It is not easy being single in the church

Christian singles hear the darndest things. If you doubt me, just watch this.

STUFF CHRISTIAN SINGLES HEAR:

Wow! My favorites are:

· How are you still single?
· There’s someone out there for you.
· Jesus is your boyfriend.
· It happens when you don’t expect it.
· Who are you bringing to the wedding?
· Sorry. Couples only.
· You know who else wasn’t married? Jesus. And Paul.
· Just pray about it.
· We’re going to celebrate NOT having Valentine’s Day.
· You know, when you have a wife, you can’t play as much Xbox.
· Are you on Christian mingle?
· You are going to make such a cool Aunt.
· You know, there is no marriage in heaven.

That video, created by John Felts, is two parts hilarious, three parts eye-opening, and one part sad. And I am left to wonder how many times I have offered up similar pithy comments and unhelpful (hurtful?) questions.

At my church, I am surrounded by a host of godly single men and just as many eligible godly women. It is highly likely that most desire to be married at some point. And I want to be a part of the solution rather than perpetuating the problem. So I put this forward to all – married or single – how can we do this well? How can we create a culture which affirms:

1. God is first, best, most.

2. Marriage is a gift of God’s design to be received in its time.

3. We’ve failed to live as though #1 is true. So we need Jesus.

4. Both those who are married and unmarried experience brokenness, and at times make #2 our God, and so we need of Jesus.

5. Marriage does not solve this brokenness, but rearranges it (H/T to Steve Treichler). So we need Jesus.

What do you think?

QUESTIONS: So what have you heard said to single Christians? What do you believe would create a culture which affirms some of these truths related to singleness and marriage? Leave a comment below.

You might also be interested to read (click on) these conversations:

  

Posted on by Cor in FAITH, LIFE

65 Responses to It is not easy being single in the church

  1. Adam Erwin

    For me, one of the best benefits of getting married was being “qualified” to be condescending to my single friends. Being single for 33 years, I saw many friends get married…and it felt like they thought they graduated into marriage. Some, as it turns out, flunked out.

    Marriage, an exciting new chapter, is not an arrival. Having kids is not “arriving” either. The worst thing I heard (and hear) from married/new parents is: “You’ll understand when you get married/have kids.” Regardless of how true that may be, what a single guy/non-parent hears is, “I’ve arrived, you haven’t. We will be equals again when you are at my level. I get you. But you don’t get me. Get married, or get ready for my advice.”

    In truth, as we focus our efforts to understand (and thrive) in our current life chapter, we usually fail to see that we lack CURRENT understanding of what it is like for those in a different life chapter. Just because I was single six months ago (and 33 years) doesn’t mean I know what it feels like to be single in November of 2012. It’s like being a master of Madden ’08 and believing that you, without playing, “get” Madden ’12. Understanding, just like EA Sports, is IN the game (Slogan for EA Sports, maker of Madden).

    • Wendy Maybury

      AMEN!

    • Cor

      I apologize if I ever resembled this comment!

      LOVE the Madden bit. That’s perfect.

  2. Single person!

    There are some places in my heart that are bitter when it comes to this topic. Please offer correction if something here isn’t striking you well! I would appreciate the chance to enter a dialogue about it. If something is disjointed, just let me know and I’ll try to explain–or maybe it will help me see where my thinking is wrong.

    I am not quite sure how to read the lines, “It is highly likely that most desire to be married at some point. And I want to be a part of the solution rather than perpetuating the problem.” It makes me wonder what “solution” and “problem” refer to. Is getting married the solution that you’re talking about? It is so easy to frame it in those terms–we are culturally conditioned to see marriage as the “happy ending” of so many stories (for example, refer to almost every Disney movie!). We are taught to be almost insecure if we do not achieve that. However, it sounds like the Bible takes a different stance–it brings us freedom.

    It is wonderful to have the reminder that Jesus is number one and we need Jesus, but that message tends to get lost in the church. I would refer back to the (hilarious) video–which points out weaknesses in how we speak to single people–to say that both Jesus and Paul were single. And Paul speaks very positively about being single. It’s easy to make those statements and then move on! As a longtime church person (holding “church involvement” separate from authentically following Christ), I think we sometimes pay lip service and then keep operating under the assumption that, yeah, okay, but marriage is actually the destination that most of us are headed for– and I think that may not reflect the whole truth!

    Rather, we have the opportunity to separate ourselves from cultural norms, from an assumption that life and service to God happens in couples, from an assumption that a person who is single is most probably looking to start a relationship–and move to a view that affirms everyone as contributors to the work of the Kingdom and maybe considers the fact that single people don’t need to be matched up with eligible partners, but rather to be encouraged as they are. Non-single people could help us all to do that. The examples of singlessness/couplehood in the Bible are revolutionary and I think we lose that in the pursuit of our own comfort. *I am number one in this sin.*

    Generally, I have been content; but some churches or experiences in churches just make dwelling in that contentedness, and existing in the blessedness that comes from being–not single specifically, but from being just the way I am and operating in the places God has brought me–that much harder. I would like to pursue God and know God and am not always sure how to do that in an environment with so many distractions and “good, but not the best” opportunities. If marriage is in the future for me, I would like to know that I didn’t enter it because it was my will, but because God had planned it and knew it would enable me to serve him more effectively.

    • Cor

      Hey SP.

      No. I was not inferring that marriage was the solution. I can see how it would be read that way. Perhaps I missed the mark by even framing it as problem/solution. I better approach could have been, “I want to be a part of moving this conversation forward in a healthy and honorably manner.”

      Even amidst these comments, I see quite a spectrum of what single folk want from others, specifically their churches. It appears that you and Vicki expect very little where as Waiting Patiently expects much more. It appears there are varying degrees of contentedness represented in the voices around the table.

      As a guy who really cares, who wants to bless, who wants to remind people of value of marriage and the greater value of God regardless of marital status, who shares in shaping the culture of a church, who wants to carry this conversation forward, in this vein, I write this post.

