Being single doesn't mean that you know nothing about love. Sometimes, being solo is wiser than being in a false relationship link
Today is the last regular posting day that we we publish the personal testimonies on singles. However, we will post the rest of the testimonies that we have receive over the next couple of weeks on days that we do not usually post which would include the weekends and Tuesdays. If we have overlooked any of your stories, please let us know ASAP and we will include them.
We have a number of topics in the pipeline including pastoral bullies, head coverings making a comeback, and some new developments in the publishing world.
This weekend, we will be enjoying the wedding of Deb's oldest daughter to a delightful young man. Thank you for bearing with us during this busy time.
Steven Crowder Lectures the Unmarried
Here is a link to a post, A Man's Top Five Reasons to Grow Up and Get Married, by Steven Crowder (bio here), who got married a few months ago and wrote an article about why he and his fiancee chose abstinence. This was sent by one of our readers who said "I know he means well with this marriage article, but to me it seems to encapsulate many of the stereotypes that have been mentioned by the singles who inhabit TWW. "You will note that he does not quote any studies for his claims. He just *knows* his assertions have been proven. I find his conclusions naive and insulting.
Marriage is a good deal because:
- You will make more money.
- You will have more sex.
- If you get married, you will not be a pathetic sloth and be more productive.
- If you are married, you will not dies sick, miserable and alone.
- You will have a better chance of surviving cancer.
- You won't be fat.
It is Mothers' Day. At the front door of my church, two ladies are giving out a little card to each mother passing to enter. I approach the door. Loudly, the one tells the other: “Don't give one to her. She's not a mother.”
On face value, that is just another true statement. But her intonation and facial expression said: “… and I am deeply suspicious of someone like her.” Perhaps it even meant: “How could a woman not want to be a mother?”
I am not a mother, because I could not find a husband, and I find the idea of choosing to have children alone and to raise them alone not in the best interest of children.
And the church should take at least part of the blame for me still being alone. They taught me that husbands should be spiritual leaders. I, who loved the Lord and spent a lot of time doing Bible study, thus ignored the interest shown by any young man who does not show evidence of working as hard for the Lord and understanding the Bible better than I do. How could such a man lead me spiritually? (I am over those “he must be the spiritual leader” ideas now, but I am still single.)
Here are a few things I experienced less than positively as a single woman in the church.
Not so good: When the church has a four-sermon series on consecutive Sunday mornings, preaching about (complementarian) marriage. What about the children, widows, divorcees and never-married people attending sermons? Would the pastors ever ignore married people to make the theme, four sermons in a row, Christian widow-hood? Or ignore every church member of another age for weeks, preaching about how to live as a Christian in high school?
Worse: The general feeling, when speaking to church ladies, that I am not one of them, that I do not belong among them. Is the church not supposed to be a family? And even though I may not be like most of the other sisters in this family, I need my brothers and sisters at least as much as anyone else does.
Really bad: Unasked for advice about singleness.
- “Don’t settle for second best.”
- “If you just pray and trust the Lord, he will give you a husband. (In many churches, there are up to three women in the church for every two men. I seriously doubt that, if all Christian women prayed for Christian husbands, God would give every one of them a husband.)
- “Young woman, you should wait for a good Christian man.”
- “Don’t pursue men. Live your life. Study. Do what your hand finds to do. He will come along when the time is right.”
- “Pursue men. You can’t just sit around and wait for them to come to you.”
- “Men don’t like strong, independent women, you feminist! It’s because you live a happy, independent life that men don’t want you!”
- “Men don’t like dependent women. Learn to be complete in Christ.”
The “settle and have kids” type sometimes back up their advice by introducing me to some slightly mentally handicapped guy who lives in somebody else’s back room somewhere. (“Hey, Retha, Jack is also single like you! See? There is already one thing you two have in common.”)
Downright ugly: Gender role doctrine. “God wants everyone to follow their biblical gender roles,” say the proponents of complementarianism. “Okay. What is my biblical gender role as a single woman? I cannot submit to a husband or raise my children well?” I ask.They do not answer. The message seems to be: “Well, everyone has gender roles. But you, Retha – you are not part of everyone.”
Am I unreasonable if this makes me feel excluded?
