Singles in the Church

This post is by Chuck DeGroat; I was sent a link by a friend and just have to (re)post the whole thing. Let’s discuss the church and singleness in a way that helps us all.

What is your church doing about singleness? How do people understand “singleness”? What advice do you have for churches about singleness?

I’ve been married for 16 years, so I can’t very well say, “I understand.”  But, I’ve ministered among college/career aged men and women, I’ve taught, counseled, and supervised many singles at a seminary, and live and minister now in Singles Mecca – San Francisco.  And I think I’ve heard it all.  Singles – I feel for you.  There are some crazy ideas out there…

…which led City Church San Francisco’s Anni Mingin, our Pastor of Spiritual Formation, to organize an event called The Gender Gap. Anni brought together a panel of pastors and therapists to facilitate separate discussions with men and women, and by all accounts the conversation was “lively.”  Who woulda thunk it?

But in these discussions and others, I hear a combination of of things that worry me…and provoke me to muse on my own “Missional Position” when it comes to singles.

Myths:

Myth 1.  The Church is responsible for providing singles healthy venues to meet each other – I’ve heard this and (thankfully) several singles debunked this myth at our Gender Gap event.  Now, if your church has a roller rink, and you can do a churchy version of “Gents Choice” (yes, we did this in the 70′s and 80′s), then go for it.  Yes, the church is responsible for casting a vision of the good life,shalom, the life of flourishing, and this ought to have application to singles (PS: Most biblical application to singles is shallow behaviorism.  Sad.)  But, I’ve seen what happens when churches give in to this modern-day consumer demand.  Most healthy singles will avoid these events like the plague.  Some will go out of a curiosity – a good speaker, an attempt at a healthy vibe.  But mostly, these foster a meat-market culture.

Myth 2.  God’s focus is on the family – Yes, you know what I’m getting at.  It is a uniquely Western and particularly American theology that focuses on the family as if the Bible advocates its primacy.  Without elaborating with lots of proof texts, I’m convinced a biblical theology places community (ekklesia) first, complete with singles, married, widows, orphans, and aliens.  We privilege Dick and Jane Tithingunit and their 2.3 children, but Scripture doesn’t.  Thus, to say marriage is normative or being single is normative, according to the Bible, misses the point.  “Life together” in community, as Bonhoeffer might say, is the point.  In the end, we are the “New Israel,” not the new Jones’s.

Myth 3 – God is most concerned about our behavior – So much of the moralistic literature on single life focuses on sin-management, not on a life of flourishing.  Thus, the college boys get together for behavioral accountability to confess their most recent J.O., or the single women define the characteristics of the perfect guy.  To be sure, how we live out what we believe is very important.  But more often than not, this leads to the production of the false self – the self we present to others which masks the darker parts of our soul.  Let’s get honest, friends, and let’s begin talking about what we really think, feel, and dream about.  Christian community that plays the game of sin-management may look clean on the outside, but is what Jesus calls a “white-washed tomb.”

So, let’s turn our attention to three musings – a biblical vision of flourishing for a single person.

Musing 1 – Your sexuality is very, very human -In the early years of the church, the answer to this problem was castration.  Bad idea.  Today, we choose behavioral castration, a kind of moralistic attempt at sin avoidance and management.  Bad idea.  God created you sexual.  Now, the opposite of castration is sexual consumerism.  Consumerism is yet another attempt to manage our desires.  Now, the Missional Position says that your attempt to control sin by avoidance, on the one hand, or indulgence on the other, is ultimately self-destructive.  Remember the words of C.S. Lewis: Our desires are not too strong, but far too weak!  Now, living into biblical desire is not killing off you want (castration) or enjoying what you want in the moment (consumerism), but living into your design.  This means that you were designed to enjoy your sexuality, even now.  Of course, being a consumer of information, you’d want me to elaborate and explain…but I’m going to leave this one at the moment of tease…

Musing 2 – Your disappointment is very, very real – Because our desires are thwarted time and again, we find ourselves confused.  After all, God wants us to be satisfied, right?  Jesus spoke of the “abundant life.”  Once again, we define abundance by what we avoid (I’m obedient!) or what we consume (I’m fulfilled!), but Jesus blows up the extremes and challenges us to live fully, in the now, despite our lack or privilege.  And this living requires the brutal honesty of lament – “Why, Oh Lord?”  Because you know that your singleness, more often than not, frustrates the hell out of you.  You know that you’ve been made to find your deepest joy in God, but let’s face it – lots of other Christians get to experience that joy plus a great spouse, a few kids, and a pretty good life.  Why are you called to suffer and not them?  We were meant to desire.  If you try to control desire through castration or consumerism, you’ll become angry, bitter, and possibly even manipulative.  If you live into desire, you’ll have to confess deep, deep disappointment.  And in this radical honesty, you may even find a kind of brutally honest relationship with God that feel as real as anything you’ve known…

