We have been debating in class whether or not the single life is in fact a bona fide vocation. The question is, does God call some people to remain single for life, but not to enter the priesthood or religious life?
The Negative Response:
Those who say, "No, the single life is not a vocation" have a number of valid points:
1. The single state seems to be a transitional period. We are all born single, and we remain single only until we discern our calling to another state.
2. Scripture seems to suppor the idea that the single life was not part of God's plan for humanity.
In Genesis 2: 18 God says, "It is not good for man to be alone. I shall make a partner for him."
3. Unlike marriage, priesthood, or religious life, single life does not require a commitment to anything beyond one's self. A true vocation requires dedication to a person or group outside of yourself.
4. Most single people consider themselves open to the idea of marriage, but either have not found the right person, have given priority to their career, or simply are unwilling or unable to make the type of commitment required to enter into marriage or another vocation.
A metaphor to help understand this position would be that of an airplane. In this metaphor, an airplane on the ground would be the single life, and flying would be a vocation. When airplanes are made they are on the ground. Because of gravity, they remain on the ground. But airplanes are made to fly. Though they may wait at the airport for people to board the plane, or for repairs, or fuel, they eventually fulfill their purpose when they hit the runway and take off. Just because a plane might not be flying does not mean that it was built to sit on the ground.
The Positive Response:
Equally, those who support the idea of the single life as a vocation are not without their share of supporting arguments:
1. We know that by virtue of our baptism EVERY Christian shares in the Universal Call to Holiness. Therefore if someone is NOT called to the priesthood, marriage, or religious life they must be called to the single life as it is the only other option available.
2. Some people see their careers or other commitments as part of their vocation, and these commitments may not allow for marriage or entering into another vocation. For example careers in medicine and law require a high degree of dedication, which might preclude another vocation.
3. Scripture seems to support the idea that remaining single is preferable to marriage. In Matthew 19: 12 Jesus says, "Some have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."
4. The Church opposes people engaging in homosexual relationships, and it cannot sanction or bless a so-called union of homosexual persons. Therefore, if one is a homosexual the dedicated single life is his or her vocation.
I don't have a metaphor for this one yet. I'm open to suggestions. You can e-mail them to me or submit them via school web lockers.
Take a look at this article for another perspective on the single vocation.
Until next time,
Ad Jesum per Mariam.