Singles and the Church

Being single is not a crime. Fadly Molana link

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Man Free Floating in Space_NASA
 

Today, I was, at first, excited to see a post by Collin Hanson, editor of The Gospel Coalition titled "Singleness Is Not a Curse" link.  In the past few months, I have seen several posts over there on the issue and was gratified that attention was being paid to a long overlooked population.

According to a recent Barna poll here

More than four out of every ten adults in the United States is not married, producing a singles population that is larger than the total national population of all but eleven of the world's 192 nations. ​

Barna indicated that those who have never been married make up the lion's share of America's 82 million single adults, representing nearly six out of every ten singles. Adults who are currently divorced are one-quarter of the singles population, while widowed adults form the remaining one-sixth. Whereas men slightly outnumber women among those who have never been married and divorced women slightly outnumber divorced men, widowed women dwarf widowed men by a 4.3-to-1 ratio.

Yet, today's churches tend to focus on married couples with families, relegating singles to "The Singles Ministry." It is evident to many of us that singles are rarely seen as leaders of other ministries, almost never pastors, and all but absent from leadership groups such as elder or deacons. 

Why is that? Jesus was not married and Paul said that being single was a good thing. In today's churches Paul would have been looked at suspiciously if he wanted to be a pastor because, as is strongly suggested in the following article, "only family men need apply." Poor Paul was totally unqualified.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing stories written by singles, which demonstrate that there is a problem in integrating singles into any ministry outside of designated Singles Ministry (to be known throughout this series as TSM). In a New York Times piece, link Must a Pastor Be Married, we are presented with a problem that is presented as discrimination.

Erik Eckholm of The New York Times asked the question in a news story that put a focus on Mark Almlie, a single seminary graduate who has been looking for a pastorate. As Eckholm reports, Almlie, “despite a sterling education and years of experience, has faced an obstacle that does not exist in most other professions: He is a single pastor, in a field where those doing the hiring overwhelmingly prefer married people and, especially, married men with children.”

Al Mohler is asked about this

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said it was unfair to accuse churches of discrimination because that word implied something “wrongful.”

“Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society,” he said, justify “the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married.”

Mr. Mohler said he tells the students at his seminary that “if they remain single, they need to understand that there’s going to be a significant limitation on their ability to serve as a pastor.”

So, Paul need not apply, I guess. All of his talents and gifts would have been flushed down the toilet in favor of a married dude because a spouse is the key to superior spirituality, right? 

Which brings me back to the post by Collin Hansen. When I started to read the post, I got mad. This post will help me to springboard into advocating for an awareness of the issues faced by singles in today's churches. In my opinion, every church should have singles in leadership positions. If they do not, then there is a "gospel"problem. That church is missing out on the gifts and talents of the sidelined faithful.That might even be a sin!

For once, I am not going to pontificate. I am interested to see if our readers approach this post in the same way I did. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Lydia's Corner: Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24 Luke 13:22-14:6 Psalm 79:1-13 Proverbs 12:26

Comments

Singles and the Church — 261 Comments

  1. Wow! Hanson’s article is so offensive on so many levels I’m not sure where to start. According to the paradigm he layed out, Jesus and Paul must have been gay. He pretty much associates “singleness” with being gay. Also, many gay people would like to be married, but legally can’t. So, in one fell swoop, he denigrated anyone who doesn’t fit the married-with-children model. Way to go, TGC! I’m pretty confident The Wartburg Watch can do a better job on this topic.

  2. Oh, so according to Hansen, the only reason people aren’t married is because they are gay? Sigh.

    And, as for Mohler, he states that he really doesn’t give a dmn about ministering to single people. After his marriage, he stated, “My relations with church members of both sexes took on a much more natural shape, and this was amplified with married couples of all ages. When children came, my ministry in later years was also deepened and widened.”

    FWIW, the minister in charge of my church growing up (called them ministers, not pastors – different part of the world) was not married. I didn’t think it was weird, and he was dearly loved and appreciated by everyone in the congregation. I think it may be an American cultural thing.

    (BTW, Deb and Dee, you are outdoing yourselves today! Three postings??? I’ve lost count – it may be more…)

  3. Been There/Through a glass
    I needed to hear that from someone else. That is exactly what I thought. Phew-Dee has not lost her mojo.

  4. Been There
    I’m afraid it wouldn’t take much to do a better job than Hansen. Good night, how could he be that insensitive.

  5. The title of Hansen’s article has NOTHING to do with what he wrote about. What is he thinking? What is anyone thinking about if they think everyone should be married? I don’t get these guys. They leave me scratching my head.

  6. Not only was Paul single (at least when he wrote all them books…), he recommended it as a good thing, as long as one could avoid that lust thing. So someone’s condemning it?

    I think they ought to take it up with Paul. As in GOD’S WORD….

  7. dee wrote:

    Been There
    I’m afraid it wouldn’t take much to do a better job than Hansen. Good night, how could he be that insensitive.

    Hanson’s article was definitely a slap in the face. I feel for you covering such a sensitive topic, but your huge heart will shine through. I tread carefully, because I have homosexuals in my family. I tend to approach that issue from a human standpoint. Yet, I respect that many will disagree with me. I wish Hanson had approached this from ANY other angle. It was so devoid of love.

  8. I *so* wish people would stop writing such terrible things about LGBT people… it hurts me to see that. And no matter how much “armor” people develop when they live in a world where they are not accepted, things like Hansen’s post hurt… and deeply.

  9. Hansen’s title and the actual topic of the blog post are poles apart. I’m glad to see his readers called him out on it in the comments. I look forward to reading what you have to say, Dee.

  10. Ummm… I’m going to take a stab and speak up for the disabled community. It is very hard for those of us who are disabled to find a life partner. We have this stigma of being “broken” people, especially in a church setting. At church, we are constantly barraged by well-meaning people “offering” to pray for us or telling us that if we just prayed harder and trusted God more, we would be healed. Or we are glared at and ignored for being less than perfect. Not very attractive for either gender. From my own experience, most guys in my age range are not attracted to a woman who relies on a pink cane for assistance. Correction – most “christian” men in my age range are not attracted to a woman who relies on a pink cane for assistance. I am treated much better by non-believing men who simply accept my cane as another accessory. I know that my marital status is not a sin in the eyes of God anymore than my disabilities or my gender. Hansen needs to walk 5 miles in my shoes. I guarantee you he wouldn’t even make it out the front door.

  11. @ Mandy: Mandy – not to get too personal, but I’m wondering if you are open to the idea of finding someone who is a kind, loving man but not necessarily xtian?

    I’m not joking. My suspicion is that I might well be married if I had been less afraid to look outside the circles that I felt I was restricted to.

    imo, FAR better to be married to a spouse who actually lives like we’re commanded to live, regardless of whether they’re supposedly “xtian” or not.

  12. This is so strange! I have heard a sermon from Piper saying some should remain single because you are more free to do ministry. Of course it was super law oriented Which only a Calvinista can do but still!

    Seriously, these guys go in all directions! How could one discern what is right vs. wrong when listening to a multitude of these guys?!

  13. Mandy wrote:

    Correction – most “christian” men in my age range are not attracted to a woman who relies on a pink cane for assistance. I am treated much better by non-believing men who simply accept my cane as another accessory.

    It’s really sad that that a lot of people outside the “Christian” community are more capable of empathy and love. I’ve been perplexed by this in facing my own faith crisis. But, since reading here about the teachings that are taking over Christendom, I’m beginning to see why. If that’s the best that TGC has to offer, no wonder so many congregations are lacking.

  14. Bridget wrote:

    The title of Hansen’s article has NOTHING to do with what he wrote about. What is he thinking? What is anyone thinking about if they think everyone should be married? I don’t get these guys. They leave me scratching my head.

    Leaves me scratching my head too.
    We have a male friend who is 42, never been married. Had a few girlfriends along the way but still celibate. He hardly attends church anymore because there is no place for him to fit in to a, real grown up, ministry. Gosh can a 42 year old man do something /anything more meaningful then games for the Swans program?
    He’s also been questioned about if he’s interested in women or not. So demeaning for unmarried adults being segregated from the body as if they are misfits. Our friend often feels isolated and has spells of despair and depression…sad state of church affairs.

  15. I read this and had to comment- I love singles and college age adults. Talk about bringing passion and a vibrant spirit of giving out the Gospel if one is a Christian single. Singles have an advantage of not being burdened with a family (not that families are bad for I am a mom and love it) and so they are now unfettered to be able to serve and tell the Gospel. This age group has always been on my heart to serve in ministry for they can get very lonely. Churches will say they are ministering to the singles but behind the scenes you will see the pressure put on many to get married. I had a friend who was pressured to start dating a guy that she clearly did not desire to date or even get to know- plus he was a little creepy; but the elders were pushing this on her! She was becoming confused about whether or not she should date him based on what the elders said- I said “Heck no!” Don’t let anyone pressure you into dating someone” Thankfully, she talked to her dad also.

  16. I’m fortunate to be in a better church now but for years I attended a Church where if you were single it was like you were a leftover or not a whole person. The only person in charge of a ministry who is singl is the person in charge of the Singles Ministry. And that hasn’t even always been the case. For years, it was a married couple. There wasn’t really a whole lot of room for single people to serve outside of the Singles Ministry no matter how well qualified unless you are a young adult and presumably going to get married 1 day. .

  17. Sooo…. Colin Hansen must be moonlighting as moderator of a popular Christian dating website.
    Let me explain— I’m in that 18% once-married with at least 1 child at home. The one “child” is a 30 YO woman. A good Christian man is hard to find, Last night she tried out the Christian dating site and it found a “match”– another woman! Guess the computer made the same assumption as Hansen!

  18. Read Hansen’s post. If that’s Christianity, I’m building a golden calf and bringing back the worship of Baal.

  19. So tell me (and Eagle, chime in here): is there really much difference at all between the orientation towards marriages preached in Evangelical churches and that which is taught by Mormons? Granted, Evangelical churches don’t talk about eternal (celestial) marriage or getting married in a temple, but the rest of it is basically the same. It’s strongly, strongly, overwhelmingly emphasized, and then you’re supposed to start popping out kids to multiply and replenish the earth. I have to wonder how many young Evangelicals get married because it’s the “expected” thing to do, not because they actually want to.

    In my part of the world, we’ve got a very nasty murder trial going on right now (Jodi Arias). The deceased was a Mormon, the alleged killer converted to Mormonism because of the deceased, but it’s apparent that at least these two Mormon single adults were absolutely NOT living up to being chaste (at least if the alleged murderer, Jodi Arias, is to be believed). And, to be perfectly blunt, I’m sure the same situation (minus the murdering part) applies among evangelicals. Which no doubt means there’s even MORE suspicion and pressure put upon single people to “put a ring on it.”

    Of course, what ultimately happens is that singles feel like fifth wheels, and head off to places where they’re more respected, even if it is drinking coffee with friends at Starbuck’s on Sunday morning. I think of the single adults I know all over the USA, past 30 and in our adult lives, and I can tell you one place they’re not going once a week is to church. Even if they are believers (and some are) there’s no place for us.

    The church is losing the young people over social issues and it’s losing the late boomers and Gen X singles because of its overwhelming concentration on families at the expense of everyone else. Maybe it’s time for people to think of different ways of being Christian, ways that aren’t so politically and socially judgmental, ways that are in line with what Jesus did during his lifetime. Maybe it’s way past time.

  20. dee wrote:

    SteveD
    It is nuts-this crowd is nuts, I tell you!

    I’m coming to realize that you are probably more correct than I would want to admit.

    Why is it that the TGC crowd always wants to go “deeper” ? They can’t get the shallow stuff correct. Going “deeper” just causes more confusion.

  21. @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    Mandy, numo, BeenThereDoneThat,

    It is a major fallacy that christian = strong character.

    I promise you the people I have met outside of church demonstrate much stronger character than the people inside church. They are more prone to honesty, uncompromising on their values, generosity, compassion, giving of their time to help someone in need or a worthy cause, kindness, absence of prejudice, treating people the way they want to be treated, being a responsible citizen of their social community and physical environment (conscientious stewards of the natural world),…. i could go on.

    I imagine we could have quite a conversation about what “unequally yoked” can mean. It’s one thing to be in a committed relationship with someone who worships a different deity (problemville).

    But someone with “faith neutrality” (no faith in particular) and who has strong character is an entirely different situation. I could make a very good case for how “unequally yoked” is not all that applicable in this situation.

  22. Bridget wrote:

    The title of Hansen’s article has NOTHING to do with what he wrote about. What is he thinking?

    I commented, quite respectfully about his content and title. That was three hours ago. Perhaps the comments are closed?

  23. @ numo: Numo, I don’t really believe in the “too personal to ask theme”, so my answer is yes, that is something I am open to, especially since I can’t have kids. Surprisingly I have met a lot of guys who are “faith neutral” (stealing elastigirl’s term) who have incredible character. We’ll see what happens.

  24. For a group who is so concerned about being “biblical,” they seem to have overlooked a “biblical” principle about the benefit of being single. Paul actually implies that marriage is a distraction from full devotion to the Lord. (1 Cor. 7) Singles, on the other hand, are free from the necessity of pleasing another person in their daily lives. He goes so far as to say that if a woman’s husband dies, he thinks she would be happier if she remained single.

  25. I have a bit of a theory on this subject. The folks like Colin Hanson, Driscoll, etc, etc do not believe one can be single and not be burning to have sex. They simply cannot relate because so much of their teaching is focused on sex whether it is relationships, gender roles, having children, etc. So they equate long term singleness as possibly being gay.

    They cannot relate to someone like Lottie Moon or even Richard Wurmbrand who was separated from his wife for 15 years in a Romanian prison. The truth is these guys are very immature and have no clue.

  26. Disheartening reading…I don’t even want to know what Mr. Mohler would have to say about asexual Christians…

  27. “But someone with “faith neutrality” (no faith in particular) and who has strong character is an entirely different situation. I could make a very good case for how “unequally yoked” is not all that applicable in this situation.”

    You are talking about my parents. My dad was a great man of character and integrity. my parents totally devoted to one another with a great marriage. He believed in God but was not in church at all unless I was singing or something.

    I have often thought about the unequally yoked passage. I think we need to remember it is the 1st Century context. As an example how would it apply if we think of the the irony that the Romans called both Christians and Jews “athiests” because they both believed in only one invisible “god”. While they had many “gods”. It would be interesting to really delve into that passage.

  28. The title is very misleading.

    Also, Hansen uses two concepts I find unusual.

    Almost every day, it seems, we read news of another daunting challenge to Christians who seek to love our neighbors by teaching and practicing a biblical view of marriage.

    I have never heard of loving my neighbor by practicing a biblical view of marriage. I have certainly heard of loving my neighbor by doing things for my neighbor. Unless he means my spouse is my neighbor?

    More than ever, we need to learn from the example and counsel of Christians who have fought in the grace of God and power of the gospel to…

    I don’t know. When I was a young’n, we said “power of the Holy Spirit” when we spoke of the spiritual battles we had to fight. As in, “‘not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

  29. @ elastigirl:
    I wouldn’t argue with anything you said. Only add that there are Christians who live up to those standards, too. But, I, personally, haven’t met many. I don’t have an answer for it.

  30. “‘Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society,’ he said, justify ‘the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married.'”

    Bull. Paul comes right out and says that singleness is the preferable state IF you are gifted to do it. And if I’m not mistaken, the idea of the family being the foundation, center, etc. of society came from the Romans, not the Bible.

    He would have had a better shot at pulling this off if he’d gone with a strict literal interpretation of “husband of one wife” in the qualifications of elders verses. I still would disagree, but at least then he would have attempted to back up his statements. But then it would have been an immutable rule, not just a “strong inclination,” so he’s probably trying to leave himself an escape hatch.

  31. anonymous

    You picked up on something I didn’t notice.  “power of the gospel “..Where did  the power of the Holy Spirit go? I also thought this was a bit amusing, ” love our neighbors by teaching and practicing a biblical view of marriage.”

  32. Marriage can be such a drag. Personally, I’d rather chew my arm off than be married to one of those RBD’s. What a death sentence! No thank you!!

  33. i love my husband. But marriage is not the ultimate in life. There are many times i long for the freedoms of not being married. As in freedom to go and do. You weigh much less and can live with great agility as a onesome — being a twosome can be unwieldy in a number of ways.

