I don’t need a dating service: confessions of a Christian single

I’m 24 years old (and yes, I realize that’s not very old). I’m a Christian. I’m single. And I’m tired of it. No, I’m not tired of being single. And of course I’m not tired of being a Christian…but put them together, and it just wears me out. I’m gonna try not to be cynical here, because quite frankly it’s against my nature, and I’m kind of anti-critical. But…the church is deeply failing the singles population. That’s just the plain truth.
I got so into this topic, I decided to do some research, Look at what I found:
  • 41% of the US population is single (US Census 2005).
  • 51% (yes, over half) of all US women live without a spouse (NY Times 2007).
  • If I’m doing the math right, over 46% of 20-40 year olds in America have never been married (US Census 2008).
Right away, we realize: 1) There are more of us than you think. 2) Singles cover a wide range of ages. 3) Just because you’re older and single doesn’t mean you’re divorced. And yet, when you’re single in the church, what are your options? Staying up late with the lively college group, going to “singles” events that translate into dating services, recovering with the older, single and divorced population… All great ministries, but is that really what most singles are looking for? I’m just one person, but if I’m anything like other singles, there are a couple things that need to be cleared up…
Just because I’m single, it doesn’t mean I want to hang out with single people all the time. In fact, it probably means the opposite. At least for me, being single makes me crave stability all the more. And yet, we’re placed in these “singles only” groups with a revolving door of people who move, or get married, or get bored. We’re only invited to families’ homes on holidays, when family is what we long for. I know it’s awkward for single people to hang out with married people, but have you ever wondered if it’s just because we’re not used to it?
Marriage is not the solution. Yes, marriage is good, and who wants it? We all do. But, it’s condescending and disrespectful to the singles population when we’re expected to swim around, disconnected from the church body until we get married and “graduate” into the regular world of families. It seems more like people feel sorry for us all the time, instead of believing that we, too, have something to offer the church.
What’s funny, the Barna research group finds that four out of five single adults would say they are Christian (2005). And yet, how many thriving and successful singles ministries can you think of?
Maybe it’s about time we try something new and rethink the church’s strategy (or non-strategy) in reaching the singles population. I mean, when I read about the New Testament church, I don’t see anything about dividing the single and married people up. I don’t see anything that says it’s better to be married. In fact, many of the greatest early church leaders were single (and Paul even advocated for it). And the early church was all about community. It didn’t matter if you were single, or married, or anything. If you were a believer, you were cared for and had a place to belong and serve.
I know that is still the message the church hopes to give singles. I know there’s no one to blame for this failure and that all of this has come about by accident.
But it’s time people do something.
So, singles, don’t give up on the church. And married people, don’t give up on singles. May it begin with us.

7 thoughts on “I don’t need a dating service: confessions of a Christian single

  1. Amen, Sista! I am married, but I totally agree with you. I have a sister and three in-laws who aren't married yet, and they are totally comfortable being single. They are my family, we all treat each other like family, and we all act like we're family. We love each other enough to know when it's appropriate to give relationship advice (and that's usually when they ask for it, not because we've forced it upon them). So, Church, let's all be family. Let's stop manipulating our beloved single's into the people we want them to be. Our plan usually tends to crash and burn anyway. Know what the Bible says on both marriage and singleness. Let's be family the way God intended family to be.

  2. Very insightful. i think it would be good for the church to have a new ministry for singles. Marriage is great, but it is not the ultimate goal of life. Anyway, I loved the post and I hope you enjoy you freedom because that is definitely what i miss most from being single… me time.

  3. Yeah…and…what about the even more awkward subject of how the church treats those who are dating? Talk about frustrating! Nobody wants to hang out (married or singles), and those who do only want to know when the big day is gonna be. So, dating couples are forced to hang out with other dating couples who are still playing "who can be the cheeziest couple and make all the other dating couples jealous" game. Your looked down upon if you don't marry within 6 months to a year of dating, and the whole experience becomes some kind of boyscout/girlscout badge winning contest that doesn't stop until you're married and have 10 kids who have all become famous pianists, doctors, lawyers, and sports athletes. While I agree that being single in the church can suck…dating in the church sucks more. LOL ^_~Nate

  4. A-men! You said it so well. Hang in there… cause when you are over 30 and single, it is even worse. Hopefully we can improve how the church views singles and how they can include us as a vital part of the body of Christ. After all, Christ and Paul were both single! The lesson I am learning is that I need not worry about what others think or how they respond to me, but only how I am responding to the Lord's calling on my life. If I am living in obedience to Him, I can live in true joy. You are an encouragement to me Holly.

  5. Thanks all for commenting! Let's keep the conversation going…at our own churches and within our own communities. May Jesus continue to use us to make the church more of what it should be! Anyway, it means a lot to know that so many of you understand what I mean!

  6. You say it so well, Holly. I wish that in church we talked more about defining ourselves by Christ first and foremost. Making that the "ultimate goal" (thanks, Jess!) puts everything in a better perspective.

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