Singled Out

Singled Out

Six ways churches can embrace singles
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  • Making sure that issues that are pertinent to singles are raised in meetings, from the pulpit, while vision casting, at retreats, at conferences, etc.
  • Reframing policy, values, and expectations so that married people are no longer the gold standard.
3. Affirm that marital status isn’t correlated with godliness or maturity.

Married people aren’t more holy or godly or mature than single people. Married people haven’t arrived in a way that single people haven’t. Married people aren’t on track in a way that single people aren’t.

Many single people feel that they are automatically stereotyped as spiritually immature, morally dangerous, and unsuitable for leadership simply because they’re single. I’ve even heard pastors unapologetically and explicitly discriminate against single people: “I don’t want to hire a single woman to direct the worship arts ministry because she’ll probably end up sleeping with all of the guys in the band.” This is both hurtful and wrong.

There are plenty of Christian leaders who teach that married people are better candidates for holiness than single people. Consider the following statement from Dr. Albert Mohler: “In heaven, is the crucible of our saint-making going to have been through our jobs? I don’t think so. The Scripture makes clear that it will be done largely through our marriages.”

I disagree with Dr. Mohler. I don’t believe Scripture makes it clear that marriage is the primary route to holiness. Dr. Mohler doesn’t offer any scriptural basis for his assertion, either. I can see why some married church leaders are more inclined to believe that God makes saints exclusively or primarily through marriage. Research presented in “Seeing I to I: A pathway to interpersonal connectedness” in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that humans intuitively trust people who share their life experiences.

When I meet another single Christian woman in her 30s, I automatically envision how God has used her singleness to teach her wisdom, selflessness, self-control, joy, patience, and faith because that’s what God has done in my own life. I can’t easily envision the same for someone who is married simply because I haven’t experienced it for myself. So I’m less inclined to trust that God has used marriage to produce similar fruit in her life, but I can’t let my inadequate imagination limit my view of the Holy Spirit’s work in her.

The Holy Spirit isn’t boring; he doesn’t have a cookie cutter plan for how he brings forth fruit in people’s lives. Marital status isn’t correlated with godliness or maturity. John 15:5 says that we bear fruit when we are connected to God. Period.

4. Celebrate single people.

If you get married or have a baby, Christians will pull out all the stops to celebrate you. That’s a good thing! But Christians should also recognize that many single adults get celebrated with such fanfare. We might not be walking down the aisle or gestating a baby, but God is doing some amazing things in our lives. God is at work in the monumental—helping us obtain degrees, launch ministries and businesses, pay off college loans—and the mundane—helping us serve our neighborhoods and pray for each other.

We must celebrate what God’s doing in people’s lives, whether or not it’s similar to what God’s done in our lives. Find reasons to throw big parties for the single people in your community. If you have the resources, feel free to buy them expensive gifts as well. Single people use Kitchen Aid mixers, too.

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