  34. Does the rhetoric of a “season of singleness” do more harm than good because of the perceived nature of a season as a very short period of time that will eventually be over?

  35. I read Hansen’s article and almost wondered if there’d been a website error and the title had been attached to the wrong article, because there was so little in it at all connected to singleness.

  36. @ Mandy:
    If it were me, I wouldn’t get hung up on wheteher the man I fell in love with was a church goer or not. My grandmother was raised in a very strict southern baptist home. My grandfather was career navy. His friends called him a sailor’s sailor. They met, fell in love, married, and, eight weeks later, he was deployed at sea during WWII. By the time I knew him, he was a deacon in their church, and taught a kids’ Sunday school class. So, you just never know. 😉 People change. Follow your heart.

  37. Also, Mohler comes across like a complete unfeeling ar$e in his comment, especially his line about the word discrimination implying something ‘wrongful’. Is he really so arrogant/callous/stupid to say that it isn’t wrong for a man to not be employed as a pastor simply because he’s unmarried? Does he really and truly think that a qualified man can’t be a preacher unless he’s put a ring on someone’s finger? Maybe it’s just my unmarried naivete, but I didn’t think that marriage gave magical preaching powers. Guess I was wrong.

  38. I guess I’m lucky in that the church I’ve been going to for the last six months doesn’t seem to overemphasize the gung ho family unit stuff too much. They’ve gone out of their way to make feel included even though I’m unmarried and childless. But I know this pressure to marry exists in some circles. I went to a Christian college where everyone was expected to be married, or at least well on their way, by graduation. And the emphasis was certainly on finding someone who believed “correct doctrine” rather than someone who exhibited strong character or demonstrated compatibility in other areas. And this was the Church of Christ, so “correct doctrine” was kinda silly (no instrumental music!)

    I’ve seen some disastrous marriages happen as a result. We were taught to judge people by what they said they believed rather than by how they behaved or how they treated others. At this point in my life I’d get married if I were meet the right guy, but I’m glad I never married out of social pressure. It can be a recipe for disaster.

  39. @ elastigirl: Agreed, except that I think the “different deity” thing is overrated.

    How many supposed xtians really worship money, prosperity, “having it all”? Or rigid gender roles, or “We do church better than you ever well because [fill in the blank]”?

    Frankly, if we really sat down and took a hard look at ourselves, I think we’d find that most of us, in one way or another, are “unequally yoked” – have never understood why evangelicals are so keen to make that all about who one dates and marries, and overlook most of the other fairly obvious ramifications…

  40. @ elastigirl: Also… I think this ultimately comes down to individuals, not to blanket condemnations of “the Other.” (Whoever and whatever The Other happens to be.)

  41. StuartB “season of singleness” reads like the rejected title for some kind of sesame chicken recipe just now. 🙂

    “Season” is one of those words I’ve grown to loathe in Christianese jargon over the last fifteen years. “Season” is sort of like some eschatological mid-point that fills in for just about anything. It could end tomorrow or at death. 🙂

    I think it makes more sense to frame questions of marriage and singleness in brutally economic terms. I’m willing to go out on a limb and suggest that the ostensibly less enlightened societies were a lot more sensible about what a huge, expensive and life-altering undertaking marriage would be. Not everybody made the grade and at least in earlier societies there were people who figured out that it might be handy to give those not-marriageable types something to do. What makes our society, secular or religious, a bit weird the more I’ve thought about it, is that we have a society in which there’s actually no clearly worked out path for people who for whatever reason opt not tomake a sexual relationship foundational to social identity. I have a friend who was once a Christian and is now an atheist and told me he felt like a loser who failed at everything on BOTH sides of the divide because he had not steadily paired off with anyone. Even his atheist friends had all paired up in some fashion.

    The other angle I’ve heard some Christians ask is how you can even know if singleness or celibacy is a path for you. I am not entirely sure across the board but I’m going to come up with a possibly dumb idea for consideration–it’s not a matter of whether your sexual desires go away it’s whether or not you find other things to do in and with your life more important than pairing off. Life is not a purely binary set-up and life is full of opportunity costs. What I’ve noticed over the last ten years is that Christians tend to talk about life as sin or not-sin. I know some people have ripped on Tim Keller but he once preached a sermon a friend sent me in which he explained that a huge array of things are never described as sinful in the Bible that may or may not be wise. The wisdom literature can help give some ideas about how to think through making decisions that may not be forbidden by a biblical text but that might not be smart. It’s not really a sin to lend people money but it might be reckless to do so in one setting and a sin of omission in another case.

    Could write quite a bit about single life and some stuff I observed … somewhere … some other time. 🙂

  42. Thank you for posting about Christian unmarried people who are over the age of 30 (the church already dotes on singles under the age of 30).

    Of course, society at large treats single people poorly. There are unmarried Non Christian authors who blog and write books exposing American society’s bias against unmarried people.

    But this anti-singles bias is more shameful in Christian circles, since the Bible says that God values singleness as much as he does marriage.

    Another huge, huge problem is that there is no respect or support given for celibate / never-married Christian singles (Christians over the age of 25 – 30 who are waiting until marriage to have sex).

    You may want to get a copy of the book “Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today’s Church” by Christian authors Christine Colón and Bonnie Field.

    As they detail, and as I have experienced first hand, if you are still a Christian virgin past the age of 30, you get no encouragement from Christian ministers or material (blogs, etc) in regards to this.

    It is usually assumed by all Christians that all, or most, unmarried Christians over the age of 25/ 30 either had sex, or will have sex. (Yes, quite a number are these days, but there’s a sizable chunk of us who have not.)

    For those of us who have held on to the biblical mandate that sex is for marriage only, we are usually ignored, or treated with contempt or hostility online for it, when attention is given to us.

    We’re also subjected to weird or hurtful stereotypes among Christians, in Christian books about relationships, marriage, etc.

    I have yet to figure out why preachers and Christian books tell Christian teenage and early- 20- something Christians to remain virgins until marriage-
    But if you are still are an unmarried Christian virgin past the age of 30-35, you are either ignored by that same crowd (you get no support), or else you are treated with suspicion, ridiculed, insulted, treated like a leper, and/or you get blamed for still being single, even though you tried to get married.

  43. Pam wrote:

    I read Hansen’s article and almost wondered if there’d been a website error and the title had been attached to the wrong article, because there was so little in it at all connected to singleness.

    Had the same reaction…….thought it might be a bad link. Then I got his drift…..being single might signal homosexuality. And where is that in the Bible…..should we be wondering about Paul and Timothy? Grrrrrrr.

  44. “You picked up on something I didn’t notice. ”power of the gospel ”..Where did the power of the Holy Spirit go?”

    Yes, good catch. This is one of those areas we need to be aware of with them. They hardly ever mention the Holy Spirit. And it makes sense if you think about it. They can redefine the Gospel for people. (using familar words with a different definition so it becomes the normal) They have no control over the Holy Spirit so why bring it up? Act like He does not exist. Substitute the word Gospel with the word “power”.

  45. @ BeenThereDoneThat:
    just to clarify something – i don’t go to church right now. i’m relatively new in my town. i’ve had some pretty negative experiences at various churches in the area regarding my single status and my physical status. its just easier to stay away. i get tired of being labeled and categorized before people getting to know me. oh, she’s a single disabled female. those three labels are not my identity but rather a beloved child of God. i think that is the heart of the matter. every single person alive wants to be valued and loved because they simply exist, not because of what others think they might contribute to the local church.

  46. I’m over people insinuating there is something wrong with me because I am single. I even had a family member tell me to “find a husband” as a response to my grieving my sister and how alone I feel without her.

    I tell people that God must love me extra because he wants me all to himself. that usually shuts them up!!

  47. Numo

    However, many couples that I knew who had one Christian and one “other”  has difficulties whn kids came along. It’s funny. Once kids enter the scence, old faith habits can rear their heads. As the kids grow, and let’s say it is dad who isn’t keen on it and doesn’t go to church. they begin to question why they have to go. I am not saying it is impossible but i have seen some serious problems, some ending in divorce.

    I still remember a woman complaining about her husband undermining her bringing the kids to church. I asked if she knew that he didn’t go to church when they married. She said she did but she thought he would change. Well, he didn’t and I told her it was unfair of her to complain about him. She knew what she was getting. They divorced 2 years later. I am not saying it is impossible because I know it isn’t but I do not fights about faith are very common.

  48. @ Mandy:
    I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences with the churches you visited. That hurts. I’m not going to church right now either. I’m reexamining my faith in light of the bad experience I had. To date, some of my worst experiences in relationships have been with other Christians. Some of my best relationships have been with those that some churches would condemn. I hate the labels, too, for all of us. Why should our faith entail that we be compartmentalized in to some business model? All of us, as human beings, have a need to be loved and cared for. I used to think that the church was the best environment to meet those needs. I no longer feel that way.

  49. Daisy

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I believe that this ignorance is a problem in today’s churches. They are hurting many people with their ignorance.

  50. Scooter’s Mom

    It is time that the single issue be brought into the open. The church is failing in this area. And, if i were any church, I would put you in charge of a caring ministry. You have an awesome heart!

  51. Every year our church likes to do a “relationship” sermon series that inevitably becomes only about marriage, with a little disclaimer that “this applies to singles too because someday you’ll be married.” (gag)

    After much failed persuasion to pastor that he was alienating at least half our congregation, one Sunday he asked all the married people to stand up. I tell you in a room full of adults (no ‘young adults’) not more than 30% stood up. That cleared up the issue for him quite succinctly.

    For some reason the Christian bubble has convinced everyone that Christian=married. I have no idea why. But sometimes you just need to give a little reality check.

  52. Oh, Dee.

    thank you. No one has ever, ever said I have an awesome heart. thank you so much.

  53. WenatcheeTheHatchet wrote:

    The other angle I’ve heard some Christians ask is how you can even know if singleness or celibacy is a path for you. I am not entirely sure across the board but I’m going to come up with a possibly dumb idea for consideration–it’s not a matter of whether your sexual desires go away it’s whether or not you find other things to do in and with your life more important than pairing off. Life is not a purely binary set-up and life is full of opportunity costs.

    That’s interesting. Considering that the concept of asexuality didn’t exist in Paul’s time, it makes sense that he could be referring to this idea of priority instead of an absence of sexual desire. It hits close to home for me; my passion for my vocation is simply stronger than my passion to be married.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve had a shockingly not so bad experience in the small Baptist church that I attend. There have been awkward moments when old church ladies try to set me up with their single grand-daughters, but no one’s told me that I’m living in sin by being celibate. Some of my friends have talked about Pope Mohler’s opinions on singleness (they’re always talking about the latest and greatest articles from TGC), and they’re well aware that I [vehemently] disagree, and they haven’t shunned me. So there’s that.

    The saddest part of the story is that while the congregation elected a mid-20s single person (yours truly) to the deacon board without fanfare, there is a wonderful man in his 40s or 50s who is one of the most selfless, Christ-like people I know, whom the deacons would love to have on the board, but a vocal part of the congregation won’t stand for it, because his wife left him and he now wears the scarlet D. When I think about it too much, this makes me angry.

  54. Quite ironic how many people that purport to hold to “covenant theology” fail to recognize one of the big differences between the life in the Old and life in the New…

  55. Sure glad to know that others read Hansen’s article the same way I did. And reading through these comments reminds me of a story a friend of mine tells about his undergraduate days at Liberty University: he was older than the average student and still single, and he says he stopped attending chapel (and began looking for a new school, too) when he heard the late Jerry Falwell say something along the lines of “any man who is 30 and still single may as well buy a purse and a pair of pantyhose.” Egad!

  56. “Sure glad to know that others read Hansen’s article the same way I did. And reading through these comments reminds me of a story a friend of mine tells about his undergraduate days at Liberty University: he was older than the average student and still single, and he says he stopped attending chapel (and began looking for a new school, too) when he heard the late Jerry Falwell say something along the lines of “any man who is 30 and still single may as well buy a purse and a pair of pantyhose.” Egad!”

    OH MY Word!!! I have a 35 year old single cousin who just left church over this whole ridiculous issue. He is ok not being married and he is ok if he meets someone he might want to marry. He just lives life. But he is sick and tired of it being an issue with everyone else when it is not an issue with himself!

    Over Christmas someone gave him a very nice leather messenger bag for his ipad and other tech gear he carries around. He was teased unmercifully about his “murse” (man purse)

  57. I have a question for Colin Hansen since he is a Calvinist. Why is singleness an issue? If God controls every molecule then wouldn’t a person be married if that is what God desires for them? If they are supposed to be married and are not, then isn’t God in control of that, too?

    Are they trying to put singleness in the total depravity category where they claim humans are simply acting out their natural totally depraved selves and God has not forced them to be elect?

    What they teach folks to believe often has little to do with what they teach folks to do. It is weird.

  58. @ Scooter’s Mom:

    Ah yes, Scooter’s Mom, you’ve hit on something important (or at least the predominant way of thinking in my own family):

    If the single person faces any challenges or tragedies in life such as a death or a job loss, it’s an opportunity to make a smug linkage to the fact that you are unmarried.

    No matter how insane a leap of logic it may be, or even how downright cruel, your singleness will be brought up as a problem once again even in the midst of a crisis or tragedy.

    As if, magically, one would either never experience such tragedies if they are married, or else one’s spouse is the only appropriate person to grieve with. Ergo, if you don’t have a spouse, you are not allowed to lean on … anyone.

    This is beyond screwed up but I swear to you it’s how it goes down in my family.

  59. Josh wrote:

    It hits close to home for me; my passion for my vocation is simply stronger than my passion to be married.

    Anon 1 wrote:

    He is ok not being married and he is ok if he meets someone he might want to marry. He just lives life. But he is sick and tired of it being an issue with everyone else when it is not an issue with himself!

    These quotes describe me to a “T.”

    IT’S JUST NOT AN ISSUE!!!

  60. Kristin wrote:

    Every year our church likes to do a “relationship” sermon series that inevitably becomes only about marriage, with a little disclaimer that “this applies to singles too because someday you’ll be married.” (gag)

    Gag.

    And BARF!

    I just shake my head at the utter cluelessness. 🙁

  61. This is the “real” explanation:

    Being married = having children = future members = more revenue.

    It’s a matter of the bottom line. Singles don’t produce future revenue.

    – Philly (a single)

  62. Hansen’s post was inappropriately named. It should have been called “This post is to plug some of our upcoming events and remind people that gays can always be celibate.” It really had nothing at all to do with the larger culture of singles in the church. Sigh. Just…….sigh.

    I have a family member who is very passionate about this issue. As a single woman, she has felt herself to be an object of curiosity and concern at her current church. No one quite knows what to do with her. She’s a woman (which limits her ministry opportunities in that particular church) and she doesn’t have a husband who can get involved with ministry and allow her to “ride his coattails” so to speak. Beyond that, the other people in her church don’t know how to get her involved. Also, she’s very good with technical and intellectual things, not so good with kids or cooking, so some of the usual ladies’ stuff at the church are things she can’t help with.

    But even beyond the annoyance of having nothing to do is the deeper problem and, I think, a problem that’s even more serious; the lack of psychological and emotional support within churches for the unique challenges of singleness. Both marriage and singleness come with their own challenges and problems. But whereas a married couple could find any number of resources to help deal with marital problems, where can a single person turn for support when they have problems unique to a solitary life? (Generally, any and all advice coming from their church would just be to find a spouse…and if it were that easy, my relative would be married already!)

    Even something as basic as how to deal with loneliness was a topic that my relative could get no support for within her church. That is sad, and absurd.

  63. @Rafiki

    sorry to hear it goes down in your family too. As if grieving for someone you loved very much and dealing with all the issues that come with that isn’t enough, I now have to be told that I am less than God wants me to be because I’m single. Talk about kicking someone when they are down.This person also makes sure that he says, in front of me, that his daughters should be home taking care of their families instead of worrying about him, yadayadayada. I don’t go to their church for many reasons, one of them being that their events are always centered around families.

    I don’t know why God has not brought someone special in my life, I only know that he is STILL there, STILL loves me, and will ALWAYS treat me with respect. How many husbands do that??? (not many in fundy land!)

