The Marginalization of Singles in Church – What is the Solution to This?

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Singles seem to be getting the short end of the stick in Christian churches and are often marginalized, shamed, and literally left alone.  The Marginalization of Singles in Church – What is the Solution to This?

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Becky, found SSB through someone’s link and responded to an old article on singles: Singles in the Church: Treated with Respect and Dignity?

I want this place to be a “sounding board” where my readers can have a voice and express their concerns and so I asked Becky if I could repost her words in a new article.

Since blogging and hearing the voices of singles, I have been keeping my eyes and ears open to how churches treat them and it is troubling to see the way singles are marginalized, especially when we see that Jesus and Paul and so many key figures in Scripture were singles.  Why do we allow this to continue? What can we do to help remedy this situation? ~Julie Anne

 


 

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I also am single, served in my church and in a women’s Bible study for years. I don’t mind doing my share of serving but I do resent the fact that others think I have ‘extra time’ to serve and that simply is not true. Since there is no one else to help me at home or help pay for bills I have no choice but to work full-time and take care of the house, car, and everything myself as best as I can.

I did so much obliging and serving that I neglected my own needs for years. The state of my own home reflects this. I became completely worn out and embittered by that.

I finally took some steps down because I was so worn and was too easily angered.

I still serve and help out in various ways just not to the extent as before.

And as for getting help to meet a christian mate, I would really like that but for some reasons churches are reluctant to do this. Anybody have any ideas why that is? We come to church to grow in faith and for spiritual insight in regards to drawing closer to God, looking forward to our heavenly future, but also to find hope for our earthly future which for many would include marriage.

And that brings up another point, have you also noticed that in many churches today there are all these women only Bible studies and men only Bible studies? I feel like they are keeping us separated so that we can’t mingle and get to know a potential christian mate.  And that really hurts.   beckyg1003

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203 comments on “The Marginalization of Singles in Church – What is the Solution to This?

  1. NJ said,

    An earlier commenter mentioned what he called “married singles”. That made me think of all the Christian wives out there who are married to nonbelievers who won’t go to church. Many of them have children they are trying to raise in the faith, but alone. My mom and I were in this situation for most of my childhood, and beyond. A woman like that could be said to be single, spiritually speaking. She certainly needs plenty of love and support, which we usually had in our Christian and Missionary Alliance church.

    I was just reminded the other day about my grandmother by someone.

    They said my grandmother (who was widowed and living alone) was friends with a married lady from church. The MCL (married church lady) would come over to my grandmother’s house several times a week and talk to her half a day – because she had emotional issues and was lonely.

    Remember, this was a married lady. Her marriage had to be very lonely if she was constantly having to go to my grandmother for emotional support.

    So it’s true that people can be lonely within marriage and for all practical purposes be single.

    I was engaged for a few years in my early 30s, and my ex was not good at meeting my needs at all. I often sat in the same room with him and felt all alone.

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  2. Brenda said,
    I don’t know what the answer is. My daughter, now 35 tried dating sites and all the men wanted was fun and sex.

    Yes, that sounds familiar. A lot of self professing Christians who use dating sites were polled a few months ago, and a huge number (I don’t recall the exact figure, but it was big) said they don’t have a problem with them or anyone having pre-marital sex.

    If you scroll back up this page, you can see posts by people who talk about that, about 50 year old Christian men who date a woman from church and expect the woman to have sex with them on a first date.

    As I have told HUG many times, I used to try dating sites, and the so-called Christian men on them sometimes tell dirty jokes, or make sexual comments, right there on their dating profile page.

    It really amazes me. I’ve tried living up to the Bible’s teaching that sex is for marriage only, so that I’ve never had sex, but I see all these Christian men on dating sites expecting sex prior to marriage and/or telling bawdy, crass sex jokes on their profiles.

    If you are an actual Christian guy (not a poser or false convert), and you are serious about attracting a good, decent Christian woman (especially on a dating site), my advice:
    drop all the sex jokes and sex cracks and tawdry commentary from your dating profile page, don’t make sex jokes or sex demands in the early stages of communicating with a Christian woman on a site, and don’t expect sex from the lady before marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amen, MissDaisyFlower. Either that or go to the bar and pick up somebody. Stop posing as a Christian.

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  4. Daisy, I think they should leave all of that sex talk up there front and center on their bio so ladies like you can easily weed through the muck. If I were single, I’d rather know straight up than waste my time finding out later on a date that there is one agenda.

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  5. That is a good point, Julie Anne! (And thank you once more for providing a forum to talk about adult singles and for caring about us.)

    When the creeps advertise their creepiness up front, it does make it easier to weed them out.

    I’m not sure if the guys doing it are actual Christians or posers. I really cannot tell.

    I wonder if part of the problem too is that some of these guys behaving this way that I have seen on these sites – who claimed to be Christian – a lot of them are also divorced.

    I have never been married. My entire life I believed strongly that sex was for marriage only, so I never “put out.”

    I’m wondering if a lot of these Christian guys who are over 35, 45 and up, years old and divorced have a more lax view on sex, and that’s why they feel so comfortable making the bawdy, sex-tinged jokes and stating up front their favorite sexual preferences on their dating profiles, or in the “getting to know you” stages on these dating sites when they talk to Christian women?

    These guys need to realize that just because they are 40, 45, or 50 years old and divorced and had regular sex with a wife at one point does not mean other Christian women they are hoping to attract (who may be widowed, divorced, or never-married) will think kindly of their sex jokes, or bringing up sex topics early in the “getting to know you stages” on dating sites.

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  6. As far as older Christian men behaving just like the world regarding sexual matters, if most pastors assume that all Christian singles past a certain age are fornicating, maybe these guys are operating from that same assumption?

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  7. @ NJ,

    As far as older Christian men behaving just like the world regarding sexual matters, if most pastors assume that all Christian singles past a certain age are fornicating, maybe these guys are operating from that same assumption?

    That could be. They really need to be aware that there are some Christian singles who are still abiding by biblical standards of sexuality.

    If you’re a Christian guy advertising a sex-tinged profile with naughty jokes on your profile, you’re most likely going to attract a vixen, a woman with pretty loose morals, or low standards it the sex department.

    Maybe that is what some of these men want… but then why admit in public (on the dating profile) to also being a Christian too?

    I have pretty decent morals in the sex area – I have not slept around.

    If you are a true blue Christian man who takes the Bible and all this stuff seriously, and you hope to attract a woman like me (who has lived a consistent godly life, who is the genuine article), you’re not going to attract me by behaving like a horn dog on dating sites.

    I figure either these guys don’t know that, or they don’t care, because they are really angling for “easy” women?

    I haven’t figured them out, the men who behave that way. I do wonder who it is they are hoping to attract with the naughty jokes or emphasizing sex as much as they do on these sites.