Even worse is the patriarchal side of complementarianism (Complementarianism and “Biblical” patriarchy are not two separate things, but related like brown is related to the color of mud.) These people can tell me what my gender role is. But their role is ridiculous (stay with my father? He does not even want me there) and certainly not taught in the Bible. Their “role” is downright offensive and shows hardly any overlap with Bible teaching, wisdom, justice or the gifts God gave me.
Dysfunctional Church Singles Groups
Just over 25 years ago I was involved in a singles group at the church I was then attending. One evening following the weekly meeting, one of the group's leaders asked to speak with me in private. He accused me of engaging in improper conduct toward 30 women in the group, which understandably left me shocked. He also accused me of lying.
He later revised the accusation to 30 instances involving 5 women. Eventually I talked to three women, clearing up misunderstandings with two of them. In a third case, I apologized for committing a relatively minor social faux pas. When we met, however, the woman first asked my forgiveness for speaking to someone else about the issue rather than speaking directly to me.
During this process I learned the leader espoused the belief that single men were supposedly the spiritual covering of single women. All these years later I've yet to find the Scriptural basis for such a belief. As it turned out, my story was only one of a number of incidents in a singles group which turned out to be dysfunctional in more ways than one. I left that group, which the church finally shut down, and eventually left that church as well.
Singles Are Around to Support Their Married Brothers and Sisters
I just got home from my church and really needed to vent about some things, and Wartburg is, I think, the one place I know and am becoming part of where I felt I could do this.
Today our student minister preached on 1 Peter 3:1-7:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.(NIV: Bible Gateway)
When we were told what the Bible reading was, my heart started to sink. Listening through the sermon I got more and more frustrated. I wish I could have asked questions at morning tea afterwards, but didn't trust my own composure.
I'll start at the beginning. First up he talked about why this is an important passage for everyone to hear, even those who are single (most at my church are or have been married, I am one of the odd ones out as a 28 year old single female), and how we singles really need to support our married brothers and sisters. Except, it's never ever said the other way around, and singleness and single Christians never seem to be seen for their value, or even talked about – there's an invisibility, or maybe (if we're lucky) a 'one day, singles, it'll happen for you!'
I have no problem with supporting my married brothers and sisters, I think I do that pretty well, I often will stand in for others leading singing, or doing creche,or doing other jobs when other people have something else on. But it'd be nice to feel more included sometimes, and to not be seen as the girl who can help out when those with 'more important' lives are busy. And it'd be nice to not have to sit through sermons that barely acknowledge the existence of my situation. I know this isn't what anybody means to do, but that's how it tends to feel.
The focus of the sermon was, of course, on wives being submissive. What this actually means wasn't talked about, and thinking back through other sermons I've heard on this and similar passages, I don't think it often is. Maybe the preachers are worried that spelling it out too practically will make people react?Very little time was spent on the second half of verse 1, which I'd have thought was most important: wives are to do this *so that *their non-Christian husbands sit up and take notice. It seems to me it's less an 'all women are to submit and be lesser than their husbands' argument, more a 'be humble and kind and pure so your husband goes 'wow, what's going on here?' and want to learn why you're like that and then hopefully comes to know Christ'. It's more about a change in behaviour which we all should go through when we become Christians and try and live lives that reflect Jesus, and how that change should be noticeable to those around us.
He did talk a little bit to husbands, and this bit was better than I'd expected. He did say that men aren't here told to rule their wives and tell them what to do, but to love and respect them. That was good, I thought. But what he said about the 'weaker partner' bit was strange. He tried to say it was only talking about physically weaker – yeah right! As if when it was written Peter and those the letter was written to (and the wider society) thought women were only weaker in strength. I think the minister preached it that way because then you avoid all those inconvenient questions about cultural context. Of course, he did on not so many words dismiss the modern cultural context that sees men and women as equal.
At the start he'd suggested he'd come back to singles later, and he did. Of course, his coming back to singles was basically:
'oh yeah, and there are single people and you need to live how God has shown you to live too, amen'.
I'd have preferred no further mention of singles than that dismissiveness. I guess when the sermons always come from married men they just don't get how it sounds to a single woman – or many married women, too.
Lydia's Corner: 2 Chronicles 11:1-13:22 Romans 8:26-39 Psalm 18:37-50 Proverbs 19:27-29