Singleness

My Married Pastor Asked Me for Input Before Preaching on Singleness. Here’s What I Said. (Part 3)

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If you missed it, refer to part 1 and part 2 of my three part series on what I wanted my own married pastor to consider before preaching on singleness. Below are my final six thoughts:

12. Singles do not necessarily have more free time than marrieds.
Singles are often encouraged from the pulpit to look after the children of married couples in the church during their “season” of singleness (let’s also be careful of calling this a season), often with the assumption that they have more free time to offer. While serving families in the church is good, the idea that singles have more time than marrieds is not necessarily true. Singles often fill their time with important commitments within their communities. When churches too quickly look to singles to fill all of their service gaps, it can leave us feeling more exploited than cared for. 

Not only should we avoid the assumption of excess free time, but we should also encourage marrieds to come alongside singles where they can, not just vice versa. Marrieds have a degree of social privilege in forging new relationships with singles, as they have automatic partners in conversation and hosting. For the socially anxious, introverted, or shy singles, it can be difficult to reach out to a married couple by yourself. The built-in social partnerships provided in marriage are a blessing and privilege to be stewarded.

13. Singles should not just be used for children’s ministry.
It’s common for single women in the church to feel like they’re only being used for children’s ministry and not invested in relationally.

When I made the difficult move to a new city, what I wanted more than anything was to be absorbed quickly and deeply into the local church community. To my pleasant surprise, one of the married elders approached my friend and I during one of our first weeks to talk about his community group. However, I came to find out that he was not reaching out for us to join his community group, but rather he was targeting us as new singles to ask if we’d serve in childcare during their meeting time. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

My current church is the first one I’ve ever attended where I’ve said “no” to serving in children’s ministry, as it takes place during the service time. It’s not due to an unwillingness to serve, but due to the spiritual isolation I sometimes face during the week that I’ve said, “no.” As a single, I’m responsible for my own spiritual well-being six days a week. I don’t have an everyday partner praying with me and discussing Scripture with me. I’m on my own, with the power of the Holy Spirit. And that’s okay. That’s the life, for now at least, that God has sovereignly ordained for me. But, Sunday is the one day where I have the opportunity to live my faith together, as we were designed to do. Sunday is my day to function spiritually in community: to meet with God and the church at once.

14. “Singleness is not Junior Varsity” – Ryan Griffith
Singleness does not define our standing before God, and it shouldn’t define our standing in our churches. Singles are whole and complete Christians, just as marrieds are. Singles often find that they are not asked to hold leadership roles in the church, and marrieds are given preference in all areas but childcare. Singles can be discluded from being considered from roles as simple as giving announcements to complex as creating Sunday School curricula and leading community groups, all of which they are as equally capable as marrieds of doing well. Their disclusion portrays a “less than” or “incomplete” status in the church. As I’ve often said, in many churches, I feel like I’m permanently relegated to the kids’ table, both literally and metaphorically due to my womanhood and my singleness. Remember, marriage is not the chief end of humanity. Singles are not half persons, but full and equal participants in the covenant community of God.

15. Dating is a modern concept and the societal function of marriage has changed.
Part of what makes navigating Scripture on marriage, singleness, and womanhood so difficult is the massive cultural shift we’ve undergone since the writing of the Bible. Marriage is no longer a fiscal necessity, but a choice. Women no longer need to be associated with a man to provide for themselves financially. Freedom of choice in dating and marriage is new for many, especially women. Not only are men given theological/other education, but likewise are women. Living independently as a woman is possible in a way that it never was in the history of the world. With that change comes a new set of challenges and questions. Thus, it’s important not to make black and white statements about dating, when the text was written during a time in which dating did not yet exist.

16. Earthly marriage is a finite institution.
In any conversation on this issue, it’s important to affirm that Earthly marriage is only temporary. When we reside in our eternal resting place with God, worldly barriers will fall away and we will all equally and fully commune with God himself.

17. Under the sun, the grass will always be greener on the other side.
Singles may feel like marriage would fill the inner void that plagues them. Infertile marrieds may think that children would fix their emptiness. Marrieds with children may feel that a better husband or a better wife would fix their missing piece. No matter who we are, no matter our life stage, we feel a yearning for more. It’s important not to fall prey to the lie that any Earthly thing will fill our emptiness. The true void we feel is a natural result of the fall and our broken relationship with God. Though he has redeemed us, He no longer walks with us in the garden. And so we wait. And so we feel the pain of broken intimacy. But one day, when all is made new once and for all, our hearts will finally experience the real fulfillment of all that we’ve been longing for. In this life, we feel like the grass is greener somewhere else because the grass will be greener somewhere else. Until then, we yearn, whether single, married, divorced, or widowed. The best is yet to come. As we yearn, let’s commit to yearn rightly.

This list concludes my three part series (following parts 1 and 2) on what I wanted my own pastor to know before he preached about singleness. What else would you add to the list? What would you want your own pastor to know?

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One thought on “My Married Pastor Asked Me for Input Before Preaching on Singleness. Here’s What I Said. (Part 3)

  1. Julie, Great thoughts. I’m very proud of you. I wish I could be your pastor… maybe one day again. Here’s to longing for that intimate community that heaven alone provides. You and the gang are missed and prayed for often.

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