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  8. I’ve never been on a dating site, so I guess you must be talking about some pretty inappropriate and crass behavior? I mean, I’ve got a somewhat naughty sense of humor myself and managed to offend one roommate at Cedarville because I think Monty Python clips are funny. (Actually any British humor, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, any movie with Leslie Nielsen in it, South Park, you get the idea.) Now I suppose if a guy has his favorite sexual positions right there on his profile, or tells you he expects sex from the get go, I’d be avoiding that myself.

    It used to be that even non-Christian men knew not to be cads, at least in public. Now I wonder if what my own children’s chances are of marrying well once they are grown, even in the Church.

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  9. Missdaisyflower, I can almost guarantee that the older so-called “Christian” men had the same attitude towards sex while they were married and could be a reason they are divorced. Their wives got fed up with it. All kinds of people claim to be “Christian”, it doesn’t mean they have ever put their faith in Jesus and given their lives to Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. @ NJ, I’m not sure how to explain it.

    I don’t want to offend anyone reading here or trigger blog moderation, if I give examples, my post may be sent to the gulag.

    It’s not that these guys I saw were saying totally “X rated” stuff, but it was, IMO, inappropriate, especially for guys claiming to be Christian and right there on their profile page for any and all women subscribers to view.

    Some of these guys, it’s not even that they were being totally crass, but from the start, they tell you they expect sex “X” number times per week, they really DIG sex, they LOVE it, and any woman they marry must love it, love it, love it…

    Some of these men kind of get into the frequency they want for sex and expect and/or preferred sexual positions – right on the profile, OR, in the early ‘getting to know you’ exchanges handled by the dating site software / apps.

    Some were indeed crass. One guy who “hit on me” on one dating site, he was age 50ish, had a joke on his profile page about liking and wanting to give “multiple o’s.”

    (He spelled out the word, I did not there, but I’m sure you can use your imagination).

    I’m not a prude and can deal with some amount of sex or potty humor, but IMHO, it is totally inappropriate on a dating profile, or early in the relationship.

    If you and I are dating, and after so many months you then want to make a slightly risque’ joke, I can take that. But the guys who do this up front on a profile? It strikes me as being a little perverted, inappropriate, etc.

    Like if a female gold digger states up front on her dating profile: ‘Hey men, you MUST be a doctor and earn $200,000 per year and own a BMW, or else no dates from me.”

    Or if a female like that said on her dating profile, “Men who want to date me: You must earn a six figure income and own a built in swimming pool and a mansion. I want the finest things in life. I prefer a man with a lot of money.”

    How many men would want to date a woman who just spells it out like that, and up front?

    Well, that may not be a good example because one thing is that men often focus ONLY on a woman’s looks (her profile photos) and don’t read her profile.

    Assuming males did actually read the profile of that gold digger woman, how many of them would really want a woman who, at the start, is demanding and stating her income preferences in a man?

    I’d think most men would be turned off by a woman who does that, if the first thing out of her mouth on a dating site is, “So, how much do you earn per year? Do you own your house, or rent? Do you own a porsche?”

    But these men I see on the dating sites feel that questions/concerns about sex- related stuff like that is fine and dandy on a dating site, but to some women, such as myself, it is a red flag and a turn off.

    Some women may not mind, though. I have seen unmarried Christian women who actually think it’s good that men are upfront about liking sex on the dating sites, because that way, if you are a woman who really likes sex too, you’ve found a match (that is their rationale). I personally think it’s tacky and un-gentlemanly behavior, however.

    If sex is all-fired important to you, then, IMO, you wait until you’ve dated the woman X number weeks before raising the topic. But these guys put it up there front and center, first or third thing you see on their dating profile, or by the second communication they send you.

    I’m not against all risque’ behavior but there is a time and place for it, and IMHO, a self professing Christian guy putting it on his dating profile is not the place and time, and it sends the wrong message to women such as myself who have very traditional sexual values.

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  11. @ Brenda,

    MAY 28, 2014 @ 1:32 PM
    Missdaisyflower, I can almost guarantee that the older so-called “Christian” men had the same attitude towards sex while they were married and could be a reason they are divorced. Their wives got fed up with it. All kinds of people claim to be “Christian”, it doesn’t mean they have ever put their faith in Jesus and given their lives to Him.

    Very good points!

    You can just call me “Daisy,” if you like, by the way. (I tried signing up at this blog as “Daily,” but it said that name was already taken.)

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  12. If sex is all-fired important to you, then, IMO, you wait until you’ve dated the woman X number weeks before raising the topic. But these guys put it up there front and center, first or third thing you see on their dating profile, or by the second communication they send you.

    Daisy, I’d peg these guys as horndog/nymphos, totally clueless, or both.

    Though you might want to save the best of their “up there front and center” for a collection of “World’s Worst Pickup Lines”…

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  13. … or in the “getting to know you” stages on these dating sites when they talk to Christian women?

    Maybe they’re stuck on the Biblical meaning of “know”?

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  14. @Daisy:

    When I see a man and woman together, I don’t always jump to the conclusion that sex is going on.

    That’s because you don’t have a dirty mind and these MenaGawd DO.

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  15. H.U.G. Mark Driscoll is known for his “sermons” about sex. The one I heard in particular was on the book of Solomon’s Song. He went into different sex acts that women should be performing on their husbands or they are not following the Bible. If I were his wife I would have died of embarressment. He is most certainly a MenaGawd, but in no way do I consider him a Man of God and would not stay in a church where he was in the pulpit or anyone like him. There is nothing wrong with marital sex, but it should be private between a man, his wife and God.

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  16. I see I made a typeo above, it should have said “Daisy” for my name, but for some reason I typed in “DaiLy” 🙂

    @ HUG,

    Daisy, I’d peg these guys as horndog/nymphos, totally clueless, or both.

    Though you might want to save the best of their “up there front and center” for a collection of “World’s Worst Pickup Lines”…

    It was pretty consistent, sadly.

    It seems there’s a fair number of men who claim to be Christian who act in an inappropriate manner on dating sites, but they don’t seem to feel there is anything wrong with it.

    Then I also come across stuff like this, and I find it so sad:
    “Religious Dating Sites: More than Half of Users Surveyed Are OK with Premarital Sex” (relevantmagazine.com)

    According to a new survey by two religiously-themed dating sites, Christian Mingle and JDate (an online community for Jewish singles), attitudes toward sex, marriage and abstinence are continuing to shift.

    Their “2014 State of Dating in America” report shows that 87 percent of those surveyed would have sex before marriage, and, likewise, 87 percent said they don’t think it is inappropriate to move in with a significant other before marriage.

    By comparison, in last year’s survey, just 85 percent of users thought premarital sex was OK. The survey echoes the findings in a piece we published back in Feb. 2012, that found that Christian singles are increasingly approving of sex before marriage.