  3. Matt

    Google ad for the Youtube video: Ping Pong Master, Mormon. LOL

    But, people in relationships really do give the worst advice. We’re so about affirmation. If there’s something obviously wrong with me, tell me. Don’t try to live vicariously through me.

  4. Billy Sveen

    I think the American church does a poor job of validating singleness as a permanent lifestyle. It starts as little kids in Sunday school praying for God to prepare our future spouses, continues through youth group mixers in middle and high school, and is a veritable epidemic through Christian colleges across the US, often an emphasis in dorm activities and even chapel services and academic lectures. It’s a huge problem.

    • Cor

      Propose a solution.

      • Billy Sveen

        I think part of the solution is openly validating God’s calling for some people to stay single. We do this well when people are single and desire to be married (“Find your identity in God, not a significant other, SO THAT when you find him/her, you will be ready” and so on) but so rarely do we say being single is itself a justified end. I see lots of single mixers and social events, but I don’t see the church encouraging as much solidarity between men and women who are remaining single. The role of single men and women, especially those living in community together, has played a massive role in shaping modern Christianity, but it is largely ignored by American evangelicals. I’m not saying we need to reinstate medieval monasteries, but a practical, modern equivalent would be beneficial. Shane Claiborne has some challenging insight on this topic.

    • Valerie

      About the praying for future spouses part…I grew up in church and never once experienced that. As a parent I am encouraged to do so and see nothing wrong with that per se. My mom did so, but she never told me about it until after I was married. I think that would be the difference is that while my husband was being prayed for by my parents is awesome…it was not an emphasis in my life at any point. Just another thing in a long list of things my mom the prayer warrior prayed about.

      • Billy Sveen

        Valerie, thanks for sharing. That truly is awesome, and if/when I have children, I will definitely be praying for their future. However, I do think I need to be careful to pray for their POTENTIAL future spouse because just praying for a future spouse suggests that I see married life as more beneficial than single life, and that is simply not the case. I think prayer is powerful because it is supernatural, but also because it is psychological. It is this psychological aspect I think we need to be very careful of. How do the words you repeat daily or hourly affect how you view the world? Or, in relation to my previous post, how do the prayers we say aloud to impressionable children influence their opinions? That’s why your mom’s prayers are so fascinating, she did not share them with you, just God. My problem is that growing up, people in church often prayed aloud for all of the little children to grow up and find the loving spouse that God has already designated for them to marry. Regardless of intention, I think that can be harmful.

    • Dennis Crowley

      I have been single all my life. I have been counseled to “do more ” for God. Most Christian churches in the US preach the Gospel of Grace, but the churches are based on salvation or Gods approval by works. As long as this heresy is tolerated, Christians, single and married are going to struggle. Remember, Jesus died on the cross for your sins (I John 4:10). When we confess Christ as Savior and Lord (Romans 10:9,10).

  5. Matt

    Some things I’d like to have re-assessed:

    A. The idea that everyone is going to be married except those with the gift of singleness. What about living in a fallen world?

    B. Marriage and children are synonymous. This logic is why so many expect to do dating and sex as the world does. Then, you get close to the big 3-oh, show up at the church social event, and be frustrated, jealous and manipulative if everyone isn’t clamoring over them.

    C. The want of contradictory things. A guy who wants a girl to eat chicken wings with him, and drink beer with him. But, also look like a Victoria’s Secret model. The girl who wants a guy to always be affirming, and never disagree or challenge you. But, also be trustworthy and honest.

    • Cor

      A. Wow. Great point. Where does sin enter in and be seen as an appropriate reason for people getting married and staying single?

      C. Is that truly what every guy and girl want?

      • Matt

        Not always is item C the case. These are not to be universally adopted, or exhaustive. But, some instances that I’ve seen, that could be pointed out on a one by one basis by a loving and trusted Gospel friend.

  6. Vicki

    As a single Christian woman who just hit her 32nd birthday…and had to sit through an hour long lecture 2 days ago on infertility as women age…this hits a nerve. And not in a good way.

    One thing that I struggle with – and I’m sure most other single struggle with – is the fact that I am 100% happy with who God has made me to be, which includes being single thus far. However, my deepest desire in life is to have a family. To be able to share my life with someone who puts me 2nd only to Christ and to have our relationship be an example of Christ’s love. To be able to love children and share in the joys and tears of raising them to love the Lord.

    And that’s where the pain comes from. I want what God has for me, but how can I have such a deep desire in my heart for a family, and not believe that God put that desire there? And if God put that desire there, then why am I still single? and this doesn’t even start to touch the surface of what society tells me – which I’m not going there.

    The hardest part is fessing up to this in a Christian environment, because people tend to jump to the answers in this video, which don’t even come close to addressing the real issue in our hearts.

    • Waiting Patiently

      Great post! I totally agree. How have you tried to meet men? Do you find it difficult?

      • Vicki

        I have no idea how to meet men. Obviously, I make new friends at work and church, and am always trying to expand my network of friends. But at the same time I don’t go into social situations thinking, “maybe I’ll meet a guy here.” I don’t know if this is right or wrong. My current career makes it hard, and most of the people I meet are through work. So yes, I find it very hard.

    • Matt

      33 y/o male here.

      I don’t know what to think of this. What if you get married and the two of you can’t make babies. I feel like there’s no fun in just the he and she when her friends start having babies, and its all what can you do for me to fill this empty feeling. I don’t like the in it for the babies situation.

      • Vicki

        Matt – I did say family. As much as I want to have my own kids, I know that there is a possibility that it may not happen. My post was not meant to be a I want a husband just so I can have kids. Sorry if it came off that way. For what it’s worth family in my mind starts with two, but I don’t want it to stop there.

    • Sara

      I’m completely on the same page as you, Vicki. And I’ll be 33 next month.

    • Cor

      Thanks for sharing so transparently, Vicki.

  7. KC

    The wonderful thing about who God is, is that He will only do what is good for you. One key part to that though, is timing.

