For a number of years, I have been thinking, speaking and writing about a complex change that is taking place in our world, and is particularly noticeable in Western societies. The decline of marriage rates, the ease of divorce and the rise of cohabitation have all contributed to the sense that the familiar form of marriage and family is dwindling. At the same time, single people have become the fastest-growing demographic group, now often making up more than half of the adult population. In the eyes of some, these changes represent a threat to the survival of Christianity itself. I take a very different perspective, arguing that the demographic shifts we are witnessing may well give us a really precious gift. For Christian communities, it is an invitation to re-examine the role of blood and marriage ties within the larger family of God, and do some serious work in reconsidering deeply ingrained perceptions of human happiness.
My most recent book explores Singleness and Marriage after Christendom. You can get it directly from the publisher, or order it through your favourite bookstore. The first chapter is available for free here.
Here is the video of the virtual launch of Singleness and Marriage after Christendom. (We even had an audio invader around 17-18 minutes in, but thankfully nothing offensive so it’s preserved for the authentic experience!)
My earlier book, published under my previous name, is an academic study of the theology of involuntary singleness of women, particularly in free church communities. Transforming the Struggles of Tamars explores the challenge posed by involuntary singleness for women and the implications of disregarding this challenge for the professed, wished-for and lived-out theology of their faith communities. It argues that by failing to grapple with their own theology of singleness, these communities not only fail the women who find themselves single, but also suffer a serious detriment to their communal health and Christian witness.
This book is a work of theological ethics, but it draws from several different disciplines, including cultural studies and sociology as well as intersections of science and theology. It argues that in spite of a significant failure to address involuntary singleness, Christian tradition offers sufficient resources to turn the tide. This, however, requires a holistic framework which draws together the personal, communal and visionary spheres of human existence. Taken together, they offer the possibility of a more fulfilling personal existence, communal life and vision for life than each of them separately.