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  17. While dating, I have also come across those who say they are christian and later find out that they are not really living as a christian. Such as when it seems they are seeing someone else You really have to be patient and prayerful and wait for the truth to come out on that. I believe God will let the truth come out especially when you pray about it and give it some time. One fellow i dated for a while admitted that he was seeing other women and I asked him how that fit into his Christian life. He said that he hadn’t given that part of himself over to God yet. In another words, he was not going to stop seeing others and he called me, “Oh Jealous One.” What he didn’t understand that when a fellow insists on dating and being intimate with many others is that made me feel like I, by myself, was not good enough for him. God is so right that in a marital relationship that it must be one man and one woman. Each one needs to feel valued and loved by the other.

    I also try not to jump to conclusions and judge someone because sometimes my perception of a situation can be very wrong. Being too quick to judge can really hurt someone and you can lose their trust. I have seen that. I have seen others misunderstand and misjudge me. I then step away from that person feeling hurt because they never took time out to try to really understand me and I no longer trust them. Also I myself have made that mistake towards others. The same thing happened, that person then does not trust me and does not want to give me another chance..So now I also pray for God to give me better understanding about a new person that I am dating or one that I am interested in and would like to date. Once you’ve built up that trust in a relationship you really do need to protect it. It is too fragile and too easily broken. Re-earning that trust and rebuilding it is very hard. Another thing to remember is forgiveness. I know I am not perfect and have not walked the perfect walk in Christ but neither has anyone else. I am very hard on myself about mistakes I have made. We all need God’s grace and forgiveness in our lives. And I know I need to be able to forgive those who’ve hurt me so that I can move forward in life again.

    As for asking for help in my current church about my situation, I had made it known to others that I am having some struggles and have shared to some in depth, I was told to stay in this women’s Bible study. They are lovely and prayerful women, but being in these different Women’s only Bible studies is not the answer. I am trying another church as a way to expand myself and trying to keep my eyes appealed to new outlets. And I trying to remain prayerful and faithful to God in all of this.

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  18. “Religious Dating Sites: More than Half of Users Surveyed Are OK with Premarital Sex” (relevantmagazine.com)

    These people are the wolves that can’t find the zipper to put their sheeps suit on. They lurk around anywhere that they may find an unsuspecting sheep they may trip up for their own selfish pleasure. I decided a while ago that I would rather live alone for the rest of this life than to ever find myself in the grasp of another wolf’s claws.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. beckyg1003,
    I share your disappointment with how churches are not doing much of anything to help adult singles who want to be married, and they keep segregating the genders, which also harms the chances of a woman who wants to marry.

    Keeping single males and females apart in church and church events also keeps them from getting to know one another, which means dating is not likely to happen, so marriage is not going to happen, either.

    That is a huge glaring problem but most (married) Christians don’t spot it, don’t realize it, or do not care.

    In our culture, we use dating to get to marriage, since we don’t use arranged marriages.

    I’ve yet to figure out how married Christians (who normally met their spouse while in college) expect us post-college (as in, over-age 30 singles) to meet a mate in and around church or church sponsored functions, if they stick all men in one classroom at church, and all ladies in another.

    Chances are, when the currently-married Christians who make up these stupid church rules on gender met their sweetie in college, they sat right next to him / her while in math class – there was a chance for the genders to meet and mingle in college or high school. Not so in most churches.

    If their math or history class had been segregated with all men in one class and all women in another, and lunch time segregated, they never would have had the opportunity to get to know their honey pie.

    Yet, married adult Christians do this to adult singles in churches – we’re over 30, 40 years old, and they insist on keeping us apart, which keeps us single.

    About dating more than one guy. I’m actually not opposed to it, if the relationship is not serious.

    I actually read some good dating advice from a Non Christian that made sense to me… she recommends that women date 2 or 3 guys simultaneously.

    If you stick with only one man at a time, you are putting all eggs in one basket, so what happens when he breaks up with you, or the guy is a jerk, or it doesn’t work out? You go back to being single.

    If you have 2 or 3 men on your plate, you juggle between them to figure out which is the best for you. It’s not a matter of being deceptive, either. You could let each man know you are dating others, you are not exclusive with them. That’s actually the point of dating – you’re going through a process of trying out different men to see which is the most suitable partner for you.

    The only issue with this approach is if you consider the relationship exclusive but the man is seeing ten other women. Then it’s a problem.

    If it’s only in the early stages of “getting to know you” it’s not really cheating if either person is dating around. You’re supposed to date around a lot with different guys.

    When/if feelings develop, then you need to talk to the guy and ask DTR, define the relationship.

    If he’s not wiling to get serious with you and drop the other ladies, then move on until you find the guy who is.

    It’s the same for you. Maybe the guy you are dating comes to you and says, “I want to take this relationship to the next level, how about you.”

    Whenever I start dating again, I plan on dating more than one guy at a time.

    Also, at my age, I don’t have time to fiddle around doing this long term, dating one guy for several months to see if it works out and being exclusive with that one dude.

    That type of thing is for when you are 22 years old and have years ahead of you. I am early 40s now in age. I don’t have time to drag things out, nor am I interested in things going on and on. Other women my age may feel differently, but that’s just me.

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  20. @ Brenda

    Brenda said, These people are the wolves that can’t find the zipper to put their sheeps suit on.

    Some may be wolves, but I fear a lot of actual Christians today do indeed have very loose sexual morals.

    I have seen some Christians arguing on sites that the Bible does not clearly condemn pre-marital sex, for example, so they feel pre marital sex must be okay with God, or a moral grey area. (I have seen a few of the participants over at Wartburg Watch blog also use that line of argumentation when we discussed this issue in the past.)

    I’ve seen interviews with preachers who admit they don’t preach against pre-marital sex because it might offend people in the audience or shame them.

    You’ve heard of Christian blogger Tim Challies? Him, and guys like him (eg, Russell Moore etc), have written articles sort of putting virginity and celibacy down. Challies said in his blog post months ago that “even fornicators are virgins now.” These authors suggest that actual virgins are “prideful” or have “made a fetish out of virginity.”

    I’m an actual virgin, and I”m in my early 40s – it’s not easy, but I’ve refrained from sex and I’m in my 40s now, and I was waiting for marriage. I was engaged to a man for several years, and we spent time alone at his house, but no sex happened. I had plenty chances to have sex, if I had so chosen.

    When I see Christians writing “even fornicators are virigns now” – like Challies has done- how do you think that makes me feel? Or the guys like Moore who say that actual virgins have “made a fetish out of virginity”?

    I get that guys like that are replying to the scads of 34 year old Christian ladies on line in the past few years who say,
    “I fornicated when I was 13, and the sexual purity lectures I heard when I was 18 in Sunday School that compared me to used chewing gum made me feel so ashamed.”

    Okay, so Challies is trying to soothe their injured feelings and guilt. But over-soothing the sexual sinner discourages the guy or lady (such as me) who are virgins over age of 30.