Musing 3 – Your safety is more important than you know – In my work with singles, I hear a lot of constructive advice – “The church ought to provide more singles events,” or “Women ought to convey that they are available and interested by dressing in a more inviting way,” or “Guys need to pursue more,” or “Pastors need to preach more on being single.”  Fine.  There is probably some wisdom in there.  But here’s something to chew on.  In most singles environments I’ve been in, singles feel a whole lot of weirdness.  Guys expose too much chest hair.  Women expose too much cleavage.  Game on.

Now, someone broke through this meat-market craziness in the recent singles conversation when he said, “I think this creates an environment that makes everyone’s stomach turn.”  This was a private conversation, so I followed up.  I asked why, and he said, “I think that it is all about creating a perception, but it misses the real fact that we just want someone to know and be known by…someone to love.”

This is honest.  Listen, most singles I know would say that the exchanges they have, whether online or in person, exist somewhere above the water-line…where we pose and posture.  But beneath the surface, the question is, “What do you think of me?  Are you curious to know my story?  Do you want to talk more?”  Beneath the surface, in other words, is a person’s story.  And, to tell our story, we need safety.

Forget what the Bible says for a moment.  Some of you have become cynical about that.  The best psychological wisdom claims that relational connection occurs when people feel safe with one another.  Even married couples have no hope of communicating without safety, first.  Now, what counters a real feeling of safety?  That’s for you to chew on.  But more often than not, we have an intuition when a person is not safe, when the persona is in full gear, and the mask is on, and the false self is shining.  He’s a bit too cool.  And she’s trying to be a bit too sexy.  And this, on the surface, may be appealing.  But in a while, it becomes an impediment to honest relationship.

So, the Missional Position advocates honesty, curiosity, and story-telling.  It advocates the kind of heart-centered pursuit of another’s soul.  I’ve talked to men who seem fairly mature and who lead in their churches, but who are 15 years old emotionally when it comes to relationships.  Often, I tell these men that they need to relate with maturity to a woman before even beginning a pursuit.  However, these emotionally stunted men often attract emotionally stunted women, who play the game.  Maybe it’ll work.  Maybe they’ll get married.  But I can bet you this much – I’ll see them in my office for counseling soon.  Posing and posturing leads to disingenuous relationship – a form of contrived intimacy that may feel like real connection, but ultimately disintegrates it.  It kills any sense of safety – the safety to be you, warts and all.

Final Thoughts:

I probably don’t have much credibility as a 40 year old man who has been married for 16 years.  But let me tell you this:  those of us who are married, and married honestly, have hit bottom.  Our own crap and posing is eventually exposed.  Our marriages hit a place of death.  All of our former ideals around intimacy and success and sex and prosperity explode.  And we hear that old Scripture ringing in our ear: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground…”  And we know life emerges from death.

In other words, we know the pitfalls.  We’ve entered the “garden”…and we’ve discovered thorns and thistles.  Many of you wish you were in our shoes, and perhaps our beds.  But let me tell you the truth.  Loneliness and difficulty only increase.  What you wish for may come back to haunt you.  And so, we all must be prepared to take the missional position – the road the less traveled, the way down, the path of the suffering Servant.

Keeping our eyes on Christ, we see that pleasure does not come in and through sin- management.  We can’t manipulate satisfaction and pleasure.  It comes through self-abandonment, the kind of cruciform life that looks as it cannot possibly offer fulfillment.  It comes not through managing and manipulating desire, but by living into it – “you only have to let the soft sound of your body love what it loves,” as the poet Mary Oliver says in the her poem “The Wild Geese.” You see, she gets it.  She trusts something bigger than her own ability to control pain and pleasure, castration and consumerism.

Finally, this:  I’ve often told singles that their vision is too “singular” – they focus too much on finding someone rather than focusing on how others might thrive.  What would it look like for men to focus on creating a safe place for women to feel at home, and not like meat at the local market?  What would it look like for women to envision the safety of men – a context where they don’t have to become hyper-masculine, posing like the secure and mature men they are not?  What would it look like to focus on the community?  Not the family.  Not singleness.  What would it look like to anticipate the “new community,” on the new heavens and new earth, where posturing and posing will be no more, and where self-sacrifice and other-centeredness will reign?