    God is going to make things happen on His timeline, which can be VERY FRUSTRATING. So many times in my life have I struggled with God’s timing, which comes from being immersed in a culture of instant gratification.

    Without fail though, God has pulled through and provided me with opportunities and situations that are best for me. God can only do good works, even if it takes longer than I would like to get there.

    God will open doors, close doors, and sometimes, slam them shut right before you’re about to walk through, but I take comfort knowing that He is in complete control. He has a plan, and it is a good one. All I have to do is hand over the car keys.

    • Cor

      What does your life look like during the waiting?

      • KC

        It actually is a lot of “doing.” God will lead me to the right door when the time is right, even if I have to slam my head against 27 closed doors before that.

        The most recent time of this happening to me was in my job hunt after college. I spent so much time trying to find the right fit for me. I even went on a couple of interviews in other states. One instance in particular, I went through the whole process, thought I did very well, and then just never heard anything back from the company, despite trying to contact them multiple times. This is a clear example (at least in my opinion) of God slamming the door shut.

        The job I ended up taking actually happened from “chance.” I didn’t send any application there at all. I just happened to get the opportunity from someone I know happening to take a tour of their facility at just the right time. and it’s been a perfect fit for me.

        I know my example isn’t about finding a relationship, and my metaphor is cheesy, but I know that God will show me my wife when I’m meant to meet her. In the meantime, I’m going to keep running into closed doors.

  8. Waiting Patiently

    I read this blog and comments hoping to get answers but instead I read from others in a very similar position. Vicki’s post is exactly how many Christian men and women feel. I am surprised that Hope does not do more to support singles and maybe even have singles events where people can meet each other. Most people come in groups which means the only the they meet somebody new is during the awkward question in the beginning. It’s assumed that since there are so many single people that it must be easy for them to date each other but that is not true.

    These blogs are good to spark discussion but I never read how HOPE feels about them. And yes we know that God is first.

    What kinds of solutions does the leadership of HOPE have for the singles with a desire to marry?

    • Vicki

      Waiting Patiently – I wish I knew what it was that I wanted. I mean, I can express my feelings but at the same time, I don’t know what it is I would want from a church. Like Single Person stated so nice above, stating singleness as a “problem” for the “church to solve” doesn’t sit well with me at all.

      When I was in LDI many moons ago we used to sit around the church for hours (I am so not kidding, we really did this) trying to figure out how to create a ministry for single people that was going to meet our needs. And yes, this was all single people doing the planning. That’s why I think the single group between college and 40 is the hardest group to ministry to. We don’t even know what we the church to do for us, so how can we expect other people to figure out what it is we need in a ministry?

      Disclaimer – this is just my personal opinion, and does not reflect the opinion of other LDI interns, or single people in general.

      • Waiting Patiently

        It depends upon how you frame this issue. For some it’s a problem, but for many being single happens to be a marital status. I’m surprised that you guys found it so difficult to start a ministry. Every church I’ve been to before Hope has some sort of group. It’s really not such a big deal.

        At a singles event: Single people meet each other and become friends. Maybe they decide to get to know each other more or maybe not. If somebody doesn’t like the idea of being “singled out” as Pastor Cor mentions, then they don’t go to the event. Simple as that. It appears that so many people are ashamed of being single and yes, I am on the other end of the spectrum.

        • Vicki

          I can’t remember what we called it. But we did start something. It was basically what you described. Friday/Saturday evening social events for singles only. The problems we had were: What do we call it? How you do define single? Does dating count? Or do you have to be “seriously” dating? If you get engaged, are you allowed to still be involved in the ministry or are you kicked out?

          I think these are the biggest reasons why singles ministries fail and specifically why at Hope it has had a hard time taking off. The post college-not marriage group is the most transient group at Hope (or at least it was when I was there). Between ministry burn out, physical moving or getting married stability is not always feasible.

    • Cor

      If I had answers, I’d give them. It’s just not as easy as putting a bunch of people in the same room.

      Many singles don’t want to be singled out because of their singleness. It sounds like you’re on the opposite end of that spectrum and have a comfort being identified as such. Not everyone is this way.

      One of the hardest ministries I’ve ever overseen during my time as a pastor was the mentoring ministry. This is a 2X/mo. commitment where you slowly build trust as you chat with another person over coffee. I thought, “This shouldn’t be too hard.” I was totally wrong. People are highly selective when it comes to who they are willing to talk to and open up with. Now consider that raised to the power of 10, and you start to realize the challenge of matching two people together in dating and possibly marriage.

      Could we do something? Yes. Have we tried? Yes. Have we found the solution? No.

      Typically, anything done well (not just singles stuff but any flourishing ministry at Hope) gets started by those with a passion for it, who have thought deeply on it, consulted the opinions of many others, considered the cost and challenges associated with it, discussed it with leaders who’ve seen other attempts, bathed it in prayer, and then stepped to the plate and started swinging. Each of these batters have experienced varying levels of success and failure.

      • Waiting Patiently

        At a singles event: Single people meet each other and become friends. Maybe they decide to get to know each other more or maybe not. If somebody doesn’t like the idea of being “singled out” as Pastor Cor mentions, then they don’t go to the event. Simple as that. It appears that so many people are ashamed of being single and yes, I am on the other end of the spectrum.

        What has Hope tried?

  9. Rich

    I’m a 30-something Hopester who’d welcome the chance to meet women like Vicki and Sara. I know in my heart that I’ve been created and shaped for marriage; indeed, it’s one of my strongest callings in life. Despite earnest efforts however, the Lord has not yet granted me that desire.

    Hope certainly has lots of singles, and a good number of us are looking to meet fellow Believers with whom we could glorify God in marriage. Perhaps a singles group on The City would help bring us together. We could mention a little about ourselves and what we’re seeking in a partner in bulletin-board style format. Folks could reply publicly to our post with encouragement or offer a private message. Let’s leverage our existing technology to bring our Christian singles together.

    Maybe we’ve passed each other at fellowship time or chatted during the icebreaker question. Maybe we have mutual friends. We may even share the same small group but don’t know the other is looking. The City would leverage our existing community to help forge new connections.

