Single (Divorced) Woman Asks About Her Friendship with a Married Man from Church

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): Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – The Church and Learning About Things We Already Know

Complementarianism, Women in the Church, Gender Roles, Proper Church and Family Roles


-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, children, we will talk about God’s design for the church and how to learn God’s ways (as if this hasn’t already been said enough). Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – Married/Single; Husband/ Father; Wife/Mother

Complementarian, Gender Roles, Being Married, Being Single, Desiring God’s Influence


-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, children, we will talk about marriage and singleness, husbands and fathers, and wives and mothers.  Continue reading

Learn to Discern: Who would you choose to marry, an abusive Christian or a kind and gentle unbeliever?


Learn to Discern:  Is it better for a Christian woman to marry a kind and gentle unbeliever or an abusive Christian?

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


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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God’s Design for the Family: Has the Godly-Designed Family Image Become an Idol?

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While it’s clear that a healthy marriage and family is important, have churches and Christian organizations put too much emphasis on God’s design for the family and made this image an idol? Continue reading

Can our Faith and Love Co-Exist with Extremism?

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Having been spoon-fed by my former pastor a form of extremism, or rigid, legalistic, black/white rules and practices, I have pressed myself to re-evaluate those rules and ideas and measure them with scripture using my own eyes and discernment.  What freedom!

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We Need Safe Places, Or, Overturning Tables

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Many of you know of my partnership with Homeschoolers Anonymous. In this blog, survivors have told their sometimes sad and disturbing stories of what it was like growing up as a homeschooled student. Here is how I connected with them.

There is a subculture within the bigger umbrella of Christian homeschooling that is commonly referred to as the Homeschool Movement – it is an important distinction as I have discussed here. In blogging circles, I started to see stories come out from former homeschoolers and have included some here because I, as a homeschool mom of 20+ years, was unknowingly sucked into the movement and want people to be aware of what has been going on with a whole group of young people. R. L. Stollar (Ryan) also noticed troubling patterns among his peers, which prompted him to begin the Homeschoolers Anonymous blog.

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Singles in the Church: Treated with Respect and Dignity?

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I’m joining Dee and Deb at The Wartburg Watch as they discuss the topic of singles in the church.  I’ve learned a lot in this year of blogging and covered at least four stories relating to being single in the church.  Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned have been from reading the words of my readers as they share their stories.  My eyes have been opened.  Thank YOU!!  If you are single, I encourage you to check out the articles on Wartburg Watch.  Be sure to read the comments.  You will definitely feel the love there!


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The UnMarried Movie: Singleness as a Result of Rigid and Controlled Parenting

I’m still getting comments on the UnMarried movie posts (More Background Info on the Movie: UnMarried and UnMarried Movie: Is Staying Single Sabotaging Chr… )  and today while looking through my Twitter feed, I noticed quite a few tweets on the topics of modesty and purity.  

In case you missed the brief movie trailer, here it is:

I’ve discussed this on my blog before.  Our former church had rigid rules on modesty and purity (Hyper-Modesty in the Church, Part 1,  Hyper-Modesty in the Church, Part 2Hyper Modesty in the Church, Part 3, and BGBC Survivors: Legalism: Do Not Expose Your Thighs!)  We had a dress code – nothing above the knees should be showing.  The bride in the picture above would not have been allowed to wear that strapless wedding gown at our church.  Other rules included no co-ed swimming.  The boys were encouraged to turn their heads if they saw a woman jogging.  Some moms were known to cover their boys’ eyes when passing through the lingerie section of a clothing store or when passing Victoria Secret at the mall.  I remember my kids racing to the tv to turn off “inappropriate” commercials or shows when they saw someone dressed immodestly.  Some parents would mark up texts books with a black marker if there was a picture of an immodest sculpture or painting.  

And then there were the purity rules – no boy or girl should ever be alone together.  Relationships had to go through the father, girls were given purity rings by their fathers (and mothers) and they pledged to remain virgins until marriage, sometimes signing a covenant . . . . and so on.

