity is distinctive from its monotheistic sibling faiths of Judaism, Islam, and Mormonism in its affirmation of singleness…it differs from the others in distinctively affirming both singleness and marriage as something good within the new family of God. The reason for this difference has its roots in what makes Christianity fundamentally different from its sibling faiths, namely, its affirmation that Jesus Christ has come in human history as God’s offspring and that through him come all the blessings of the new covenant.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promised seed of Abraham, and in him are Abraham’s true offspring….Since all the blessings of the new covenant are realized through our reconciliation to God through Christ, marriage is no longer a fundamental marker of covenantal blessing as it was in the covenant of Sinai. Singleness lived to the glory of God and the furtherance of his kingdom testifies to the complete sufficiency of Christ for all things. The Christian is fully blessed in Christ, whether he or she is married or single, rich or poor, in comfort or duress…

Paul distinguishes the spiritual gift or charisma of singleness by three elements. First, it is characterized by one who, by the grace of God, lives a continent life apart from marriage…. Second, it is distinguished as a life free from the distractions of a spouse and children, a life characterized by freedom and simplicity…. Third, it is a life enabled for constant service to the King and the kingdom. It emulates the model of the eunuch who is ready and waiting to serve the king whenever and however he is called.

~Redeeming Singleness by Barry Danylak, page 213

This is a robust, Biblically-sound theology of singleness; and it is presented in an engaging and surprisingly (for theology) readable manner.

After reading Danylak’s closing chapter on “The Charisma of Corinth”, I truly desired (perhaps for the first time in my life) to have the gift of singleness. While I can’t say that I have the “charisma” of singleness, Danylak’s description of Christian singleness (the “charisma” or spiritual gift of singleness) as a powerful testimony to the sufficiency of Christ made me long to live out such a testimony. Where previously I had recognized and spoken of marriage as a testimony (in a cosmic play-act) of God’s relationship with His church, I can now see the equally glorious testimony that the single-in-Christ have–the testimony of being complete IN Christ, without need of any other mediating person, action, or state.

This book is a powerful and much-needed look at singleness as seen through the lens of God’s redemptive work. I recommend this book for the single and the married–and especially for the friends of and ministers to single adults. This perspective, lifted straight from the Bible, can help the church to encourage and bless the single among them while avoiding the twin pitfalls of glorifying marriage to the harm of the single adult or denigrating marriage in order to “encourage” the single adult.

Check out Three Star Night’s review of this book. She comes to the same conclusions as I–but expresses her thoughts (and mine?) much better than I.

Rating: 5 stars
Category: Theology of Singleness
Synopsis:Danylak traces a theology of singleness throughout Scripture, seeing singleness within the redemptive framework of the Old and New Testaments.
Recommendation: A much-needed resource in an age where singleness is becoming a new norm–and where the church is struggling to find a holy way of dealing with the “new norm”.

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