Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Saturday, November 19, 2005

More On The Church & Singleness

I had a second response to yet another person's rant but I deleted the e-mail. This gal had abandonded the Church (for her this was the Roman Catholic Church) as it had "nothing to offer singles" and was dominated by out-of-touch male priests.
I empathized with her, although I am not Roman Catholic but pointed out that some of her difficulties were not caused by adherence to Scriptural teaching, but to cultural ideas. My previous blog description of the de-facto ostracization of singles by marrieds in the church is not sanctioned by the Biblical text and is in fact contrary to the way Christ would have us treat one another.
Besides the fact that the RCC elevates marriage to one of her Holy Sacraments and the Church offering holy orders for the religious Catholic single, it has no room for the divorced Catholic since re-marriage within the Church without an annulment is verboten. Obviously Catholic Singles ministry is limited to the never married or widowed single.
The Protestants do not have the same theology for a celebate priesthood, a sacramental marriage conveying sanctifying grace or an anathema for the divorcee.Yet being an Evangelical all my life has not led me to believe that we treat singles much better.
What can't we see that our unquestioning embrace of offensive Christian traditions causes unbelievers to turn away from the very place they need the most? I'm not talking about the Gospel or Jesus, non-Christians should be offended by the Cross. I'm talking about non-Christian singles being turned off by the Church's idolatry of marriage.
We seem to forget that we serve the Single Man from Nazareth.


  • At Fri Jan 09, 01:29:00 PM PST , Anonymous Summer Smith said...

    ahh yes... we do indeed serve a man that was single his life here on earth... but we can't forget that he was never to remain single! Marriage is simply God's example of Christ and the Bride in a very physical way to help us understand His desire to know us in the intimate, personal way. Christ is the the Bridegroom! He is an engaged man. I do not beleive the church idolizes marriage... I do think some people do and put everything they are into it and forget that some are called to be single. Some veiw singles as inferior becuase they they marriage as a rich and even difficult way of life.

    I just didn't want you as a single to sound as if you didn't think marriage should be respected and held high in the church... but I must say that one who lives a single, holy unto God, life is equal to one who is married. God does not veiw either has a higher sacrafice.... both roads are full of sacrafice and difficult decisions.

  • At Fri Jan 09, 04:04:00 PM PST , Blogger Ann said...

    Summer, I don't know if you are single or married or whether you are young or old but I suspect that your experience of how the Church treats single adults is quite different from this 48 year old single woman's. I do hold marriage in very high regard and realize that most Christians will be married in the course of their lives. However, I observe, as do many of my fellow singles, the unequal treatment handed down to them by married folks. (To appropriate a quote from George Orwell's Animal Farm, "All are equal, just some are more equal than others.") I once heard of a church that named its mixed group of young adult married and singles, "Pairs and Spares." While certainly a clever name, I don't think it reflects an equality in value for singleness versus marriage in that congregation. Equally egregious is the way singles are often isolated away from marrieds into their own "Singles Ministry ghetto" as a way of keeping singles from breaking up the marriages of the couples' groups. (I've actually heard that statement too, BTW.)

    The real danger exists when marriage is held so high that those not ready for or called to be married feel pressure from those in leadership to be so. That is the idolatry - recreating a creation and gift of God into something of our own design. My heart just breaks when I hear of one of my Christian brothers or sisters rushing headlong into a marriage that will, in all probabilty end in divorce or in utter misery because the married ones (pastors, deacons, elders and teachers) refuse to tell them to wait or slow down in their pursuit.

  • At Tue Jan 13, 09:45:00 AM PST , Anonymous Summer Smith said...

    I must say, I will never look at the singles in our congration the same again. Thank you for showing me a side that as a YOUNG married woman I failed to have access to. I am only 23 and have been married for nearly 4 years. I litterally started adulthood as a wife. I guess I just never realized that, even I, might have held marriage higher than it out to be held. Though it is all the things I said it was, and a great example of realtionship with man and God, it should never be idolized as should nothing else in our lives. No relationship should be idolized. I personally repent for my veiw, and even the pressure or pitty I felt towards unmarrieds. Again, thank you for helping me see this issue... Singles are a gift to the church and should not been seen any other way.

  • At Tue Jan 13, 01:39:00 PM PST , Blogger Ann said...

    I appreciate your teachable, humble spirit. I'm happy to hear that as a young, married woman are seeking to model in your own marriage the example of Christ and His Bride. I do understand where you are coming from and often singles get stereotyped as being a certain way because some of them do behave that way.

    That being said, here's a little test of one's thinking towards singleness:
    Your young adult daughter announces that she feels called to life-long singleness in order to serve the Lord. Your reaction is:
    a)What can I say to talk her out of this nonsense?
    b)I'll never...(see her walk down the aisle, have grandchildren, etc.)
    c)Thank God her siblings don't feel this way.
    d)What will our friends think? Is she gay?
    e) Thank you Jesus for blessing her with such a special gift/calling.

    Quite frankly, I would expect the average Christian mother or father to give any of the answers a-d, the extreme one possibly viewing singleness as only slightly preferrable to homosexuality (Of course homosexuality is a sin, singleness is not, though).

    This fear of "otherness" (being different from the norm) coupled with a genuine concern for how hard it is to be alone in our culture drives a lot of the Church people's attitudes toward singles. I have tried that test on church leaders and you should've seen the horrified looks on their faces when I suggested imaging their child never marrying. A few thought the idea was cool and were open to it as long as they were sure the calling was really from God.


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