As most of the planet knows, Meghan Markle will marry Prince Harry in seventeen days. However, the British have a rule: they want their royal family to be British. And she’s American.
For her to become a British citizen, she must have lived in Britain for three years, have a good knowledge of English, be of sound mind, and pass the “Life in the UK” test. To fulfill the last requirement, she must successfully answer eighteen out of twenty-four questions selected from some three thousand facts.
She might be asked the age of “Big Ben” (it was cast on April 10, 1858) or the height of the London Eye Ferris wheel (135 meters–I had to look up both answers). More than a third of those who recently took the test failed it. One applicant failed it sixty times.
And there’s one other requirement: the couple must earn a combined 18,600 pounds (approximately $25,000). Since the royal family is worth $88 billion, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Not everyone is happy with the “Life in the UK” test. A report last month by Britain’s House of Lords committee on citizenship stated, “The current test seems to be, and to be regarded as, a barrier to acquiring citizenship rather than a means of creating better citizens.”
Loneliness in America
Facebook announced yesterday that it is launching a dating feature matching users specifically with people who are not already their friends. Despite the crowded field of dating and relationship apps on the market, a new study by the health insurer Cigna has found that loneliness is widespread in America.
Nearly 50 percent of respondents reported that they feel alone or left out always or sometimes. Fifty-four percent said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Two in five felt they “lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful,” and that they “are isolated from others.”
The study also shows that the younger generation is even lonelier than older generations. Seniors (ages seventy-two and above) had a score of 38.6 on the loneliness scale. By contrast, Generation Z (people born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s) had an overall loneliness score of 48.3.
Why is this new study important?
Loneliness has been linked with a higher risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. It has been shown to influence our immune systems, our genes, and recovery from cancer.
There’s even evidence that loneliness is a predictor of premature death–not just for the elderly, but even more so for younger people.
Loneliness and religious commitment
Here’s a question the Cigna survey did not investigate: is loneliness related to religious commitment? According to the study, younger people are significantly lonelier than older people.
We also know that they are significantly less religious than older people. The younger you are, the less likely you are to be involved in a church community.
Here’s how this fact relates to loneliness: numerous studies have shown that religious activity is correlated to increased health benefits. There is also a significant correlation between secularism and loneliness.
Therefore, it seems to me, the loneliness of young people and their lack of religious engagement are directly related. Does one cause the other?
“I have loved you with an everlasting love”
God told his wayward people, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). He “longs to be gracious to you” (Isaiah 30:18). In his very essence, “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
The best evidence for our Father’s relational love is the earthly ministry of his Son. Jesus was criticized for having dinner with “sinners” (Mark 2:13-17). He spoke to a Samaritan woman shunned by others (John 4). He invited himself into the home of Zacchaeus, an infamous sinner (Luke 19:5).
Jesus said to his followers, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
God created us for relationship with himself. As St. Augustine observed, our hearts are restless until they rest in him.
“We drew a circle that took him in”
The starting place for solving loneliness is a genuine relationship with our Father. How can we help our lonely culture meet our loving Lord?
First, live in close communion with Jesus. If we are intimately close to our Savior, his love will shine through us and people will want what we have.
Second, see every person you know as someone God loves. As I noted in Monday’s Daily Article, our value lies not in what we can do for the world but in what Jesus has done for us. If that is true for God, it should be true for us.
Third, ask the Holy Spirit to show you those who need your kindness today. Then ask for the grace you need to be gracious to them.
“He drew a circle that shut me out–
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!”