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It's Not Good to be Alone

Lonely

By Dennis Pollock

The first chapter of the Bible is the creation chapter. Here we are given a summary of God’s creative handiwork in fashioning “the heavens and the earth.” As God methodically spoke our world into existence, phase by phase and day by day, we find a statement repeated again and again: “And God saw that it was good.”

It was good indeed. Even today, after long millennia of history in a planet stained and defiled by sin, cruelty, pollution, and wars, still our earth is a beautiful place and a magnificent testimony to the amazing imagination and excellence of our divine Creator. God does very fine work! But when we read a little further in the account of our earth’s early years, we find that soon God saw something that was not so good. We know this by God’s own mouth. After fashioning the first human, Adam, God declared, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). In God’s pristine and perfect creation something was amiss; something was just not right. It was not what God had created but rather the situation and environment of the apex of God’s creation. Adam was moving around in a perfect place all by himself. There were animals to admire, but no one like himself to talk with, to laugh with, and to whom he could relate.

Adam, of course, had God and that was no small thing. They fellowshipped regularly. Adam was no doubt a worshipper and enjoyed wonderful times of rapturous delight in his Creator. In his perfect, sinless state with their fellowship unmarred by sin, it must have been absolutely wonderful. And yet… something was still lacking. We might suppose that God alone should be enough for us, but in truth it doesn’t quite work out that way. We were made to fellowship with our Heavenly Father, for sure, but we also possess within us a need to fellowship with and relate to people. We need “our own kind” and not just a little bit. We need them so badly, so strongly, and so deeply that if we do not have this human fellowship, in the opinion of the Almighty, “It is not good.”

God’s answer to this dilemma was to create a second human, a wife for the male he had created. She was given the name Eve, and the first marriage in the history of our planet took place. Adam was transformed from a single man to a married man. Any man who has been a bachelor for very long and then marries, knows what a tremendous transformation it is to go from single to married. It affects nearly every aspect of one’s life. Adam now had someone to talk to other than God; someone to share dreams with, someone to provide counsel and input on decisions that must be made, someone to sleep with and laugh with and who could provide the encouragement that only a good wife can give to a man. He was no longer alone. And in God’s eyes, this was good.

Loneliness

Loneliness is being increasingly recognized by psychologists and researchers as detrimental to human health and well-being. We are finding out by research and studies what God knew and declared thousands of years ago – it really, really isn’t very good to be alone. Studies show that solitary people die significantly earlier than married couples. In fact, to live alone without friends or spouse slashes years off your life about equal to those who smoke cigarettes. For a long time, we have known that obesity will reduce your lifespan, but to live a friendless, spouseless life will increase your risk of an early death more than obesity. Studies show that lonely people die younger, are more prone to sickness and disease, are less happy, and less likely to lead fulfilling lives than those who have healthy relationships with others.

We saw earlier that with the first human, marriage was God’s “fix” for loneliness and solitude. It hasn’t changed much since then. Keep in mind that God never said that “It is not good for a man to be single.” What He said was that “It is not good that a man should be alone.” But marriage makes it certain that a man or a woman will not be alone. Get married and it will not be possible for you to be alone. There may be arguments, there may be conflicts, there may be some bad attitudes that surface now and then, but you will not be alone. You cannot live in the same house with someone, sleep in the same bed with them, eat at the same table with them, and be alone. You may be angry, you may be frustrated, you may be perplexed, you may be puzzled, you may be unsatisfied, but you will not be alone – unless of course you both live in a huge mansion where one stays at one end and the other at the other end!

Spiritual Hermits

Sometimes Christians become so super-spiritual they suggest that God is all any of us need. If we were all single and lived in some solitary cabin out in the woods, and prayed five hours a day, read the Bible five hours a day, and listened to praise and worship music five hours a day, we would become super-saints, with a spirituality that far eclipses anyone with a more normal life. But such a life, as spiritual as that sounds, would warp us. It might make a great one or two week spiritual retreat, but to live like that all the time would be extremely unhealthy for us, not to mention that we could bear no fruit in such a situation. Drawing away from society and people makes hermits and “hermitnettes” but not world-changers or fruit-bearers. Our Lord Jesus certainly was no hermit and neither are we to be.

