A week ago, the ABC ran an article about the man drought apparent in Christian circles.*
It was a good article. It touched on many truths of contemporary Christian singledom. It took me back to my own single days in my late twenties, when I too lost hope of ever marrying.
In particular, three truths from the article resonated with me.
1. Shared beliefs
It is really hard to find someone in the church who shares your beliefs. It sounds counterintuitive, I know. You might be reading this and thinking, “But aren’t all Christians the same? As long as you both believe in the same God, isn’t that the main thing?”
”As long as you both believe in God, isn’t that the main thing?”
During my single years, I met and dated men who believed my spiritual beliefs were rubbish. They ridiculed me. They pressured me to have sex outside of marriage. They abused drugs and alcohol. They tried to change my Christian beliefs, to convince me I was in the wrong.
These were “Christian” men.
Apparently, there is a little more to being Christian than calling yourself a Christian. There is a little more to it than going to church and worshiping along with everyone else.
And I think it is super-important to find out if your non-negotiable beliefs align with those of a potential partner.
I encountered a lot of stigma when I was single. My married friends used to tell me to “enjoy this free time while you still have it”. They would encourage me to “use this time to become the ideal partner”.
The problem with such “encouragement” is it still assumes marriage is the ideal state and the ultimate Christian goal. My friends assumed I would get married some day. But the older I got, the more I seriously doubted their well-meaning encouragement.
The church definitely looks down on single people. Not all churches do of course, but the overwhelming consensus is that singles are less mature, less fulfilled and less spiritual than the holy marrieds.
Singles often get relegated to some spiritual waiting room.
Singles often get relegated to some sort of spiritual waiting room where ministry and the rest of life is on hold until the partner miraculously turns up. I have personally seen this in action, where long-term church members get funnelled into ministry the second they get married. But not before.
Singledom is not a sign of inferiority. And marriage is not a confirmation of maturity.
3. Another kind of family
I attended a small community church during my painfully single twenties. That church truly embodied the Christian ideal of spiritual family. They took me in – a family of one – as if I was a member of their own family.
They made room for me in their already-full lives.
They invited me to family events. They went shopping for me when I was sick. They took me out for meals. They wordlessly pressed money into my hands. They made room for me in their already-full lives. I felt welcomed, accepted, comfortable, at-home.
Not inferior at all.
Even when you are a family of one, it is possible to be part of a real spiritual family.
Are you aware of a “man drought” in the church? How do you respond to stigma toward single people? Have you witnessed genuine inclusion of singles in your faith community? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.