The Missional Position.  It’s not just a funny word play.  It’s a call to cruciformity in your singleness.  Let’s talk about it.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Adam

    Here’s part of the issue:
    “I’ve talked to men who seem fairly mature and who lead in their churches, but who are 15 years old emotionally when it comes to relationships. Often, I tell these men that they need to relate with maturity to a woman before even beginning a pursuit.”

    Perhaps instead of telling us singles what we need to do, the people doing the telling should be engaging in deeper relationship with those same singles. Emotionally stunted men and women are stunted because no one wants to show us what real relationships are like. It’s impossible to grow in emotional maturity by yourself. It’s literally “Go fix yourself then you’ll be worthy of relationship”.

  • Anthony

    I found this page from a pastor friend of mine. But I’ll say this, pretty disappointed with this guys opinion. It’s just very vague. Like the above poster stated, maybe us singles are stunted because we are left out by couples who feel it awkward or whatever other reason they decide to not include singles. Also “living into your desire”? How about you explain what that means. You state it is not castration and not consumerism, than what is it? Leaves a log to the imagination and too vague to actually be useful or applicable. Just my .02

  • Kristin

    I agree with myth #1. I hear this vague complaint/expectation a lot from those of my friends who are single. The question I ask is, has anyone ever encountered an awesome, well functioning, healthy singles ministry? I mean, really? Do they exist somewhere? What do they look like? I always hear the complaints about what people hate about singles ministries but whenever I ask what they’d like to see in a singles ministry, or how they would do it, or an example of a good one, I get blank stares.

  • Adam

    If you want an idea of what good singles ministry is, try inviting them into your life and start being present to their life. A family is, by it’s very nature, a community. In church culture and speaking directly to Myth 2, the only community that exists is the family. If you don’t have a family, you literally do not have a community.

    Take Musing #2 about disappointment. To be present to a singles life you’re going to have to share in that disappointment. You have to feel it. It’s basic empathy. Instead what singles get is, at best, a cliche statement like “your disappointment is real” and at worst “you just aren’t happy with who you are”. Community and connection require sharing each other’s struggles, but most families spend so much time running after soccer practice, band practice, gymnastics, robotics team, etc… There’s no time to be present and therefore the solution is that singles have to take care of themselves. It would be better if they just got married so they could join in the frantic schedule with their own kids.

    The reason why singles ministry doesn’t seem to work is because singles ministry is all about singles not belonging anywhere else. A fifth wheel is just uncomfortable. Listening to disappointment is tiring. The word sex can’t be mentioned around singles, it’s embarrassing, regardless of what Musing 1 says. Singles have “hit bottom” as DeGroat put it in is closing statements, the thing is, only a spouse is supposed to see that, no one else is allowed in there. So if you “hit bottom” and you’re spouse-less, you are in the worst place of isolation.

    I’ll end with a quote from Andy Root from a couple days ago.
    “Loneliness reveals personhood because loneliness is the confession of lost relationship; it is clutching to find your personhood… the feeling of loneliness is the closest experience that we have to death. It is to be dead to all others; it is to be alone”

  • http://lisesletters.wordpress.com Lise

    Wow, Adam. You’ve expressed so much of the single experience so poignantly. I don’t even know what to add.

    DeGroat wrote about the importance of safety. I think that is all any of us want from a ministry – that and authenticity. The problem with singles’ ministries is that they do tend to feel like a pick up joint or a place where people who don’t really have a life congregate. I personally don’t feel safe when I know I’m being sized up, and I very much have a life. The latter isn’t my problem.

    Then if there is no singles ministry, basically one’s options are the women’s ministries or men’s ministries (depending on gender). While there can be great benefit to same sex groups, I find women’s activities in churches can be quite tedious – i.e. teas and quilting groups. I’d rather go to the men’s watch the ball game event. Or to something where both men and women come together for I don’t have a lot of male energy in my life and I miss that.

    At one church I belonged to I was in the prayer ministry that happened to have a bunch of older couple’s on the team. I loved this because I was treated as a sister and as a person by the married men and women. While I didn’t meet any singles in the ministry, I felt safe and seen. This was the best ministry experience I’ve had. I also greatly benefited from watching loving couples relate to one another for my parents divorced when I was quite little. However, when it came to holidays, etc. people typically spent these with their blood kin. My parents are deceased so I have spent holidays with friends for years (Christian and non-Christian).

