Kate Wharton may be best known to readers of this blog as one of the assistant national directors of New Wine, or a contributor (of an excellent chapter!) to Healthy Faith and the Coronavirus Crisis. To my shame, I haven’t actually read her book, Single Minded, until she kindly sent me a copy. This is probably now the book on singleness I will recommend to other people most of all.
Kate is somewhat unique in being a single Anglican evangelical charismatic church leader – who is also a woman. She is further unique in the fact that she can write well, think clearly, and understands carefully and meaningfully the struggles of being single and the challenging questions are culture faces. I was struck reading this book, first published back in 2013, that so much of what she wrote then rings true now. This is because it is deeply biblical – not merely regurgitating Bible quotes, but understanding the warp and weft of the big Bible story, and how it applies to singleness.
This book stands firmly within the orthodox tradition of the church regarding sex and marriage, and does so in a way that is both pastorally sensitive and culturally engaged. “This isn’t only a negative issue. We have thought earlier about some of the positives of being single, and we need to remember that far from simply being a list of don’ts, the Christian idea of chastity can be an incredibly freeing, life enhancing way to live“. This book can be difficult to read particularly, as a married person with single friends who I clearly can serve better. This book should be mandatory reading, in my view for those in church leadership. As Kate rightly diagnoses, there is an idolatry regarding marriage in the Evangelical church, and this has many unintended consequences.
As well as being enjoyably written with plenty of humour, this is also a very honest book. If you’ve heard Kate speak, or read anything else she has written, you will likely already expect this to be the case. Ultimately, this book is in part a story of God’s grace to one person. “When we have chosen to live our lives God’s way then that will be the best possible life. You see, in a very real way, God is all we need”. This is a quote from the last chapter in the book, ‘happily ever after’, and sums up the truth of what Kate is describing. This book is not an easy read, perhaps, I would imagine if you are single, but it is an essential read. I was glad to see a strong recommendation for Al Hsu’s The Single Issue, but also noted that there weren’t that many books that Kate thought would also be worth reading. I’ll be keeping my eyes out, as both a reader and commissioning editor, for books that dig deeper into the theology and practice of singleness from a Christian perspective.