    Challies, Moore, etc, are trying to cheer up and console sexual sinners at the expense of actual celibates and virgins, so that is not right, IMO.

    It is akin to Al Mohler who defends traditional marriage by taking regular pot shots against adult singleness, which he has done on his blog as well as radio interviews.

    Defending traditional marriage is fine, but not when the person doing it uses insulting adult singleness as a tactic, but that is what a lot of Southern Baptists and evangelicals do.

    There are times when I think it’s easier to stay single rather than worry about weeding out creeps or putting up with all the troubles that come with a relationship.

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  21. It occurs to me I never did directly address the question of the OP,
    “The Marginalization of Singles in Church – What is the Solution to This”

    Here is Part 1. I will make a part 2 instead of making one big, long post.

    I have dropped hints in posts above of what churches can do to help. There are books and blogs online that have tips on how churches can help single adults.

    One thing they can do is stop using the term “family” all the time, unless they explicitly explain in their signage, sermons, and bulletins that “family” means anyone who believes in Jesus as savior (ie, spiritual family)

    Whenever an adult, childless single sees the term “family” at church, it’s usually taken to mean, “man and woman married with kids.” So we automatically feel excluded.

    More tips.

    Stop treating marriage as the norm, or as though it’s more approved by God than adult singleness and celibacy.
    I want to be married myself, but while I remain single, I don’t want to be treated like a freak or failure for being single.

    Allow adult singles to serve in a meaningful way in churches.
    Often, churches do not permit adult singles to act as leaders or teachers. All roles go to married people, even teaching adult single Sunday School classes!

    Adult singles are often only allowed to show up to a singles class, never mingle with the marrieds, and are expected to fold up chairs, clean the church kitchen. They are treated like second class citizens, lepers, and as maids.

    Preachers: stop sermonizing on marriage all the time, or, give equal time to sermonizing about adult singlehood too.

    Preachers: stop using marriage and parenting as sermon, book, or blog illustrations.

    Instead of using “wife,” “son,” and “daughter” terminology in your sermons all the time, such as,
    “To explain this biblical principle to you, let me tell you this story of last week, when I took my son to the football game, and we…”
    or, “My wife and I blah blah blah…”

    Say instead,
    “My cousin Herbert and I,” or, “My neighbor Joe and I,” or, “the time I told my dentist Jenny Smith a funny joke….”

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  22. More tips on how preachers and churches can help adult singles, or not make them feel excluded.

    (I hope I am not annoying anyone with all the posts in this thread, but I thought it would be more courteous and easier for readers to break my thoughts up over a few posts, rather than one big long one).

    I’m not sure how many links we can put in per post here. Here is a page or so with advice on how preachers/churches/laypersons can help adult singles.

    Pew for One: How Is the Church Responding to Growing Number of Singles?

    What Churches Should do For Singles by T Campolo

    Please pay special attention to the part of the Campolo page that begins,

    But what about the host of Christians who want to be married, and are single by no choice of their own?

    Because there is a pretty big number of Christian single women today who did want to get married but are having problems finding a Christian man to marry.

    Such women do not view singleness as “a gift” and tire of hearing from married Christians how awesome singleness is because we can “serve the Lord more.” (The Lord is great, but I want a husband.)

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  23. My personal tips on how preachers, churches, and Christians can help adult singles (continued):

    Please stop with the “warm and fuzzy” family or marriage examples in sermons or interviews about Biblical stuff, or the amusing spouse stories
    (occasionally it’s fine, but preachers do this constantly)

    I cringe when preachers think they are giving a touching, warm and fuzzy to the congregation when they – and yes, I have actually seen and heard preachers do this – talk with fondness about their children, they get real emotional and start to weep and choke up in a sermon, such as,

    “Then there was the day the wife and I brought little Joe Jr home from the hospital.

    I looked down at that little face of his, clutched his tiny hand in mine, and I began sobbing, oh the beauty of this child, and he was mine, so tiny, so fragile.

    I knew I would do anything and everything for that boy ‘o mine, and having a baby son reminds me of God the Father’s love for me, and at last, I understand now…

    [and then the preacher inserts more stories intended to be funny, about how Joe Jr spat up his baby food on him, etc, or more heart warming, cute Joe Jr stories]…”

    – As an adult, childless single, personal anecdotes such as those do not warm the cockles ‘o my heart, they make me feel excluded.

    I also don’t see how to apply the pastor’s baby stories to the Bible story he’s preaching, and how it in turn makes it relevant to my life or walk with God.

    I totally get that parents are often very fond and proud of their babies and grown children, but it is so frustrating and hurtful to have these types of examples tossed in your face about every third sermon, or every blog page by church people, when you are single and/or childless, or are child free.

    What of the infertile married lady, front pew of your church, who hears that sort of stuff (and preachers pepper their sermons with their maudlin, weepy, “Joe Jr, he’s my precious baby son” stories almost every single sermon)?

    That story is just a painful reminder to the infertile lady she cannot have a baby. Then ladies like me are pained because we associate “baby” with being married, and it reminds me I am still single.

    Also, sermons should be about Jesus, not about your wife and son Joe Jr.

    (I’m not against topical sermons per se, but if you preach on marriage, you should make the next sermon about adult singleness, and stop using all the Joe Jr or “my wife” examples.)

    It takes little effort to stretch and use non-marriage/ non- parenting examples in your sermons.

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  24. Additional tips

    Married couples should include adult singles at holidays and meal times or whenever.
    At least ask if the adult single at your church from time to time if he or she would like to come over – for tea, coffee, lunch, or out to lunch at a diner, or to a movie sometime, or over to your home to watch a DVD.

    The adult single may have to turn you down because he/she is busy, but keep asking every few weeks or every other month.

    If you have kids… some adult singles may not mind if they are around, but…

    If the adult single is having a tough time with something in their life and needs to chat with you about it and and get your emotional support, they will not feel comfortable opening up to you about a sensitive, adult issue if you have a five year old or ten year old child, or a teen age kid, within ear shot.

    It’s also hard for an adult single to comfortably converse with you in your home (especially about sensitive or painful topics) if your child is interrupting every three minutes to beg for ice cream, whine about things, or flutter about the room.

    – Preachers, Christian lay persons, and Christian wives:
    Stop treating all adult single women as though they want to sleep with your husband, and teach that men (including marrieds) should never talk to or hang out with single ladies.

    Not only is that insulting and hurtful, but it excludes single women more so.

    Nobody will ask adult single ladies over for meals or out to a movie. Not all adult singles have a flourishing social circle – some do, but some don’t. Some could really use the friendship.

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  25. Daisy,
    I don’t think singleness or marriage are any harder one than the other. They each have their hardships and trials Personally, I would rather weed the garden than weed through the available men who are out there. At my age, there are not that many available and a whole lot of women wanting to find one of them. I think I will stay out of their way.