    I think it would be really neat if instead of married people always mentoring a younger married couple, they instead picked a single person to mentor. But as this doesn’t happen often, some of my closest friends in the church are with women who are widows. Even though there is about a twenty/thirty year age difference between us, I find we relate well.

    DeGroat also mentions desire and longing and this is a very important topic. Within desire are seeds of the divine so whenever I find myself in touch with these feelings, I ask the Lord to reveal to me the higher intention behind them. Instead of pushing the feelings away, I invite them to teach me something in the service of my spiritual formation. Likewise, we live in bodies and the sensual aspect of our earthly experience can’t be negated. For instance, why do the elderly yearn so much to be touched and why is my cat sitting on my lap right now as I type? We are embodied creatures and must learn healthy ways to live into this phenomenon.

    I wonder if there is much distinction between the single woman’s experience and the single man’s. One thing I’ve noticed is if you’re a single older woman, your sexuality can be viewed as a great threat. It seems a single guy can chum more with a married couple but somehow if a female chums with a couple, there is more fear of seduction. I find this really sad. If fact, I even had someone in a church express concern when I joined FB because somehow by being engaged in social media, something bad was going to happen. I simply want to belong. I’m not looking to upset any apple carts. I’ve lived long enough on my own that I’ve actually become quite content.

    Finally, I think people can grow in their sensitivity to those who have never married or had kids. Sometimes there is an outpouring of support for the young single mom – as there should be. But this support gets all tied into the cuteness of the child and Christian idolatry of babies. But what about the woman who attends baby shower after baby shower with a smile on her face of support for the other but who can’t conceive and/or has no partner to conceive with?

    In my entire life experience, few have asked me what it is like to have all my friends marry and have children and me not. And although I’ve made peace with this I think, I still tear up at baptisms. I don’t think people intentionally miss the mark on empathy. They simply don’t think. If it’s not part of their life experience, they don’t imagine themselves there.

  • Chris

    Let me make some comments from the perspective of a never-married, middle-aged male.

    Singles ministry is the most difficult ministry of a church. Singles can range anywhere from college age to centenarians. Singles can be never married, divorced, or widowed. Singles may have children or have none. So, how does a church design a singles ministry that will successfully accomodate the never-married 25 year old, the 35 year old single mom, the 50 year old divorcee, the 70 year old widower and so forth? Only the largest churches would be able to pull off any type of serious singles ministry, since presumably they alone would have enough singles that fall along these different stages of life to be able to offer a wider array of options for these singles.

    I think there is value in having a singles ministry, if a church can offer one. The singles ministry does not have to be a “meat market” if appropriate safeguards are put in place. There is a singles ministry at the church I have attended. While it is certainly not perfect (and what ministry is?), its value is that it provides a community for singles. Singles often find it hard to socialize with married couples since they are often off doing their family activities, thus leaving singles on the sidelines. At least at my church we have a group of singles who go out to eat together after church and meet one Friday a month at restaurant to socialize and do other activities together.

    I will say that I am frustrated with this article at one point. He says that singles are meant to enjoy their sexuality now and that they are to avoid the extremes of castration and consumerism. So, what possibly can he mean? Masturbation? He leaves it as a “tease” – In other words, he has nothing to offer singles on this issue.

  • bobson

    Lise, thanks for mentioning the childless. Too many times my wife has left a mothers day service to go home and cry. We may be at peace with our reality, but this insane emphasizing family as christianity creates a lot of separation within a church ‘family’.

    Slowly we are finding single friends, and we are learning brotherly and sisterly love with them. Rather than being the great evil we have heard it could/would be by letting in temptation, it has been a blessing. Every time I see my wife relax and genuinely engage our friends I see her beauty radiate all the more. Turns out being single is not the problem, the problem is how we (as a church, family, community) see relationships.

  • Tom F.

    I wonder if “singleness” is really a thing thing the same way “married” is. With “married”, you know what you are going to get, but “single” just means not married. Sort of like ethnicity survey options like “white” and “non-white”, the “non-white” category is simply not a meaningful grouping, it is arbitrary and abstract. Different “singles” may have very different yearnings, capacities, and developmental life-stages.

    You only need a “singles” ministry if you have somehow removed the couples in the church into their own separate “couples” or “family” ministry. Now, the church may do ministry to “singles”, but I don’t (as a “single”) particularly want to be a part of a programmed “singles ministry”.