  64. Rafiki wrote:

    As if, magically, one would either never experience such tragedies if they are married, or else one’s spouse is the only appropriate person to grieve with. Ergo, if you don’t have a spouse, you are not allowed to lean on … anyone.

    That’s an important point. Although I am married, my husband can’t possibly meet all my needs for companionship, nor does he want to be put in that position. Right now, I could really use some girlfriends to go shopping with, or out for a cup of coffee and some girl talk. Marriage is not the be-all and end-all in relationships. We all need each other.

  65. Anon 1 wrote:

    I have a question for Colin Hansen since he is a Calvinist. Why is singleness an issue? If God controls every molecule then wouldn’t a person be married if that is what God desires for them? If they are supposed to be married and are not, then isn’t God in control of that, too?

    An excellent question!

  66. To springboard off of this, I have a rather interesting theory about singles and the church (which makes me completely disagree with the notion that life should revolve around nuclear families!) Having been married (without kids) for several years, I noticed that I felt more comfortable in church groups that included singles than I did in church groups that only included married people/families.

    I believe there is a sort of balance that is reached when singles and families work together. It’s hard to define what I mean by “balance”; maybe I just mean “perspective.” Families with kids tend to be focused on their kids’ needs and their weekly family schedule; singles tend to be focused on spontaneity. Neither of these things are bad, but when these focuses are unchecked by differing perspectives, they can become rather, erm….inflexible? Rigid? Dare I even say, unhealthy?

    For example, I have a single friend who spends almost zero time around married people. When he’s with me and the hubs, he has no concept of the fact that it’s more complicated for two people to just “up and do” something than it is for one person (we have obligations to each other, and we BOTH have separate obligations to other jobs and friends and hobbies). His inexperience with the lifestyle of married/family people makes him (quite unintentionally) feel pushy or demanding of our time, because he just doesn’t understand what it’s like to not HAVE a lot of free time.

    On the other hand, I’ve noticed that when families hang out only with other families, their common lifestyle of having kids and schedules often leads them to see friendships more as hobbies. They (quite unintentionally) drift towards putting family convenience ahead of EVERYTHING, even other friends…sometimes even the lay ministries they’re involved in. I know I have often felt more valued by my single friends, and felt like I was more “on the side entertainment” for my parent friends, someone to be squeezed in when it was convenient, but not a necessary part of their life and faith journey.

    Again, neither of these life focuses are bad, but when they aren’t tempered by the other perspective, I think they can grow into something that isn’t balanced and healthy. So having a church that focuses on just families is, well…stupid.

  67. @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    Ya got that right, BTDT.

    Amongst non-Christian married friends, neither the husbands nor the wives seem to have any issues (other than getting child care) with attending the occaisional “girls/guys nights out.”

    You know, a night where the spouse gets together with their friends sans spouse. For my female married friends, it’s usually a nice dinner out with a few girlfriends, and for the married men it’s sometimes going to a local sports bar with male friends to watch a game on a weekend afternoon. It’s no biggie.

    I have a good non-Christian female friend who does an annual beach weekend with a group of girlfriends – her husband usually spends that weekend at his folks house with their kids.

    However, amongst the Christian marrieds I know, the mere mention of a spouse doing something solo with their friends is met with abject shock and horror. I’m totally serious!

    In my experience it’s usually the Christian women in a marriage who pretty much cut the ties to their circles of friends once they’re married; who simply don’t have any girlfriends!

    I mean, how many times before the annual church women’s retreat does the pastor or the designated event leader have to stand in front of the congregation pleading with the married women to attend the retreat and that it’s seriously OK to go on a single overnight away from the kids and husband?

  68. Hey y’all.

    I will admit that due to messages from the church, I spent most of my single years (read: majority of my early-twenties life) deeply insecure about my marital status. Never being in a relationship was tolerable in high school (although I was teased for it), but when you’re out of college, people start looking at you funny. It didn’t help that I had terrible body image, and was often apt to link the two.

    Now, that I’m in therapy and learning to be kind to myself, I am slowly accepting my bachelorette status. However, in my parents’ culture, I’m an old maid of sorts. Friends of the family speculate on when I might get married. My mom loudly daydreams about my wedding.

    Sometimes, I get a flirt or two from a cute waiter or bus driver or someone, and all the shame keeps coming back to me. From the messages of:
    Church (in teens): “Oh, you should not date, but court.”
    Church (in college): “The guy should ask your father for your hand.” (no guy, dysfunctional relationship with dad, other college students getting married at the drop of a hat).
    Family:”Oh, you’re not in a relationship yet?” *suck teeth*
    Mom (in 20s): “Are you sure you haven’t met a boy you like?”
    Mom (in teens): “I forbid you to date!”
    Family: “So, have you met anyone in [current state]?”
    Work folks: “OMG! You’re [early 20s] and not in a relationship?!”:O
    Random boy from high school: “You’re lying. I refuse to believe you look like that, and you’ve never had a boyfriend.”
    Random forum folks: “You reek of desperation. Fake it till you make it. [Insert law of attraction BS here]. Leave it at God’s altar. God will answer your desire.”

    I could go on and on, y’all…

  69. Wow–just wow!

    This must be an evangelical thing, not a Christian thing, because I assure you in the mainline churches there are many active serious leading singles.

  70. @ dee: Most of the “mixed” marriages I’ve been around have been Jewish-gentile.

    Relatively few problems, especially when the woman is Jewish (since descent is traced through the mother, not the father).

    Usually, both faiths are in play, but they can fit together quite well.

  71. @ dee: Err, what about xtians where one person goes to church and the other does not – for whatever reason(s)?

    This can be hard – or not. But much depends on whether the church that one spouse attends is abusive. (I’ve seen this in action, at That Church, and the spouse who stopped attending was treated *very* badly. No surprise there, I guess.)

  72. Numo

    In a couple fo situations, it was the spouse who deliberately married a nonChristian spouse who then proceeded to harangue them to death. There was an assumption that they would change for the wife and they didn’t it. Awful turmoil leading to divorce. So, I tell me kids-what yo usee is whay you get. Before you marry, ask yourself “If they never change, am I OK?” If the answer is “No” don’t do it.

  73. @ Rafiki:
    Imagine if the married people and single people in a church interacted more like the non-Christian friends you described.

    “However, amongst the Christian marrieds I know, the mere mention of a spouse doing something solo with their friends is met with abject shock and horror. I’m totally serious!” This made me chuckle. But, at the same time, it’s very sad. Does this happen more in patriarchal type churches? That would make more sense, because of the whole authority structure.

    I didn’t marry until I was 30. So, I well remember the years of walking into a church service or potluck and not knowing where to sit, or who to sit with. All the families had each other. But a single person feels just like everyone here has described. How different it would be if there were more friendships amongst everyone.

  74. Man, I could say so much, since I’ve been single all my life and am quite a bit over 40, let’s say. 🙂 But very young at heart. I think some of the reason I’m not married is being in CLC and seeing the dysfunctional ideas of headship and submission. But let’s not get off on that tangent. I think I may be one of the people who is suited for singleness, since I am very much an introvert and feel settled and happy being alone, as long as I have some socialization and contact with friends. I have been blessed with a wonderful family that takes me as I am, and with friends who do the same. Also the area in which I live has a high percentage of singles, so I have some companionship.

    The church has no clue what to do with older singles at all. I have seen a lot of botched attempts. The best ministry I was part of was a ministry run by singles themselves – when a pastor came in to oversee it, it got totally messed up and fell apart.

    I got very tired of talks about relationships (I was interested in having a relationship off and on, but I didn’t want to hear about it incessantly), and it often seemed like there were a lot of men with horrible issues (maybe I didn’t notice the women with issues out of solidarity with my gender!) I just got to tired, so I stopped being part of any singles group. I did spend time in one church that totally didn’t get me as a single, but didn’t have energy to let them know it wasn’t that hard. I moved onto a more mixed church where people did integrate across relationship status and age group, and that was a great experience. I look forward to more of that in my future. Sometimes the married folks are more balanced, but we all need each other.

  75. Nine years ago, Albert Mohler gave a talk at the New Attitude Conference, sponsored by Joshua Harris, in which he called delay of marriage a “sin” and lambasted single men in particular. The talk was later broadcast on the “Family Life Today” radio program. I couldn’t find the transcript, but I found an essay Camerin Courtney wrote in response titled, “Is Singleness A Sin?”

    http://www.crosswalk.com/11621125/

  76. @ singleman:

    Ah yes, I remember that little Mohler gem, NOT. That was probably the first time that I, as a member of the PCA church, even gave Big Al a second thought.

    I remember being pretty upset by his assertion that singleness = sin because (as I’ve described on TWW previously) the aged-30+ singles who comprised a large part of my then-congregation seemed absolutely screwed up about even dating! And here I thought, as a relatively new Christian at the time, that church would be the place where relationships would be “done right!”

    Yeah, whatevs. What a naive dolt I was.

    As for Josh Harris, the day he pulls his stupid IKDG book out of circulation, stops taking a single dime of revenue off of it, and issues a full apology for putting forth (with the assistance of the manipulative Christian Marketing Complex)a rigid blueprint for singles of all ages based on his vast experiences as a 17 year old sheltered homeschooler, then maybe I won’t cringe when I see his name.

  77. Singleman
    I remember that. And he (Al Molher) preached at covenant life church. I was excited to hear someone from my own sbc upbringing but by the time he was done I thought what a pompous, arrogant, opinionated so and so. I was very disappointed. I’ve never liked him since.

  78. @ Rafiki:

    Rafiki,

    “And here I thought, as a relatively new Christian at the time, that church would be the place where relationships would be “done right!””
    **************

    It’s a surprise, isn’t it? The more rules there are (even in the form of guidelines… even in the form of subtle hints and implications), the finer the sieve through which to filter all motivations, impulses, thoughts, decisions, actions, reactions, word choice, facial expressions, tone of voice, body posture,…..

    A natural, reasonably healthy person with their unique personality, style, & flair turns off all of that (as well as spontaneity, intuition, and natural thought flow) and becomes a programmed machine. A nervous one. A stressed-out, anxious one.

    I’ll never get over how when I took a sebbatical from church for a few years ALL of my relationships became so much easier and a true source of pleasure and enjoyment. And I made exponentially more friends during those few years than all 10 years at previous church. Those friendships are the healthiest I’ve ever had.

  79. “Nine years ago, Albert Mohler gave a talk at the New Attitude Conference, sponsored by Joshua Harris, in which he called delay of marriage a ‘sin’ and lambasted single men in particular.”

    It boggles my mind that they get away with this stuff, when a moment’s thought on basic Biblical teaching will convince any reasonably intelligent person that assertions like the one above are pure crap…

  80. @ Rafiki:

    “As for Josh Harris, the day he pulls his stupid IKDG book out of circulation, stops taking a single dime of revenue off of it, and issues a full apology for putting forth (with the assistance of the manipulative Christian Marketing Complex) a rigid blueprint for singles of all ages based on his vast experiences as a 17 year old sheltered homeschooler, then maybe I won’t cringe when I see his name.”

    You’re awesome. : )

    And thank God I never read IKDG.

  81. Various thoughts.

    I got married at 33 and my wife was 30 at the time.

    – Single people don’t have to coordinate but trivially with others in their life. And many don’t get why those of us married do. Toss in kids and it goes up even more. You can’t just call up and say I’m going out with Bob and watch the game at the pub till 10PM.

    – Married people with kids tend to adjust their friends to favor other couples with kids of similar ages. It’s natural. Nothing to get mad about. But raising kids is a big job and bouncing ideas and such off others with similar issues creates a lot of bonding moments.

    – Single people have no idea what married life if like. I know I didn’t. And neither did my other single friends. You can read and talk about it all you want but you have to LIVE it to understand.

    – Getting married at 30 or later creates a lot of issues. You have two people who have learned to live alone for a decade or so and then they get to be room mates with no option out and the end of the 1 year lease.

    – Don’t feel singled out (pun intended) if you are ostracized if you’re single in a church and being ignored. The church my kids grew up in constantly made assumptions that every couple was ABOVE the middle class in terms of money and free time. Youth leaders were constantly coming up with things like a sleep over at a Marriott next to a mall then shopping the next day for girls and their moms. As if all families had $200 to $300 to blow for a “Great bonding time for mothers and daughters”. This was 15 years ago. Adjust number accordingly for todays’ costs.

  82. Kristin wrote:

    Every year our church likes to do a “relationship” sermon series that inevitably becomes only about marriage, with a little disclaimer that “this applies to singles too because someday you’ll be married.” (gag)

    After much failed persuasion to pastor that he was alienating at least half our congregation, one Sunday he asked all the married people to stand up. I tell you in a room full of adults (no ‘young adults’) not more than 30% stood up. That cleared up the issue for him quite succinctly.

    Given the divorce statistics amongst churchgoers, he’d have been better to preach a sermon aimed at singles and then added ‘this applies to a lot of you marrieds, too, since you’re going to be single someday’ 🙂

  83. Lynn wrote:

    Single people don’t have to coordinate but trivially with others in their life.

    Wow. Did you really just say that the coordination a single person has to do with their various responsibilities in life, such as family, work, a home, friends both married and single, volunteer/church/service efforts, etc. is “trivial?” Please tell me that’s not what you meant.

  84. Lynn,

    I agree with Rafiki, did you really mean to up down all singles? It feels that way. I know that once a person is involved with another, that things change, but to go from a reasonable amount of time to zero, hurts. Even if you understand it.

    Oh, by the way, have you kept your single friends, now that you are married?

  85. @ dee: Great advice!

    Of course (and not just for the sake of argument), they could have married another xtian and harangued them to death about other things…

  86. @ lilyrosemary:
    Yeah….I think it is!
    Despite being mostly single & celibate between 18 & 36 when I got married I missed much of this difficulty because I was ‘fortunate ‘enough to have a serious illness during most of this time, so was the ‘ill’ one, rather than the ‘single’one…Added to that I’d left my first love (who wasn’t a christian) because I thought it’d be disobedient & unwise to marry him & I got left alone. Of course my rampant sarcasm when people’s comments became intrusive had noting to do with it…

  87. @ Lynn: Wow.

    No wonder a lot of single people stop going to church, if that’s how people really feel about us.

    We have lives and responsibilities, too. You make it sound as if everyone who’s single is footlosse and fancy free. so NOT true!

  88. @ Lynn:
    I’m not going to attempt to speak for every single person here. But, I also married at 30, and experienced some of the transitions you mentioned. However, before I married, I would have welcomed the opportunity to spend time around married couples and their children. I didn’t know if I would ever be married. It hurt to feel like I wasn’t welcomed into the club because I just don’t “get it.” Now that I am married, I realize how valuable other relationships are for a healthy marriage. We can all feel strengthened and refreshed by our interaction with people both married and single. We all have schedules and responsibilities to work around. I think the rewards are priceless, though.

  89. Anna A

    I have new single friends due to this blog-Eagle, Numo and Trina. I hope to visit with them in the near future. One of my closest friends is a widow. Had a couple more but they got all bent out of shape when I defended a few abused boys. I became “anathema!” I have found I rather enjoy getting people irritated over me confronting pedophiles situations. It is nonfattening.

  90. numo

    Preach this one sister! “they could have married another xtian and harangued them to death about other things…”

  91. @ dee: Those who harangue tend to harangue regardless of circumstances… at least, I’ve found that to be true in my own life!

  92. Dee,

    I hope that you didn’t think that I was referring to all married people with my comment. I wasn’t, only Lynn’s because of her comment. I’ve become part of several families who have welcomed me to their table.

    In fact, sometime this summer I’m meeting a friend of many years in Philly, to sightsee. She’s leaving her husband behind and I’m leaving my cats at home. (GRIN, poor things, they never get to travel).

  93. Anna A

    My eyes are crossing. Sorry. I want to be sure that everyone know that I care deeply about people from all walks of life. In fact, I think life would be boring if only people like me were walking around. I bore myself at times!

  94. numo wrote:

    We have lives and responsibilities, too. You make it sound as if everyone who’s single is footlosse and fancy free. so NOT true!

    My point was when I was single if someone at work said, let’s go watch the game, or come over and look at my whatever in the garage, I almost always had the ability to made the decision on the spot. Once married I had to coordinate. (Not a burden just a fact.) And once with kids, the odds of even needing to coordinate went way down. Swim meets on Tuesday nights, dive meets on Thursday, Baseball Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. Marching band meant Friday nights were booked 1/2 of the fall. Lacrosse for Feb through April. My point is my life was scripted way more than when I was single. And these scripts interacted with people important to me.