    You’ve heard of Christian blogger Tim Challies? No, I haven’t and from what you said, I don’t want to. I have a great deal of respect for unmarried people who remain celibate. It is good and glorifies our Lord.

    There are many pastors out there who claim to be Christians. Watering down what the Bible has to say in order not to offend someone….well, they may as well not open their mouths. They are leading people in the wrong direction. Those who preach and teach will be judged more severely. I wouldn’t want to be on of them.

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  26. Additional tips:

    If you attend church weekly, intentionally keep an eye out for the adult who walks in ALONE and make a point to greet them and make them feel included,
    ask them if they would like to sit with you during the service, and introduce them to people there you already know.

    After the service, ask if you can take them out for a cup of coffee at a local diner, or take a rain check if they say they are too tired or busy.

    Tell them you are so happy they came, and you hope to see them again next week, or some time soon.

    When you meet a new adult who walks in alone to your church do NOT assume their marital status. (I am over 40, never married, no kids – but every church I go to, they assume I am divorced with a kid, and I find this offensive.)

    Figure out before hand other stuff to talk about with the adult new-comer who walks in to your church alone. (For example, ask them if they are new to the area, how do they enjoy the area, do they have any hobbies, can you or the church assist them in anyway?)

    Do not focus all questions and conversation around marriage and parenting with the person who walks in alone to your church or who you happen to meet in your neighborhood.

    When an adult new comer walks in to your church alone, and if you are a married parent, please do not ask stuff like,
    -How many children do you have?
    -How long since your divorce?
    -Where is your spouse?

    If and when the new person at your church says, “I’m not married, I have no kids,” please do not walk off and just leave them standing there (yes, this happens to A LOT of adult singles in churches).

    I don’t know if married couples realize it, but (and especially if you are shy and / or an introvert) it is very scary, intimidating, and uncomfortable to walk into a church alone, if you are single over age 30, 40, or older.

    Churches need to go out of their way to greet and be friendly to the person who walks in alone. A lot of married parents act like adult, childless singles are from Mars and they treat us like aliens.

    Some people walk in to your church alone because their spouse just died six months before, or divorced them a month ago. It’s painful for them to get the assumptions that they are still married, or the ‘where is your spouse’ questions.

    The instant a married, Christian mother finds out you are never married/childless, they usually either act like,
    1. you are totally foreign and have zero in common, so they walk off and leave you,
    2. act like you are not as good as they are, you are defective or a loser

    This is not just me who has experienced that. I have read books by and for adult Christian singles, and many un-married women have told stories in these books of being new at a church where it does not go well.

    These other singles also say the minute the married parent lady finds out these women are single with no kids, they instantly turn on their heel and walk off, never to speak to that single lady again. This is so hurtful and offensive, but it’s kind of common in some churches.

    Church people should not treat solitary adults differently from adults who walk in to church as pairs.

    There is also a double standard that is common. To use one story as an example:

    A single woman talked about how in one book I read she had been attending a church for a year or more, but nobody there went out of their way to greet her or get to know her.

    But a year later, her parents (who are a married couple) visited her with her at her church.

    She said the difference in treatment was staggering. The instant her mom and dad walked in, the entire church swarmed in about them, hand shaking, greeting, being all warm and fuzzy, asking them lots of questions, patting them on their backs.

    When she walked in alone, she got no such greeting.

    If you are a married person with children, you need to figure out other topics to discuss with people at your church and other avenues besides parenting and marriage.

    You need to plan this ahead, so next week, when “Miss Suzie Single” walks in to your church, you will have topics to chat with her about, and not just stand there like a deer in the headlights with a blank look on your face when she says, “No, I have never married, and I have no kids.”

    I have a married woman friend with a son, but she talks about farming with me, politics, art, museums, movies, etc.

    My married lady friend doesn’t make every conversation about her husband or son, or treat me like a freak because I am single with no kids, nor does she act like we have nothing in common just because I’ve never married but she has.
    ———————————–
    Off the top of my head, those are tips on how Christians and churches can help adult singles. I am sorry if I went on for too long.

    There are books and blogs out there by other people with even more advice on how to help singles.

    Like

  27. One last tip or two.

    Christians and Churches: Help adult singles to marry who want to get married. Make actual gestures of getting them married off, don’t just spout off cliches and Bible verses at them.

    Fix them up with any singles you know, or make the offer to.

    Ask them first, though. Some singles do not want you to play match maker, but some do. Some singles would welcome being set up on dates with other singles. It depends on the single.

    For those singles who would appreciate help and who want marriage, churches need to stop telling singles things such as, “be content in your singleness,” “trust in the Lord’s timing for a mate,” and “take joy in singleness, because it gives you more time to serve God” – and the other cliched baloney.

    Churches: Stop refusing to host or hold mixed-gender Sunday School classes, dinners, dances, and potlucks where adults singles can flirt and date all because you are afraid of “church being turned into a meat market.” That is a lame excuse that is keeping singles from getting a shot at marriage.
    Because if the church doesn’t help singles meet other singles to date, we singles either have to go to night clubs, bars, or try dating sites.

    Telling adult singles to “be content” or “take joy in serving God” is total bunk to the single who wants marriage, these are hurtful platitudes.

    Like

  28. I have a great deal of respect for unmarried people who remain celibate. It is good and glorifies our Lord.

    I didn’t find out until late into the weekend that the speaker at our family retreat was single. He’s 66 and has always been single. He is very active in his ministry work and with all of his traveling, it might be a challenge for him to be married. He had some great talks.

    Like

  29. JA, Would love to have heard him. I’m sure there are plenty of Christian women who would love to join him in ministry. Perhaps he, like Paul, didn’t feel called to me married.

    Like

  30. Brenda,

    What’s interesting is that he made references to marriage quite a bit in his talks. He used the VINE (John 15) acrostic and the emphasis was on love winning over law.

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  31. Married couples should include adult singles at holidays and meal times or whenever.

    The assistant pastor who preached on singleness when my church covered 1 Corinthians 7 earlier this spring made a similar suggestion, something I recalled as I spent yet another Easter Sunday afternoon alone this year.

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  32. I have a great deal of respect for unmarried people who remain celibate. It is good and glorifies our Lord.

    I prefer the term “chaste” to “celibate.” Chastity is something all Christians can practice, singles by abstaining and marrieds by remaining faithful to their spouses. Celibacy, on the other hand, indicates something permanent. I’m not ready to declare myself a celibate yet as I still have a desire for marriage and definitely do not have the gift of celibacy.

    Another thing to keep in mind: While singles abstaining from sexual relations may be good and glorifying to the Lord, let’s not use that as an excuse to bash and shame those like myself who’ve stumbled and fallen along the way. I’ve had that happen before even though I’m now trying to put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing. I had a conversation with a friend concerning such matters last night, and it was so good to talk about that part of my life with a fellow believer without being shamed for my past.

