It's M again... I've instituted a new "stay home one night every week" policy to try to maintain my sanity (and my cooking/cleaning/laundry haha) and I think it may result in me updating this more consistently. Hopefully if I do, then W will also. We'll see!
Today's thought is actually one that I've been mulling over for a while. W is responsible for bringing it to my attention months ago, and to be quite honest, I had thought that I already wrote about it on here. Maybe I did? Ah well, if so I suppose it couldn't hurt to be revisted.
As I've mentioned more than once, my church has a fabulous and thriving "Singles" Ministry. It is absolutely something that drew me to the church and one of the biggest and best reasons that I have a solid friend group here in Atlanta. There are seriously thousands of "singles" at any given "gathering"... which I think is pretty cool. Where else can you go, as an out-of-college adult, and meet so many people who are like-minded and in the same stage of life as you? It has seriously been the biggest of blessings for me, and I would guess, many of those thousands of others.
That said, I've been thinking lately about the messaging that the Church (yes, big C... contemporary Christianity in general) sends to single adults. I know that this doesn't apply to every church, but it certainly applies to my experience at my church, and many of the books, articles, blogs, videos, etc about dating that I've ingested in the past couple of years. Here's what I've been thinking: in the church's efforts to not exclude or marginalize single adults, they are not doing enough to champion marriage.
In my experience, the Christian rhetoric about singleness has been a lot of this:
-"Singles ministry is NOT a dating service!"
-"Use your singleness for Christ!"
-"Don't get married unless you are mature, educated, out-of-debt, zero baggage, finished-with-your-mission-trip-traveling, have-a-401k, ready to be a 'real grown up'"
-"You do better work for Christ if you're not distracted by dating"
-"Trust God; don't waste your energy looking for a partner... He will bring you one."
-"God will give you the desires of your heart, so don't settle for less!"
Etc. etc. And truly, these are not bad bits of wisdom. They really aren't. However, I feel like all of this combined has created a culture of single Christian adults who no longer hold marriage in view of its Biblical truth and purpose. We have Christian singles who are scared of marriage, who feel that God is withholding marriage from them until they "get it together," who believe that singleness is the higher calling, and who are picky to the point that they believe that God will serve them in marriage (giving them exactly what they want) instead of the other way around.
Is it so wrong to nudge single adults towards marriage? Why don't we talk about marriage (to single adults) like the gift and the blessing that it is?
Honestly, there are some people who are called to singleness, and they are given the gift of celibacy. That is absolutely true. However, if more than 90% of people will find themselves married at some point, why are we fearful to champion marriage to single adults? I wish more churches, pastors, authors, etc would say:
-"This singles ministry is not meant to be a dating service, however, if you're interested in dating... we wish with all our hearts that you will meet someone who is in the church and loves Christ. You're in luck here!"
-"Marriage is two broken people serving Christ together. You will have baggage. It will be messy. You have a Christ-centered marriage in order to let God fill in the gaps where you will inevitably fail each other."
-"Marriage is about you serving God and not God serving you. He will give you whoever He pleases to make you more like Him, and it may look like your "list" or it may not."
-"Singleness is not a higher or holier calling. Marriage refines your godly character like a crucible in the fire. Singles and married people alike do God's work and become more like him over time."
Etc. Honestly, I think that us "singles" can handle it. I don't think we need to tiptoe around the fact that some of our peers are enjoying marriage and some of us are not yet. We already know that. I think that we are old enough and mature enough for someone to look us in the eye and say "marriage is a gift from God and unless you feel strongly that you have the gift of life-long singleness, you should go pursue it." Is that really so bad?