    And when single it just wasn’t so.

    If you are single and leading a life as full as a couple with kids in terms of calendared items great. I wasn’t. And most everyone I knew who was single wasn’t either.

  95. numo wrote:

    No wonder a lot of single people stop going to church, if that’s how people really feel about us.

    Where did I say feel about us. What I said was many married couples (church or not) tend to gather friends with kids their age. As you spend hours together at swim team, baseball, band, carpool to school, etc… you just wind up making friends of the adults you are around. If you’re social at all.

    I’ll ask the singles. How many of you go to your friends’ kids’ swim meets, dive meets, Lacrosse games, band competitions, carpool, etc… If you’re not there you’re out of a lot of the loops.

  96. @ Lynn: Did you have any responsibilities re. ill or aging relative when you were single?

    A lot of us do. Most are women.

    An that’s just *one* thing – there are many others.

    Enough said.

  97. Eagle wrote:

    I have no problems hanging and talking with him while he watches his daughter play. There are many people who I suggest udnerstand this point quite well.

    I NEVER had one single person say “Hey, I’ll go with you to your son’s/daughter’s practice at 8 AM Saturday with a forecast of 55F and windy. I’ll bring coffee and we can catch up.”

  98. @ Lynn: You might be surprised at some of the answers, *especially* if the situation is one where the single people might be close to a friends’ kid(s).

    Don’t assume that there’s such strict segregation between single and married people just because *you* live in a particular way.

    also… how many of the parents at the kinds of events you mentioned are single, or widowed, or divorced?! (My guess: a hell of a lot of them.)

    My mom once told me to never assume anything…

  99. numo wrote:

    Did you have any responsibilities re. ill or aging relative when you were single?

    No. That has all happened in the last 5 to 10 years for me.

  100. @ Lynn: As what’s-her-name (Puritan) was supposed to have said, “Speak for yourself, John [Lynn].”

    You sound like you resent those of us who are unmarried.

  101. Anna A wrote:

    Oh, by the way, have you kept your single friends, now that you are married?

    We immediately moved for job reason when we got married. So most of that didn’t happen. A few close friends yes. But interestingly they also got married and had less “free” time for others. 🙂

  102. I think it’s safe to say that people in every category make incorrect assumptions about people in categories they are not part of — including the married and single category.

    I’m sure my comments as a married person have reeked with some presumption (How I wish that were not the case, though.)

  103. I’m not putting down singles. I’m just saying that the life style of most singles is different than the life still of most married. In or out of the church. And married with kids is incredibly different than married without kids.

    I can’t recall any of our single friends being the least be interested in talks on cheapest place to by diapers and formula. What kind of car seat works best in a van? And on and on and on. The time we spend with those topics is time we no longer spent with single people. For the most part they didn’t participate in such discussions. And with good reason.

  104. @ Lynn: Well gosh, I’m 56 and it started happening for me when I was in my 30s. I’m single now and I was single then.

    Suppose it might have something to do with age of both the aging relatives and kids/those close to them, and you’ll be on safer ground. it has NOTHING to do with one’s marital status, and can even start while one is still quite young.

  105. @ Lynn: Were you pressured into babysitting, teaching SUnday School and/or other forms of childcare?

    My hunch is “No.”

    However, those of us who are female *might* just have experiences that diverge from yours. I can’t tell you the number of times it was simply assumed tht I had nothing to do, ergo I *should* babysit for someone (often for nothing), and the number of other young women that I noticed who were being guilted into
    this.

    After a certain point, my answer was no. Eventually, people stopped asking.

    I have run into the same mentality when working in retail. A shocking number of church people thought I should use my employee discount to buy things for them.

    Are you getting the picture now?

  106. @ elastigirl: But look at what you’ve said. You think about things like this… and I’m assuming that you’re sensitive to many things in convos with others, no matter who they are.

    You’re absolutely right in saying that we all make assumptions about others based on our own lives – I’m as guilty of that as the next person.

    But I don’t think it’s a blanket thing that can – or should – be applied to all members of X group, whatever that group happens to be.

  107. @ Scooter’s Mom:

    Wow, that is cold. Very cold.

    Also, a husband wont’ necessarily take away the lonely, empty feeling.

    I’ve never been married, but I was engaged to a guy for a few years, and I felt all alone with him at time even when sitting in the same room as him.

    Not to mention that you can’t replace one person with another. It’s like those well meaning buffoons who tell parents, “I’m sorry little Billy died, but at least you still have his little sister, Mary!”

    regarding, The “you must be a homosexual if you’ve not married by age X” stereotype

    Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that yes, being suspected of being homosexual is one of the numerous stereotypes never-married Christians have to endure from other Christians and occasionally Non Christians.

    The single Christian men, however, seem to be more prone to this than women.

    Also, unmarried Christian men over the age of 25 – 30 are all suspected of being child molesters, so churches won’t allow them to serve near kids, usually.

    If, however, you are a single Christian woman, most churches/ Christians assume you love, love,love kids and babies, so they immediately stick someone’s baby in your arms when you walk in the door.

    I’ve (and I’m a female) have never been fond of children, so it’s ironic.

    Most Christians do not want to to take into account that, in the United States, for every unmarried Christian man over age 30, there are 2 or 3 single Christian women (and out of the men that do exist they do not go to church on Sundays, where I was always told by Mom and Dad I should go if I want a husband).

    Your only choice gets to be to marry a Non-Christian (I am at that stage now. I will no longer turn my nose up at a Non Christian guy.)

  108. @ Lynn:

    I can’t recall any of our single friends being the least be interested in talks on cheapest place to by diapers and formula. What kind of car seat works best in a van? And on and on and on

    You’ve made a huge assumption here – that all single people are childless.

    ‘Tain’t so, Joe.

  109. @ numo:

    I never said that some (many) married people don’t treat single folks poorly.

    What I said was that my life is/was very different for the decade I was single out of college, the over two decades I have been married, the decade of little kids, the decade of teens, and now the time where they are mostly on their own.

    And echoing Eagle’s comments, yes, married people with kids have time and relationship constraints that IN GENERAL unmarried people without kids do not have. And most singles don’t volunteer to jump into those fun situations.

    Again at baseball tryouts in mid February at 8 AM on a Saturday morning you tend to see other parents that’s you’ve seen before all with kids your age. It’s just not a spot where singles show up to socialize. And after a few years of that and practices and games you discover that many of these families are the ones you go get a pizza with. And there’s nothing deliberate about it. At least not for me.

    But then again I was never into the “only have friends from my church” mindset either.

  110. dee wrote:

    Daisy
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I believe that this ignorance is a problem in today’s churches. They are hurting many people with their ignorance.

    Thank you for allowing me to post about this here, and other issues.

    I know your blog is predominantly about sexual abuse cases in churches, so I try not to post too much about other things.

    I’ve never meant to hijack threads over this subject, but it’s so frustrating, and most other Christians don’t care.

    I also perceive this blog as a place where Christians who have been hurt by churches/Christianity (but in other areas, not necessarily only sexual abuse) can discuss other things.

    Someone here on an older thread over a week ago got bent out of shape with me when I discussed singleness and celibacy, so I decided to take a break.

    Not only are singles as a group either ignored or mistreated, but never married/celibate ones are the most overlooked.

    I’ll occasionally hear pastors offer words of encouragement to single (divorced) mothers in their sermons or television shows, and such, but never married Christians over the age of 30 (who are still celibate) don’t even cross the radar of most Christians/ preachers. If we do, you would not believe the insulting rhetoric we get from other “Christians.”

  111. numo wrote:

    You’ve made a huge assumption here – that all single people are childless.

    Nope. Just didn’t want to write with a dozen footnotes.

    This post was about singles. Really never marrieds.

    Again, parents of all stripes tend to flock together. It just happens.

  112. It’s ironic to me personally that single people are assumed to be more able to “coordinate.” I am single. I make my living as a church organist and church singer, and I am a member of a semi-professional handbell choir (one of the top choirs in all of New England). This has several implications for my schedule:

    1) I cannot stop my lessons, both to gain skills and maintain mentor/reference/personal relationships with my teachers. So that means a voice lesson and an organ lesson every week.
    2) 2-3 hours of organ practice every day to learn hymns and service music for church, in addition to skill-building pieces for my lessons.
    3) I arrive at church early and usually do two services. In certain seasons of the church year (such as Lent, going on right now), I also do midweek services and any special services that are needed. If I am subbing at another church, I have to drive there. My current sub job is nearly an hour one way from my house.
    4) Weekly two-hour handbell rehearsal.
    5) Concert season (spring and Christmas) for the handbells has a minimum of five concerts, about four hours each including setup, rehearsal and takedown. This does not include driving time and we often travel to other states. This also usually coincides with my voice recital at the music school where I take lessons. Also, this summer I have to travel to go to “handbell camp” for four days of skill-building.
    6) I am also in a singing choir to keep up my voice skills and we have two concerts a year and a weekly two-hour rehearsal.
    7) I am currently being driven to all these things by my parents because I am diligently saving up for my first car. (Can’t drive stick to save my life and my family only own sticks.)
    8) I am taking distance college classes.

    All of the above relates to my job and job skills…it is not just “fun.” My other single friends are either going to college full-time; working part-time jobs and not going to school; or unemployed. One works a nearly full-time job as a professional magician (he has connections at the national level – also not just “fun”).

    I can usually manage to “coordinate” with the ones who are at college full-time and full-time employed. Trying to coordinate with the unemployed and part-time employed ones (who allegedly have more “free time”) is like pulling teeth. Many times they do not even answer my texts/messages and frankly I am beginning to wonder if some of these people even want to be my friends anymore.

    So the idea that single people have more time and are easier to coordinate with is ringing kinda hollow to me, because the busier my single friends get, it seems they become EASIER to coordinate with.

  113. Lynn wrote:

    I NEVER had one single person say “Hey, I’ll go with you to your son’s/daughter’s practice at 8 AM Saturday with a forecast of 55F and windy. I’ll bring coffee and we can catch up.”

    I think if I were asked and that was the only time we could get together (really the only time?), I’d go rather than lose a good friend. But I’m not one to invite myself. I like to be asked. A single might surprise you by saying “yes”.

  114. @ Hester:
    To be honest you’re equating shorter term personal commitments with longer term issues. Once you have a kid you’re committed for two decades. I’ve never seen a church choir for that kind of commitment.

    But you have made choices. It ties you up. Great. I never assume people are lazy or whatever just because they are busy. Single, married, kids, pets, whatever. Their choice.

  115. @ Numo:

    Funny story about babysitting…I was asked to babysit for the first time in my life a few weeks ago. I have no idea how I grew up in the Christian homeschool bubble as a female and was never asked to babysit (prob. because I wasn’t overtly frilly and feminine), but it finally happened. I told the person that my mom would have to come along because I have never been alone with a baby/toddler for any significant length of time (only child so never had to watch younger siblings). She backed off pretty quickly. : )

  116. Shannon H. wrote:

    But I’m not one to invite myself. I like to be asked. A single might surprise you by saying “yes”.

    At first I thought I didn’t ask. But in thinking about it I asked plenty of folks to come to baseball, lacrosse, soccer, band, whatever and can’t remember one who ever did. Baseball was best as it was free and we always had coolers with free drinks.

    No formal invites. But plenty of “I’ll be at my xxxx’s game tonight. Stop by and have a coke with me.”

    Maybe it IS my breath.

  117. @Lynn – I met one of my friends for her son’s baseball game or practice, but in the evening. Actually I’ve done it more than once. But it isn’t necessarily my thing. I do try to fit into peoples’ schedules as I can if I want to maintain the friendship. Right now my schedule is crazy, but in the past I’ve had more time. I used to pray about who to befriend, and it wasn’t always the person I would think about. Sometimes it was a married woman with no children, sometimes a newer mother, sometimes a single mother.

    @Hester – have you considered that some of your friends might be depressed due to life’s circumstances and maybe not just avoiding you?

  118. Lynn wrote:

    @ Hester:
    To be honest you’re equating shorter term personal commitments with longer term issues. Once you have a kid you’re committed for two decades. I’ve never seen a church choir for that kind of commitment.
    But you have made choices. It ties you up. Great. I never assume people are lazy or whatever just because they are busy. Single, married, kids, pets, whatever. Their choice.

    You do realise you’re implying here that the commitments of singles to things like work and other responsibilities are unworthy and inferior? Not a nice thing to suggest.

  119. @ Lynn:

    I plan to be a church musician as my main job so no, it is not a short term commitment. Unless I stop playing the organ and singing (which will make me instantly unemployed), I will most likely always be in some kind of lessons (one of my teachers still has a teacher and she is a professional opera singer). I have been playing handbells with this same kind of time commitment for nearly ten years and I see no reason to stop, esp. since it keeps open much-needed connections with many of the churches I work in. Church has been held every Sunday for the past 2000 years so that won’t stop either.

    This is my vocation, in the full Lutheran sense of the word. It’s not “short term” any more than a pastor’s commitments are. Parenthood is a vocation as well.

  120. @ Former CLCer:

    With one of them that might be possible so I tend to cut him a lot of slack. The main one I had in mind when I wrote what I did is FAR from depressed and can manage to get in touch with literally everyone except me. I am still praying about what to do with that particular situation which is causing me a lot of pain at the moment.

  121. Pam wrote:

    You do realise you’re implying here that the commitments of singles to things like work and other responsibilities are unworthy and inferior? Not a nice thing to suggest.

    Everyone gets to make their choices. And I respect them. But having children is the biggest commitment to my time I ever made. My wife second. But only after the kids showed up. Everything after that is a choice. Work, friends, volunteering. Sorry but to me the rest are choices. My work choices were made based on my kids. First.

    If you don’t have kids and want to make a commitment to work great. But if later you do have kids, that job needs to slide down the ladder.

    @ Hester:

    So for you it’s a job. That’s different from a volunteer position. But I still doubt you’re making a commitment to that job as big as a commitment, if you make it later, to a marriage and/or children.

  122. Addendum @ Lynn:

    Many of the best professional church musicians hold their posts for 20, 30, sometimes as long as 40-50 years so this is literally a lifelong commitment in many cases.

  123. @ Hester:

    And if you had a child who had needs that interfered with your chosen vocation as a church musician where do you think you’d come down on that choice?

  124. Lynn, I can totally relate to your comment and did not think you were dissing anyone. I did not marry young so I can relate to both sides. Your life changes drastically esp with kids! Esp when both work and you are juggling everything. It gets better as kids grow toward teen years but from 1-10 it is pretty constant juggling. Sometimes one looks back and wonders how they did it all. I was doing it all while coordinating care for a sick mom, too. I am not complaining but at the time I felt like I was not good at anything because so many things needed my attention all at once. We felt like the plate spinner guy as a family. I had a pretty high pressure career and I left that for something more local and sedate so that much was relieved.

    I was never really into kids until I had some. In fact, I look back with shame at how I wondered why my friends did not have better control of their kids. Hee Hee. Boy was I in for a big surprise.

    I think folks with kids gravitate toward one another. ONe reason is because you can go places where the kids can do stuff together, etc, and your lives sort of revolve around school activities in that sphere. It is not something where you seek to leave anyone out. It is just a different ife. I have asked soem single family members to stuff but they seem to would rather watch paint dry than a very bad play or basketball at school. :o)

    What I do NOT like is any separation at church. We have quite a few singles in our church who teach kids/teens and it is a great blessing for all of us. My daughter’s SS teacher is a never married woman in her 40’s who is awesome. We do a lot with all ages of singles including older ones who might be widowed. One of my daughters dearest mentors at church is a widowed woman in her 60’s.

  125. @ Kristin:
    @ Kristin

    Yes, pastors do that all the time.

    Often, the pastor will preface their one-billionth marriage sermon by saying things like,
    “And singles, this will benefit you too because one day you will be married,” or, “singles, you can still learn something from this marriage series we’re doing!”

    Prefacing their sermons in that way with such a disclaimer does not absolve them of their continual neglect of singles and the willful, non-stop focus on marriage and parenting.

    I have nothing against pastors at times sermonizing about marriage and parenting, but it’s about all they ever do.

