Single Christians, Divorced Christians, Cross-Gender Relationships, Church Response
A woman found SSB and sent me an e-mail about her situation. The e-mail is from a single/divorced woman and the friendship she has with the praise and worship leader at her church. She, too, is on the praise and worship team. This kind of situation seems to get people nervous. Evidently, single women should not have a friendship with a married man.
Here is her e-mail (which she gave me permission to post):
Dear Julie Anne,
I found your older blog article as I was doing a search for info on cross-gender friendships in church. Unfortunately I may be leaving my church home soon and I wanted to see if anyone else has been in my shoes. I’m a musician on my church praise team and our male leader’s wife wants to have a chat with me. Her husband has been a good friend and sounding board, but I realize now that is a big no-no. I am almost 12 years older than him and have no interest in him other than an encouraging friend, but I sense some boundary has been crossed that I wasn’t aware of in this situation.
I am single due to divorcing an abusive, unfaithful Christian husband. As soon as I became single, I noticed a subtle change in how I was treated by other women in the church. My pastor’s wife has been one of the few that treats me like a friend and not a threat. She made an effort to get to know me. Our worship leader’s wife has been hot and cold with me which leaves me unsure. I’m not sure I want to open myself up to this chat she’s requested, she said she’s been praying for me but the tension was pretty evident.
I have no one to talk to about this situation so I hope you don’t mind that I’ve written you. I found your new site and am amazed at how much you’ve written rings true. Thanks for sharing your experience, it’s helped me a lot.
I don’t see this restriction in Scripture, but it sure seems to be a prevalent idea. In full disclosure, I have been on praise and worship teams during much of my adult life. I currently am on a praise and worship team and do maintain friendships with both married and divorced men. (The only single guys on the team are young enough to be my kids, and we haven’t spoken at any level of depth.)
Usually any discussions we have take place at church or places where we are involved in ministry work. I’m sure I have used some of these men as sounding boards (I love that phrase!) from time to time in the past, and even currently. I don’t have a problem with it, and no man has told me that he has had a problem with it (and no wife has, either).
It bothers me that this kind of stigma exists with single or divorced women. I’m not sure if there is the same stigma with single or divorced men, but in light of Scripture in which Paul said it is better to remain single than married, I find this common response troubling. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject.
- The most important question: how would you respond to “Karen?”
- If you are married, do you have relationships with single people of the opposite sex at church?
- If you are married, do you have relationships with divorced people of the opposite sex at church?
- Do you have any ideas of how the church can improve on this kind of situation, and create a safe place for those who are single and divorced?