Sacred Singleness: a review
When I saw that Leslie Ludy had written a new book, and one on singleness at that, I was immediately interested. I have a lot of respect for the Ludys, and was very excited to be able to meet them at a retreat a couple of years ago. They really have a heart for God and a desire to encourage others to be completely sold out for Jesus.
Some of Leslie’s books have been very challenging and encouraging to me. However, I was very disappointed in Sacred Singleness. Without attacking Leslie in any way, I’d like to share some of my concerns about the book.
First, it always concerns me when someone writes with a lot of authority on a subject with which they don’t have much personal experience. Leslie has such a heart for helping singles, but she was married at 19, so it’s hard for her to fully understand the deep struggles of older singles — struggles I know well, having married at age 29. While that fact doesn’t disqualify her from sharing her opinions (and she does mention it in her author’s note at the beginning of the book), I did feel that they came across as “the truth” more than her ideas. It’s a tricky subject to tackle for anyone, so I don’t want to be harsh in my judgement. And she does have a lot to say about being completely surrendered to God in every part of our hearts, which is something I know I need to hear over and over. She also included some encouraging interviews with older singles.
Another thing that bothered me was that the book, while claiming to be “The Set-Apart Girl’s Guide to Purpose and Fulfillment,” seemed to be written in large part to refute the writings of the Boundless webzine, Candice Watters, and others who have been attempting to return to a biblical understanding of marriage and singleness. While no one has the “last word” from God on these topics, and there is much room for discussion, I’ve appreciated the above authors’ perspectives, and the way that they start from Scripture instead of writing rebuttals to other books. (I also happen to agree with the gist of their position: Marriage is God’s design for most people, except those with a special calling to celibacy, and should be honored and pursued while trusting Him with the timing.) I felt that Leslie tended to quote the other books out of context. Candice’s book, in particular, makes it very clear that we are commanded to live in contentment and joy wherever God has us, single or not.
One thing that I did appreciate about Sacred Singleness was the section on what women can do with their single years. Scripture makes it clear that a single woman’s purpose is to serve the Lord in a way she won’t be able to do once she has the responsibilities of caring for a husband and children. It was a blessing to read of single girls who were working with orphans, the poor, and the unloved (I would, however, urge immense prayer and counsel before adopting as a single girl as promoted by this book).
In conclusion, I would have to say that while Sacred Singleness had some food for thought, I’m sadly unable to recommend it wholeheartedly.
What books encouraged you in purpose and fulfillment during your single years?
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Jeannie’s post “Content But Not Complete” and our “Single-Minded” series, as well as Elisabeth A’s articles on Boundless: “One Single Day“, “A Time to Waste“, and “Don’t Waste Your Disappointment.”
I totally agree, I’m a single mother with child for many years serving the Lord and completely misunderstood by other Christians who are married. They do not have the same struggles and rarely share with or meet the needs of single people especially with children it is sad to say.
Elisabeth Elliot’s books! 🙂 She really helps you put your focus in the right place- on God.
I read Sacred Singleness while I was still waiting for my sweetheart. I agree that you do have to take what Leslie says with a grain of salt (her writing isn’t the Word of God, after all), but I did find a lot of what she said very helpful. Especially the concept of taking one day at a time. I had never really thought about it that way before. I wrestled, wondering if God had “called me to singleness”, but I loved how the book helped me realize that tomorrow may hold something entirely different, but God called me today. I learned to stop worrying about whether or not I would be single next week or next year and depend on God to give me grace and strength for what He called me to today. That perspective helped me a lot during the time I spent waiting for my very-soon-to-be husband. All in all, I agree with what Jeannie pointed out, but also would encourage everyone not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
When I think about what books encouraged me as a single, I think of the books that encouraged me as a follower of God. And of all the hundreds of books I read as a single (most being biographies of missionaries), the book Jungle Pilot: the life and testimony of Nate Saint, is foremost in my thoughts.
Reading about Nate Saint gave me two huge boosts: One, he had amazing passion for God that inspired me to “go and make disciples” in a way that no other book ever did.
And the second: He existed. This guy who loved God and loved his wife to distraction and gave everything to further the gospel– he existed. And I was going to wait for someone like that.
p.s. it worked!
I was interested to read the review of this book as I was tempted to buy it as I am an older single.
Are there any books out there aimed at those that God may not call to be married at all and how they can best fill their lives and glorify God?
I have a couple of Elizabeth Elliot books on my wishlist!
I really respect the ministry of Nancy Leigh DeMoss and she’s written a book (or booklet? I’m not sure how long it is!) called “Singled Out for Him”. I can’t recommend it, because I haven’t read it, but it might be worth checking out because she is single in her fifties and believes that her singleness is a gift from God.
I think Elisabeth Elliot has a good perspective on singleness for anyone who is older and single and aware that they may not get married “someday”.