    I doubt that married couples would like every sermon, every week to be about singleness, or if every sermon illustration used singlehood as an example, instead of marriage.

    Kristin said,

    For some reason the Christian bubble has convinced everyone that Christian=married. I have no idea why.

    I think many of them have not recognized that times have changed.

    Many are still under the impression that 90% of American adults are married with kids, when the figure is now about 18%. About 50% of American adults are unmarried now. About 20% are married, but without kids.

    Some, in the real kooky groups (such as Quiverfull, Christian Reconstructionists, etc), think that the way to make the USA a “godly nation” again is by breeding (to marry their Christian kids off young and have them have as many kids as possible). Even some of the less kook Christian groups are starting to buy into that mentality.

    The Bible says God’s kindgom is now spread by evangelizing (sharing the Gospel with non-believers), not by baby-making, but this point is lost on most Christians these days.

  126. @ Lynn:

    Frankly I would go insane if I had to stop doing church music. Most of the church musicians I know who have kids keep it up anyway. And even the volunteer positions I listed contribute to my work connections, since musicians do most of their connecting informally and face-to-face. It’s not the same as a 9-5 job but that doesn’t make it not a “real job.”

    Also the Lutheran meaning of vocation is a calling from God, not just a “job.” If you can quit your “vocation” and not feel like an amputee, it wasn’t your vocation. This is my gifting and I’m bound to serve God with it. (I’m using the word “job” here for convenience and to convey the amount of time commitment involved.) This is why I called parenthood a vocation – some people aren’t called to do it and if you aren’t called, you shouldn’t do it.

  127. @ Lynn: Have you read the post?

    Because it ISN’T solely about people who have never married!

    Look, what I was trying to do was dislodge some of your preconceptions, but I don’t know that I’ve actually succeeded. Please understand that the way you wrote about single adults on your initial post was potentially offensive and belittling.

    I think it comes down to walking a mile in another person’s shoes, no matter who they are…

    and fwiw, I’ve known people whose spouses became gravely ill at a young age, and – different cases – people whose husbands and wives have died at a young age. (Mostly due to auto or work-related accidents, but hey – even 20-somethings can develop cancer…)

    It is naive for me to assume that all married people are wildly in love and never lonely; also that they can’t get enough of each other’s company and end up ditching all their single friends.

    please don’t assume the same kinds of things about those who don’t fit your particular demographics.

  128. @ Hester:

    Just a note. I didn’t say if you had children. I said if you had children with needs.

    Define needs anyway you want.

  129. Anon 1 wrote:

    I was never really into kids until I had some. In fact, I look back with shame at how I wondered why my friends did not have better control of their kids. Hee Hee. Boy was I in for a big surprise.

    +1000 🙂

  130. Lynn, Let me assure you one can be a full time church musician and have children. That is how I learned to sit still for long periods of time at the age of 5 when I was too old for the nursery set. All my mom had to do was give me the raised eyebrow from her perch on the piano or organ and I knew I was in for it later. :o)

  131. @ Lynn:

    And guess what? Having kids was a choice of yours, too! So why are the choices of those who are single treated so dismissively by you? And how the heck do you know whether or not someone’s commitments to things other than children are taken less seriously, or less important, than a commitment to have kids? That such an arrogant and ill-informed assumption.

  132. @ Lynn: Er, yes, Hester’s made choices.

    she has a career. And think of this: she hasn’t started taking on students of her own yet.

    I don’t know what your interests are, or what you do for a living, but here’s the thing: what looks like “just for fun” is often a very serious career, with standards that many working people don’t have to meet. (Example: theater. if you’re a professional and a union member, and you’re in a play that’s running now, you *have* to be there. You can only take off if you’re on your deathbed, and I am not really exaggerating. There are serious penalties for those who do not show up to work – union-mandated ones.)

    it seems to me that you are avoiding a lot of things that folks have said to you in their replies, and trying to come up with ways to dodge the more pointed questions. That’s fine – though I do hope you’ll ask yourself some of those things.

  133. @ sad observer:

    sad observer, your single family member sounds like me.

    It’s true, if you are a single woman who is not into kids or cooking (but good at technical stuff) churches either won’t let you participate, or don’t know how to put you to use.

    And you are correct that getting a spouse is not that easy, but a lot of Christians sure as heck think it is.

    Many Christians think getting a husband is an easy matter of sticking a profile on a dating site like eHarmony, and they think you will get a husband five seconds later.

    You’re also right that a huge problem for singles is emotional / physical isolation and loneliness, which is not to say that’s true for all singles.

    Some singles thrive being single and are fine with it, but most of us do have problems in those areas and the churches aren’t meeting those needs.

    They’re too busy catering to the married couples with kids at home and ranting about how liberal America is out to destroy the nuclear family / marriage.

    (All of which is ironic, because most such churches don’t actually do anything to help their unmarried members past the age of 30 meet and get married.

    If they like marriage so much, why aren’t they helping Christian women like me get married? They tell me and women like me to “be content in your singleness.”

    If we ask for mixed gender singles classes or social functions, we are told things like, “we can’t have that, it will be a meat market!”)

    sad observer

    I noticed that I felt more comfortable in church groups that included singles than I did in church groups that only included married people/families.

    One odd thing I’ve noticed about many Christian (and on occasion Non Christian) married people (and it’s usually females, the males don’t seem as prone to this), is that their entire identity revolves around being “wife and mom.”

    Many (not all) are unwilling or incapable of talking about movies, politics, books, religion, sports, television, hobbies, etc.

    I think that’s why the moment many married women at a church realize you are never married with no kids, they feel awkward and at a loss for how to relate to you.

    Which is sad. Your identity is not wrapped up in having a husband or kids (or should not be).

    “Unmarried with no kids over the age of 30” women are not aliens from Mars. You don’t have to be married with kids to watch cable TV, garden, knit sweaters, like horses and dogs, etc.

    Sometimes as a single Christian woman, you cannot chat with married couples or befriend them even when you try, because many Christian (and Non Christian) married women view you as a potential adulteress who wants to steal their man, even though you do not.

    Some Christian men are this way too.

    They won’t stay and chat with you (the unmarried woman) because they are either afraid a torrid affair will break out (even though you are not the least attracted to them), or their wife will think there is an affair going on.

    So single Christian women remain very isolated.

  134. @ numo:

    Hi, numo.

    “You’re absolutely right in saying that we all make assumptions about others based on our own lives….But I don’t think it’s a blanket thing that can – or should – be applied to all members of X group, whatever that group happens to be.”
    **********

    Can you explain your thoughts a little more? I’d like to be able to dialog.

  135. @ Hester: Not to mention the many parents who also have a vocation in music and work pretty hard at it. (I know quite a few…)

  136. numo wrote:

    I think it comes down to walking a mile in another person’s shoes, no matter who they are…

    I guess the 11 years between 22 (out of school) and 33 when I got married didn’t count.

    And yes I read the post. And it was about the ghettoing of singles in the church. It’s wrong.

    All I was saying is that given I’ve been on both sides of this debate, singles need to understand that married folks with kids, will naturally gravitate to social circles of other marrieds with kids. OR single parents with kids. And they have different time constraints than people without kids. That’s all.

    Sure. Toss in sick relatives and other things.

    I think you’re taking my comments to mean something they don’t.

  137. “This is my gifting and I’m bound to serve God with it”

    That is how it was for my mom. It defined her. And none of us kids were ever neglected over it or felt second to it. It was part of our lives and a very rich one, indeed!

  138. @ Lynn: Uh – she can’t be married with kids and work as a full-time musician and/or music teacher?!

    I think you might need to get out and about more, Lynn.

    As for peoples’ commitments, I think you’re not seeing the point here. Nor are you necessarily getting it re. singleness as a whole. I never chose to be single – it’s what happened. I imagined that by the time I was in my late 30s, I’d be married, have 2.5 kids – all of that. But – for various reasons – it’s not what happened.

    You are also not taking into consideration the number of single parents – or those who are effectively single for long periods of time due to their spouse’s occupation (military, or maybe Merchant Marine – like my late dad; other kinds of jobs that have heavy travel as a built-in requirement regardless of marital status; people who have workaholic spouses; people who own their own businesses and are as married to the business as they are to their spouse – or maybe they’re single, divorced or widowed, and… [fill in the blanks]).

  139. “And how the heck do you know whether or not someone’s commitments to things other than children are taken less seriously, or less important, than a commitment to have kids? That such an arrogant and ill-informed assumption.”

    I cannot speak for Lynn but everything I took very seriously came to a quick halt when the child is puking all over the car on the way to preschool. And it happens when you least expect it and have a very important meeting. :o)

  140. @ elastigirl: I was thinking along the lines of some of the things I’ve said in reply to Lynn

    – many people who have children are single parents – never married, widowed, divorced.

    – many married people have to work full-time (both spouses) due to their financial/economic realities

    – Not all single people have loads of free time – especially, say, if they’re in grad (or med) school; have many commitments outside or work or school

    – Just because someone is single does not mean that they’re automatically happier – or that their lives are less complicated – than the lives of those who are married

    – a lot of single people have family responsibilities (to aging parents, for example), though I can’t resist mentioning that in most families, the burden falls to one person (single or married) and others tend to minimize that person’s need for help (been there,d one that!)

    and so on. I think there is a LOT of assuming going on, in evangelical circles, as to what it’s like to be single (for whatever reason) vs. what it’s like to be married. And I see that coming out in Lynn’s replies.

  141. singleman wrote:

    Nine years ago, Albert Mohler gave a talk at the New Attitude Conference, sponsored by Joshua Harris, in which he called delay of marriage a “sin” and lambasted single men in particular. The talk was later broadcast on the “Family Life Today” radio program. I couldn’t find the transcript, but I found an essay Camerin Courtney wrote in response titled, “Is Singleness A Sin?”
    http://www.crosswalk.com/11621125/

    Oh yeah, this is a point I’ve raised on this blog before, a few months ago.

    Some Christians have been saying the past few years that not marrying at all, and specifically, not marrying young, is a sin.

    Even though the God says in the Scriptures that He respects singleness, even though Jesus Christ never married or had a any children, (nor did the Apostle Paul), some Christians today say singleness is a sin.

    This really grates on women like me who dearly wanted to get married but no man ever came along.

    We unmarried Christians are still blamed by Mohler, Debbie Maken (Christian author who is well known for writing books about marriage), etc, for being single, even though we did not choose to be single this long. We’re told it’s our fault we are single, we are sinning, etc.

  142. Pam wrote:

    And guess what? Having kids was a choice of yours, too! So why are the choices of those who are single treated so dismissively by you? And how the heck do you know whether or not someone’s commitments to things other than children are taken less seriously, or less important, than a commitment to have kids? That such an arrogant and ill-informed assumption.

    ONCE I had kids, my job was a choice I made every day. And to be honest I changed my job to be able to better raise my kids. I never considered dumping my kids for my job. And one job I had when single where I made the most money and I really enjoyed would not have been possible if I wanted to be a decent parent. I simply would not have done it.

  143. Lynn wrote:

    – Single people don’t have to coordinate but trivially with others in their life. And many don’t get why those of us married do. Toss in kids and it goes up even more. You can’t just call up and say I’m going out with Bob and watch the game at the pub till 10PM.

    Your single friends must have been in their twenties. Any never married Christian over the age of 30 is aware of all that.

    Also, it’s a common assumption that singles have loads of free time – we don’t, not all of us.

    If you are single, living on your own, with a career, many unmarried people actually have less time because you don’t have someone to pick up the dry cleaning for you, clean up for you or help you with clean up, change the oil in the car, mow the grass, pick up groceries, etc.

  144. @ numo:

    From where I sit reading your list I agree with all of it. I think you’re reading things into my posts that I’m just not saying.

  145. Addendum @ Lynn:

    If I have children I plan to raise them in the church…and I see no problem with the kids being at church as much as I am/would be. My mother was raised like this as was her mother. This may sound glib but I’m not exaggerating as to how my mother and grandmother were raised.

    And BTW my mother’s sister, who was in church as much as she was, had special needs in the 70s when there were basically no services at all and my grandmother had to fight tooth and nail for every special service she got. So my family has already dealt with a special needs child “interfering” with our vocations.

  146. @ Daisy:
    Twenties. Yes. Demographics make it so. Although my best friend was 10 years older than me and got married after me.

    Again, we all get to make choices. But once you have kids you have a commitment larger than your career. And many singles (NOT ALL) use the money they don’t spend raising kids on freeing up their time. I see that all the time.

    Free time is what you have left over after all the things you have to do and want to do. With kids, aging parents, whatever, you have more of the first and less of the second. That’s it.

    We all make choices. We live with them. That’s it.

  147. Hester wrote:

    So my family has already dealt with a special needs child “interfering” with our vocations.

    Glad it worked for you. It doesn’t work out for everyone.

  148. @ Anon 1:
    Exactly. They come first. Period. End of discussion.

    Hey. As a solo consultant for small businesses I got to take my pre-school kids “to work” at times. At times it didn’t work. 🙂

  149. Lynn wrote:
    ONCE I had kids, my job was a choice I made every day. And to be honest I changed my job to be able to better raise my kids. I never considered dumping my kids for my job. And one job I had when single where I made the most money and I really enjoyed would not have been possible if I wanted to be a decent parent. I simply would not have done it.

    You’re still acting as if singles don’t have to juggle things, don’t have to make considered choices, don’t have responsibilities, don’t have to weigh pros and cons about jobs, etc. You say you changed jobs so you could be a decent parent – that’s great. Well, when singles make choices about careers, where to live, etc, WE ALSO take into consideration how those things will work with us being decent people. Some acknowledgement of that, and of the fact that we have busyness and commitments too, would be really nice.

  150. @ Anon 1 & Numo:

    “That is how it was for my mom. It defined her. And none of us kids were ever neglected over it or felt second to it. It was part of our lives and a very rich one, indeed!”

    Thank you, ladies!!! You CAN be a professional church musician and still raise a family. If I am called to be a parent, then clearly God gave me two vocations and He thinks I can handle both of them.

  151. “and so on. I think there is a LOT of assuming going on, in evangelical circles, as to what it’s like to be single (for whatever reason) vs. what it’s like to be married. And I see that coming out in Lynn’s replies.”

    Lynn did not marry young and neither did I. I can actually relate to some of the things on your list from when I was single. It is usally the daughter that ends up caring for parents and if she is the single one, then her for sure. I was very busy and tied up when I was single because I traveled and was involved in many projects. I had a very full life and quite frankly was leery of marrying for some reason. I guess I was always real independent and a bit of a loner. I liked being single. A lot.

    Quite frankly, all this focus on marriage and gender roles in Christinaity is a bunch of bunk and leaves out a lot of people who don’t deserve it. One other place the church is a big FAIL is when it comes to single moms. We made a commitment to that segment a few years back and it has been a huge blessing to us.

    I wish I could ban all sex, marriage and parenting sermons. People figured all this out for thousands of years. I wish more churches would keep the main thing the main thing.

  152. numo wrote:

    Uh – she can’t be married with kids and work as a full-time musician and/or music teacher?!
    I think you might need to get out and about more, Lynn.

    I never said that. At all.

  153. Lynn wrote:

    [single friends never ask] “Hey, I’ll go with you to your son’s/daughter’s practice at 8 AM Saturday with a forecast of 55F and windy. I’ll bring coffee and we can catch up.”

    Did you ever ask them?

    They might assume it’s a “family thing” only, and that they would be intruding if they asked to tag along.

    As I said in a post above, unmarried Christian women are not welcomed by married couples (unless it’s to act as a free baby sitter service).

    I am not the only Christian single woman to notice that single Christian women are treated with suspicion by other Christians.

    There is this wide spread, wrong, assumption in secular and Christian culture that men and women cannot be platonic friends.

    Many Christian men are afraid if they keep chatting with a single Christian woman that both will wind up in bed together, or the married guy thinks the wife will think they will, so married Christian men break off friendships with unmarried Christian women.

    I’ve even had them do this to me over the internet, they won’t even be forum or e-mail friends, even when I tell them, “let your wife read all our exchanges, I don’t mind.”

    Many married Christian women have a tendency to keep all un-married Christian women at arm’s length, because they fear you want to sleep with their man. Which is very insulting. I have no interest in stealing anyone’s husband.

