An extended review of a 2021 book by April Klassen
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Book by April Klassen. Schleitheim Press, 2021. 140 pages. $18 (ebook $10)
“We choose how we define our singleness.” With that statement, April Klassen challenges the cultural narrative that the single life is to be “in a place of deficit.” While acknowledging her hope for marriage, she cautions against making marriage the ultimate goal. “Somehow, we fail to see that we have made marriage the goal, not a gift.”
Klassen asserts, “There is so much room to dream with Jesus when we stop living out of a closed framework for how our lives are supposed to look.” Having spent 15 years working in 12 different countries with Food for the Hungry Canada and Building Leaders for Peace, as well as with refugee families and at-risk youth in Vancouver, she has not squandered the opportunities singleness offers.
Her experiences have taught her that community, whether in family life or church, is not about finding the perfect fit to meet one’s needs, but something created intentionally through sacrificial love. She challenges singles to resist the temptation to isolate. “So often as singles we wait to be invited in . . . it won’t always happen. There are times when it is our turn as singles to invite others in.”
It's no secret the single life can be challenging in our world and our churches. Klassen addresses issues such as sexual temptations, consumerism, FOMO (fear of missing out), loneliness and the constant distractions of social media. At no other time in history have there been more options available to draw our affections away from God.
She writes that “the biblical narrative is all about covenant,” something human nature fears could limit our freedom. “From the beginning we have walked away from covenantal relationship, muddling the waters with lust and affection for other things.” But it is within the boundaries of our covenantal relationship with God, she asserts, that we enjoy real freedom to enjoy God’s gifts to the fullest.
The book is a challenge to singles and the whole Church. While calling singles to pursue their fullest life, it also addresses the Church’s role in celebrating and supporting singles. It involves inviting singles into our families and social events, instead of segregating people according to marital status.
She admonishes us not to pity singles but to embrace and celebrate their value and importance in the congregation. Offering to travel with them to church events and debrief afterward reduces the difficulty of always attending things alone. Being a listening ear as they process difficult decisions is an important ministry of the body of Christ.
“What if the questions I was most often asked was not about whether I wanted to get married or if I had met any cool guys lately, but rather, ‘How is the Spirit leading you in this time of life?’” she asks, and ‘How can the church come around you in those areas to both equip you and pray for you?’”
This is a thoughtful read for all Christians, regardless of marital status.
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