Book Review: Free To Love: How Oneness Transcends Marriage and Singleness

I recently read Jamal Jivanjee’s book, Free to Love: How Oneness Transcends Marriage and Singleness. I love this book for several reasons. As a married woman in an evangelical institutional church for many years, I felt almost like a non-person. Men were in charge as pastors, elders and small group leaders. Other Bible studies were separated by gender. Of course, there was never any touch between the genders. Underneath all this division was an unspoken message: relationships between the genders would lead to affairs.  Billy Graham was heralded as a bastion of morality because he would never be caught in an elevator alone with a woman, because, God forbid, they might have sex.

 

Then the Lord led me away from this church and eventually to a community of believers who actually believed that the body of Christ is family. The leadership of the group actually hugged everyone—full on body hugs. Over time, I realized how parched I was and how these brotherly hugs were leading to significant healing of my father wound. How else would God bring healing to my heart if not through other brothers and fathers, otherwise known as the body of Christ? These men had a unique ability to bring healthy non-sexual touch that my heart was craving.

 

Secondly, if marriage is the ultimate expression of oneness as evangelicals claim, then where does this leave unmarried people? Jesus prayed that we would all be one, as he and the Father were one. As Jamal points out, Paul said it was better to be single. Paul and Jesus were single. How did Jesus experience oneness with the women who traveled with Him? So how do we live out this oneness without having non-sexual relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Recently, a single friend of mine spent time with a man she has known for twenty-five years. She told him how much she enjoyed their time together. Soon after, he became very explicit about the ground rules that needed to exist between them. Like she didn’t know. She needed a brother, not a chastisement from him about avoiding a sexual relationship with him. She feels alone in the body of Christ.

 

Are cross gender (non-spousal) relationships tricky to navigate? Yes. Do they require a significant level of health and maturity? Yes. Are affairs a risk of cross gender relationships? Possibly, but when people are maturing in Christ, sitting at His feet, instead of relying on weekly “nourishment” from a pastor, the chances are significantly reduced.

 

Part of the resistance to Jamal’s understanding of biblical oneness is, I believe, that most Christians really don’t comprehend living in the New Covenant. We are radically different than we were before the Spirit of Christ entered our heart. We have a good heart, a new nature and we actually desire holiness. We want what is best for the other.

 

For too long evangelicals have hung onto teachings handed down to them as truth without engaging in the rigorous struggle to distinguish whether they are the traditions of man or the word of God. Robert Rowland expresses this far better than I can:

 

“To a large degree, we are all prisoners of our genes, family beliefs, mentors, experiences, traditions, and culture. Each represents a bar on the window of our prison cell. Our perception of what is true and eternal is colored by each bar. To deny this truth is not just to add another bar, but to add one which is stronger than the rest combined. Our only escape is through a never-ending quest for truth. Christian integrity in a setting of intellectual freedom demands that we never stop searching. The world and the church are better because men and women dare question that which has already been settled, if for no other reason than the personal confirmation of one's belief, rather than having one's faith simply passed on from generation to generation.

“Error can be passed on as easily as truth. It can be defended with equal vigor. But when error is passed on and defended as truth, succeeding generations are imprisoned, and the church suffers.

Tragically, many prisoners grow accustomed to their prison cells, and need the security and safety they offer.” [1] 

I admire Jamal for his willingness to challenge the status quo in search for Jesus’ truth about oneness.  I encourage you to read his book.

Free to Love: How Oneness Transcends Marriage and Singleness is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

GENEVA CHINNOCK is a writer and author of Becoming His Beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection and is known as Lady Arwen to her closest allies. She lives in Southern California with her husband and about matters of faith at TreasuredbyGod.com. 

 

[1] Rowland, Robert H., I Permit not a Woman to Remain Shackled, Lighthouse Publishing Company, 1991.