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  33. singleman, The difference is noted. I never thought of being celibate as an eternal thing, but the time before, after or between marriages. I am not at the present time married, but older people than I have found someone, so I suppose there is an outside chance of finding someone.

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  34. singleman said,
    The assistant pastor who preached on singleness when my church covered 1 Corinthians 7 earlier this spring made a similar suggestion, something I recalled as I spent yet another Easter Sunday afternoon alone this year.

    I have to say I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to being alone on holidays, since I’ve been doing so the last four, five years. I’ve learned to adapt, but, if I was still a church goer and wanted to spend time with a family, I would invite myself.

    I don’t know if it’s my age or what, but the older I get, I’m not as bashful as I was before about asking up for what I need or want.

    Meaning, if I was still going to a church, I would flat out announce during a Sunday school class and to married couples out in the main worship area, “I am an adult single, all my family is either dead or on the opposite coast, I end up eating holiday meals alone, I don’t like it, one of you needs to invite me over for the holidays.”

    Seriously, I would toss it out there like that.

    If other Christians are going to be in their little bubbles and be self absorbed weenies and not think to ask me I will ask them to ask me. Squeaky Wheel gets the grease.

    Since my mother passed, I now pick up the phone or e mail and flat out tell some of my extended family I need help or whatever. One or two of them have actually started to step up to the plate now, after I reminded them I am here and hurting and need help.

    I think my days of being passive and silently hoping Christians offer to do the right thing are over. I remind them to do the right thing now.

    These people SHOULD be inviting you over on weekends every so often, or for holidays, etc. If they are not, and you want to be included, I would bring it to their attention.

    Tell the preacher at your church to make an “Adopt a Single for a day” program where all the adult singles who want to eat with a family at a holiday put their name on a sign- up sheet with their contact information, pass that sheet around the church, and married couples pick a name off the list and adopt that single for that holiday. If they are not going to volunteer, make them volunteer.

    Also tell the other adult singles to band together.

    Ask “Sally Single” and “Steve Single” from your singles class if they would like to eat some K.F.C. take out chicken the next holiday at your place with a DVD in the movie player.

    Don’t wait for them to ask you, don’t wait for “Mr. Preacher Man” to step up and do the work, because often times, church people shirk responsibility.

    Like

  35. singleman said,
    yet as I still have a desire for marriage and definitely do not have the gift of celibacy.

    I don’t think the Bible teaches “gift of celibacy” or not as commonly understood.

    Christians assume that because I am a never married virgin at 40ish years of age, I must be “gifted with celibacy.”

    Preacher Mark Driscoll, for instance, flat out says in one of his blog posts about adult singles that if you are single past age X, God gifted you with celibacy, meaning, he says, God supernaturally lowers your biological sexual drive, he removes your libido (or that caused you to be born from the start with no sex drive). That is FALSE, FALSE, FALSE.

    I don’t mean to be crass, to be polite as I can about it, I may be a virgin, I may be single, but I do indeed have a sex drive. God did not whisk out a wand and wave it over me and remove all my sexual desire.

    A lot of Christians have very mistaken ideas about adult single sexuality and libido.

    They think if you are still single past age X and abstaining, you have no sex drive, God removed it from you, or you don’t want to have sex, and all sorts of bogus, incorrect ideas.

    Some assume that because we singles are not having sex this means we are not sexual beings, they think it takes having sex to be sexual, which is ALSO FALSE.

    Chaste or celibate singles are not the same thing as asexuals. Asexuals experience little to no sex drive.

    Many Christians also overlook my category: single, celibate, but who WANTS to get married and have sex.

    They assume if you are single at my age, it is because you do not want marriage, you don’t want sex, or you chose career over marriage, etc. Wrong! I am not sure why I am still single at my age. I don’t feel that being single is “a gift.”

    As to your other comments,

    Another thing to keep in mind: While singles abstaining from sexual relations may be good and glorifying to the Lord, let’s not use that as an excuse to bash and shame those like myself who’ve stumbled and fallen along the way. I’ve had that happen before even though I’m now trying to put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing.

    Dude, no, it’s the opposite now! You will be shamed for being a virgin now.

    The thinking by most Christian preachers and magazines, etc, now is that they expect everyone past 25 years of age to commit fornication.

    There is no recognition in Christian culture these days that such a person as me exists: over age 40 and still a virgin. They just assume someone of my age has already had sex.

    There is a backlash against virginity and sexual purity teachings in most of Christianity today, because mostly 30 year old Christian women give this testimony:

    “I had consensual sex when I was 15 with my boyfriend. Then when I was 17, our Sunday School teacher compared having pre marital sex to used chewing gum. That made me feel dirty and ashamed, so I think churches need to stop teaching that the Bible demands staying a virign until marriage.”

    So, what has happened in the last few years, is that Christian bloggers like Tim Challies have written blog posts insulting virginity and the concepts of sexual purity and saying things like, “Even fornicators are virgins now,” and Russell Moore shamed a young virgin woman who wrote him a letter, where she said she was concerned her sweetie had sex already with another girl, telling her she has made an “idol” out of virginity (she did no such thing).

    I’ve since seen sever more blog posts with anti virginity sentiments like that on other Christian blogs, such as “Focus on the Family” etc.

    You have a slew of liberal Christians these days, and they have even influenced conservatives, who hate modesty and sexual purity teachings and ridicule them at every chance.

    I agree there are some problems with some of those teachings as taught by certain religious groups, but I disagree with the liberal Christian solution that “let’s just chuck all biblical sexual standards altogether.”

    Far from being shamed for having previous sexual experience before marriage, today’s Christians will mock and shame you for being a virgin past your mid 30s (or older), and some of them will shame you for not having babies, especially if you are a woman. They would prefer a woman have pre-marital sex if it produces a baby, rather than be a never-married virgin woman such as myself.

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  36. My formatting in my post above got messed up, there should be a blockquote end tag.

    My comments start at,
    ” Dude, no, it’s the opposite now! You will be shamed for being a virgin now.”

    The comments prior to that were singleman’s (his quote started with “Another thing to keep in mind: While singles abstaining from sexual relations may be good and glorifying to the Lord,”).

    Mod note: Daisy, I think I got it, let me know if something is off.

    Like

  37. I have also remained celibate and therefore faithful to God waiting for marriage. And I mean I have protected myself and waited for the right man to marry for years even when pressed to do more. Because there are some men out there professing to be Christians but want to become too intimate and have that sexual relationship with a marital commitment. In staying firm and guarding myself I have lost boyfriends and all chance of ever having any children because, like my mom, I went through menopause early. Now I hurt when I am expected to care for others’ children knowing I will never have one. How do others here cope with that? This is another reason, I have cut back from serving in some capacities. That just hurts too and this also feeds into my bitterness. I can be a teacher and a babysitter for other’s children but I will never be a mother. Church leaders don’t understand that side of it either.