    God often places doors of opportunity in our lives, yet only by living boldly in the Gospel can we move through them. To that end, I’ll be in the left-field upper deck tomorrow during second service. If you see a guy wearing a maroon and black U of M Columbia fleece around Hope the next few weeks, stop by and say hi. At the very least, we’ll help bolster Hope’s middle name… At most, who knows?

  10. shar

    Maybe a better question is “What HAVEN’T you heard said to single Christians?” :)

    (I hope this comment doesn’t come across as negative and/or accusatory; my purpose isn’t to complain but to say honestly what I’ve experienced in almost 30 years as a single woman.)

    I think a huge problem within much of Christian culture as it relates to relationships is the language we use to discuss it. Here are a few examples:

    MIXED MESSAGES. When I brought up the subject of eHarmony on facebook once, just for fun, the responses ranged from “Online dating is a way for desperate, impatient people to exert their will instead of waiting for God’s timing” to “You’re right, there aren’t many men in this town, so I think it’s a great way to meet someone you might not normally run into.” And these words from friends, good friends, Christian friends. These conflicting ideas are a lot for any single person to wade through–we pass the same formulas along from person to person, often without thinking about what we’re really saying and how every piece of advice can’t possibly apply to all people at all times. Besides that…

    NOT LISTENING. I cannot count how many times I’ve discussed my singleness with someone and have mentioned how much I enjoy it–only to have them respond, “Well, I’m sure you’ll find someone someday.” What?! Why am I given a sympathetic response for something I’m happy about? It makes me feel as though there’s something wrong with liking singleness, even though if I were to complain about being single, I’d be reminded that I should enjoy it. Again, mixed messages. And the assumption that all single people feel the same way about being single and thus that any pithy saying will apply equally to any of us.

    I do think that building a culture of affirmation is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Much of it is based on really listening to and knowing people as individuals, as well as examining the nice words and common “solutions” to see if they are actually helpful or even truthful.

    Finally, here’s something I think the church could be more aware of:

    MATCHMAKING. I spent four years at the mercy of well-meaning yentes who made sure to inform me every time a new man visited the church. There’s this misconception that any two single people will be a perfect match, even if the only thing they have in common is their singleness. Friends, please, don’t push me in the direction of any man just because he’s a man and I MUST need a man. It’s degrading and frustrating.

    On the flip side, a friend of mine said he thinks that we do singles a disservice if we know people who would be a good match and DON’T introduce them.

    Okay, that was really long. I’m done. Jon Acuff is way funnier than me and says this much better:

    http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2009/06/550-surviving-church-as-a-single/

  11. Kelley

    Here’s a bold approach. Several years ago I was visiting a church in Belarus. During the announcements they were advertising to all the single men and women that they had group photos made so all the singles could scope out who was available. I couldn’t believe it, so I asked one of the girls nearby about it. She said the church thought it best to encourage matches between the single Christians in the church. An approach for Hope? Probably not, but I would agree that it would be nice to meet people at Hope. The bar scene isn’t exactly were I hope to meet my future husband.

  12. Jess

    Vicki – I agree with you. I’m a content, single 33 year old who also desires to eventually be married and maybe have kids (although, I find it really refreshing to hand back a crying baby to its parents and then walk away without the responsibility). I find it hard to daily strive towards God, with the desire to be married pretty much slapping me across the face. It’s hard to stay focused on really what is important on a daily basis.

    Things I have heard family, friends, co-workers say…
    – “The way to date and find someone is through the internet.” My reaction: Bummer because I can’t afford online dating.
    – “You’ll find someone, don’t worry. Trust in God’s timing.” My reaction: Second part is great advice! As for the first part I wanted to punch this person in the face!
    – Family: “Are you dating anyone?” Me: “Nope.” Family “You know we’ll love you whether you like men OR women!” Me: “huh? ummm…ok” My reaction: No, I’m not a lesbian! Because I’m in my 30’s and haven’t dated much does not make me a lesbian! Do you even know who I am?!?!? Honestly this left me a little bitter towards my family.

    Sure I have my struggles that include the lack of energy and desire to be social as I age, I assume men automatically are judgmental of the way I look, and many other things. I have seen failed marriages, marriages with abuse, and really great God-centered marriages. And I will say out loud that I really don’t care if I get married, but inside it’s still a desire to have that life adventure with someone.

    I don’t have any suggestions for Hope, but to keep on preaching truth. God is my Hope, my Salvation and I will not let the devil ruin that!

    Good post Cor. Good to think about and try to process through.

    • Matt

      You really can’t afford internet dating? $90 for half a year? $90 would get me two first dates in the real world. Internet dating is a great way to filter down what people actually stand for as they have to decide what to put in their profile without the opportunity to tailor it to the audience. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

      • Jess

        Not knocking internet dating. I have seen several friends find their spouse that way. Just stating a fact that with an already tight budget right now, I can’t afford it.

    • Heidi

      Oh, Jess, my family has said same sentiments said to me too! We really are messing with our culture’s formula for life by being single, aren’t we?

      I have so much to say, but not a lot of time so I had to start with replying to your zinger.

      Thanks for the topic, Cor, and thanks for the great insight, everyone! I would love to unpack this further with some of you…singles night at Toast Wine bar next Monday? ;)

      • Waiting Patiently

        Maybe the Lord is calling you to lead a singles ministry. lol You should start a group on The City.

        • Heidi

          Ha! Sure, I’d be happy to lead–just need some amazing co-leaders! ;)

    • Vicki

      Ha ha ha…I can’t tell you how many time’s I’ve been asked or assumed I was a lesbian just b/c I am still single. Grrr…

      As for the online dating…I feel the same as you. My sister met her husband online, and I have nothing against it at all. But I have something against paying to meet people – not sure why and not knocking people who do. And I think I also have this fear, that I have never shared aloud before, that if single men I know don’t ask me out, why would strangers online ask me out.

      But I agree with your end point 100%, what ever is to happen in our lives, God gets the Glory and that is all that matters!

