Monthly Archives: September 2013

It Is Not Good for (Hu)man to Be Alone: Lonely People

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It is not good for man to be alone
It is not good for humans to be alone
It is not good for people to be lonely

God saw that it was not good for man to be alone– and here we find for the first time in Genesis something which was not called good (and God saw the dry land, and called it good, the animals– and called them good…etc etc) We get to the part about Adam being alone, and now something is not good.

I tend to think that Genesis 2 is misread in a couple ways: the ‘single-is-bad’ way, and the ‘women are second-rate’ way. First, many people seem to think that this means that people cannot be fulfilled and satisfied single. That is one of the most obviously false conclusions one could reach from this passage, or any passage of Scripture. All we have to do is look to Jesus, Paul, and a number of the OT prophets who were single and satisfied and exemplars to dispel with that notion. People who don’t get married are not settling for a second-best life. Of course some people desire strongly to be married, just as some people desire strongly to have children, or to be grandparents, and I hope they get what they want. But to think that being single is in and of itself against God’s will is, in my view, not true. (Of course, if someone doesn’t have a spouse, or kids, or other familial obligations, they probably should be making a lot of their life for Christ and the Church)

Second, women are considered the 2nd sex, and so, secondary, not primary, under par, lesser, derivative, and for any of these reasons then, not equal to their husbands and to be dominated by males. (Certainly some people simply think that women and men have different roles without thinking that women are inferior to men– and it would be unfair to characterize all complementarians, for example, as holding that women are not equal in value to men) But some people hold this view that women are inferior since woman was said to be formed from the rib of man. But as some commentators note, the rib may signify that man and woman are side-by-side– made of the same stuff, and so equal.  That makes more sense to me!

Another interesting point brought up to me recently is that Adam is not called man until Eve is created. Only when woman is, can he be man. And obviously (I’m fending off wrongheaded conclusions here) one need not be married to a woman to be around women. One can be a man with a woman without being married (nonmarried men are real men!). The point here is simply that adam was called man only after eve was around.

But what does the passage indicate to us then? I think it is that it is not good to be alone, out of fellowship, completely on your own. Having cats is nice, but its important for the cat lady to get out and interact with other people. Adam of Genesis was surrounded by animals (all of which he had just named) but lassie and the rest were not enough. Man was still alone.

We are surrounded by lonely people. One reason its hard to spot them is that lonely people are alone, and when we are with them, they are no longer alone. Being with someone is exactly what helps a lonely person not feel lonely, so when you are interacting with them, you are providing a respite.

As I walk around in Gifford Park I see a lot of refugees from Burma (Mayamar). Often when I first look at them, they seem a bit disconnected, out of place or out of sorts– but I find that when I greet them with a smile and eye contact, they brighten up and sometimes want to stand and talk a little– as best as they can. I feel like they feel lonely– alone in a strange world, surrounded by strangers. Sometimes we can feel loneliest when we are surrounded by people we don’t feel connected to– like a non-athelete at an event for atheletes, or a guy at a sorority meeting, or a non drinker a blowout keg party.

There are young lonely people, and old lonely people, and middle aged lonely people. People feeling alone not being in a romantic relationship, people feeling alone in an apparently dead-end relationship, and people who have lost someone they loved deeply.

It is not good for us to be alone, and it is important for us to seek out the stranger, the orphan, or the widow– all of whom are alone in this lonely sense. It is up to us to provide community to them, and to give them a place of rest and friendship.

May God have mercy on us all, and may we use Gods mercy to serve others nearby…

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