Note: If you are a non-Christian, this post may not be of interest to you. If you are a Christian -- single or married -- please read on.
A recently divorced cyberpal sent me a "message from God" supposedly written by "St. Anthony" in 1247. If you are or were a Christian single, no doubt you've seen it before. Google it -- it's all over the Web. But because I'm a nice GGB and don't want you to leave my blog just yet, I'll repost it here:
ON, HIS PLAN FOR YOUR MATE
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone ~ to have a deep soul relationship with another, to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But God, to a Christian, says, "No, not until you are satisfied and fulfilled and content with living loved by me alone, with giving yourself totally, unreservedly to me alone ~ I love you, my child and until you discover that only in me is your satisfaction to be found, you will not be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you. You will never be united with another until you are united with me ~ exclusive of anyone or anything else, exclusive of any other desires or longings. I want you to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow me to give you the most thrilling plan existing ~ one that you can't imagine. I want you to have the Best. Please allow me to bring it to you ~ you just have to keep watching me expecting the greatest thing ~ keep experiencing that satisfaction knowing that I am ~ keep learning and listening to the things I tell you...you must wait. Don't be anxious, don't worry, don't look around at the things others have gotten or that I have given them. Don't look at the things you think you want. You just keep looking up to me, or you'll miss what I want to show you. And then, when you're ready ~ I'll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you would ever dream. You see, until you are ready and until the one I have for you is ready...I am working even this minute to have you both ready at the same time...until you are both satisfied exclusively with me, and the life I prepared for you, you won't be able to experience the Love that exemplifies your relationship with me...and this is Perfect Love. And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful Love, I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with me, and to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty and perfection and love that I offer you with myself.~~ Know I love you utterly.~~ I am God, Almighty; believe and be satisfied.
St Anthony 1247
Besides the fact that I seriously doubt this was written in the 13th Century by a saint (the only St. Anthony I can find listed in the Catholic Encyclopedia lived in the third century and was the founder of Christian monasticism -- ha!), this is some of the worst tripe I've ever read.
It's a nice idea -- focus on God while you wait for a mate. Don't worry, have faith. All nice. But if you look at what it really says ...
"No, not until you are satisfied and fulfilled and content with living loved by me alone." Oh, OK. I guess I should forget having friends or meaningful relationships with my family members, too, right? And that thing you said in Genesis about man being alone being a bad thing? I guess I should forget that, too.
"You will never be united with another until you are united with me." Um, I thought I was already united with God through Christ. So, now I have to pretend I don't need human relationships to really unite with you? Is that what you're saying, God?
"Don't be anxious, don't worry, don't look around at the things others have gotten or that I have given them." At least that's Biblical.
"I'll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you would ever dream." This is good news! I'm guaranteed to get a mate ... er, just as long as I get to where I really don't want one, right? In other words, you're obligated to respond to my behavior. Cool.
Sarcasm aside, folks, crap like this has caused untold misery and guilt for lots of single people I know, myself included. (Although by some accounts, it's helped others. Whatever. I don't see how bad theology helps anyone.) It puts people under the burden of thinking that their spiritual development involves somehow eliminating their natural, God-given impulses and desires to have loving relationships with others. It falsely frames true spirituality as some sort of pseudo-nirvana state where earthy love cannot go and should not interfere. It wrongly teaches that earthly gifts are rewards for spiritual progress. Worst of all, it implies that the single and struggling Christian is somehow less righteous because he or she wants a mate -- and that their singless is some sort of indicator that God is holding out of them until they reach critical spiritual mass.
My advice? Actually read the Bible if you want to know what God is saying.