Monday, August 13, 2012

Being Single in the Church

In the next week, I am going to post two new blogs, both on different blogs of mine. One will be here on this site today, regarding being single in the church; and another on my main site focused on being poor in the church. Be warned, these will likely step on some toes, but my intent is not to point fingers but to open our eyes. I think some of us have lived in our country so long with its values, at times, we do not see how those Americanized values are at conflict with spreading the gospel and creating a deeper and more diverse community among its members. So here we go!

This past Sunday, two things really struck a chord in me, regarding being single in the church. No matter how people try to sell it or look at it, singles are ostracized in the church. In my opinion, singles and their classes, are one of the only classes that meet as a group that is inherently seen as lacking something. I know the hopes of such ministries are community and like-minded people, but like some arguments against youth ministries which go too far and divide the church, I think singles ministries cause division the church. At least, they divide the adults who are single from the rest of the flock. Do you know what the greatest potential danger from a singles ministry at the church? Isolation.

This past week, I joined the choir. Yes, some of the reasons I joined was because I like to sing and wanted to be involved; yet another reason was so I would be able to meet new people and not have to sit alone in church. Yes, you heard that right. As a single person, post-college, one of the things that annoy me the most is sitting alone in church where there are tons of people. It makes me feel so very alone, alone amongst a great amount of people. Now, I am not suggesting all couples and married people feel pity and run at these singles, but I would like to submit like anyone else in the church, they have lives and are also very able to be in friendship and community.

Even as a youth minister, I was only ever invited a few times to one persons home for a meal. It felt good to be invited by this family, to share in their life in those times. However, I remember a friend of mine who is married speaking about how him and his wife were invited by members in the church to come over for meals or to play board games all the time. I admit it saddened me, that I miss out of a lot of community in my church, among my brothers and sisters, because I am single.

What many in the church to not realize is that not only are singles separated to be alone, but they are also given a strong impression against male and female friendships. The theory goes that men and women cannot be friends, and if they are, at least one secretly likes another; so some males and females never become friends because this is a way to let the others know you do not find them attractive. However, we miss out on a lot of potential friendships. I admit, I totally miss having female friends like I did in college and graduate school.

Two examples I saw this week at my church:
The first thing that happened was that the church I attend is now separating our Sunday school group, which consisted of singles and married couples of the same age. They are creating a newly formed newly weds class. Of course, the married people are excited, because they get to be with people like them, but I think that is the whole problem. I really enjoyed the class because I got different perspectives and I appreciated my voice be heard and confirmed by those who were married. Also, I think it is good for those who are married to see what single people their age are struggling with at the same time they are having different issues. But alas, I suppose the church really enjoys dividing itself into niches. But what happens once we are all settled into our nice niches. How do we react to others who are different? I think it speaks volumes to the standards in the church that no one who is single is singled out until after college. To me, the church is saying, if you are still single past college, you are not normal. We will make a class for you until you one day reach normalcy and then you can join the rest of us in a regular Sunday school class.

Second, I was singing a song in choir and the irony weighed down on me because of the words I was singing and the sight I was beholding. The song was as follows:

Make us one Lord, Make us One,
Holy Spirit, Make us one,
Let your love flow,
So the world will know,
We are one in you.

What was the irony you might ask, that was a great song about unity? Well, as I looked out into the church I saw at least four people from my class, two guys and two girls, sitting alone and separated in various seats around the church. The truth is there are some ways we are not one. One of the ways is if you are single, you are an outsider. You are not normal. You should be married by now.... and another way we are not one is when it comes to the poor and money... and this, will be in my next blog.

But my cry and my prayer today is for the Lord to make us one,
Let us become one body with no one left behind,
No one left alone or isolated,
In the church all are welcome,
The gospel and the church are for all,
God's love is for anyone,
No matter where they are at in life.


~ Daniel