  13. Single Hope-ster

    As an early 30s single woman, I can honestly say that being a single Christian makes me feel like a second-class citizen at times. During prayer in small group, I don’t have the “husband/children/relationship” prayers, and often times my prayer requests seem to be taken less seriously. Don’t misunderstand; I love my small group, but most are married and have been since they were in their early 20s. They haven’t had to navigate life as a single person aging in a culture that “praises” or at least epitomizes marriage at a young age. My life, experiences and needs are not less-than because they don’t involve a spouse and children.

    What absolutely drives me crazy is when married people assume I have so much time because I am single. Since I don’t have children and a spouse, I must have unlimited amounts of time to do things, plan things or at least babysit their children. I would never assume that a stay-at-home mother has ample amounts of time because “she doesn’t work.” Why is that courtesy not afforded to me?

    I am a happy, content woman who loves Jesus. I have experienced much, loved much and lost much. True, that love hasn’t yet included a spouse, but I am not to be pitied. I am not less-than. I am to be respected and affirmed as any other woman who loves Jesus. My marital status doesn’t define me. Jesus does.

  14. Lindsay Johnson

    I think The City is a great place to offer singles a sort of “eharmony” experience without the cost. They certainly don’t have to sign up and be a part of it if they are not looking for a relationship, but those who want to will have a free way to get to know people in their church who are looking. I know I would have loved something like that when I was single!

    • Waiting Patiently

      The City could be a great way to get to know people.

  15. Matt

    I have a great experiment. And, I’d be willing to volunteer to help make it happen.

    First ever Hope Sadie Hawkins Dance!

    Why is this such a great idea?

    Empathy! So, the reason that Sadie Hawkins’ were originally conceived as a way to convince everyone that its not all sugar plums and gumdrops for the other gender back when there were gender roles. Now that reformed churches are popping up and are complimentarian, gender roles exist again, and empathy is needed again.

  16. Valerie

    Okay…a few thoughts keep bouncing around in my head and so to get rid of them I’m gonna post.
    First is, bring single or not being single shouldn’t be a focal point in my opinion. The whole idea is to grow and learn in your love for God and that produces the fruit we see in our actions and day to day lives. That message shouldn’t change no matter our life circumstances.
    That being said, I see no problems with groups focusing in on different life situations, Our situation in life changes the types of interferences we experience in experiencing God’s love. Things like marriage, being single, finances, loss of loved ones, emotional trauma, abuse, age, gender, etc can all be factors. So having small groups where people can get together who have similar experiences is not a bad thing. It really is all in the approach. Are singles groups there purely to “cure” them of singleness and help them find a spouse? Or are they there for singles to meet and talk about the difficulties they experience in knowing God? Women’s groups shouldn’t be there to enforce a certain female stereotype but to talk about how being a women affects how you experience God. You get the idea (I hope)
    The ultimate goal of any Christian should be to experience God fully in their lives. Churches are supposed to help us reach that goal and remove any obstacles. Being single or being married is not the obstacle….it merely changes the problems.
    As for “advice”, my response is the same no matter the subject, If I ask for advice I accept it. Sometimes with a LOT of salt, but I just take it for what it is. If it is unsolicited however, I do tend to tell them…in a loving manner…where they can stick it, (well, maybe not exactly but I have no problems telling people I really don’t need their advice at the moment thank you)
    I will sum up that I was one of the unhappy singles. I did not enjoy being single for most of my life. But it was not due to my parents or how the church taught me. It had everything to do with some high school bullying experiences that left me feeling unworthy of love on many levels. So despite loving and supportive parents and churches that were teaching me my value in Christ it was time and God banging me over the head over and over again until I finally got it. Up until that point I had no dating relationships and I firmly believe it was because God knew I was in no shape to handle one. It wasn’t until He brought healing to the wounds and I started to find my worth in Christ that I dated and ultimately married someone. So that classic line I kept hearing (you know…it happens when you aren’t looking for it.) was true. But the trick wasn’t to stop looking so I can find a guy, but change where I was looking to find THE guy.
    As a note, to those who spoke of a strong desire to have a family my only response is that God will answer those desires or change them. I know, it’s one of those annoying and “christiany” answers but it doesn’t make it any less true. I also would have people tell me to enjoy being single and it often made me feel my desire for a family was wrong. Not true. But I think it,s a fine line to have your desires become a replacement for your God.

    So that was super long winded and if you read all of that you get a gold star. Basically, worth and love need to come from God first and foremost…no matter your situation in life.

  17. Joey

    I met my wife at church. She was introduced to me by the youth pastor’s wife. I was just out of college and she was almost finished with college. I hadn’t dated in 3 years and she hadn’t dated in 5. There was no singles ministry at our church and we weren’t attracted to one another anyway. We were married 10 months later.

    I’ve become a big fan of a church in which its people aren’t segregated by their classification – youth, single, married, divorced, engaged, families with little kids, families with big kids, bald people, gray people, dyed-hair people, and more. I went out 2 weeks ago with a single guy from Hope who’s 6 years younger than me. The day before I had been at lunch with a married dad who’s [insert the number of years here Cor] older than me. Later in the week I was with a group of around 15 people from Hope that included one or two married couples, some people who were dating, and some single guys and girls (Hope Hymns CD release after party!). A month or so ago I was at a bonfire with some Hope people and my wife and I were the only ones there with our kids in a group that included people who were single, married, and dating.

    I don’t mean to devalue time in groups of people at the same place as you. If I were single, I’d probably be looking for a single small group, for example, since small groups tend to get into spiritual and relational struggles that are different for married and dating people than they are for single people. Our current small group is specifically geared at married couples without kids. I’m thankful for a nursery where all 2-year-olds are in one place instead of running around on stage with the pastor! There’s a place for some element of classification segregation, but I don’t think that place is generally in social settings that are being described by most people here. Not that it’s wrong to have a singles group by any stretch, I’m just not sure that it’s the best (and it certainly isn’t the only) way to meet and engage with others. Even in those more intimate settings like small groups, we’ve found ourselves in past small groups feeling stuck, like everyone in the group is in the same place in life and no one is really well-equipped to pull others forward.

