From today, I will be posting extracts from my book, Frequently Asked Questions about Singleness, Love and Marriage (Armour Publishing, 2016). I start with the Preface:
This book was birthed from my involvement in my church's singles ministry after I graduated from Trinity Theological College in the 1980s. My concern for Christian singles grew as I observed that many of them were unable to find a suitable match within their own congregations because they were busy at work on weekdays and actively involved in ministry on weekends, leaving them with very little time for socialising beyond their church circles.
However, this burden took a backseat when I left the singles' ministry and joined the pastoral ministry. After 10 years in the pastoral ministry, I joined Alpha as a full-time trainer from 2003 to 2012. The 10 years at Alpha enabled me to minister in the workplaces, prisons and various churches, both locally and throughout the ASEAN region and beyond (including China & India).
In the last few years, my wife and I became the marriage course coordinators for Alpha, providing training for trainers of the marriage preparation course and also the marriage course. In the course of conducting these training sessions, we saw the need to get involved in singles ministry again. However, this time, our aim was not to create opportunities for singles to find life partners, but to help singles develop the skills and attitudes necessary for a successful married life.
At the beginning of each marriage preparation course, we ask participants an obvious question: "Why do you want to get married?" Often, couples are unable to give a clear reply. After some hesitation, the answers invariably revolve around the following key ideas:
- Marriage is the next step after completing one's education and finding a job.
- Marriage is for companionship.
- Marriage is to start a family.
For Christian couples, I ask a further question, "So what makes your marriage different from that of non-Christians?" Usually, Christian couples are not able to articulate clear responses to this question. For them, the Christian marriage is not much different from non-believers' conception of marriage (similar to the three reasons given above). Very rarely do we come across a couple who say they want to build a marriage to glorify God.
This book is written for singles (and those helping singles) who want to explore the subject of love, courtship and marriage before they contemplate marriage as a serious option. To make this book easy to understand and read, I have used the catechism method of questions and answers. The questions in this book cover the areas of love, courtship and marriage, and are the questions frequently asked by singles.
I hope this book will help singles navigate through some of the complex issues of love, sex and marriage, before they settle on any one person.
Then Chee Min