    Also, what is the history here: when did we become “singles”? I feel like that term needs to be problematized. It certainly has echoes of consumer market-segmentation, or of defining people by their consumption habits. It is hard for me to imagine a designated ministry to “singles” in the 1st or 16th or even 19th century. The term defines us by our aloneness, which is inherently isolating and perhaps inaccurate. I am not myself without others; this is true whether I have a spouse or not. I would say I am “unmarried”, but I am increasingly uncomfortable with “single”.

  • AHH

    I agree with bobson @7 about the somewhat overlapping problems of childless couples.
    My wife and I got married in our mid/late 30s. So we (especially me) had many years in various singles-type ministries in churches. Apart from each other, we have less in the way of meaningful fellowship now (after 13 years of married life in the same church) than we did when we were single — once our other married friends had kids they moved on to other circles that didn’t include us. In some ways, I think the “family”-centric Evangelical church makes childless couples (whether childless by choice or by biology) feel at least as much like failures or “fifth wheels” than single people.

  • http://conversationswithahigherpower.blogspot.com Alex Verburg

    What a great article. Very inspiring! Thank you for writing.

  • GaryLyn

    I, too, want to express my appreciation for the posting of the article, and the deeply insightful comments by all who have contributed. I have formulated my own responses, but didn’t have time until now to write, and as I read over what has been shared, all I can add is “What he/she said.” (I am 58 years old, married once, but have been single many more years than married).
    I would add that these are the kind of discussions that make me hopeful that blogs can be a place for fruitful and meaningful interaction. I find it interesting, sadly, that when the post concerns the definition of a belief or doctrine, the comment section fills up quickly and commented can be heated. But while the comments here are fewer in number, they carry a depth, and a grace, and an invitation, that I don’t experience in some many discussion threads.

  • http://lisesletters.wordpress.com Lise

    Yes, what thoughtful and respectful responses. I was quite touched by your comment, Bobson expressing the pain you and your wife have felt regarding infertility. It is helpful for me to hear a male perspective on this loss because so often it is only alluded to in regards to the female experience. So much of female identity has been tied into marriage and childbearing that even in today’s world, if you don’t conceive, a person can battle feeling as if one isn’t a real woman. And yet loss is loss regardless of gender. Ironically, I happened to be reading a collection of essays last night by the theologian, Miroslav Volf in a collection entitled “Against the Tide.” He writes quite eloquently about his own experience with this issue prior to adopting children. He states, “Christian community wasn’t much help, either. Every time I would go to worship, the laughter and boisterousness of the little ones milling around in the community room would remind me of unfulfilled dreams. The season of Advent was the worst. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,’ I would hear read or sung in hundreds of different variations. But from me a child was withheld. The miracle of Mary’s conception, the rejoicing of the heavens at her newborn child, the exultation of Elizabeth all became signs of God’s painful absence, not God’s advent. ‘And the government shall be upon his shoulders…’ If God’s Son indeed was in charge, it seemed that he didn’t care to move even his royal finger in our favor. At Christmas, I felt like the only child in a large family to whom the parents had forgotten to give gifts…” (p.38).

    How nice that you and your wife are receiving comfort in friendships and how refreshing is your open heart regarding diverse community. As a psychotherapist, I understand the value and necessity of marital boundaries but in reality, problems arise when relationships form in secrecy – not when couples engage in healthy, open fellowship with single people. Likewise, where is the trust and strength in a marriage if one is always thinking things are so fragile they are going to crack like an egg?

    In light of some of these issues I have always taken solace in Isaiah 54, although sometimes there is no comfort when our hearts are broken. And of course I am applying a personal context to a more global scripture. But here is a snippet anyway.

    Sing, O barren one who did not bear;
    burst into song and shout,
    you who have not been in labor!
    For the children of the desolate woman will be more
    than the children of her that is married, says the Lord.
    2 Enlarge the site of your tent,
    and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
    do not hold back; lengthen your cords
    and strengthen your stakes.
    3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left,
    and your descendants will possess the nations
    and will settle the desolate towns.

    Finally, since sexuality was mentioned, I found Lauren F. Winner’s book, “Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity” addressed this issue with a candor, respect and intelligence that is often greatly lacking in the whole “singles” discussion. And Tom, I do find churches remove couples from other ministries at times. There are all kinds of groups and retreats for couples. Likewise, I was once invited into a small group with couples and then told by one of the wives I was better to join a singles’ small group. When I made an effort to do that, it backfired. Now I am in a small group that is very heterogenous which is so refreshing.

