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Singleness and Marriage after Christendom

Being and Doing Family

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Momentous change is taking place in Western societies and churches. Singleness is on the rise, along with growing interest in different pathways to human happiness. However, we still largely consider coupledom as the norm and a symbol of the good life. This is especially true in Christian contexts, where the decline of “traditional” marriage and family patterns is often presented as an erosion of the Christian way of living.

Yet when the church was very young, the world was also very concerned with the demise of traditional family ways—but the culprits accused of destroying family values were none other than Christians. A considerable number of them willingly chose to forego marriage, embracing Jesus’ vision of a new kind of a family: the church.

This book follows the changes in the practice of marriage and singleness, from those early days of the Christian movement to our modern preoccupation with romance and coupledom as essential ingredients of a happy, fulfilled life. It argues that the current surge in the number of single people is actually an opportunity for us to reconsider both singleness and marriage in the larger context of a community of faith.

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Praise for Singleness and Marriage after Christendom

“This is an excellent book that provides a helpful corrective and an innovative approach to much of the Christian literature on what it means to be human and to be family. Lina Toth offers a careful analysis of the historical context which opens up a myriad of other ways of being and doing family. This is framed around friendship as a personal, communal, and missional practice which challenges us to live out new ways of being family in our current individualized and often isolated Western contexts.”
Cathy Ross, head of Pioneer Mission Leadership Training, Oxford

“The book provides a very helpful way into charting the Scriptures, the early church, and what some key theologians have reflected on singleness and marriage. ... It will provoke further thought, challenge inherited and prevailing attitudes on how we view sexual relationships, and raise questions as to what the church as community might entail. Drawing on the radical nature of Jesus, it provides a lifeline of hope to explore and provide richer resources on singleness, marriage, family life, and community, shaped by a deep biblical analysis. The book is a valuable resource, written by a gifted communicator, which will provide informed starting points for further discussion.”
Roy Searle, former leader, Northumbria Community

“Though many today are appealing to ‘traditional family values’ or ‘traditional understandings of marriage,’ Lina Toth is one of the few seriously investigating these traditions. Her book makes her solid biblical and historical research beautifully accessible. Some cherished assumptions crumble, but her work enables us to grasp the shocking things Jesus actually said, and to be caught up in his call to a life of love, hope, joy, and intimacy in his new family.”
Nathan Nettleton, Baptist pastor and marriage celebrant educator, Melbourne

About the Author

Rev. Dr Lina Toth is Assistant Principal and Lecturer in Practical Theology at the Scottish Baptist College in Paisley, Scotland, UK, and Doctoral Supervisor at the International Baptist Theological Study Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. A musician and artist as well as a theologian, she is particularly interested in ethics, spirituality, and theology of culture. Her second love is history--not so much dates but people and stories which have shaped the world we have today.

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