One person family, celibate, single, living by themselves are all ways of expressing the life style of those who do not marry. Living a life without a mate is not something strange in the world in which we live. Single people are living in all kinds of occupations within Korean society, and even a TV program 'I live alone' is popular among the viewers.
An article in Bible & Life on the single life by a priest gives us his ideas on this not uncommon life style. However, there is still much more to be done for a greater understanding, not only in society but within the Church. Those in their thirties have concerns on whether they should join the youth groups in the parishes and those in their forties and older have no place to go. There is a need, he says, to have serious discussions on the place of the single person within the Church community. Discrimination and misunderstanding of the single celibate life is still present.
The single state in the in the Old Testament because of the patriarchal culture, was not seen positively. In the New Testament we have the passage in Matthew 19: 10-12 where praise is given for those who have given up marriage for the sake of God's reign. St. Paul would like all to imitate him, but he does not belittle the married life. Celibacy is the individual decision in freedom, directed towards God, that make us free.
Within the Church we have the clerical and religious states. Living celibate outside the clerical and religious states, the writer feels there is no need to make much of the difference. Celibacy within the Church is for the reign of God, fellowship and the expression of love. We should not put a limit to our acceptance of those who are living the celibate single life within the community of faith.
The writer mentions three areas of concern for those who are living the single life within the community of faith. We need to understand and accept them as equals. Those who are single need to accept the Church as the family of Jesus.
Secondly, the freedom of the single person: the Church needs to help them to use this freedom for the good. They are to be helped in their work within the community of faith.
Thirdly, they should have educational programs and guidance in spirituality, and in their leisure and work lives. Help them to be imitators of Jesus and to understand marriage as the seat of life and a proper appreciation of sexuality.
Those who are unmarried should be given a more intense desire for the good than the married. Those that are not married should not be lonely but in search of a greater spirituality. They should see all in the community as their brothers and sisters and be an example of service in the society in which they live. They are not mavericks but are to help others to answer more completely the love that God has shown us.