  154. Pam wrote:

    You’re still acting as if singles don’t have to juggle things, don’t have to make considered choices, don’t have responsibilities, don’t have to weigh pros and cons about jobs, etc.

    Let’s see. I spend 3 years traveling 30 times a year to various Insurance companies working on industry wide standards for computer interoperability. Yes I had responsibilities. And my time was precious many weeks. (One trip I was traveling on 3 round trip tickets at one time.) Going to the store to by clothes because you were not in town long enough to clean your clothes is not all that much fun. Living in hotels 3 to 5 days a week isn’t either.

    But at the end of the day I could have quit. I never considered parenting a job I could quit.

    And to be blunt I didn’t get it until I had kids.

  155. “Thank you, ladies!!! You CAN be a professional church musician and still raise a family. If I am called to be a parent, then clearly God gave me two vocations and He thinks I can handle both of them.”

    Oh Hester, My mom’s music career is one of the richest parts of my childhood. Our lives were full of beautiful music all the time at home. And hanging out in recording studios was kinda fun, too. In my moms early years she played for radio programs and my older brother got to hang out there which he said was really cool for a kid.

    And if I wanted to get out of chores all I had to do is say, hey mom, can you play……..

  156. Daisy wrote:

    Did you ever ask them?

    Yes. To the games. No one really wanted to be out in the wind at 8AM when it’s 40F outside. 🙂

    But while there you chat with the other adults who all magically happen to have kids the same age as yours.

    Unless we were all hiding in our cars to stay warm. While the kids ran around in shorts.

  157. “Many married Christian women have a tendency to keep all un-married Christian women at arm’s length, because they fear you want to sleep with their man. Which is very insulting. I have no interest in stealing anyone’s husband”

    I know, Daisy. I have neveer understood this ridiculousness but got that from when I was single. You know, If my husband is that easy to steal, you can have him!

  158. @ Lynn: It’s the way you were characterizing people (like that comment about it taking a trivial amount of co-ordination for single people to get together with friends).

    For some single people, especially, say, those under 25-30, that’s probably true. But for many (of whatever age), it’s simply not.

    also, your replies to Hester just kind of boggle my mind. A career in music (no matter what kind) is incredibly demanding. Someone who does what Hester does can’t just call someone to sub for them. She has to be there.

    Also… my mom was on her own with my siblings and I for long periods of time due to the nature of my dad’s work. This was back in the 50s and 60s, when there was more (generally speaking) prejudice toward single parents than there is now. Many who were happy to have her around as long as my dad was with her were to 1st to ignore her when he was gone.

    I doubt she’s the only spouse who’s been through that, though thankfully, things are somewhat better now than they were several decades ago.

    I used to live in an area where there are many active-duty military personnel (including reserves). I have been in a position to get some sense of the fact that many of them were single parents. (Literally.)

    Life can be hard; we don’t all end up being in a Ward & June Cleaver-type situation. I think you’re looking for greener grass where there might not be any.

  159. @ Lynn:

    Per the job/”decent parent” thing – my dad worked on fast-attack submarines and is still a defense contractor working on subs. This means he could be called away on a 3-6 month deployment at the drop of hat and he frequently was. He commuted to VA from CT for two years when I was a child because the Navy would not let him be stationed in CT and it was better not to uproot the family. This resulted in me only seeing him on the weekends from ages 6-8. After he retired, we prayed as a family for a new job and God basically handed him the one he has now on a silver platter. He now travels frequently, sometimes for as much as 6-7 months, and we still only get 2 weeks notice or so when this is going to occur. Before God gave him this job, he tried working retail for a year and went back to the subs because he was going crazy.

    My ex-pastor tried to convince him to quit his traveling job because it took his away from his family too much. Clearly God disagrees. So just keep in mind that some people are called to be away from their families a lot, and this doesn’t automatically make them bad parents.

  160. @ numo:

    Again I never said anyone could not be a church musician and have children. Just didn’t.

    And again, someone with a spouse and/or kids has more MUST coordination points in their life than the same person without a spouse or kids. That’s just a fact.

    Substitute any dependent relation you want for kids.

  161. Lynn wrote:

    Everyone gets to make their choices. And I respect them. But having children is the biggest commitment to my time I ever made. My wife second. But only after the kids showed up. Everything after that is a choice. Work, friends, volunteering. Sorry but to me the rest are choices. My work choices were made based on my kids. First.
    If you don’t have kids and want to make a commitment to work great.

    After reading this far, your attitude towards singles sounds horrible.

    Working is not simply a choice. Singles who live alone have no choice but to work to pay rent and buy food.

    You make it sounds like marriage with kids is just so much more work and pressure and more noble. It’s not. Both singlehood and marriage/kids have stresses and time commitments.

  162. Lynn wrote:

    @ Hester:
    Just a note. I didn’t say if you had children. I said if you had children with needs.
    Define needs anyway you want.

    Everyone has needs, adults have needs, kids have needs, adults who are single, adults who are married, so I don’t get the point.

  163. @ Hester:
    Again, he could quit his job. It is a choice. And yes I know the Navy had commitments of years. But at some point he signed up and got married and they decided it was OK to proceed this way. And apparently after he got out of the Navy he still decided on what kind of job he wanted. His choice.

    I had a father who for a while worked the equivalent of 3 jobs. About 100 to 120 hours per week. And it was a choice for various reasons. One to try and help us with college expenses later and one to help out at the church. But no deployments. I know they are hard. My wife was an army brat.

  164. Re. caregiving, yep. it usually falls on the single woman. (Again, been there, done that – still there, in many respects, even though I’m not the primary caregiver at this point).

    On another topic, I have known many single people who bought their own homes at or around 30. (And still others who bought fixer-up properties that they renovated themselves and later sold.) Owning a house (or condo, or townhouse) and all the attendant responsibilities isn’t confined to married people.

    I have run into the assumption that I had loads of free time (made by some married people) and it stung. Most of the people who made those kinds of assumptions had gotten married quite young and really had no conception of what it was like to live on their own as adults.

    As for being a parent, nobody’s disputing that it’s a full-time job in and of itself. What we are taking issue with is the characterization of single people as footloose, fancy free, able to do social stuff at the drop of a hat (etc. etc. etc.) people. It’s just not accurate, and can potentially be quite hurtful.

  165. @ Daisy:
    Some times children have special medical or mental needs. At that point a parent has to decide if their chosen career is compatible with raising their child.

    And with some people they need to decide if their chosen career is compatible with raising kids at all. I was not putting a church musician in this category.

  166. Pam wrote:

    @ Lynn:
    And guess what? Having kids was a choice of yours, too! So why are the choices of those who are single treated so dismissively by you? And how the heck do you know whether or not someone’s commitments to things other than children are taken less seriously, or less important, than a commitment to have kids? That such an arrogant and ill-informed assumption.

    Some of us did not “choose” to be single, is another point that should be brought out.

    I was brought up in the tradition that if I had faith in God and asked God for a spouse, that I’d be married by age 30 or 35, but I never met anyone. (I was engaged, but we broke up.)

    A lot of evangelicals and Baptists (such as Mohler) assume that those of us who remain single past the age of 30 deliberately chose to remain single this long (because they assume, we hate marriage, or we were too career-focused, whatever), which is not true for a lot of us.

    We did not choose to be 35 year old or older and still single.

    If you read books such as “Singled Out” by Field and Colon (who are both Christians), they get into how a lot of Christians operate under the assumptions and misguided notions that:

    Being married (and with kids) = Maturity, Adulthood, You’re All Grown Up, and More Serious Time Commitments,

    while

    Unmarried = Immature, No Responsibilities, Loads of Free Time, Selfish, Arrested Development

  167. numo wrote:

    What we are taking issue with is the characterization of single people as footloose, fancy free, able to do social stuff at the drop of a hat (etc. etc. etc.) people. It’s just not accurate, and can potentially be quite hurtful.

    I never said that. All I ever said was that a single person has a way easier time deciding how to spend their time. That’s it. I believe it. I lived it for over a decade. If you disagree well we disagree.

    And I define single as having no other people as dependents.

  168. @ Daisy:
    When I was 30 I was not looking to stay single or get married. When I met my then future wife at 32, well things clicked. I have no grudge for or against singles or married. As I said, more than a decade on both sides gives me some experience to use as a guide.

    As to all these various church “leaders” saying everyone needs to be married (in their early 20s to boot) they are full of nonsense. Pure and simple nonsense.

  169. “After reading this far, your attitude towards singles sounds horrible.”

    Daisy, read what he said:

    “But having children is the biggest commitment to my time I ever made”

    To HIM. He is speaking for himself and HIS time. He saw the children as coming first to everything else.. I do not understand why this attitude is horrible? It does not automatically put down other’s choices to remain single.

    I guess I can relate to what he is saying. We were not even supposed to be able to have children. And we were old considering what is the norm! Although more an more it is more commone. So we were a bit set in our freedom ways even though we had tons of committments and both traveled a lot separately for our business. What a culture shock. I think even more so for those who do it later in life and are not 25.

    I will tell you this, married folks who constantly talked about their kids and yada yada how busy they were, etc, WORE ME OUT and bored me to death. So I really can relate to both sides. We do have to find some way to bridge the gap and my thinking is it has to start in the true Body of Christ where there is no “male or female”, slave or free, etc, etc. Married or not should NOT matter in the kingdom.

  170. I got so very tired of being treated as either a superannuated teenager or an asexual “mom” in the evangelical/charismatic churches I belonged to. There’s just so little understanding of people who are – for whatever reason(s) – unmarried that it can be very overwhelming.

    This was solved for me when I left the evangelical church. As someone mentioned upthread, mainlines are generally far more “in the real world” about this than is the case inside evangelical subculture(s).

    It’s nice to be able to breathe clear air out here, not to mention being assessed (most of the time) for who I am as a person rather than by my marital status. Inside the evangelical bubble, marriage IS a status symbol for many; almost like getting to be an Eagle Scout.

    Those who are unmarried past 30 are often looked down upon. it seems like very group of people – no matter who they are – wants to find someone to look down on, even to bully. The evangelical world is no exception.

  171. Pam wrote:

    And how the heck do you know whether or not someone’s commitments to things other than children are taken less seriously, or less important, than a commitment to have kids?

    My personal opinion is that Christ comes first. Spouse and children come second, everything else is after that. And you have to be careful how you manage those first two slots. Working 120 hours a week as a pastor and ignoring your family is not putting Christ first.

    If that makes me arrogant so be it.

  172. Lynn wrote:

    …and 33 when I got married didn’t count.

    All I was saying is that given I’ve been on both sides of this debate, singles need to understand that married folks with kids, will naturally gravitate to social circles of other marrieds with kids.

    Singles understand that perfectly well. We realize that married people have obligations, such as looking after kids (if they have kids).

    I find it kind of patronizing that you assume that older un-married adults do not realize these things. The only singles I can see who would not understand are 20 year old single college students.

    I am glad that you acknowledge that churches treat many singles badly.

    If you got married by 33, that’s actually not so bad.

    Where churches really begin to shun and mistreat you is what you get past age of 35, and especially hit the age 40 mark.

    Most Christian culture/churches focus on the age 29 and under singles age bracket, but it’s not until you get upwards of around 36, 37 years old, and really 40+, that they begin assuming (if they aren’t totally ignoring you exist, which many do) negative things about you, like there must be something wrong with you if you could not get married, or they assume you must be weird, a homosexual, etc.

    There’s not as much stigma in evangelical/Baptist churches with getting married age 30 – 35.

    Try being age 40+ as a Christian and still not married. That’s (or late 30s) is when a lot of the bias against singles by churches, American Christian culture, really starts being obvious.

  173. singleman wrote:

    Nine years ago, Albert Mohler gave a talk at the New Attitude Conference, sponsored by Joshua Harris, in which he called delay of marriage a “sin” and lambasted single men in particular. The talk was later broadcast on the “Family Life Today” radio program. I couldn’t find the transcript, but I found an essay Camerin Courtney wrote in response titled, “Is Singleness A Sin?”
    http://www.crosswalk.com/11621125/

    Hiya! I found a transcript of the talk that you were looking for:

    http://www.marriageresourcesforclergy.com/site/Sermons/sermon08.htm

    All I can say is: Welp.

  174. @ Lynn:

    You make it sound so simple, to decide to quit your job. Given the current unemployment rates in America, this is far from simple. In the particular case of my dad, it would probably involve changing careers as well which makes it even less simple. Sometimes quitting a job would involve breaking the Biblical command to provide for your family. You seem to me, and I think to others, to be oversimplifying a very complex and personal issue.

  175. Lynn wrote:

    But once you have kids you have a commitment larger than your career

    Having kids/being married is not more stressful, harder, more of a commitment than being unmarried, living alone, having a career, yet you keep presenting it like it is.

    When you are single, if you live alone, you have nobody to catch your back and help you with practical things (mow the lawn), no emotional support (cry on shoulder after bad day at work), no financial help, and goodness knows that church only wants to help those who least need it (the married couples age 25 – 45 with kids at home).

  176. @ Hester: Agreed.

    For people in a certain economic bracket, it might be easy to quit a job (though these days, I kind of doubt that), but for an awful lot of people, there’s little-zero choice. the thing is, most folks who are in a certain income bracket don’t often get to know those who are in the kinds of situations where there just isn’t much choice. (Unless one of their peers suffers a job loss, as so many middle- and upper middle-class folks have in recent years). Another factor is that things have changed a great deal from the days of company towns and company jobs for life. (You can see that in places like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo…)

    I know people who felt like they had little-zero choice in their working lives because they were expected to go into certain professions; work for certain companies, etc. I’m sure that’s still true for the vast majority of people in this world, though it may well not be true for a lot of people in upper/upper-middle class income brackets in the US and Canada.

  177. @ Daisy:

    “One odd thing I’ve noticed about many Christian (and on occasion Non Christian) married people (and it’s usually females, the males don’t seem as prone to this), is that their entire identity revolves around being “wife and mom.”

    Many (not all) are unwilling or incapable of talking about movies, politics, books, religion, sports, television, hobbies, etc.

    I think that’s why the moment many married women at a church realize you are never married with no kids, they feel awkward and at a loss for how to relate to you.

    Which is sad. Your identity is not wrapped up in having a husband or kids (or should not be).”
    ********************

    Daisy — that’s a little hurtful. Let me set you straight on a few things:

    I’ll generalize, but it’s it’s based on all moms I’ve ever known or observed, be they christian, atheist, agnostic, jewish, hindu, moslem, buddhist, european, asian, african, native american, middle eastern, or cultural combinations of these:

    a mom is the last priority in a family. Pretty much 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

    A mom will typically make sure her family’s needs are met before she tends to her own (which means this would be an unusual occurance). On many days there isn’t time for a shower in the morning. Her hands and feet are usually rough and dry, her hair unstyled, and legs hairy because there is not enough time and/or energy left in a day to tend to them. There is often not enough disposable income to justify going to the movies. The only time to read a book is after everyone is asleep, assuming she is able to remain awake long enough to do that.

    Hobbies? A luxury many go without due to lack of time, energy, money, and more importantly lack of self-awareness. I’ll explain: being a mom of babies up through perhaps 6th grade is all-consuming. It’s not only the tasks, the trips to the dr., sleepless nights due to many things like child illness/throw up mess/bed-wetting/nightmares, the volunteer obligations with preschool, grammar school, church, and extracurricular things…. it’s the weight of worry and concern — every pain and hurt a child feels the mom feels it along with them as if she was directly experiencing it. Most moms I know are sleep-deprived simply because of this.

    I’ll stop generalizing and speak for myself: my kids are 11, 9, and 7. It’s been over 11 years since I’ve really thought about me, what I like, what I want, what interests me — simply because there isn’t time or energy for it, let alone having the means to pursue it. My talents & interests have all been put on hold.

    If I or any mom is unwilling or incapable of talking about movies, politics, books, religion, sports, television, hobbies, etc. it is because we don’t have the energy or time to begin to get informed or even enjoy them so that we are able to engage in conversation.

    It is my dream to be able to do these things. It is my dream to be able to have a rich conversation about these things. It will happen. Just later on.

    My one luxury in life is being able to read this blog and collect my thoughts in order to comment, in 3 minute snippets there & there.

    I do not intend any guilt trip here, & these are not complaints. They are realities.