There are large numbers of videos and channels on YouTube which feature people, mostly men, who build cabins and live out in the wilderness. These videos often receive millions of views and likes. One man who built a cabin in the Canadian woods, accompanied only by his dog, has around three quarters of a million subscribers to his channel. The man is a skilled and resourceful builder, and I admit there is something fascinating about watching someone so highly effective in survival techniques, but I noticed a comment below one of his videos which troubled me: “You are living the dream!” I thought, “Is this the dream? – To live out in the wilderness with your dog in a small cabin? What kind of dream is that?” I fully admit that I would love a little cabin like that to withdraw occasionally for a few days or a week. But if I were forced to live that way for months or years at a time, I would feel like a prisoner. The dream of our lives must never be to get totally away from people, to so isolate ourselves that we never speak with anyone, never debate with anyone, and never argue with anyone. It would not be good, nor healthy for us physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally.

When Jesus sent out the disciples to go throughout Israel preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, the Bible says: “And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits” (Mark 6:7). Later He sent out a larger group of seventy, and we read: “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go” (Luke 10:1).

Pros and Cons

From a purely logistical standpoint, it might have been more efficient to send them out singly. Typically, two people do things more slowly than a single person. Certainly, as single individuals, there would have been no debate about which road to take, or which family’s house would be superior as a lodging place. A single person has the luxury of making decisions quickly without any need to discuss or consider the merits of the decision. Additionally, we might argue that a single person could be more spiritual than two people. A single man could pray non-stop as he walked along the road and sing praises to God without worrying about annoying his buddy. With two people there would be a lot less prayer and far more conversation between the two.

And yet Jesus did not see fit to send out one-man prayer warriors, who spent every waking hour talking non-stop to God. He knew, as does the Heavenly Father, we human beings possess a need for other human beings. We need to be encouraged by other people – real flesh and blood men and women who feel what we feel, do the things we do, and live as we live, and who are imperfect, just as we are imperfect.

One of the saddest and most tragic trends in our American society is the emergence of mass shootings. Most of them are committed by younger single men who have been living solitary, lonely lives. They have no friends, no guy friends, no girlfriends, no wife and no children. Often when their neighbors are interviewed afterwards, they report that they seemed like nice young men, on the “quiet side.” These nice young men lived their solitary lives with only their own thoughts to accompany them. And as year after year passed these thoughts became more and more twisted, more and more angry, and eventually more and more murderous. Finally, they went to a public location and began pouring out their rage through the barrel of a gun, a rage which had been incubated and exacerbated by years of seclusion and isolation.

Warm Alone?

Solomon wrote, “If two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?” (Ecclesiastes 4:11) and followed it with: “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The short version of these verses is: two are better than one – in business, in war, in marriage, and in life. Single, solitary living is unhealthy and not recommended – not by God, not by psychology, not by research.

It is not that every person on earth must be married. For some people marriage isn’t an option for one reason or another. For others it just doesn’t work. And in some cases men and women are truly called by God to live singly and devote themselves to Christ, such as the apostle Paul. The great apostle felt so good about living singly and being fully given to the ministry of Jesus Christ that he wrote, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself…” but he wisely recognized that this would never be the norm.

Marriage Not the Only Way

Marriage is a beautiful and highly effective way to avoid loneliness, but it is not the only way. The other way is to have friends, to relate to others, to get out of your quiet, lonely house and do things with, go places with, have meals with, laugh with, talk to, and relate to other people. Our Lord Jesus was never married, but He was up to His neck in people of all kinds. He argued fiercely with the Pharisees, He mentored those who chose to follow Him, He healed sick people, and He gave lengthy teachings about the kingdom of God to thousands. Sometimes the people milled around Him to such an extent that it was impossible to break away and have a quiet meal with His disciples.

Nothing is less lonely than a great big family with lots of siblings and lots of activity and noise. And when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, trusting in His death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection from the dead, we are immediately placed into a huge family – the family of God. We are commanded to assemble together with our “brothers and sisters” in Christ and never stop assembling with them. Will there be problems? Sure! Will there be disagreements? Absolutely! Will we get frustrated with our new family and wish we could just withdraw and live out our lives on our own? Probably at times. But we must never do this. The church of Jesus Christ is the family of God and it is our family.

Going to church, going to home fellowship gatherings, and prayer meetings, and “pot-bless” dinners, and Bible studies, and participating in church events where we rub shoulders with people we might never have had an inclination to know otherwise – this is what we do. Because we realize that as humans and as Christians it is not good to be alone. God knows best.

 

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