Missionary Single Issues: Love

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  • Approximate Time Commitment: 20 minutes

These booklets cover those issues which are unique to or heightened by those individuals who live in a culture other than their passport culture. The author wrote it, not as one who lived as a single missionary, but as someone who has talked about singles issues with single missionaries.

Modern Western Culture presents serious challenges related to maturity, marriage, and family. Changes in the culture during the last couple of centuries have produced disturbing trends which relate to the singles (unmarried individuals) growing up in it.

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The conversation between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-17 goes something like this:

Jesus: “Peter, do you love me?”

Peter: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus: “Peter, do you love me?”

Peter: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus: “Peter, do you love me?”

Peter: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

What is going on in this conversation?  It seems like Jesus and Peter are repeating the same thing over and over without really communicating.  This is not the case.

Lost in Translation

Who would know more about things getting lost in translation than missionaries serving in places other than their passport culture?    Such missionaries are keenly aware of trying to explain the concepts of Christianity in cultures which may not even have the concept, much less have words for the concept.

The problem in understanding what is taking place between Jesus and Peter is that English has only one word for love.  Jesus and Peter in this case begin the conversation using different words for love, and only on the third time do they use the same word.

In English we may say “I love hamburgers,” “I love you,” and “I love God.”  We use the same word for quite different kinds of love.  Other cultures often have a richer vocabulary when it comes to love.  To understand the different aspects of love for single and married people we need to at least realize that there are different kinds of love.

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