Sep 29, 2022Liked by Dani Treweek

Dani, I agree with Mark that there’s some distinction to be made, perhaps between some modern concept of self-sacrifice that you’re responding to (and I think there’s something helpful in what you’re saying) and the biblical concept of sacrifice.

Could you tease out what you are meaning by self sacrifice as negative versus the biblical concepts in Psalm 51:17 and in Romans 12. “ Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I do think theres something really good in surrendering the good we think we need for the good that God offers us. You seem to be saying that. And isn’t that part of what Romans 12 means by a holy sacrifice?

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I think it primarily depends on how we frame sacrifice as such. Do we frame it as giving up an objective good for God, or as giving up what we would want, what we would consider a good, for God? If we frame it as the former, as I think you have, then no, singleness/celibacy is not a sacrifice, as it is an objective good in it's own right. But if we frame it in terms of what one would like for oneself, then it can genuinely be a sacrifice. As someone who, if it was totally up to me, would have liked to have entered into a relationship and to have sex, but feels that God is calling me to celibacy, I have, particularly in the past, framed it in terms of sacrifice. I have said to myself "this is not what I would choose, but God is calling me here so I will be obedient and sacrifice this thing that I would like". I think this is somewhat similar to how scripture frames sacrifice of wealth. Scripture does not consider wealth itself a good, but is still willing to frame giving it up for God in terms of a sacrifice, because it is true that us humans often consider it a good that we would find it difficult to give up.

Maybe sacrifice is not the best way of framing it, and that the virtue of obedience is a better way of framing it (not that they are mutually exclusive). But I can understand why people sometimes consider their singleness/celibacy for God a sacrifice. What we need to be doing instead is to help people to recognise the good of singleness and celibacy itself, and make it easier for them to live such a life through discipleship and the fellowship of the holy spirit.

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Sep 30, 2022Liked by Dani Treweek

Hi Dani,

Thanks for this. I'm reading the last chapter of Carl Trueman's Rise & Triumph at the moment and he makes exactly the same point. On page 391, he cites Zondervan's 2019 release of 'Costly obedience: what we can learn from the celibate gay community' as an example of the category error that is intrinsic to the widely held notion that sex is identity and goes on to claim: "Only in a world in which selves are typically recognised or validated by their sexuality and their sexual fulfillment - in which these things define who people are at a deep level - can celibacy really be considered costly." You and he are on the same message. Many thanks.

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My guess is that singleness often feels like more of a "sacrifice" than it should be because of some of the brokenness of the way we fellowship together in contemporary church. Churches can tend to focus on serving the needs of nuclear families rather than gloriously welcoming all.

We have meetings for mums & tots, Sunday school for every age group, mum's day-time groups and men's groups, etc rather than encouraging extended straggly families where singles are adopted and links are made between all kinds of age groups to serve and be served, peer to peer.

By separating us all out into programmes to be catered for, churches can leave older singles feeling lonely and uncared for and that is where it starts to feel like a "sacrifice".

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Wow, that really made me think and challenged me. I do see being obedient to God in being celibate as a sacrifice because I think I could easily have a family or at least children by now if I was a non-believer. But that is coming from a selfish desire of what I want. Still, being a Christian means my options are fewer and I am not willing to compromise. But I guess you're right, foregoing something sinful shouldn't be seen as sacrifice. I can't see singleness being celebrated or appreciated in church. I think it's seen as sad, pathetic and lonely. I wish I knew more believers who see it as good to help me snap out of self-pity. It's easy to feel bad about it if singleness is never appreciated. Maybe that's why if feels like a sacrifice?

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