  178. Lynn wrote:

    But at the end of the day I could have quit. I never considered parenting a job I could quit.
    And to be blunt I didn’t get it until I had kids.

    But unmarrieds with responsibilities don’t get to quit. They don’t get to quit their responsiblities, jobs, etc. You’re still trying to make it sound like being single is a walk in the park and a breeze compared to being married with kids, which I don’t buy.

  179. Lynn wrote:

    And again, someone with a spouse and/or kids has more MUST coordination points in their life than the same person without a spouse or kids. That’s just a fact.

    No it’s not. That’s your assumption.

  180. Lynn wrote:

    @ Hester:
    Again, he could quit his job.

    No, he can’t, not unless he wanted his family and himself to starve and go homeless.

  181. Lynn wrote:

    All I ever said was that a single person has a way easier time deciding how to spend their time. That’s it. I believe it. I lived it for over a decade. If you disagree well we disagree.
    And I define single as having no other people as dependents.

    Not all single people have an easy time deciding on how to spend their time.

    Just because they don’t have a kid to watch doesn’t mean they have no other responsibilities on their plates that they can “choose” to do away with.

    You said,”I define single as having no other people as dependents.”

    But there are divorced people with no other adults at home, and they have custody of the kids.

  182. Lynn wrote:

    @ Daisy:
    As I said, more than a decade on both sides gives me some experience to use as a guide.

    You don’t really have any experience at being single, since being single in your 20s (especially in Christian circles) is far, far, far, different from still being single in your late 30s, 40s, etc.

    It’s considered a bit more normal (in many churches) to still be single in your 20s.

    In some hyper- conservative churches, being single at age 26 – 29 might be thought a tad weird, but people at church don’t really find it as odd when you’re 27 and still single, as when you hit 36, 38, 40, and are still not married.

    You do realize that being never married by age 40 (or 50) is a lot different than being single in your 20s?

    Because I get the impression from reading your posts that you think being single at age 35, 45, 50 is the about the same as being single when you were a college student at age 20.

    It’s a lot different being never married on a whole host of levels (religious, practical considerations, etc) when you are 40 years old or older than when you are 20 or 25 and single.

  183. @ Numo & Daisy:

    There’s a reason why financial gurus advise families to keep 3-6 months of expenses in savings: it covers the potentiality of a long-term job loss. Of course, most families do not have this kind of money stowed away, which is why these same financial gurus say that most American families are only 3 months away from being homeless. Though in this economic climate, even 3-6 months of expenses would not be enough to cover the amount of time some have been unemployed. I would not quit a job or turn down work nowadays.

  184. @ Daisy:

    “When you are single, if you live alone, you have nobody to catch your back and help you with practical things (mow the lawn), no emotional support (cry on shoulder after bad day at work), no financial help, and goodness knows that church only wants to help those who least need it (the married couples age 25 – 45 with kids at home).”

    You also, esp. if you are female, have to take full responsibility for your personal safety, which is easier or harder depending on where you live. My dad’s single female cousin got her throat slit in her apartment by an acquaintance and all she did was answer the door. I’m still living at home but I know that personal security requires a lot of vigilance in many cases.

  185. Anon 1 wrote:

    “After reading this far, your attitude towards singles sounds horrible.”
    Daisy, read what he said:
    “But having children is the biggest commitment to my time I ever made”
    To HIM. He is speaking for himself and HIS time. He saw the children as coming first to everything else.. I do not understand why this attitude is horrible? It does not automatically put down other’s choices to remain single.

    Yes, he is putting down other people – and not every thing that happens to us singles is by “our choice.”

    Several of us single people pointed out to him that some events in our lives were not due to our choices, or being single was not our choice.

    If he finds raising a child so difficult and time consuming, he had “the choice” to put the child up for adoption.

    Also, he keeps assuming his particular situation is true of or for every one.

    He keeps discounting the struggles and pressures of unmarried people, as though nothing can ever, ever compare to being married with having a child.

    As though single people have no obligations or time constraints they deal with too. Or that theirs can never, ever even begin to compare to having a child.

    Being single seems to be portrayed as being an absolute cake walk to his particular situation.

    Most churches, and Christian culture in general, already caters to him and his needs (married with a child), so I find it strange he’s on this thread complaining about being married with kids, or how hard it is.

  186. Lynn wrote:

    If that makes me arrogant so be it.

    No, it’s your continued implication that nothing is as draining, stressful, or time consuming as having a child – as though singles don’t have stress, time constraints, or problems that they deal with as well.

    Every thing in the lives of singles is chalked up to their “choices,” even though many things that happen to un-marrieds is not by their choice.

  187. Hester wrote:

    You make it sound so simple, to decide to quit your job. Given the current unemployment rates in America, this is far from simple. In the particular case of my dad, it would probably involve changing careers as well which makes it even less simple. Sometimes quitting a job would involve breaking the Biblical command to provide for your family. You seem to me, and I think to others, to be oversimplifying a very complex and personal issue.

    I did quit my job. A nice well paying white collar job indoors with a lot of freedom as to how I spent my time. In a recession. Long ago. And worked evenings doing temp work in a factory to make sure I could pay the bills until I was able to find work like I wanted. It was hard. A PITA. But I did it.

  188. Daisy wrote:

    You don’t really have any experience at being single, since being single in your 20s (especially in Christian circles) is far, far, far, different from still being single in your late 30s, 40s, etc.

    I guess I’ll bow out of my singledness beats your singledness.

  189. elastigirl wrote:

    I stand by my original comments.

    About any time I’ve tried talking to married with kids women, they only want to talk about themselves (ie, their kids, husbands, etc).

    I do have one married- with- a- young- son (he’s about ten years old now) who works full time, yet she manages to chat about diverse topics that have nothing to do with parenting or marriage, when we get together.

    She talks about politics, art, her love of horses. She asks me what I’m up to, so it’s not one-sided.

    Even on the internet, it’s the norm. When married women with kids are online – the instance when you’d think they would be willing to discuss topics of interest to both parties – the conversations often reverts to mommy and wife things.

  190. Daisy wrote:

    No, it’s your continued implication that nothing is as draining, stressful, or time consuming as having a child – as though singles don’t have stress, time constraints, or problems that they deal with as well.
    Every thing in the lives of singles is chalked up to their “choices,” even though many things that happen to un-marrieds is not by their choice.

    I guess we differ on what a choice is. In my mind most of our lives is a choice. Having kids is a choice. Picking a career is a choice. Choices have consequences. I accept that.

    My point about kids is that once I had them they came first. Anything that didn’t allow them to come first choice I would not make. Career, standard of living, type of car, whatever. That’s my position. And I quit jobs, drove older cars, and gave up on some opportunities to raise my kids. My choices. Other people make other choices. So be it.

  191. Daisy wrote:

    If he finds raising a child so difficult and time consuming, he had “the choice” to put the child up for adoption.
    Also, he keeps assuming his particular situation is true of or for every one.
    He keeps discounting the struggles and pressures of unmarried people, as though nothing can ever, ever compare to being married with having a child.
    As though single people have no obligations or time constraints they deal with too. Or that theirs can never, ever even begin to compare to having a child.
    Being single seems to be portrayed as being an absolute cake walk to his particular situation.

    Never said any of that. And if I got to be homeless and destitute my kids would go up for adoption.

    Again I’m saying my kids come first. Ahead of all the things you mention as important in your lives. My life. My decision. Not yours I get that.

  192. Daisy wrote:

    No, it’s your continued implication that nothing is as draining, stressful, or time consuming as having a child – as though singles don’t have stress, time constraints, or problems that they deal with as well.

    Did not say that. Nothing is as important to me as my kids when raising them. Are other things as stressful. Sure. But that’s not what I said.

  193. Lynn wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    You don’t really have any experience at being single, since being single in your 20s (especially in Christian circles) is far, far, far, different from still being single in your late 30s, 40s, etc.
    I guess I’ll bow out of my singledness beats your singledness.

    You honestly have no idea what it’s like to be never married at age 40+. It is not the same as being single at age 20 – 30 at all.

  194. Daisy wrote:

    Yes, he is putting down other people – and not every thing that happens to us singles is by “our choice.”

    Again. Didn’t say that.

    Maybe some of the singles here have a chip on their shoulder and I accidentally bumped it.

    Anon 1 seems to understand what I’m saying. I need to move on tonight. Things to do. And this discussion is going nowhere.

  195. Lynn wrote:

    I did not “choose” to be single.

    Being single- with- no- kids is not easier than being married with a kid… but you keep implying that it is.

  196. Subject change time. Can anyone reading tell me if you have heard pastors or church leaders say single people cannot serve in leadership positions?

  197. Lynn wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    Yes, he is putting down other people – and not every thing that happens to us singles is by “our choice.”
    Again. Didn’t say that.
    Maybe some of the singles here have a chip on their shoulder and I accidentally bumped it.
    Anon 1 seems to understand what I’m saying. I need to move on tonight. Things to do. And this discussion is going nowhere.

    Lynn wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    No, it’s your continued implication that nothing is as draining, stressful, or time consuming as having a child – as though singles don’t have stress, time constraints, or problems that they deal with as well.
    Did not say that. Nothing is as important to me as my kids when raising them. Are other things as stressful. Sure. But that’s not what I said.

    You’ve reflected it all evening in your attitudes, and you have implied it.

    You still think being single from 20 – 33 is the same as being still single at age 40+ – it is not.

  198. Daisy wrote:

    You honestly have no idea what it’s like to be never married at age 40+. It is not the same as being single at age 20 – 30 at all.

    Exactly. And single (never married or with kids) people have no idea what it’s like to be married with kids. So there. Now we’re even. Neither side can comment on the other because neither has any idea of the other’s life.

  199. Daisy wrote:

    Being single- with- no- kids is not easier than being married with a kid… but you keep implying that it is.

    Will you agree that it’s different?

    And for me being single was much easier but since I got married at 33 that doesn’t count. So you win.

  200. dee wrote:

    Subject change time. Can anyone reading tell me if you have heard pastors or church leaders say single people cannot serve in leadership positions?

    On some blogs (I didn’t save the links), I have seen singles say that they have been turned away from leadership roles or other roles in churches because churches only want married people to serve those positions.

    A lot of churches assume that some verse from the New Testament that talks about a church elder/pastor being the husband of one wife – that it excludes never married, divorced, widowed people from those positions.

    I saw one married pastor say somewhere that after his wife died, his church made him step down (they didn’t want an unmarried minister, even though he was previously married), and after that, at that church (and I think others he went to later), churches would not permit him to lead even singles ministries, because they wanted only married people to fill that role.

    This unmarried guy could not get hired to work as a pastor based on his marital status, but I think you already linked to this?-
    Unmarried Pastor, Seeking a Job, Sees Bias

  201. Lynn wrote:

    And for me being single was much easier but since I got married at 33 that doesn’t count. So you win.

    Do you not appreciate that it’s considered “normal” by most Christians for you to be in single in your 20s, but not when you are late 30s and age 40+?

    When you are 20s, and even up to 34/35, you are not yet considered “odd ball” by most Christians for not being married.

    Christians do not yet begin to assume that you are homosexual, or have “issues,” when you are single up to about 35.

    Once you get to 35 years old (and particularly 40), and are still single, that is when the real discrimination and hurtful stereotypes begin in most churches and Christian culture.

    Once you get to your late 30s, and hit 40, you are either completely ignored, or treated with suspicion.

    Nobody helps you in any area of your life when you are over the age of 35 and still single.

    Your parents are aging or dead, etc, and the church does not help with any of the particular challenges older singles face (most churches only help married people age 25 – 45 who have children at home, and one or two other pet groups, such as unsaved homeless people).

  202. Oy.

    We’ve all stated points repeatedly.

    maybe we need to follow Dee’s advice and try to get onto another aspect of this topic. Because the current discussion is totally stalled out.

  203. Lynn wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    You honestly have no idea what it’s like to be never married at age 40+. It is not the same as being single at age 20 – 30 at all.
    Exactly. And single (never married or with kids) people have no idea what it’s like to be married with kids. So there. Now we’re even. Neither side can comment on the other because neither has any idea of the other’s life.

    No, because I do have an idea, LOL.

    I’m a Christian who grew up in a church and Christian culture that assumes everyone gets (or will get) married by 25 and have a kid.

    If you do not fit that life story (married with kid by age 25 – 35), it does not register.

    Tons of sermons are aimed at parents and married people.

    There are social functions by churches and ministries that do nothing but meet the needs of married people with kids.

    There are no equivalents for never-married past the age of 35.

    I am not divorced, so “divorce care” classes don’t apply to me.

    You continue to assume that being single at age 40+ is the same as being single at age 25 or 30, and that being single at any life stage is so much easier and has less responsibility than being married with a child.

  204. numo wrote:

    Oy.
    We’ve all stated points repeatedly.
    maybe we need to follow Dee’s advice and try to get onto another aspect of this topic. Because the current discussion is totally stalled out.

    His attitude is wide spread in Baptist and evangelical churches, a complete ignorance about the difficulties and biases older singles face, which is one reason (of several) I stopped attending church.

  205. @ Lynn:

    “I did quit my job. A nice well paying white collar job indoors with a lot of freedom as to how I spent my time. In a recession. Long ago. And worked evenings doing temp work in a factory to make sure I could pay the bills until I was able to find work like I wanted.”

    I am glad your debt structure, budget, etc. and your mental state allowed you to do this. There are personal reasons I cannot disclose why this would not work in my family, but suffice to say it would not, in any way. Not all people are called to, or able to do, the same things.

  206. @ Daisy:

    Daisy, why so harsh?? moms feel like non-persons, who need the very respect and understanding you desire to receive for yourself. you’re being deeply hurtful here.

    i will move on to the subject change now.

  207. @ Daisy: Yes, well… you two are going around in circles at this point, and it’s Dee’s blog.

    So she can direct comments if she sees there’s a problem.

  208. Lynn wrote:

    I’ll ask the singles. How many of you go to your friends’ kids’ swim meets, dive meets, Lacrosse games, band competitions, carpool, etc… If you’re not there you’re out of a lot of the loops.

    Haven’t read all the comments, but I had to respond to this.

    I am single, never married, no kids. My dearest friend has two sons. In the time we have been friends, she was married, divorced and now remarried.

    And I was at the boys little league games (yes, even the try-outs in late Feb…. and I live in Colorado), every basketball game – even out of town – every concert, parade, play, award ceremony – even the single amazing quiddich match…..because we are friends and those boys are a part of that friendship.

    When she had to go out of town for business, I stayed with the boys. No charge or ever consideration of such. We’re friends….and her time availability fluctuates greatly. That’s life. But she always seeks me out when she has a few free minutes. She knows my schedule and tries to coordinate her free time with that and I do the same.

    I’m puzzled by a friendship in which the married would not want to carve time out here and there for a single friend and I’m puzzled by the single friend that wouldn’t want to go to the kid’s stuff. But that’s just me….

  209. jumping again, not having read anything since a half hour ago or so.

    Daisy, I came on too strong in my communicating — i apologize. Each of us is speaking out of our frustration if not pain. And perhaps romanticizing what’s on the other side of the fence. In all honesty, much of the time I pine to be solo.

    Being single is tough, being married is tough, motherhood is tough, fatherhood is tough. None of these are things to romanticize about.

    There are very good sides about all of those things, as well.

    If we were to spend some time on the advantages and the up-side to our own situation I think we’d surprise even ourselves.

  210. For people willing to put up with my more deliberately cantankerous rantings I have proposed that the nuclear family that Americans, but particularly conservative evangelical Protestants, have taken for granted in preaching and social ideals was so much the product of a combination of New Deal policies and programs that it’s 1) unrealistic to make the nuclear family the foundation for Christian teaching on family life and ethics in the public sphere and 2) that it probably won’t survive more than a generation or so depending on how the American job market and economy changes.

    Bring back a conception of family as more extended and new-but-old practical possibilities come to mind. At the risk of framing this admittedly screedy idea in personal terms, way back before a certain guy could afford to have the nuclear family ideal with more than one Tivo or home theater his approach was different. The community talk was matched with the economic reality that none of those 20-somethings in the earliest years of MH could actually afford the nuclear family ideal and so the concept of social cohesion and family expanded accordingly. Then the more successful the brand got the more the “traditional” nuclear family began to be tacitly or explicitly trotted out as the way to love Jesus and that’s part of the slow process of how the place began to seem more and more awkward to me and others.