I don’t think there is one book about singleness that was a game-changer for me. That prize probably goes to Elisabeth Elliiot’s books in general. In fact, I think I connect most, not with lots of teaching so much as the examples/attitudes/personalities of women who encourage bolder trust in Jesus, in whatever circumstance they find themselves.
That said, some books on singleness have held helpful material, especially Carolyn McCulley’s Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? I’ve also appreciated Candice Watters and Suzanne Hadley Gosselin for their encouragement to hang onto hope, not be ashamed of bold prayers to marry, and *yet* trust and love and praise God whether His answer is yes or no.
Most of all, I’m grateful for the faithful Holy Spirit who brings the specific comfort that I need for each stage of singleness…because my feelings aren’t static, and there *are* a surprising number of different kinds of comfort and wisdom needed!
I’m a “ditto” to Chantel – though I am still in my single years. I didn’t get married young and have found that the older I get the more I shy away from singleness books. Not that they don’t have there place, they do and some are very encouraging, but I didn’t want it to be something that defined my life. My preference has been to read relationship books that will help me now as well as in the future. Embrace singleness and live it to the fullest, but live every season of your life that way! So a lot of my reading has consisted of “The 5 love languages” by the Chapmans, “Single Men are like Waffles, Single Women are like Seghetti”. Both Books are great on learning how to love and communicate with guys and girls now as a single and later be it single or married – these are skills that will NEVER be wasted and can always be used to bring glory to God. “Sacred Influence”, and “Sacred Marriage” by the Gary Thomas, gave me great perspective on marriage and how it is a reflection of the Trinity which drove me to a more intimate walk with the Lord and prayer for friends who are married. All Elisabeth Elliot books (Let me be a Women, Passion and Purity, and Quest for Love,) – these are great “singleness” books but are also great “marriage” books because the theme is giving our love life to the Lord and surrendering it to His control – something we will need to do when married too :).
I also loved Chip Ingram’s “Love Sex and Lasting relationships” Again another book on how to love ppl no matter what season your in! 🙂
I ditto Chantel too. I went through a phase of reading books about singleness and there are one or two that I read from time to time, but I’m not a big fan of books about singleness. I’ve long loved “Before You Meet Prince Charming” by Sarah Mally and recently discovered “Passion and Purity” by Elisabeth Elliot. I’ve actually been encouraged by “Get Married” – I think it’s a good balance and companion to “Authentic Beauty” and “Set-Apart Feminity” by Leslie Ludy. Together, they remind me to live totally surrendered to God and love Him, but remember that marriage is a good gift from God.
I wasn’t single as long as some girls, but I didn’t get married at 18 or 20 either and got a taste of heartache and the loneliness of being single when almost no one else was around me.
Honestly, the best thing for me was not to focus on reading books about singleness (they have their place, but I guess they just weren’t for me) but to read books about making every day life beautiful and embracing it as a gift.
I was working a lot in those years and didn’t have much time to read, but I read snippets here and there, and lots of beautiful blog posts that reminded me that my life had a purpose and that it was beautiful even in the loneliness.
I continued to keep my joy journal and started a quote collection of things that spoke to my heart. I invested time in younger woman and took time to further my own skills to prepare myself for whatever life might look like–single or other wise. I think not focusing so much on being single (once again, I know this is easier said than done, and I did not have the long, long years of waiting that some of you have had) as focusing on becoming more prepared for life in general was good for me. I feel like when I did fall in love with my sweetheart I was more prepared to face marriage and life in a realistic sort of way instead of in the light of what I had “expected it” to look like.
That’s what has “worked” for me too– not to dwell on singleness or even read books on it but just focus on finding joy in each new day and being thankful for what God has given me.
I keep a “gifts”/ joy journal too!
Some of my favourites are:
Sacred Singleness (Leslie Ludy)
Get Married (Candice Watters)
Passion and Purity & Quest for Love (Elisabeth Elliot)
Before You Meet Prince Charming (Sarah Mally)
I’m a Ludy fan (Ludy-ite?). Anyway, so I was stoked when a friend gifted Sacred Singleness to me (the one in the collection I was missing). I did enjoy it, mostly, with the testimonies/stories being my favourites. I then read Candice’s book, on the premise that Leslie had mentioned it and discussed it strongly! I figured I was going to hate it (no kidding – that’s what I thought!), but bought it for $2 at an op shop and gave it a go. I loved it! I really valued Candice way of looking at things, and found her style easy to understand. It just worked for me! And of course, there are a few things I didn’t agree with, but I think that is a good thing. 🙂
Elisabeth Elliot is a classic, and her ‘romance’ advice is good for life as well!
Sarah Mally’s book is one I got on a whim, with the thought of sharing it with the younger girls in my life who are just starting to get into that cultural-age-wave of boy crazy. I found it reminded me of the simplicity and ease that should (hopefully) be a part of our relationships – something that I think our culture has lost. I did appreciate the innocence and purity of it, though it’s probably not the most realistic in the story telling, to relate to the day to day lives of modern girls.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jeannie!