As I was thinking about modesty and purity, it made me wonder about the movie, UnMarried.  Do you suppose all of these modesty and purity rules may have backfired and contributed to the growing number of singles?   The people behind the UnMarried movie come from the patriarchal background.  They believe in moms having lots and lots of babies to populate the earth with more Christians.  Singleness remains a threat to their way of doing things because no babies means fewer Christians in future generations (as if they are the ones who determines if their child was elect, right?).

One thing I’ve heard from moms who have raised young adults in the homeschool environment is that their adult children are somewhat afraid of the opposite sex. They don’t quite know what to do with them.  For years these kids were told don’t look at the opposite sex, don’t lust, don’t touch.  And now the producers of this movie are telling these same young adults:  hurry up and get married.  Perhaps they might even say these singles are in sin and preempting God’s plans for His church by their “prolonged adolescence”.  I’ve certainly read it before by folks within this movement.

This is more whacked out stuff, people!  Tell young adults, don’t touch, don’t look and then tell them to get married, touch, and procreate.   What a roller coaster ride for these young adults.  That absurdity might drive me to prolonged adolescence and therapy.   

Yup, I think it backfired.  It is my opinion that the movie, UnMarried is an attempt at damage control.  They are trying to recover from the mess they made by their ridiculous rules of making sure their children were completely modest and virginal.   Legalism backfires, people.  It just does not work the way people want.  It usually produces extremes.  In my former church, the result of this kind of legalism was a lot of young adults acting out sexually.  It can go the other direction, too – prolonged singleness.  They’ve raised a bunch of adult children who have difficulty functioning normally in a mixed-sex society.  They may be afraid to look at the opposite sex for fear of lust and sin.  They may be afraid to talk to someone of the opposite sex because they aren’t married yet and fear, What would people think?  In most circles I am familiar with, a young couple would not be allowed to go to even Starbucks alone unless a little sibling tagged along.  
To the producers of this movie, throw away your legalistic courtship rules and purity contracts.  Let young adult men and women decide for themselves who they want to share the rest of their lives with.  Did your parents decide for you who you were to marry?  Did your parents sign purity contracts with you?  Let these young adults listen to God for the plans He has for them.  Your job as parent was to train them to hear the voice of God, to read His word, to accept the counsel of wise people.  If you did your job right, you have nothing to fear.  God is sovereign, right?   Do you trust God with your adult children and their future?

photo credit: <a href=””>Sean Molin Photography</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

More Background Info on the Movie: UnMarried

There is a slice of heaven on earth when we can relate to one another in the church, regardless of the form our family takes, as individuals equal in worth, significance and value.  ~Wade Burleson

The other day, I posted about a new movie coming out called UnMarried.  I really appreciated the contributions in the comments.  Just as I suspected, the singles who read my blog are not feeling the love at church.  They do feel “singled” out.  It seems there is an underlying favoritism toward married and families.  This is a concern to me.  It does not seem very loving.

Blog reader, Serving in Japan reminded me that they used the phrase “prolonged adolescence” in reference to singles in a summary of the film, so I wanted to take another look at what was said.  Here is the summary from the UnMarried website

They’re everywhere. Unmarried, young Christian adults. Some searching and praying for that perfect match from Heaven. While others have all but abandoned the whole idea of marriage altogether.
Many are still at home, living a life of prolonged adolescence, with no hopes of marriage in sight. What has caused this drastic change that has reshaped the lives of an entire generation into singleness?
Join us as we search out the biblical answers for what has taken place, and interview theologians, families, young Christians (married and unmarried alike). Be with us as we search the scriptures for truth.

I did a little more digging to see what/who is behind this movie.  UnMarried is being promoted by Family Vision Films.  I visited the Family Vision Films website to read their “About Us” page:

Family Vision Films began in January of 2011 after a family discussion about the difficulty of finding excellent Christian films all in one place.
We want to bring to you the very best, the “cream of the crop,” of God-honoring DVDs.  We strive to offer comparable prices and the lowest possible shipping. 
As a family with 11 children, we well understand the need to budget our funds wisely!

They also included a picture of their family with eleven children and sign their name Jason and Jennifer Ross.  Could this be a full-quiver family?  A Patriarchal family?  