    Of all of my married friends, I can only think of one who met through a singles group. Another met through online dating, which is more common now and I think is a really good option. Most met through friends, whether at college, church, work, or, yes, even the gym.

    To all of the single people out there, I’m sorry about how I and others who are not single treat you. Given the prominence of marriage in society at large and within Christianity, you’re right, it’s really easy to wonder “what’s wrong” with people who are “getting older” (25+ or so?) and aren’t married or dating yet. At the aforementioned bonfire, I even caught myself commenting to the owner of the home, a single guy who had recently bought the home, that now all he needed was a wife. In fairness, he had already made comments in past conversations about wanting to be married, but still, I felt bad in retrospect that I further perpetuated the sense that something was missing from his life. Even if he feels that way, I was wrong to reinforce that feeling.

    But we’re all bound to make stupid comments. For every single person being told they need to find someone, there’s a married person tired of their single friends’ comments about the “ball and chain.” I think that’s part of why I value relationships with people who aren’t at the same place in life as me. I need their perspective on life or else my perspective becomes more narrow than it should.

    I should probably stop talking now. Cor’s post: 315 words. My comment: 662 words. I have a problem…

  18. Siberio Beauregard

    I guess I’m a little confused about the whole post, but I’ll try answering anyways.

    I have to say, I’ve never heard of a put down from a married Christian about a single (based on their singleness) The emphasis on marriage, in general, can go a bit far though.

    It goes a little deeper than just Paul and Jesus being single. Paul suggests that marriage is for people who can’t keep it in their pants and that it’s BETTER to be single. Jesus even seemed to suggest that volunteer castration is superior to marriage. There doesn’t need to be some “validation” of being single, Paul and J-dog do a solid job of validating it. Of course there are singles who search for validation because they feeling insecure about it, but that most likely stems from a lack of identity and no amount of marriage or relationship will help that. There are things that the Church shouldn’t be doing, as in the silly practice of having kids pray for their future spouses (as Billy Sveen pointed out) or even encouraging others of the assumption that there is “the one” of there for them.

    Certainly marriage isn’t a bad thing, but the Church has valued it much higher than it ever should have been. What could the Church do for singles? I don’t see how it needs to do anything except continue to teach how to live out the Kingdom…which is the message for all Christians.

    In an age of church programs, I’m sure there’s something clever or entertaining someone could come up with for singles, but I would be a little confused on why. The only possible thing I could think of is to meet others (without the purpose of meeting a mate), but a weekly program doesn’t seem necessary for that.

  19. Derek Hanisch

    Wow, some really great discussion going on. The first thing that we’ve got to keep in mind (and it has been mentioned already) is that single, or married, what matters is our relationship with God. That should be our focal point, our focus, the Big Thing. No matter where we are in our life cycle, God should be where our focus is.

    Yes, Paul was single. And he did write that we should remain single, like him, in a perfect world, but he also said to marry. So the Biblical example is not straightforward. Some people should marry, and some shouldn’t. How do you know which grouping you’re in? Pray about it. Examine your heart. When you consider a relationship with someone, ask yourself if this person is going to help you Glorify God more, or hinder that relationship.

    One of the biggest things I’ve seen hindering the lives of Christians, both single an non, is the belief that there is only one correct path to walk down, and that God will reveal it to us, and be displeased if we don’t take it. So we sit around, and we pray. “God, please let me the girl you desire me to marry.” Great prayer, and I have nothing against it. But, as Christians, we tend to pray, and then wait. We wait around for God to answer our prayers. I firmly believe that, as Christians, we need to act. Prayer and action need to go side by side. Pray that God will help you meet “the one” and then go out there and look for her. We’ve become far too passive as Christians, this goes for singleness, and other matters as well. Pray that God will close the door unless if it’s His will, and then walk through it.

    As a 25 year-old single at Hope, I understand the frustration. Some day I desire, and feel called to marry a Godly woman. The place to start looking should be obvious – the church. Over my last two years at Hope, I’ve found this to be harder than I would have imagined.

    Simply meeting the single person isn’t the hard part. I’ve met a lot of cool single women at Hope. The problem comes in continuing the conversation. As a previous poster mentioned, most of the time we’re surrounded by friends at Hope, so it’s hard to single (pun intended!) somebody out.

    I think another thing that gets in the way is fear. We fear rejection, and awkwardness. What if I ask out this girl in my small group, and what if she said no, and makes the whole small group experience awkward?

    Honestly, I think some sort of singles group/event would be desirable. Perhaps the men and women of hope should present speed dating. Okay, maybe not. But something should be done to foster the relationships between the Singles at Hope.

    Some days, I feel like this whole relationship thing is so complicated, and I get overwhelmed. Shouldn’t it be easy? Maybe not, but wouldn’t it be nice if it were?

    Maybe the solution is Cor and Naty getting together and matching all single men and women together in compatible parings.

  20. Esther

    I admire those that have the strength and conviction to stay single and focused on God. I also value churches like Hope that are welcoming whether I bring my husband or not. Affirmation for everyone!

  21. Casey Nordman

    As a single Christian woman who just graduated college without dating anyone (which is really more impressive than anything, I think, given my involvement in Campus Crusade for Couples), I have a couple thoughts on being single in a church.

    1. Singles in my generation in general need to realize that marriage is not the end-all be-all, but that it’s also okay to get excited about. If God knows you, personally, individually, can glorify Him better without getting married, that’s something to celebrate and enjoy. I’m definitely not belittling the struggle of enjoying it. And if you haven’t been called to singleness, it’s okay to like the thought of marriage. God created it! God created it as a gift to us to represent the relationship between His Son and the Church, and that’s amazing. There’s a balance that needs to be struck between worshiping marriage as an idol and renouncing it as an earthly pleasure.

