I'm going to make a rather outlandish sounding statement. Most churches treat their single adults like trash. Why? This has really baffled me for decades. So, first, let's look at how the church treats them, then let's see if we can find possible answers as to why they do these things.
What does the Church Do With Singles?
The church at large seems to have trouble combining singles and marrieds. Singles are consigned and confined to a special group called the "Singles Group." Sadly, there are many dysfunctional and hurting people in this group because truthfully, many people are not married for a reason. Singles need the larger church to "bounce" off of.
Churches often to send a silent (and sometimes loud and unmistakable) signal that singles are not welcome in their marrieds' group. Some churches find that they don't have enough singles for a group and so, unless the church has intergenerational Sunday School classes, the singles are told they have no where to go. This actually happened to me in one church a long time ago. Can you believe being told, "I'm sorry, but you cannot come to Sunday School, so just come to church." Lately I've talked on the Internet with people to whom this is still happening. I am seeing that in the singles' church world, little has changed.
Why Do Churches Do This?
At times I've heard something so ridiculous and insulting to single women especially, that it's embarrassing to talk about it, but I will. It has been said in many churches that some married women think the single women will steal their husbands. If you are a single women, I would think this would be insulting to you. I know it is to me. I have met hundreds of singles and believe me, almost none I've met go around hunting married husbands, although a few might. IN a blog I read every day, the single male blogger complains that many churches treat the single men jsut as bad. They think they might molest children. I've seen this too, thinking all single men must be gay and all single women must be lesbians. I don't encounter this out here in Southern California, but talking to people in the Bible Belt, there are those three that actually believe this stuff.
Christians Cannot Grow in Heterogeneous Groupings
Singles do not grow being thrown together. And actually, neither do marrieds. This is a general principal, since people with similar backgrounds don't grow being thrown together in a group. That is man's thinking but not God's. For example, here is how church's think. "Let's get all the ex-alcoholics in a group. Then the church doesn't understand why they still are having problems. Or better yet, let's get all the ex-homosexuals and lesbians in a group. Now, that's a bright idea. This heterogeneous grouping hinders rather than helps Christians.
Every church college-age person knows that the last thing in the world they would want happen to them is to have to "graduate" into the singles' group. So, they tend to stay in the college group on and on and on and.....
In the 1960,s when someone reached 23 they were asked to either go into the singles' group or, if married, of course then into the married group. Now, the "college" group has been extended to 25 in most churches and to 3o in more than a few. Anyone want to try for an extension up to 35? No one in their right mind wants to go into the singles' group . But why?
How Singles Are Treated
Singles are not treated with respect by most churches. They are treated more like youth than adults. Or, they are ignored. In many churches, single men would never be considered to be an elder. And what is really weird are the ages of most single groups now. I find that most of these groups do not have many under 40 years of age. In many, they are over 50. Where are the young singles then?
The Good News
I have some good news. Finally, younger singles in their 20's and 30's are standing up to this nonsense and telling their churches that they won't be separated from their married friends. And fortunately, many marrieds are saying the same thing. They don't understand why they have to be separated from their single friends. You see, today's youth form "posses." Singles and marrieds are in a posse (a group of friends, racially mixed and maritally mixed). And the posse isn't to be broken up because the church has some arcane notion of segregation according to marital status. According to George Barna, only 9% of evangelicals-----I said-----E-V-A-N-G-E-L-I-C-A-L-S-----between the ages of 18 and 30 attend church. So you see, these young adults are holding the upper card. The church is either going to allow marrieds and singles to be together, or the young people will find a church that will allow them to be together.
The Family Argument
Yes, I know about strengthening the family by getting everyone married as soon as possible. But does that really sound like a good idea? Does it sound advisable to rush people into marrying any 'ole Christian? Some singles are ready to marry at 20. Others really shouldn't be married until more maturity sets in, perhaps in their 30's, even 40's. And sadly, a few should never get married, or are selected by God to be single and celibate. Churches should be discipling all of their people, both marrieds and singles. That is the surest way for God to accomplish what He wants in a Christian's life. God should decide when or if a person is married and to whom, NOT the church.
Single adult Christians should be treated with the same respect and given the same opportunities in the church that their married counterparts have and also be able to attend intergenerational and intermarital groups such as Sunday School classes. If the singles themselves want to form a group, fine, BUT NOT in place of being in smaller groups with other types of people.
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