I found another website featuring this video.  This comes from Renewing Housewives site whose e-mail address shows a Family Vision’s e-mail address – what do you know – Jennifer is the blogger there.  Also, the e-mail address for Renewing Housewives is “info at familyvisionfilms dot com”, so apparently whomever mans the Family Visions e-mail account also is getting the e-mails from people wanting to connect with Renewing Housewives.   

Disclaimer:  Just so you know, the e-mail you send to BGBCsurvivors @ gmail dot com does not go through any e-mail account of my husband’s.  I am the only one who reads that mail.  I don’t know why I never felt compelled to say that before.  I’m feeling an icky feeling even having to mention that.  

Take a look at the “feel” of the website.  This is my first clue of “Patriarchy” – the Victorian look.  Hmmm – that might be an interesting blog post.  I’ll make a note of it.  I may need to take a break from this post for a sec to get a JA attitude adjustment.  

Here is the blurb about the upcoming film UnMarried posted on the Renewing Housewives website

Well!  As we continue to work on our second Homemaking DVD, we have started another one as well.  My very visionary husband has been inspired to produce a film that explores our current epidemic of protracted singleness in the church.

  • Why are there so many unmarried Christians?

  • What is causing this trend?

  • Is it even an issue?

  • And what can we do?  What should we do?

We are still in the production stage of this film.  We hope to release in the Spring of 2013.   Please pray for us as we seek the biblical answers for what has taken place, interview theologians, families, and young Christians (married and unmarried alike). 

Will someone please tell me what a very visionary husband is?  No, never-mind, I don’t want to know.  We may not need to delve into that wording specifically, but it’s important to note that both Kevin Swanson (mentioned in the previous post on this topic) and the folks at Family Vision/Renewing Housewives are from the Patriarchal mindset.  This is a culture that idolizes families and puts great emphasis on raising Christian families for the future generations.  They are also “full-quiver” –  having as many babies as possible and populating the earth with Christian offspring – little warriors for Christ.  Not to say any or all of that is bad, but it is an agenda that consumes every aspect of their lives.  (For further reading on patriarchy, I highly recommend Cindy Kunsman’s articles.  Here’s a very helpful one.)

 It deserves to be said again: God is far more concerned about the functionality of the individual Christian in the family than the form of the family the individual Christian is in.   ~Wade Burleson 

When I read or hear strong words against a specific group of people, it makes me wonder if there is a deeper message beneath.  Those strong words and generalities (ie, prolonged adolescence, protracted singleness) created a conflict in my mind and I’m not even single.   I think what was lacking to me was love and grace.  It seems to always come back to that.  Some people have in their mind the way things “ought” to be and if you don’t fit within their “ought-to-be” mindset, then they feel you need to be called out on it.  And many times it becomes such an issue that people suggest that even the “gospel” depends on it.  There’s that buzz word again.    It may not be “gospel” whatsoever, but their message is sometimes cloaked with that “gospel” word to draw you in and convince you that it is the “right” or “gospel” way.  If you are a Christian, you can’t argue against “gospel”, can you?  Take note:  spiritual abusers use this manipulative tactic to control.  

In my first blog post regarding the movie, UnMarried, I also quoted notes from a sermon by Al Mohler.  I do not believe Mohler and Swanson are from the same camp, but they are presenting a similar message on this issue of singleness.  I don’t care for the way they are presenting their messages.  There may be some truth to the fact that some singles are wasting time or “floundering around”.  The twenties is a challenging time in someone’s life.  They are newly out of high school, trying to figure out their niche.  There are other complicating matters in 2012 than in previous decades: we have a very difficult economy, difficulty finding jobs – even for college graduates at the Master level.  There are definitely more distractions with technology.  But we have to be careful to not generalize and not label a whole group of people just because of their marital status.  We can’t presume to judge their hearts.

