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The Meaning of Singleness book not-review

I’d like to start writing a paragraph or two about each book as I finish reading it. First up-The Meaning of Singleness by Danielle Treweek.

Last night, I finally finished The Meaning of Singleness by Danielle Treweek. She is an Australian and an Anglican who wrote her Ph.D dissertation on singleness. That dissertation became this book that I started reading last fall with a single friend. (A single friend who, in fact, has gotten engaged since then.) We stopped reading, not because she started dating but because our seminary studies left us with too much homework to commit to another scholarly book. When I finished seminary a month ago, I picked the book back up. Treweek does her work in the book, especially in retrieval. She looks at how singleness has been considered in Christian history, Biblical exegesis, and Christian theology. It was the last section that is going to run circles in my brain though. Her conclusion is that “all unmarried Christians are able to allow their present circumstances to be distinctively determined by, and reflective of human life in eternity” (230). They are a foretaste of what we will all become. They bear “witness to a vitally important aspect of God’s teleological purposes for humanity as they have already been, and will finally be, accomplished in Christ” (233). Most people will agree that the church has done a terrible job incorporating singles into the family of the church and often view them with pity and as second-class citizens. This is directly related to our idolization of marriage.

Treweek’s conclusion deepen and challenge many of our conclusions on marriage and what it is for, as well as broaden our understanding of what the church has historically believed. For instance, did you know that “the prevailing pre-Augustinian view held that marriage and sex were post-paradisal concessions bestowed by a gracious divinity on a rebellion humanity”? (228). I bet you didn’t unless you’ve studied very narrow paths into church history and theology.

The book is very academic, of course, since it is based off of her dissertation. I’d love to have a simpler way to present some of the information to other people because I can’t just hand this one out and expect people to wade through it. I should probably take the time to make a short outline or mark the higlights. I’d also like to hold it in conversation with some other writings and I’ll probably start with Beth Felker Jones’s book Faithful: A Theology of Sex.

2 Discussion to this post

  1. Hannah Lansford says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Lisa! If you were to make a short outline or mark the highlights I would definitely want to check those out.

    I am currently close to getting engaged and as excited as I am about being married to a wonderful man, I am also grieving aspects of my single, non-partnered life and also already feel like I’ve forgotten some of the tensions I felt because of my singleness. I think I would like to be reminded of the goodness of singleness and how to continue to love my single friends well while I’m no longer in the same circumstances as them.

    • lisah says:

      If I end up doing it, I’ll share. I think it’s important that we all remember these things so I’m glad you are already attempting to do that. You still need your friends after you are married!

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