    2. Single Christians: It’s okay to be honest! If I hear another story about a girl saying, “I just need to date Jesus right now,” to a guy whose views on politics, treatment of the waiter and desire for 18 kids were really the deal-breakers, I’m going to have a fit. God knit each of us together with different views, priorities and desires. These are good things. If after two dates or two years, something comes to light that means you can’t continue seeing someone, communicate that. Do not use God as a get-out-of-an-awkward-relationship free card. I think the church tends to overstate the use of God as an excuse in relationships. “God told me to break up with you,” should not be the go-to. He probably didn’t. And if He did, there are reasons. Share those reasons. Let’s speak the truth in love, singles.

  22. Casey Garner

    Funny thing is:

    CNN just ran this article on singleness as a christian: http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/16/world/opinion-jim-friel-singledom/?iref=obnetwork

  23. Tim L

    Cor. Your multiple posts of this particular blog post guilted me into commenting.

    As far as churches getting involved in peoples’ lives, I don’t think any church (especially my church) should be obligated to create a “singles” group. People would have even more pressure put on them to join to find “the one,” and they would blame God for not finding them a sanctified match. Because hey, why WOULDN’T God send them someone special through a SINGLES GROUP organized by a CHURCH of GOD? (cue dramatic footage of a whiny person yelling to the heavens, “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?”)

    For me as a individually, while I know churches (especially churches like Hope CC) try to instill a culture of “we accept you whoever and wherever you are,” I know darn well that I am too much of a black sheep to expect to ever “meet someone” in a church setting. It’s not the church’s fault. And it’s definitely NOT God’s fault for making me who I am. I’m proud of the experiences God has had me go through in my short life, and I’ve accepted who I have become.

    And, admittedly, I accepted years ago that it’s okay that I’ll probably never find a gff at church.

    BUT I will say with 100% certainty that accepting that reality has freed me of all social pressures in my church. It’s liberating. I have been able to be a part of my church community without having to worry about if any, as far and few as they come, encounter with the opposite gender will result in any sort of “I really like you and you really like me” relationship. There’s no pressure to have to “perform” socially to achieve that level of friendship.

    I can be who I am and simply enjoy my church for what it’s worth.

    You think I’m messed-up? Cool. I think you’re messed-up too.

    You don’t like that I called you messed-up? Cool. You need more Gospel-oriented friends to tell you that.

    You’re going to walk away now? Cool. I guess the beauty of a big church is that you probably can easily get away with never seeing me again…

    Not that I’ve ever had that interaction before, but it shows how un-kiss-[butt]-y one can be when they aren’t trying to impress and kiss [butt].

    Yeah. Yeah. I know it’s important to compliment women on how their hair is nice. I get that. But isn’t that a given? Shouldn’t you be doing that because you’re simply a good person (and/or friend) and not because you want to earn brownie points with them?

    Anyways, my point is that people who go to a church and get involved in a church community shouldn’t jump into that pool if all they want is to “shack up” (as the British would say) with someone of the opposite gender. Stop it. You’re peeing in the pool and taking advantage of those who want to be in genuine community with you and accept you and your flaws.

    It’s all about unselfish acceptance. If I do ever find “the one” (not Keanau Reeves), it’s because I found someone who legitimately cares for me (and I for her). That sort of thing doesn’t have to be found in a church (but it sort of expedites the whole “becoming one” process if they already go to the same one as you).

    As for now, I’m going to keep doing my thing, and keep enjoying everything my church community already blesses me with.

    Tim out.

    • Derek Hanisch

      Tim – I think you raise some great points, but I do have to disagree with you on one of them. You say that there should be no single ministry at church.

      Is it not the responsibility of the Church to meet people where they are at? That’s why we have young adult ministry, men’s ministry, women’s ministry, MOPS, and all of the other groups that exist in the church. So that we can relate to others in the same boat as us, and seek Christ together.

      Now I’m not saying that the Church should be doing Speed Dating or any such thing. I don’t think that the primary purpose of a Single’s group in a church would be to meet the “one”. But I do think that a Single’s group would be a great place to meet us where we’re at, and to introduce us to others walking the same life path.

      For instance, at my old church, I joined the young adult Bible Study. It so happened to be me and 4 different couples. Yes, we all went to the same church, and all believed in the same God, but by virtue of being in different places in life, I felt that I could not relate to them. There are times at Hope when I feel that everybody around me is pairing off, and that I’m standing still. Having a Single’s Ministry, a place where I can meet those who are facing the same issues I’m facing, would be nice.

      It’s not about hitching up. It’s about meeting us where we’re at, and pushing each other towards Christ.

      • Matt

        Good to see you guys are still commenting on this.

        Since Tim forged the way in being real. I want to make a point for not singling-out the singles. I know, if you’re single and you don’t want to be, we shouldn’t say its your ‘fault’, or that maybe, there’s something “wrong with you”. But, sometimes, that is the case.

        The church is this odd place where it seems like there’s a penchant to push the limits of selfless, unconditional love. Ironically, this can lead to the expectation of a relationship where you don’t have to bring anything to the table. you wouldn’t expect a girl in a bar to date you if you have no positive qualities.

        Sure you smell like cheese, weigh 400 lbs, live in your mom’s basement and, are as Mark Driscol would say, a Guild Leader from World of Warcraft. But, come on, this is a church. *insert Chrisitianese platitude here*

        Girls can also think that the church is a romance novel where she is owed the guy with a trust fund, six-pack abs and an acoustic guitar. And, he wants to give, give, give and be used when he has other options.

        As my friends get happily married I have a choice to either become entitled and bitter, or try to learn how they work towards listening to each other, and working towards bringing more joy to each others’ lives.

        You wouldn’t take financial advice from someone who is broke. You wouldn’t pay a personal trainer that looks like Michael Moore or Chris Christie. You need to be in community with people that are in the same place as you. But, also, people that have been there and are no longer there.

        Some people are completely happy single. Sorry, my rant doesn’t apply to everyone.