Thankfully, not all church leaders and pastors portray singleness in such a derogatory fashion.  Last week, I read an article from Pastor Wade Burleson and found it so refreshing.  The family units we see in 2012 look quite different than 50 years ago.  A couple parts of Wade’s article apply to singles and I thought it would be good to provide a healthy balance here.  The quotes are from the middle of the article, so please be sure to check out the whole article to get the full context:   Focus on the Function of Your Life, Not the Form of Your Family.

When church leaders put an emphasis on the form that family units should take, even if it is a well-intentioned effort to encourage families, the emphasis of Scripture is missed. God is not nearly as interested in the form of a family group as He is the functionality of the individual person. Let me prove this:

(1). Marriage is temporal, not eternal.  

Granted, there are a few non-traditional western religions (i.e. Mormonism) and  a few long-time eastern religions (i.e. Islam) who advocate that marriage, even mulitiple marriages for men, are eternal. That’s just not so. Jesus said that in heaven we “will not marry nor be given in marriage” (Mark 12:25).

Marriage is something that is not eternal. At some point, marriage will end for everyone.  If a marriage happens to end here on earth for a Christian, it is possible for that Christian to experience the same fulfillment and joy here and now that he or she will experience eternally. A divorcee who trusts Christ, a graced widow or widower, and even Christian singles who have never married or never will marry have as much personal value, identity and significance as any married Christian. In fact, it might be said that there is an advantage for the Christian who is not married; he or she has the opportunity to understand how to function individually now as Christ intends us to function eternally then.

So let me be crystal clear. Since marriage is a form of relationship that will one day end for everyone, when there is an overemphasis in church on the form of one’s family to the neglect of the individual’s function within his or her family, then churches fail in our biblical mission. The function of a Christian within the family never ends, and when properly understood, never fails. So what is our function as Christians? We are to love others in our family unit as Christ has loved us (John 15:12).  When we learn to function in this manner we never fail, though the form our family takes comes to an end (I Corinthians 13:8). 

I hope my single readers are encouraged by Wade’s words.  You singles are valuable to the Body of Christ (and to me).  You are just as valuable to Christ as me, a married woman and mother or as a pastor or as a child.  When we look at the full picture, we are all equals among Christ.   I hope you take great comfort in that truth.

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UnMarried Movie: Is Staying Single Sabotaging Christianity?

WARNING TO SINGLES:  You just might blow a fuse after reading this.  Brace yourselves.

Yesterday I was reading blog and read this comment:

Jenn Grover November 28th, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Persona — don’t even get me started on that line of thinking about singles. CJ got that straight from Mohler. “There is no biblical category for enduring singleness.” That was the BS phrase Mohler used. I guess we should just throw out the entire passage on singleness that Paulw rote for the convenience of Mohler and Mahaney. My brother confronted CJ (I was with him) about letting Mohler speak on the subject after the 1st Lousiville NA conference. CJ admitted that he thought Mohler went overboard and that he and Josh had tried to get Mohler to tone it down the night before but overall he thought for the good of the group (at the expense of older singles) Mohler’s message should be heard. CJ tried to deflect my brother to Mohler, but my brother told CJ Mohler wasn’t responsible for SGM, CJ was. Mahaney would hear none of it.

Andy Farmer led a community group for the “older singles” after the session and he spent the whole time doing damage control and from what I understood, the damage control continued at the local churches for quite a while after that.

I remember a PDI where singles were exhorted to glorify God as they uniquely could as singles. After CJ became pals with Mohler that message was out the window, marriage and family became idols, and singles became second class citizens in SGM.

Ok, I found this comment disturbing, so I went searching and found the Al Mohler quote.  It comes from his sermon entitled The Mystery of Marriage:

Embedded in this text are precepts and principles meant for us in our own sexually confused day. I want to make a statement which I know you are likely, at least in your spirit, to want to reject. I want to suggest to you that there is no biblical category of enduring singleness as an aspiration. There is no biblical category of enduring singleness, except for the gift of celibacy for God’s glory in gospel service. Now, this is counterintuitive because we live in a day where we cherish our ability to define our own existence and to choose our own lifestyle. We live in a day of confusion in which marriage has been so marginalized that it is now merely one option among others. In society and even in many churches, enduring singleness is seen as one more lifestyle option. And this is especially true of men, particularly the high number who conveniently self-rationalize that sex before marriage is biblically okay, often with the high-sounding cover that, of course, this is true only as long as it’s in the context of a “loving relationship.”

