I am single, I am a Christian, and recently it has been brought to my attention that, as my pastor so wisely stated a few weeks ago, “The church does not have a high view of singleness.” Can I get an amen?
Now for a disclaimer, I absolutely adore both my church back home and my church at college. I know my churches are full of Jesus-loving people who are capable of speaking incredible truth into my life. That being said, this letter is to churches everywhere, including both of mine.
Dear Body of Christ,
You have many wonderful strengths. One of those strengths is your support of marriage. You also have some major weaknesses. One of those weaknesses is your lack of support for singleness. I can personally attest that as soon as a Christian hits their late teens they begin to field relationship questions from you at every turn. Questions such as, “Do you have your eye on anyone, who have you been hanging out with, when will you start dating, etc.” Even once a Christian starts dating they will constantly be asked questions about when they are going to get married. Now, I know these questions come from a place of genuine concern, and the people asking the questions have good intentions, but let me tell you, these questions are not helpful! If a single person is running after the heart of God they are a.) very aware of their singleness, and b.) on an individual journey in which God is revealing his purpose for their life one step at a time.
Here is why your approach to singleness can be so damaging. As a young believer, I respect the options and advice of older believers within my community. If the advice of my elders is sound, this respect is a very good thing. In the case of singleness, however, I do not feel that my elders always have the right advice. While my community absolutely wants what’s best for me, that desire can sometimes obstruct their view of what is actually best for me. They want me to experience falling in love, and getting married, and having kids, but they can’t necessarily see that waiting on God’s timing for those experiences will make those experiences so much better. Just because you got married at twenty doesn’t mean I have to get married at twenty, and on the flip side, just because I’m not dating doesn’t mean I don’t want to date.
The problem is that I listen to your less than sound advice. Sometimes I feel very content with my singleness, but then I come to church and you start asking questions and giving advice. If the culture tells me I should be dating, I will more than likely ignore them, but if you tell me I should be dating, I will probably listen. I respect you, but what if your advice is not what I need to hear? Did you know that when you try to “help” me in my dating life, you often make it much harder for me to figure out my own desires, and even worse, you make it harder to discern God’s will? I am in a unique season of life that will hopefully lead to marriage, but until then I need space to figure myself out. So church, I’m begging you to reevaluate the way you approach singleness. If I want advice, I’ll ask for it, but until I do, please just pray for me. Hold your many questions, and trust that God has my love life under control. If nothing else, please give us singles grace, and I promise that someday, when the time is right, I’ll invite you to my wedding.