As a single Christian woman I was given Sacred Singleness by Leslie Ludy for encouragement. There are few women out there (admittedly, I am not one of them) who are content to be single for the rest of their lives. Now, I am not the type who normally sits around in woe over my singleness, it is a choice for the time being, as well as a convenience. My impression after reading this book is that it was written for those women who find themselves struggling with an overwhelming desire to be married and a grave sadness in being single. Ludy’s goal is for such a woman to give up the “relentless pursuit of finding the right guy” and find that Jesus is “more than enough to satisfy the longings and desires of [her] heart” (21). For God to “transform a discontent, worried, anxious, guy-consumed single young woman into a vibrant, radiant, fulfilled soldier of the cross” (125). A nice idea in theory, but I found I could not support Ludy by the end of the book.
My first point of criticism is her citations. When she quotes a person whom she is using to strengthen her argument she cites her source and gives full credit to the author, either directly or by footnote. In presenting counter-arguments, however, she does not always give a full citation. She criticizes how Christian women are “often led to believe it’s okay to build everything around our emotions and our wants. ‘Your heart is good,’ is the message of one popular Christian book. ‘By living out your desires and dreams, you bring glory to your Creator'” (31). No credit is given to an author. As a reader, I found her inconsistency not only poor writing, but frustrating because it leaves me with the impression that she expects me to place full trust in her own research and blindly accept her opinion. Without being able to look up and read source material for myself, what other choice does she leave me?
I think it would be safe to say that Ludy’s overall expectations are unrealistic and lack significant psychological understanding. I don’t say this lightly, only because the examples of women, including herself, who have embraced the lifestyle and mindset she preaches seem to share similar behavioral patterns. She admits that, “I realized the only times I’d ever been single without a guy in my life were the times I’d had no choice . . .whenever I didn’t . . . I spent most of my time and energy trying to find one (18). Another woman’s testimony claims, “Instead of seeking [God’s] presence . . . I sought after a man’s,” she says, “there was something deep inside that was still not satisfied” (36). Ludy also mentions a young woman who is “an attractive girl, but she exudes a sense of unhappiness and insecurity that diminish her physical beauty” she “feels that God has let her down, and she’s letting the whole world know it” (46). Ludy claims that all these latter two women lack is “a love story with Jesus Christ” (46). I, on the other hand, would be interested to know more about their family backgrounds.
Our relationships and where we seek fulfillment is strongly linked to our upbringing and the sort of familial environment our parents provided. Our spirituality, by proxy, has lot to do with our personal psychology and cognitive life experiences. Thus, I found it laughable when Ludy chastises “modern Chiristian books [that] are dripping with human psychology and human ideas, but are devoid of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ” (58). Personally, some of the most practical Christian literature I have read is written by Christian psychologists, counselors, and therapists with credentials and years of field work behind them. So, when Ludy’s states, “If we are feeling angry, unhappy, miserable, or ticked off about being single (or any other circumstance in life), we shouldn’t merely admit it and call it honesty. Rather, we should admit it and call it what it is– sin” I am inclined to ask her: Was it that easy for you? (109). Is it ever that simple? On paper, maybe. In reality, I cannot believe so. There are too many factors of life which play into our psyche and merely labeling our innate desires and wants sin and asking “God to forgive us and cleanse us by the power of his blood” will not wipe away years of built up resentment and emotional scarring (Ludy 109).
My last point of contention with Ludy is her solution to “filling the void” of the single years. She argues that with all the time single women spend worrying about relationships “we live a life completely focused on self. Meanwhile, children are starving, women are being prostituted, and countless families around the world are ripped apart by disease and poverty” (120). I am not doubting these are worthy causes and I applaud those who find their calling in reaching out to those less fortunate, but Ludy’s manipulative tactics, I think, will only convince the most naive reader that this is something every single woman must pursue.
The rest of the book is devoted to promoting orphan outreach, foster programs, and adoptions and getting involved as a single woman. I found her duplicitous when, speaking of missionary and foster work, she adds: “As odd as it may sound, I believe the best way to find a godly marriage partner is to stop hunting for one and instead focus your entire life around Jesus Christ and His priorities . . . God’s not limited by our circumstance or surroundings . . . God can bring your spouse to you in the remotest village in Africa or in the most hidden slum of Haiti” (124). Is she now proposing a tit-for-tat strategy for her readers? And how does she expect to sell any woman on taking up a noble cause with a strategy based on guilt?
I am not going to go into how my personal biblical beliefs and world view clash with Ludy’s. Nor how some of her scriptural references conflict with my understanding of God’s word. There, there will always be discrepancies. I want to remain objective, if I may. That way those who read this book, whether Christian or not, may develop their own opinions. I am a huge proponent of reading something, whether or not you might agree with an author, as to encourage conversation and discussion.
With that, I give Sacred Singleness 1 out of 5 stars for good intentions.