I believe the Scripture does not leave that option open to us, except in that extraordinary circumstance of God giving the gift of celibacy to certain individuals for His glory and for gospel service. Paul was very concerned about this. “I say this,” he says in verse 6, “as a concession, not a command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” Celibacy is a gift, and marriage is a gift. You have to know which is yours.

I am addressing this blog post to singes.  

Singles!!!!!     Evidently you are to blame for problems in the church.  Were you aware of that?  (ACK  JA is about to pull her hair out.)    Did you know that you are to blame for the problems in our churches, our education systems, and families?  

I’m seeing a disturbing trend.  As I started reading abuse stories, I was struck at how the church in general is treating singles  – whether single by choice or by divorce or death.  So for years singles have been slipping through the cracks, not having a real place to be, they don’t fit in with families, where do we put them?  Oh yea, single women should be babysitting for couples with young children.  They have time on their hands because they are single, right?  (don’t get me going)

It’s funny how I’ll be surfing the net and all of a sudden a bunch of similar topics come screaming out at me.  I also stumbled across a trailer to a new movie:  UnMarried.  I’m trying to find more background about the movie.  The YouTube user is connected with Family Vision Films.   (I’m wondering if there is a connection with Vision Forum.  If someone knows, please let me know.)

Check out this very brief movie trailer.  Listen to the intensity of their words.  Is this a “gospel” message they are trying to tell us?   Do singles have an agenda?

Below is my attempt to transcribe the entire trailer dialogue:

Man #1:  This is the fundamental problem of our social systems.  It is a fundamental problem with our churches a fundamental problem with education systems and it will yield severe, severe, socio-economic problems in years to come. 

Man #2:  We’re losing the vision.  Wer’e losing the very thing – God began a unique work in the midst of this movement and we’re losing it. 

Man #1:  If we don’t address this issue, we’re done.  There is no future for the family.  There’s no future for the church.  There is no future for our Nation.

Please someone help me out.  Isn’t Nancy DeMoss single?  Wasn’t Elizabeth Elliot single many years as a missionary after her husband passed away?    Maybe someone has become single as a result of their spouse divorcing them or abuse/infidelity or death.   Are they responsible for that?     Have these ladies caused fundamental problems for our churches and families by their singleness?  For some reason only single women are coming to mind – my brain has frozen.

Really?  Give me a break.

Singles, please pipe in.  Tell me how you are contributing to the troubles in our church.  I dare you.

How does this message promote the gospel?  What redeeming message is it sending singles?  What am I missing?  If I am misunderstanding this message, please let me know.  I can handle it. 

Do these folks have 1 Corinthians 7 in their Bibles?  Oh boy . . . I need to go to choir and unwind my confused brain.  

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I did a little more searching today and blogger Karen Campbell at reports that Kevin Swanson is behind this movie.  I’m trying to get more information on that.  But this confirms my suspicions of connections with Vision Forum. 

Kevin Swanson most definitely has an agenda behind this movie and I’ll be posting more on that soon.  

Single Women in the Church: Valued or Not?

Earlier when I posted about Patriarchal Movement in churches, I received an e-mail from Jennifer who shared her personal story with me.   I have learned so much from my readers.  When Jennifer shared her story with me, I was saddened and shocked that we, the church, have failed Jennifer and women like her.

What can we do to make single women feel needed and wanted in church?  Are singles valued as much as married women?  Does God value single women less than married women?  Of course not.  Yet it seems some churches don’t quite know what to do with them.  

A while back, I read about the plight of single women who attend SGM churches.  At the site, I read of single women being told they should be serving families within the church in their spare time – as if their time wasn’t their own.  Some singles were taken advantage of because they didn’t have “family obligations”.  They were guilted into babysitting (without pay)  church leaders’ children, for helping new moms when they brought their baby home.  Is this reciprocated when single are sick or need help in any way?   