  • Adam

    Lise,

    I did a study on Winner’s book many years ago and she even visited my church and preached for a weekend. I found that it didn’t really go far enough. Today, I am absolutely obsessed with the work of Dr. Brene Brown. As a therapist, I think you will really like her stuff. Brown’s work is on shame, vulnerability and empathy. How is this a suitable replacement for Winner’s book on sex?

    Winner did what DeGroat does in this post “I’m going to leave this one at the moment of tease…” But DeGroat’s Musing 1 and Musing 2 can not be separated.
    Musing 1 – Your sexuality is very, very human
    Musing 2 – Your disappointment is very, very real
    So, bluntly, singles are allowed to be disappointed about not having sex. Paul says to the Corinthians “burn with lust” (New Living Translation). Brown’s work says we need to dig into the disappointment and share it. Literally, churches and couples need to understand the disappointment and share it. Be part of the process rather than an outside commenter. Be community.

    And this is true of everyone. There should never be a Widows ministry, and a Singles ministry, and a College ministry, and an Elderly ministry. We are not our labels. We should all be working to share the load with each other. The individual ministries are just good excuses for people to assume someone else will take care of those people. I think Brown’s work is a really good stepping stone into “we all have some group therapy to get through” and training ourselves in how to accept the hurting people around us, regardless of what group we think they belong in.

  • http://lisesletters.wordpress.com Lise

    Adam,

    Your comment is really interesting and unfortunately because I’m running out the door I don’t know that I’ll be able to give it the full time I would like. I am familiar with Brene Brown and adored one of her Ted Talks.

    I couldn’t agree with you more that there should never really be a college ministry, an elderly ministry, etc. I think community should be intergenerational and one of my riches experiences came not only from working in an Orthodox Jewish nursing home for four years but while doing so, running a program where school children came each week and were paired with their own senior. The kids desperately needed the elderly and the elderly desperately needed the kids. Many of our seniors were in their 90′s and how they loved the children.

    But this is where your comment makes me sad. I’ve often met God more in therapy encounters than I have in church life (albeit I am somewhat new to the whole church community and I am speaking of the church at large – as opposed to individual congregations which vary in their capacity for intimacy and vulnerability, etc). One church I attended made a safe space for vulnerability, so it definitely is possible. But my deeper emotional needs typically get met in other circles than church ones. My experience is that the church has some growing to do in this area – but this is a much longer conversation. And I agree that Winner’s book could have gone more in-depth but hers is one of the few Christian books I’ve encountered that even addresses the topic for older singles in an honest way.

  • http://coffeesnob318.wordpress.com Suzanne

    I’m thirty-eight and single, never married. I say, “YES!” to so much of this post. I’ve been those places. I’ve been in the weird you’re-single-he’s-single-it-must-be-God’s-Will meat market church and have run screaming from it. I’ve had doubts about God’s love for me. I have had doubts about myself – what was I doing wrong that made me so unlovable? I have had highly destructive moments when I lashed out at others (at least in my mind) – what do they have that I don’t have? What makes them so special? I have had times when I really loved being single for many reasons, not the least of which is that when I come home, everything is exactly where I left it and that I really enjoy watching The West Wing reruns without someone talking through it.

    But now I’m at a different place. I’m at the stop-trying-to-figure-out-how-to-handle-my-category-and-just-get-to-know-me-as-a-person-dangit place. I’m at a place where I realize that my singleness is not a barometer of what’s wrong with me. I am not single because I haven’t figured out how to have a healthy relationship (evidence – I have several healthy relationships). I am not single because one of us isn’t “ready” yet. I am single simply because I haven’t met anyone I want to marry, and someone who wants to marry me hasn’t met me yet. That’s it. I want to get married, but I’m done spending a lot of time trying to figure out how.

    I have wonderful news – we singles? We are human beings, just like married people are. You get to know us the same way. Sure, we may have different lifestyle issues that need addressing, but my lifestyle issue does not inherently match other single’s lifestyles. Just like married people deal with things that are different from other married people, we do the same. Because we’re people. This is the fundamental problem of trying to come up with a “best” way to do singles ministry. Not all singles are at the same place, so the program that ministers to one person is going to drive another away, just like any other group of people. The question itself is inherently flawed.

    Treat me like a person, not an issue. That’s how the church can love me. That’s how the church can take care of me. That’s how the church can make me feel safe. After all, that’s how Jesus takes care of me (and you).


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