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  38. Becky. I understood it fine. You articulate well another painful issue of wanting to have a baby. That’s sad. Thanks for sharing your world with us. It’s important to discuss these things because if one part of our Body of Christ is suffering, we need to be aware if it.

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  39. Becky,

    I may have mentioned this further up the thread, but I have been seen as a pariah in my peer group for about the past fifteen years. I don’t have children, not because of any decision against parenting but because of miscarriages and health problems that make adoption untenable as well.

    When in therapy for trauma, it seemed that every week, the waiting room at the Christian (clinical LPC) counselor was packed full of homeschooling moms and their kids. I was asked a couple of times if I had children (a conversation starter, I guess). I dreaded it. After two months of seeing the same mothers week after week who were waiting for family therapy or were waiting on their children, a few really looked down their noses at me, so much like many of my same-aged peers did at church. One evening, by the time I made it into the counselor’s office for my session, I was in tears.

    She and I explored the grief that I felt, for my days of conceiving were apparently gone as I moved closer to the next phase in life. We dug deep to identify the false beliefs about myself as a person that I’d created because I had no children and what rested underneath my feelings of inadequacy. She did EMDR work for trauma with me, and we “reprocessed” those feelings of grief with this approach. It was funny, but right after that phase in therapy, all of those mothers who were there in that office for nearly a year disappeared. I prayed on the way home when it was clear that things had changed with scheduling that perhaps God filled that office with moms to push me to work on this element of loss for me. I didn’t have babies, but I needed to mourn the loss of the opportunity.

    Though I purposely don’t go to church anywhere near Mother’s Day, after doing that grief work with the therapist, I don’t have that much trouble with it. I also moved through a lot of my fear about not having a right to an opinion when I wrote about Lydia Schatz and Hana Williams. I am not a parent, but I have a right to an opinion as a human being, a Christian, and as a nurse. And my best girlfriend says that I can take credit for at least two of her kids — but she gets to pick which ones at any given time. They have been a joy to me for many years.

    And God’s grace is sufficient for the rest. He’s given me really wonderful opportunities to be motherly and to mother — different people in different ways. I got to bottle feed Doug Phillips baby deer years ago. I bottle fed two baby kittens who were a week old. At parties, I sit on the floor with kids, and if there are none, I sit with the elderly. There, I find joy. And I move on from the people who don’t offer me any acceptance and love. It’s none of their business anyway.

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  40. Becky, You are doing what is right in the site of God. If you lost men because of your choice to wait for intimacy until marriage then they would have only caused you more pain later on if you gave in to their demands. I married a boy who claimed to be a Christian, had 2 children, he had many affairs and was very abusive to me and our son. It would be painful for me not to have children, but the way it turns out I am watching their pain because of the way things turned out. God has a plan for you and it will be good for you in hte end. If you don’t feel that caring for other people’s children is right for you, don’t let anyone push you in to it. Find out where God has a good fit for you. (((((HUGS))))) Also, Remember Sarah gave up on having a baby, but God had a plan.

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  41. My post is mainly in response to beckyg1003 and Cindy K.

    There is definitely a problem with men who claim to be Christian but who expect or demand sex while dating.

    There was an article about it months ago:
    Christian Dating Culture – Women Struggle in Dating Scene That Expects Openness to Premarital Sex

    I am not seeing, hearing, or reading Christian preachers who are addressing these types of topics.

    Preachers today are bizarrely obsessed with fighting or discussing traditional marriage v. traditional marriage. It escapes their notice that there are a lot of single Christian women who are staying sexually pure, following all the rules as it were, but still not getting Christian spouses.

    The Christians who have picked up on this phenomenon still do nothing to help post-age- 30 singles get married, they only say churches need to encourage today’s teens to marry by the time they reach 20.

    I myself have given up and am now prepared to start dating Non-Christians. I’m not dating yet, but when I do, I am going to consider Non Christian men.

    I’ve never been strongly interested in having children. I am neither particularly for or against having children myself.

    My issue is not that I do not have children and may never have one, but that Christian culture promotes motherhood to such an exaggerated degree that they marginalize or exclude women who cannot have children or who do not want to have children.

    If I had a nickel for every time I saw or read the conservative Chrisitan attitude that a “woman’s highest, greatest, or most godly role and calling in life is to be a wife and mother” in Christian sermons or literature, I would be a multi-billionaire by now.

    A variation of that is this comment I’ve heard from preachers in sermons: “There is no more important job (for a woman) than raising a child.” – A view which basically implies women who do not or cannot reproduce are worthless, and their lives mean nothing. Sometimes secular culture echoes these sentiments in the media as well.

    I am not against mothers or motherhood, but I am opposed to secular culture or churches basing all of a woman’s worth on whether or not she marries and/or has children.

    (I will continue my thoughts in a separate post.)

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  42. (continuing)

    As far as coping.

    I sometimes speak up and out on blogs or in face- to- face meetings. If I come across a Christian once more giving voice to the idea that a woman’s only worth comes via marriage/parenting, I correct them on that.

    I am astounded at the number of Christians who are ignorant that there is even such a creature as a never married, childless female over age 30. I’d say about 99% of Christians assume all other Christians are married with kids. You have to educate them.

    I remind them that not all women marry or have babies, and to insist a woman’s only calling is to marry/parent is hurtful and offensive to women who cannot or do not do either one.

    Another coping mechanism. I avoid churches on Mother’s Day and the like. However.

    Some churches have so idolized motherhood (and marriage), even should you attend a church on a Non- Mother’s- Day type holiday or social event, you will still get smacked upside the head with the “motherhood is sacred” message.

    For example. I once went to a Baptist church (Sunday morning service) that held an impromptu “honor the new mothers” ceremony in the middle of the service. It was months away from Mother’s Day when this ceremony happened.

    The preacher asked all the mothers of new-born babies to step forward. They did. He prayed over them, uttered blessings, and I think gave them flowers. (Had I known the preacher was going to do that, I would have skipped church that day.)

    I was mid-30s at this point, very much wanting to be married.

    I believe it is wrong to have sex, and hence, children, prior to marriage, so to me, babies represent marriage.

    I cried after I left that church service. I did not understand why at first, until I realized it’s because that ceremony reminded me once more that I was still single.

    There are no church ceremonies that give flowers, blessings, and prayers to never-married, childless, virgin ladies who are over 30, 35, 40 years of age.

    If churches are not going to honor and publicly celebrate all women of all life stages, conditions, and situations during church services, they should stop honoring motherhood, IMO. (This view point ticks off some mothers out there, but that is never the less my view.)

    I mentioned this above, but any time I am new at a church, they assume I am divorced with children.

