I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we long for deep relationships with others. We may be tempted to think our longing indicates that something is wrong with us, that something is deficient in us, but I assure you it is not. That longing for deep relationship was placed in us before the fall. We are created to bond and to have deep relationships. So, why are we so lonely? Why do we isolate ourselves? There are many cultural and sociological factors at play, from American individualism to social media and many others, but the primary answer takes us back to Genesis 3—we are afraid.
We are the most technologically connected generation in history, yet perhaps one of the loneliest. Do a brief search on the topic of loneliness, and you’ll see the problems cataloged and covered from major news outlets with words and phrases such as epidemic, serious health problem, public health concern, and social fracturing of society. A recent study conducted by the health insurance company Cigna surveyed twenty thousand people and found that 54 percent of respondents said that they always or sometimes feel like no one really knows them well. And 40 percent of respondents felt like they “lacked companionship” and their “relationships aren’t meaningful.”
America is an increasingly lonely nation, and the statistics bear this out. Our face-to-face relationships continue to be on the decline, with the institution of marriage being a less popular institution today than it was in the past (today about 50 percent of adults are married, a decline from 72 percent in 1960). The average household is growing smaller as well. More than 25 percent of the population now lives alone, compared to 13 percent in 1960. We are isolating more and more, and it’s not good. Loneliness is prevalent in our culture, and it’s prevalent in our churches too.
Created for deep, meaningful relationships
When God created the world and everything in it, He declared that “it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). This declaration of goodness is echoed several times as we see God’s creative work, until we get to Genesis 2:18, where God declares, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (emphasis added). Thus, He set about making a “helper fit for him.” God singles out Adam’s aloneness and draws our attention to it as “not good.” We were not created to be alone; we were created for deep, meaningful relationship. And this should not surprise us, as it is one way that we bear the image of our Creator.