As I’ve spent time fleshing out several ideas for posts here, I kept running across this May 2015 online apology from “the church” to “singles.” Author John Pavlovitz makes some good points worth considering, which I’ve sort of combined and summarized. My comments are in purple – my fave color.
- Sometimes, unintentional segregation happens with the understandable attention given to marriage and family in sermons, programs, and activities. The majority of pastors and ministry leaders are married folk. I have often contended that when people marry, something happens in their brain to wipe out their memory of being single. 🙂
- Sometimes deep needs and unique challenges are overlooked in program planning. Singleness covers a very wide range of ages and life stages making this admittedly difficult!
- Sometimes singleness is seen as an affliction to be cured or a problem to be solved. It is neither. While marriage is desired – and attained – by most, it cannot satisfy the deepest longings of the soul. It’s important for married and unmarried to share their challenges without fear of judgment or lecture.
- Sometimes singles are seen as halves waiting to find their other half, biding time until the right half shows up. Until then, they may be subtly treated as “less than” in social and leadership situations.
- Sometimes singles are given incomplete and unsatisfying advice, Singleness is not something like adolescence. You don’t grow out of it. Your status may change, but it is not simply a matter of maturity or immaturity.
Now, I appreciate this apology, and I find others springing up across the internet.
BUT, I have yet to see substantive articles addressing THESE main areas:
- Churches have marriage sermon series and classes; how about the same energy for successful singleness?
- How can the church address celibacy as a blessing for the unmarried which provides attractive, compelling – and attainable – reasons to reserve intimacy for such time as they are married. Churches are good at admonition; not so good at encouragement – that is, if it is addressed at all.
- How can the church help singles celebrate their age and stage? Of course, the range is wide and diverse!
- How can the church better address the culture of casual sex and living together without the commitment of marriage as less than God’s intent. “Just don’t” is not enough!
Now, I understand that I am in a minority of my peers, although it is hard to say since as an older, never-married onesome, people like me have simply faded out of church attendance at all. There are many who are widowed or divorced and far fewer who live in faithful protracted singleness who attend.
Above all, the most important thing I can ask of my church is to help me become transformed in my spiritual walk. Unmarried or married – God tends to our hearts one-on-one without looking at our ring finger.
Romans 12:1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (The Message)
Personally, I do consider my wonderful church to be my family. At the same time, I experience a very real loss at not having a husband and family to enjoy ministry and grow older with, within this wonderful church family. I need people to hear and understand that!
How about you? Let me read your comments!