    (Churches of America, stop making assumptions about an adult who walks in your doors alone. Don’t ask the new comer, loner adult how many she kids she has, or how long she has been divorced.)

    Also, I’ve never felt at ease around babies and children. Even as a child, I preferred adult company to kids.

    Yet, every church on planet Earth assumes on mere basis I am female, I would love to work in the church nursery, or around babies and kids in some fashion.

    Wrong. I would prefer working in the church’s multi-media, internet, audio and/or TV department with other adults.

    Cindy K
    You mentioned experiencing grief over what you could not have. The same thing happened to me, but with me, it was marriage, not the issue of being childless.

    I went through a grieving process in my late 30s that I was not married and may never be. I had to accept the reality marriage may never happen. (Allowing myself t go through a grieving process was also another manner of coping that helped.)

    Most church people don’t get this at all.

    They understand women mourning over the death of an infant or having a miscarriage, but they are ignorant that women who can’t get pregnant at all (via infertility or who cannot find a husband) also grieve for not being able to have a baby, and you have women like me who mourn having wanted to marry but who still do not have a spouse.

    This makes the Christian tendency to utter little cliches about ‘being content in your singleness’ and other things like that all the more annoying. I want my loss acknowledged and recognized by other Christians, not brushed off with platitudes, or ignored.

    Some lady wrote a page about this topic about a year ago, about how single women mourn never having a husband, or women who want to have children but who cannot have one. I believe this is the page:

    My Secret Grief. Over 35, Single and Childless by Melanie Notkin

    The sadness I’d feel around my period was deeper than hormonal. I was mourning the loss of one more chance at the family life I always dreamed of.

    And I grieved alone.

    Grief over not being able to have children is acceptable for couples going through biological infertility. Grief over childlessness for a single woman in her thirties and forties is not as accepted.

    … This type of grief, grief that is not accepted or that is silent, is referred to as disenfranchised grief. It’s the grief you don’t feel allowed to mourn, because your loss isn’t clear or understood. You didn’t lose a sibling or a spouse or a parent. But losses that others don’t recognize can be as powerful as the kind that is socially acceptable.

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  43. Daisy, I have to agree with you. I know many life long single women with no children who have lead healthy, God fearing, productive lives. They managed not to turn into vegetables because they had no husband or children. Everyone makes choices. Those choices are between you and God. Married, not married, children, no children, why should anyone else make it their business?

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  44. missdaisyflower:
    If I had a nickel for every time I saw or read the conservative Chrisitan attitude that a “woman’s highest, greatest, or most godly role and calling in life is to be a wife and mother” in Christian sermons or literature, I would be a multi-billionaire by now.

    I have actually said to people that, “In hindsight and with a belief that God is sovereign, God must have called me to a different path. He does that sometimes.” Maybe I’m not called to the “highest.” Maybe I’m called to something that they deem to be less. (My comfort in that is that the last shall be first at some point.)

    I have also said that “If you believe that God opens and closes the womb, why do you assume that I have not trusted Him in this way, but He just chose not to open mine?”

    They usually clam right up and then never speak to me again. And that works out to be just fine for me most of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Missdaisyflower,

    What you’ve written is beautiful. And grief sometimes comes back to me at times, but it is not overpowering. Few people understand how to grieve loss, and Christians can be notorious for shutting down this process by shaming people for not “counting it all joy” in the way that they deem fit.

    I also pray that verse from Isaiah, asking that God make me that much more fruitful in other ways:

    “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD. (54:1, NIV)

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  46. Cindy K, this is a tad off the marriage / single / childless topic, but as far as grieving goes.

    Yes, most Christians are the absolute pits when it comes to grieving. They don’t know how to handle it, and oddly, I found this to be true even of Christians in their 50s and 60s who had experienced a death in the family.

    My mother, who I was very close to, died a few years ago. The Christians I went to during my time of pain – from folks at a local church to extended family – either blew me off, uttered cliches at me, or tried to get me off the phone as fast as possible, or ignored my e-mails.

    Another set of Christians I went to handled it another way:
    One of the most irritating, insensitive things that happened where the Christians who tried to diminish my pain – and not meet it head on by comforting me – by essentially telling me to go into denial and ignore my pain (they kept telling me to stop thinking about me and go serve in a soup kitchen).

    Then, another group would diminish my pain over the loss by comparing my situation to homeless crack heads or orphans in India.

    Their point being that because I am not homeless and have a roof over my head that my life is totally awesome, so I should not be sad, or I was not entitled to feel sad and miss my mother. I find that attitude to very offensive.

    I don’t go up to homeless crack heads in America and tell them their plight is nothing because some where in India is a paralyzed kid begging for bread. I don’t go up to such children in India and tell them that somewhere in South America are orphans picking through trash to eat, so they can stop their crying. But Christians pull this kind of nonsense on other hurting Christians constantly!

    There are parallels to this with singleness and childlessness. I have seen equally insensitive advice put forth by married people or parents to those who are single or childless.

    I have seen women on other Christian sites tell Christian women who are infertile to go volunteer at kiddie Sunday School so they can get their “kid fill.” They are told to baby sit other people’s kids, etc.

    I think what those women really need is for someone to just sit and hold their hand as they cry and give voice to the pain they feel over not being able to have a baby of their own.

    They do not need to be told to go volunteer at a Sun. school or orphanage. They need their pain validated and heard, not shoved aside with suggestions on how they can push it down by “serving others.” But Christians pull that advice out all the time. It drives me up the wall.

    Like

  47. I hope it’s okay to comment here as a married person. I find it alarming that we now hear more about what pastors and bloggers think about this or that rather than what God thinks. We must be careful not to confuse them. I’ve done it myself and felt a lot of shame and it affected me spiritually. If a pastor says that you have pride in your virginity, I must ask if God thinks so? If you have stumbled and fallen, does God forgive but still expect that you will repent? Singleness is great! This is well noted in the Bible. Marriage is equally celebrated. We can not confuse man’s opinion and God’s. We live for God. Don’t feel bad about that!!! We have a very sexualize culture and I fear we are very reactive in our churches rather than letting God’s word speak for itself and defend itself.

    My good friend is a single in her 50’s never married. At this point, I don’t think she wants marriage. Nevertheless, she doesn’t even go to church because of the way singles are treated. It breaks my heart for her. I think all of you make great points about how isolated you feel and I want to affirm your feelings. You all are loved and cherished for being you!! I, personally, am so sorry that church life is made difficult because of your singleness. This is not how it should be.

    I’d like to speak to the segregated bible studies and women’s events. I would like this topic discussed further. Why is this happening? I have opinions and speculation, but I’d like to know the real reasons. For me particularly, I came away feeling like I was not allowed to speak or converse with the opposite sex in ANY way at all. The only males I should be in contact with for the rest of my life are my husband, brother, or dad. Other than that, I should only be around women.

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