These days there is more emphasis on marriage and family than ever. My social media feeds are full of articles and posts about gay marriage, sex in couple relationships, the struggles and joys around creating a healthy Christian marriage, the sadness of miscarriage, the intricacies of parenting, the wars around household chores. I could […]
Something I’ve come to understand is that singleness is a high price to ask of people.
I was single for a long time before my girlfriend said yes to my awkward proposal (thankfully), and so I have some realization of what it means to be single in a sub-culture within a larger and highly sexualized American culture. To constantly be fed a steady stream of images and products designed to inflame and provoke and yet maintain sexual celibacy is not easy.
And when Christian culture prioritizes marriage over singleness, we make things even more difficult by unwittingly illustrating that our single brothers and sisters are unwanted, or worse, unneeded.
So how can the church integrate and empower our single brothers and sisters? I offer three suggestions, though many more could and probably should be added.
A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a woman while at a social gathering. In the course of our conversation she asked me what I do and I told her I was a pastor at a local church. She responded that she was surprised that a church would hire me.
She had noticed my empty left ring finger and prompted, “But aren’t you single? Don’t you feel unqualified?”
I gave her an explanation, but there is only so much defense that can be given in a minute while in a crowded room. As I reflected on our interaction, I recognized that her question was sincere. So, I decided to look deeper into some of the experiences you gain through marriage and respond to the 5 main reasons people say singles are unqualified for ministry.
I really don’t like weddings.
They’re just not my thing. For the most part, I don’t like attending them, I don’t like being in them, and I don’t like planning for a hypothetical one that may or may not be in my future. My aversion to weddings stems from my annoyance with the commercialism tied to it, the financial burden placed on family and friends who participate, the focus on the wedding instead of the marriage, and the abundance of patriarchal symbolism intertwined in various parts of the ceremony.
As you can tell, I have strong opinions on the matter, so when The Junia Project admin team talked about writing about weddings for Valentine’s Day, I thought that instead of pushing my opinions on all of you, instead I’d ask you for your thoughts on these very issues. I am very happy with the result, and am encouraged at the varying opinions within egalitarianism. So, without further ado, I give you…
I grew up in the evangelical church, one of the Jesus Girls, one of the ones who was on fire.
I learned quickly that I wasn’t like everyone else. I certainly wasn’t like the other girls. Instead of being afraid of the boys, or even particularly attracted to them, I wanted to hang out with them. At youth group parties, you might find me playing Halo, jumping on the trampoline, or playing spoons with the boys. In their company, I felt like I was taken seriously, I felt a part of something.
It was nice to be different, when it was in that context. We had frank discussions, talking about God, about life, about girls. I grew comfortable with that role: the confidante. I became the quintessential sister-figure, loving every minute of it.
But no one wanted to date that girl, and after a while, I wanted a date much more than I wanted to be myself, so she got lost somewhere along the way.
On The Junia Project, we talk a lot about the egalitarianism/complementarianism debate in various parts of life – Church, marriage, community, family – but there is another part of life that we haven’t really addressed… dating. So on this Valentines Day, as the only single member of The Junia Project admin team, I want to […]
I am a single Christian woman who is working to support myself. What does the complementarian message say to someone like me?”