The Bible says it is not good that man would be alone. Science agrees:
Loneliness is tied to hardening of the arteries (which leads to high blood pressure), inflammation in the body, and even problems with learning and memory. Even fruit flies that are isolated have worse health and die sooner than those that interact with others, showing that social engagement may be hard-wired, Cacioppo said.
In one study, Cacioppo and Steve Cole of UCLA examined how the immune system changed over time in people who were socially isolated. They observed a change in the kinds of genes that lonely people’s immune systems were expressing. Genes overexpressed in the loneliest individuals included many involved in immune system activation and inflammation. In addition, several key gene sets were underexpressed, including those involved in antiviral responses and antibody production. The result is that a lonely person’s body has let its defenses down to viral and other invaders.17
Loneliness is bad for you. It is bad for your health. It is bad for your memory. It leads to depression.
But, what exactly is loneliness? And what is its opposite—community? It is possible to be lonely in a crowd. It is possible—common, in fact—to be lonely in marriage. There are people who attend church every week and are still lonely. The mere presence of another human being does not cure loneliness. What does?
It is an important point because the Bible teaches there is no spiritual growth in isolation. We can’t grow just by privately reading our Bibles and praying. We only grow as we are connected to each other. Consider carefully how these verses teach how we grow:
- He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Colossians 2:19 (NIV)
- From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:16 (NIV)
- In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. Ephesians 2:21 (NIV)
We only grow spiritually as we are connected.
Josh Hunt, How to Get along with Almost Anyone (Josh Hunt, 2014).