  24. Single person!

    I love the idea of a Sadie Hawkins dance and the idea of Cor and Naty matching people up. Use your expertise! ;)

    I have also gotten the well-meant question of whether I’m a lesbian. However, it was a long time ago and I am now blessed and happy to have a supportive family with positive role models.

    I would like to know more about what Casey said: “‘God told me to break up with you,’ should not be the go-to. He probably didn’t. And if He did, there are reasons. Share those reasons. Let’s speak the truth in love, singles.” Is this the case? What about listening to what God tells us to do (like you have mentioned, Cor, when you want to eat something and God guides you out of food lust!)? And how can we speak the truth in love as singles?

  25. David

    Don’t worry, guys/girls, I got this, I’m a comp sci graduate/software engineer. I’ll just write a clustering/dynamic programming/optimization algorithm in Python that crunches everyone’s City profiles and spits out the optimal pairings, then all that’s left to do is staple the communication cards together. Totally fair, objective, and foolproof. (I promise not to rig it to set me up with the lady of my choice)

    Seriously, though, great comments here. As a 23-year-old single, this is kind of a glimpse at what the future may hold for me–I still have plenty of single friends and I definitely don’t feel like a second-class citizen, but it is getting hard to ignore.

    Of course it isn’t the church’s job to hold your hand and guide you to “God’s plan” for your marriage, and single’s ministries have the potential to raise false expectations like this, but I think the desires for some kind of ministry with singles in mind is evidence that Hope should look into this. With caution, of course.

    • Joey

      *Slow clap.*

      Fantastic comment all the way around!

    • David Pitchford

      On another note, though, while others seem to be in favor of singles’ events, my problem is not meeting the right person but being the right person, so I don’t think they would benefit me much at this point.

  26. Faith

    I like what Cor said about believing God is sovereign over your dating life. For me: Absolutely! He isn’t going to let me go into something that isn’t good. It is in His timing. Am I content. Yes? Do I like being single? Yes and no. Yes because I don’t have to please anyone else, deal with anyone else’s schedule or habits. But no, because I would like to go on an adventure with someone. Toward God. I have a strong desire for that. It has been said God places those desires on our heart. Can they help me better serve that I could on my own? Are they in a place to lead me? What I keep running into is-they pursue me and then oh, I cannot move forward. I am not in a good place. Dude, then why did you ask me out in the first place? I have heard it all as well. Jesus was single. Paul was single. Yeah? I have a news flash for you. I AM NOT JESUS OR PAUL!!!!! I am 32. Single. I am pursuing the lover of my soul, Jesus Christ. And I would like to share that with someone someday. “Your time will come”. Yes, I know! No, I am not going to do the online dating thing again. “Pray fervently for them”. Okay, and then what? God gives us what we desire right? If it is good. If I start praying fervently for them, then am I discontent with being single? Herein starts the viscious cycle for me.
    So when I get sick of the single sympathetic comments from others, I go back to the Truth. Truth breeds trust. And I 100% am believing in and communicating with God about my dating life. He wasn’t going to marry me before that age of 30 (when I gave my life to Him and learned that there was a relationship to be had with him), and I am thankful for that. He was going to use my story and past mistakes in other ways. For someone who spent most of their 20’s in sinful relationships with men, I am blessed. I am growing and learning about who Jesus is, and what can I do with my life spiritually, financially, relationally, and physically now to better serve my future spouse? I quote over and over something Jon Neal wrote in the on ramp at Hope about Paul in 1 Cor 7, “Paul speaks about singleness as a good thing. Now, he’s not making a hierarchy of value when it comes to circumstances. That’s not his main point. His main point is contentment. Are you content with where God has you? Do you truly believe he has you where you are for a reason? Or, do you assume you know better than God? If you aren’t content while you are single, you won’t be content when you’re married.” So what can Hope do? I don’t know if it is Hope’s responsibility. That being said, I think church events and such is a very safe place to meet someone. However, at 32, I am older than a large percent of the men at Hope. That’s a problem. It would be cool to have some singles events, if for none other than meeting new people and making new friends who are in the same stage of life as me. Even a 30’s small group. I have been praying for that. I aslo appreciate marrieds and marrieds with kids. I would love to do life with you all if it meant doing dinner now and then at their house. Y’all can show us singles what married life is all about and be an exapmple to singles like me.
    I am also thankful for Pastor’s like Steve who give great advice. If they ( the person whom you find yourself interested in) isn’t 100% in love with Jesus, ruuuuuuun! When it comes time to make that decision of moving forward or having the DTR, It is good for you? Good for her/him? And good for God? Marriage does not solve brokeness, but rearranges it. And for people like Naty who walks around Hope with her baseball bat protecting the women of hope from the men. :)

  27. Vicki

    Thanks Cor for posting and reposting this. You know, since you posted this in November – God has been doing MAJOR work in this area in my life. Too much to discuss here. But I wanted to invite anyone who wants to discuss it more to my blog. I’m currently working on my next post, and would love to start more discussions on this very important topic!

    http://www.slavite.blogspot.com

  28. Jo

    To put my comment in context, I have been single for all but two months of my life including now. It sounds like the question at hand is how to create a culture that offers both truth and encouragement around people in every relationship status. In response I can only think of one thing – the kingdom of heaven. As long as we are on this earth we are in a place of waiting. We feel the pain and frustration of that in different ways at different times, and our relationship statuses play a role in that sometimes. But God works in that. Through stories, his own life and his own spirit, he teaches us about himself and about ourselves in the waiting. He saves and redeems in the waiting. I am encouraged when my family in Christ looks for and celebrates the kingdom of heaven that we get to experience together. It’s that simple for me. I just enjoy you guys :) Whatever directions you pursue, please don’t let it crowd that out!

    • Cor

      Such a great comment, Jo! Thank you so much for this.

  29. TheVeryTruth

    for many of us, being single and alone is certainly no fun at all. and i am hoping to meet a good woman to share my life with.

  30. Still Single

    Bring this discussion back! So much talk about finding ways to affirm and introduce singles, and nothing coming of it. Come on, guys. Anyone with me?

Add a Comment