  211. Trying to compose my many, many thoughts on “singles and the church.”

    1) My sense is that many of us here at TWW (though not all – bear with me to the Aussies, Brits, and other nationalities here) are in some form “refugees” from the conservative American evangelical/fundamentalist churches.

    Whether reformed or charismatic, I think we can agree that in the last 25+ years, many, many of these churches/entire denominations have embraced or moved toward emphasizing complementarianism in some form – from the establishment of entire new denominations that do not allow women as pastors/deaconesses to full-on FIC/”quiverfull” movements that are held up as normative.

    In between you’ve got the general elevation of the mythical 1950s American nuclear family as superior (regardless of the stark fact of the high evangelical Christian divorce rate in the U.S.) to the lengthy “marriage series” or even the annual Mother’s Day sermon having centrality in the church calendar.

    My point is, if we’re talking about singles and the church, I think that for many of us, it’s about “singles and the evangelical/fundamentalist U.S. church.”

    2) Look at what our Catholic friends here have said (which has been heartening to me personally): singleness is not an “issue” as it is in the U.S. evangelical church. I think this has to do with the high esteem placed on celibacy for single priests/nuns as well as the RCC’s far older and more well thought out (compared to the American evangelical church) doctrines (and high estimation) of vocation and service.

    3) Back to #1 – CLEARLY the fundamentalist/evangelical church is the U.S. sees itself as the institutional and political bulwark against ongoing societal changes including the civil rights movement, feminism, gay rights, legalized abortion, post-modernism etc. and has engaged in what it deems “the culture wars.”

    Right now, in 2013, this reactionary stance of the evangelical church to the culture at large is in a critical point as demographics and attitudes have now reached the tipping point against the evangelical church.

    The evangelical church in the 70s and 80s wedded itself to politics very deliberately, became “the Christian right” and now finds itself clinging furiously and rigidly to this position, against the now-majority demographics/economic realities/cultural assumptions of U.S.

    Of course, it would be unseemly to admit that evangelicalism hitched its wagon to worldly politics, so evangelical leaders started distorting doctrine to back up their poltical position – introducing “biblical complementarianism”, the decidedly UN-biblical idea that singleness is a sin, and emphasizing proof-texted “biblical gender roles” and “headship” blah blah blah.

    Gotta keep up appearances, don’t you know – heaven forbid anyone point out that evangelical churches dove headfirst into electoral politics and the resultant power with the enthusiasm of your typical Chicago ward boss.

    4) The fallout for singles in the evangelical church as described in point #3 is that a) younger hetero singles in their 20s – 30s will feel intense pressure to get married ASAP and b) older 35+ singles, be they hetero, gay, divorced, or widowed have no real place to fit in. These older singles do not easily fit into the political narrative of “evangelicals as a bulwark in the culture wars” and so there is no place for them.

    The U.S. culture war/family values meme is the ONLY game in evangelical town (as opposed to, say, a Christ-centered focus on vocation, an emphasis on pastoral care for the community as a whole, or even Catholic social justice), singles don’t fit the political culture war meme (they threaten it), hence they are marginalized.

    5) There’s fallout from the evangelical culture wars for marrieds, too – working women or households with stay-at-home dads are seen as inferior. Full time moms are under tremendous pressure to be exemplary domestic goddesses with perfect families (preferably homeschooled of course) and dads better be perfect providers and leaders with their loins a-girded, 24/7.

    In summary, singles in U.S. evangelical churches, particularly older 35+ singles, are SOL because of evangelicalism’s rigid embrace of its role in the political culture wars and the ensuing perks of power that role offers, even though the realities of demographics and social attitudes have now bypassed evangelicalism.

  212. Daisy wrote:

    Christians do not yet begin to assume that you are homosexual, or have “issues,” when you are single up to about 35.

    My sisters have asked me at least three times if I’m gay. That started when I was in my 20s. I’m 34 now and they probably still wonder from time to time if I’m a lipstick lesbian, forever in the closet, afraid to come out. One of them has stated that it’s impossible to stay single, but I prove her wrong every day. I know they are confused because I’ve never dated anyone, but I really hope they’ve come to terms with the issue and that they’ll not harass me about it again in the future.

  213. Another point I’ll try to make briefly – and not necessarily church-related – is that the U.S. trend of “helicopter parenting” of the last 20 years or so has definitely furthered the gulf between families and singles and their ability to interact with each other.

    I know “helicopter parenting” is a really loaded and negative phrase, so I apologize, but I can’t think of any other way to describe it.

    Bottom line is that raising kids according to 2013 normative expectations for parental involvement in your kid’s school, church, sports, hobbies, and social lives (whether or not parents meet those expectations) requires a massive investment of time, money, and effort by adults.

    It leaves very little time for anything else, including developing adult relationships outside of the family unit.

    Personally I think helicopter parenting is primarily a backlash by Gen Xers (of which I am one) to overcompensate for our experiences as both the first generation of “latch key kids” and victims of broken homes due to the spread of no-fault divorce in the 60s/70s.

    There are a ton of other reasons for HPs, too of course.

  214. @ Oasis:

    My nominal Catholic grandmother (not my mom’s mom who I referenced upthread) asked me if I was gay last year and I’m only 22. No boyfriend = gay. Apparently.

  215. @ Rafiki:

    Helicopter parenting extends past childhood in many cases. College professors have horror stories where students, immediately after receiving a bad grade, called their parents and handed their cell phone to their professor so the parent could convince/tell the professor to “be nice” and change the grade, etc.

  216. Addendum @ Rafiki:

    And I do agree that HP is definitely not positive. Widening the interaction gap between singles and marrieds is only one of its negative consequences. And frankly probably one of the least negative.

  217. Another big contributing factor to the culture of “helicopter parenting” is the big population shift to the far-flung sprawling modern American exurbs in the last 30 years.

    For all the amenities of exurban life including lower cost of living, bigger houses, more space, lower crime rates, better schools, etc., there’s no doubt that raising kids in the exurbs calls for greater, more intensive parental involvement.

    1979 – 1986 were the years I went from 6th grade to high school graduation (roughly age 10/11 to 17/18). My family lived in a very close-in suburb of Washington, D.C. My life as a kid in those years as well as my parent’s involvement looks NOTHING like the life of kids that age today and their parents.

    A few examples: I walked to school by myself and then later took the bus. I was involved in one sport outside of school which I competed in pretty seriously. I took public transportation 3 – 5 days a week to get to this activity. For the most part I can’t recall either parents or siblings attending competitions much past the age of 14 or so.

    All other kid/teen social stuff – seeing friends, going to the movies, going to the mall or our town’s retail center – were fully accessible by public transportation.

    As for school? I think my parents attened one mandatory “parents night” at school once a year up to 8th grade just to meet the teacher. That was it. I did my own homework, I have no memories of either parent assisting me closely with my homework other than to ask if I’d finished it. When it came time to studying for SATs and writing college essays and filling out college applications, I did them all by myself, no parental input (not a boast, but I went to an Ivy League school so I must have done O.K.).

    As far as family social life together – it was most definitely centered on my parent’s interests, not the kid’s interests. Our family socialized with dad’s core group of friends from his college years, relatives of the same age as mom and dad who lived in the area, and dad’s and mom’s work colleagues. Family vacations and activities done together centered around dad’s sporting and collecting interests and mom’s interest in arts and antiques. My parents were not really friends with the parents of the kids in my sport or even at school really.

    The contrast with the lifestyle of the average exurban American family of 2013, with the need for parents to transport kids everywhere and mandatory parental involvement in their sports/hobbies and academics, couldn’t be more stark!

    I only bring this all up to say that it contributes to what Hester calls the “interaction gap” between married w/kids and singles for sure.

  218. Eagle

    Thank you for your comment at 1:54 AM (when you should be asleep!) It is vital that we learn to walk in wach other’s shoes. Jesus did that for us and now we must for others.

  219. Hester

    BTW-some stats indicate that the later a person married, the lowere the risk of divorce. I am waiting for the fallout from the pushing of young marriages. If I had married a boyfriend at 18-it would have been an unmitigated disaster.

  220. @Hester – I’m thinking you may be in the area where I grew up. I lived in Southeastern Connecticut (Norwich) and my Dad worked building subs for General Dynamics.

  221. Being the youngest of six siblings, my sisters often asked when I was getting married. So I turned the tables and told them when they made positive comments about marriage, then I would consider. They admitted I was right and never bothered me again!

    When my last sister married, my relatives were at my parents’ house after the ceremony, and when I was with a bunch of my aunts in the kitchen, I made an announcement that I didn’t know when I would be getting married, and right then I was perfectly happy the way I was, so no one was allowed to ask me when I would be getting married. Most of my family, knowing me well, just smiled and nodded. I thought my demure aunt from Canada might have a stroke, though.

  222. re: helicopter parenting. I realize I grew up a long time ago, but I was shocked when my friends spent so much time helping their children with their homework. I was involved in a lot of outside activities, but I also was the only child in school at the time, and I didn’t overdo it by any means. I had friends who limited their children to one sport each season.

  223. @ Daisy:

    Any preacher or speaker who considers the state of singleness to be sinful comes dangerously close, IMHO, to calling Jesus Christ a sinner.

  224. Eagle wrote:

    I don’t think you’re view of work is very understanding in today’s economy. Life has changed…and sometimes you do what you can in order to make ends meet.

    I really do think I understand. My earlier reference to quitting a good job ($$$ and doing something I liked) was about a job that was really bad for my mental health and that of my family. And to make ends meet we cut way back on expenses and I took basically manual labor work at night to pay the bills and allow me to look for other work. During that period at times I put in 80 hour weeks at a factory doing nothing that could be considered white collar work. It was hard on me and meant we were very short on money for a few years. But it was what I had to do for the good of my family.

  225. Can’t say it’s a comfortable thing reading the general indictment against those who are parents.

    As far as academics are concerned, the competition to get into colleges/universities is steep. The cost of living requires jobs that pay well which require a high skillset which requires intellectual development and expertise which requires higher education. Parents are remiss if they do not challenge their kids in this area, help their kids develop good study skills, attention to detail, good executive skills (learning how to be organized, have goals, know how to reach them). This simply does not happen without an allocation of time on the parents’ part.

    My parents were not involved in my study habits. My grades were decent, not great. I got into a good college. The situation is vastly different now.

  226. @ Lynn:

    I don’t suppose you’re the primary caregiver of your elderly parents, one of whom is in mid-stage Alzheimer’s? My single brother is. He took on that job because he was (and is) unemployed. He’s also nearly 50 years old. And yes, as his older (single) sister, I worry about his future, since he’s not worked a paying outside job the past four years, but I’m also terribly grateful he’s doing it, because the alternative would have been assisted care for my father.

    Which reminds me, I do have a job that I have to go to, I have things I have to do outside of my job, my two furry dependents expect me to get up every morning and feed them, etc., etc. Single life isn’t quite the carefree thing you seem to believe it is. Good grief…it’s just as much a grind as married life, there are different expectations and experiences.

  227. @ Southwestern Discomfort:

    I can’t go into the specifics. But yes we are dealing with an elderly parent. She has memory issues but not enough we want to pull the pin on the grenade. I.E. take away all decisions from her. And with multiple siblings with incredibly different opinions on game plans with care, real estate, etc… and no one yet totally “in charge”. Yes it can be demanding. Currently takes about 8 to 15 hours a week out of our time. And that number is climbing.

  228. dee wrote:

    Subject change time. Can anyone reading tell me if you have heard pastors or church leaders say single people cannot serve in leadership positions?

    I can’t recall every hearing that in person. However, I visited a church some years ago and later checked out their website. That church said that only married men were eligible for the office of ruling or teaching elder, citing 1 Timothy 3:2. That was the first time I’d ever seen that verse used to disqualify singles from leadership rather than polygamists.

  229. singleman

    I believe the church in America is preaching “american values” versus “biblical values.” Americans glorify the family as the basis for our society, in spite of the 50% dvorce rate. I do not mind if people want to discuss economic wellbeing and statistics. However, the church is supposed to be countercultural and based on biblical understanding. Sometimes that means we must take a different stand than the culture. 

  230. Yet, today’s churches tend to focus on married couples with families, relegating singles to “The Singles Ministry.”

    Sandwiched between “Alcoholics Ministry” and “Homosexuals Ministry” on the schedule.

    So, Paul need not apply, I guess. All of his talents and gifts would have been flushed down the toilet in favor of a married dude because a spouse is the key to superior spirituality, right?

    And the church gets a “twofer” — a FREE organist and pseudo-pastor for all the womens’ ministry.

  231. Eagle wrote:

    Some get married for the sole purpose of having sex. I think Mark Driscoll plays off this desire with his sex obsession. And I think this is why the divorce rate for Christians is high. People realize there is more to a marriage then just sex. Basically you can say that marriages in this case are for masturbation purposes.

    The formal name for this is “Marriage of Continence”, a marriage entered into only to legalize the sex.

    Married is Christianese for getting laid. And you see the same craziness.

  232. Daisy wrote:

    I’m a Christian who grew up in a church and Christian culture that assumes everyone gets (or will get) married by 25 and have a kid.

    If you do not fit that life story (married with kid by age 25 – 35), it does not register.

    Tons of sermons are aimed at parents and married people.

    There are social functions by churches and ministries that do nothing but meet the needs of married people with kids.

    There are no equivalents for never-married past the age of 35.

    Don’t forget that Marrieds do NOT associate with Singles. We’ll give them cooties or something.

  233. Daisy wrote:

    Some of us did not “choose” to be single, is another point that should be brought out.

    I was brought up in the tradition that if I had faith in God and asked God for a spouse, that I’d be married by age 30 or 35, but I never met anyone. (I was engaged, but we broke up.)

    Let me guess… Those that told you this all married at 18?

  234. First time poster. This has been an interesting discussion. I would like to point out a few things, if I may. From my perspective (currently attending a SBC), problems arise because of stereotyping. If you are a single female you have abundant free time to watch my kids. If you are married and have no kids or less than three are you being obedient to Gods plan to be fruitful and multiply! Heaven help you as a mother if you want to go out of town without your family! Your identity should be all about your kids or crafts or something related to your home.

    I think we all need to extend grace to each other and accept that we are all different, with different gifts that are all useful in the kingdom. If we were all the same life would be boring. What works/worked for me may not work for someone else.

    I’m sorry to be so wordy, but I can relate to pretty much what most people have said. Although I married at 25, we didn’t have kids until I was 30 (almost worse than being single in some people’s eyes).
    I’m just tired of the hurt that is being inflicted on people because their life doesn’t measure up to some preconceived notion of what someone thinks it should be.

  235. Tired

    Welcome to TWW. Great comment.

    “I think we all need to extend grace to each other and accept that we are all different, with different gifts that are all useful in the kingdom. If we were all the same life would be boring. What works/worked for me may not work for someone else.”

  236. Pingback: Singles in the Church: Treated with Respect and Dignity? | Spiritual Sounding Board UNITED STATES

  237. @ dee: You and Deb are performing a much needed service. Many people have become discouraged because they don’t fit the “right” mold. Thank you!

  238. Many churches in the SBC have banned single men from pastoring a church. This requirement and “must have two children” are published in the local newspapers. Of the 1000+ deacons in the county I live in, not one is a never married single. The president of the SBC considers being single a “sin.”

  239. John Morgan

    Welcome to TWW. Well, I guess that proves that even Presidents of the SBC can be unbiblical. Dang that Paul for staying single-screwed up the whole paradigm.

  240. I’m confused… I thought Paul was married? I wonder where I got that from.

    Thank you for posting this. I have recently been struggling with the focus on marriage and it being the “example” for the church. Even coming from the last church, which implied the concern of making your family an idol (spending too much time with my family instead of spending to spending too much time with my church “family”) to blatantly saying I’m supposed to be “married” to the church.

    I always try to discuss more than my family life around singles, but I struggle with feeling that I can’t be excited about my children around singles. Ugh..labels. So many people hurting. My theme song these days for the church is Kiss with a Fist by Florence and The Machine…

    Looking forward to reading the discussion here and on the next posts on this theme.

  241. Welcome, Tired! I can certainly agree with your excellent comment about stereotyping although I find this true mostly when it comes to women in the church. Men not so much perhaps because of the diversity of their individual career choices.