I asked Jennifer if I could share her story here and she agreed.  Jennifer is not alone, I am certain of that.   Reading Jennifer’s story has made me much more sensitive to the plight of single women in the church.  I hope it does for you, too.

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Jennifer’s Story

Hi, I have subscribed to your blog via email for a couple of months now.  I originally subscribed because I wanted to be sure I found out the outcome of your trial, but I have continued reading because I think this is a huge issue in the church and am encouraged to see how you and your commenters handle the issue.  

I wanted to leave this as a comment on your blog, but I don’t know that it goes as far as abuse.  The Patriarchal Movement affects single women as much as it does married.  I have experienced this first hand and rather than divert the topic of your blog, I thought I would just email you my story and maybe you could address it later, if you think it is fitting.

I am a single, 38-year-old woman.  I no longer attend church regularly because I have found I have no place there.  Due to health issues, I realized long ago that I would not be able to have children.  Without my biological clock ticking in the background, I found I did not have the urgency that most of my friends did to get married.  

In my church, both young men and young women of college age were encouraged to build their spiritual gifts.  We were trained in leadership and served in leadership roles in our “college and career” group.  A number of my friends got married over the course of a year or two.  They were told they had to leave our group and start attending the young marrieds group.  It was quite the change.  All of the women found they no longer had a place to serve in the church as their role was to serve in their families.  Luckily most made the transition well.  My closest friends’, who had decided they would not be having children, did not do so well.  For them, the change in attitude was more apparent.  They also no longer attend church regularly.

It is jarring to live in a world where we as women are required to have careers to support ourselves and our families and go to churches that expect us to be good, little women.  We have to cultivate our skills, intellect and leadership roles in the real world and then pretend to be spineless and ignorant in church.  I am not saying the Bible is antiquated, but I am saying the church’s view of women is.  I am the head of my household.  The church doesn’t really know how to reconcile that.  Because I don’t really have a desire to just be married, I must be living apart from God.  Don’t get me wrong, I would love to find a guy, fall in love and get married.  But I am not going to say “I do” for the rest of my life to whatever guy comes along.  I am attractive and fun to be around; I am also sick of hearing people ask me, “Why have you never been married?”  I am pretty sure what they mean is, “What makes you so defective, that no man has wanted you.”  No one ever considers the fact that men have wanted me, but I didn’t want to settle.  I was taught to have discernment, but am now being punished for that discernment by being ostracized by the church.  

I can go to church, but I am forced into bible studies for singles.  Because if I am not married, I need to be looking for a marriage or else be treated as a possible home-wrecker.  You can dress up those bible studies any way you want to but it doesn’t really matter.  Looking for a marriage comes first, seeking the truth of the word comes second, if at all.  But until I am married, I will not be allowed to attend a real bible study.  Until I get married, I will never fully be accepted into the flock.  

Even worse, if I am accepted as a whole person unto myself, I risk losing that identity as soon as I do get married.  There are some churches that do accept me for who I am.  Those places are even scarier, because I simply have to look at how the married women are treated.  I can have respect and acceptance, but only if I remain single.

This is a really long email and I am not sure if I am even making myself clear.  I guess the crux of it is this:  the role of women in the church is messed up.  As long as churches treat married women and single women differently, then there is a problem.  And it seems to me that whenever I show up in church, I become a magnifier for that problem. The best thing for me is to be ignored.  The worst is to be treated as a project because then people look at me like I need to be fixed or married off.  I would just like to find a church that loves me for where God has led me.  I don’t really think that is too much to ask, and in theory everyone agrees.  But in practice…

I hope that makes sense.  I am not the only one.  There is a huge population of women that are pretty much ignored by the church.  I am not against homeschooling, but I do know that I become very wary the minute I realize that I am in a church where the majority of people attending are homeschooling families.  It is like a huge, flashing danger sign to me.  I need to retreat immediately because I do not belong there.  And I think that it is kind of sad for any Christian to feel like they don’t belong in church.

Thank you for your blog.  I realize that my issues are not the ones you and your commenters are dealing with, but it is a safe place for me and I appreciate that.

Much love,


 photo credit: fensterbme via photo pin cc