Still Single

I was reading an article on ChristianityToday.com when I came across the following quote from a message delivered to a group of singles at a Joshua Harris New Attitude Conference in 2004:

I'm going to speak of the sin that I think besets this generation. It is the sin of delaying marriage as a lifestyle option among those who intend someday to get married, but they just haven't yet. … 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. The longer you wait to get married, the more habits and lifestyle patterns you will have that will be difficult to handle in marriage. … If you're seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, or in your early twenties—what are you waiting for? -- Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

He went on to say that some are delaying marriage so that they can put their careers first or so sow their oats. As the author of the article eloquentlytly put it, "I don't know if I even have oats!"

To quote Bridget Jones when asked why their are so many single, working women these days, "I guess it doesn't help that under our clothes are entire bodies are covered in scales."

And this seems to be the attitude that our seminaries, other learning institutions, churches, and society in general take to explaining the emerging phenomenon of singledom. There must be something wrong with them. Though I have to admit that I believe society in general is doing a much better job at embracing singles than the church is doing. Hollywood and the publishing industry have done a great job at celebrating the single life through such TV shows, films and books as Friends, Sex and the City and Bridget Jones' Diary. It seems that society loves the idea and "freedom" of the single life.

However, while I appreciate and applaud the efforts to embrace singledom by society, I am left questioning and yearning for guidance of how I, someone with values and faith, live out the single life. The freedom of casual dating and sex, the materialism, tflagrantadisregardard for most things sacred, is not something that I can readily catch hold of. I long for the Church to step forward and take an active role in shaping me as a woman of God and a single. But instead I often run into walls like Dr. Mohler who seem to believe that sin or something just being wrong with me is the reason that I am not living the full life I was meant to live in God, i.e. marriage and family.

During a recent perusal of a well noted seminary's catalogue, I came across a class entitled "Ministry to Singles and Senior Adults." I hardly need tell you how offended I was. Really to honestly say that the lives of singles and senior adults are so similar that they should be lumped into one class? Or is the more subtle meaning "We haven't really figured out what to do with these two populations in the church so we're just going to through them together in one class"? I guess they couldn't really title it "Ministry to Outcast Populations in the Church" or "Ministry to the 'It's not so important to minister to' Populations".

Do I necessarily want to be single? Well, my answer is both yes and no. I look forward to what may lie ahead for me through marriage and a family. I want to understand Christ's love for the Church more clearly by understanding my husband's love for me. I want to understand God's love for me more clearly by knowing the intimate love of a husband and wife. BUT right now God is using my singleness to His glory, increasing the ministry He's given me, blessing me to know and understand myself better, and leading me to new and exciting paths in life. All of these things make me thank God that I am single and only have to deal with my own issues let alone someone else's.

I fear for the singledom crowd as more and more leave the Church because they cannot find a niche, because they feel isolated, because they continue in pressured expectations to find Mr. or Mrs. Right, etc. It's time that the Church truly begins to embrace singles and let aside old feelings that there must be something wrong with you if you are 24, 28, 34, etc. and still single.
We need the love, the hope, and the family!