We owe single people an apology…and a change.
We’ve meant well, but we’ve been wrong. Single people are a treasure to the church and deserve equal status with those of us who are married and/or with children. Not all, but many churches pass them over for leadership opportunities, staff hires, or key roles of service in the Kingdom.
Tie goes to the married person.
We preachers too often leave them out of our illustrations. Not all of us. But, for some of us, everything is about marriage and kids. Without even recognizing it, we tend to focus on reaching “young families” more than anyone else, and have viewed (or at least insinuated in our language) singles as incomplete people until they are married.
Perhaps you’ve been a part of a hiring process for, let’s say, a Youth Minister or Preacher. At some point, someone will raise the questions of: 1) Whether they can be trusted sexually because they aren’t married and have no sexual outlet (as though married people are always perfectly chaste and without temptation), and 2) Whether they possess enough wisdom to perform their duties well given they have never…you know…been married, and 3) How they can relate to people who are married with kids when they aren’t married with kids. There is a germ of legitimacy in each of these questions, but the fact that Jesus himself was Single is forgotten in all of this.
Let’s take them one at a time. 1) The question is whether they are glorifying God with their body, whether single or married. Over the years, I’ve found sometimes single people have BETTER discipline in this regard because they are more “on guard” and some have chosen not to marry as quickly as others because sex is not as big an allure to them. 2) Come on, married folks, we need to listen to our pride here. 3) Their job isn’t to relate. It’s to pastor people with wisdom and righteousness. Sometimes, it is the advice that comes from their “otherness” that brings new perspectives and pulls people out of their emotional wormholes.
Wisdom comes from God, not empathy. We are always not somebody else. Let’s try the logic on. A woman will not be a man. Does that mean she lacks any real pastoral value in serving a church with men? A man in his forties isn’t sixty. How can he possibly relate? A person who is Black will never be White. So, how can he possibly relate to Hispanics or White people enough to pastor them effectively?
Does any of this sound like the Church of Jesus?
It’s time to repent of this. After all, it’s not biblical. There isn’t anything wrong with being married or single–as long as we are glorifying with our bodies and following Jesus with undivided devotion (1 Cor. 7:35). Married or single, we should all be aiming there.
As a married man and father of three amazing daughters, I’ve discovered things about life that a single person hasn’t. Emily and our daughters have shown me aspects of the Kingdom I can’t imagine experiencing another way. However, in First Corinthians 7, Paul says I may also have the propensity to serve God in a divided fashion because I’m worried about my family’s concerns above God’s. Paul also says life as a single person also brings unique, positive aspects to the table that I don’t have.
So, we’re sorry single people. We will not pity you. We want to learn from you, embrace you fully as partners in ministry… as we should have done all along. We repent.
Now, let’s join God in His mission together. Fully.