Author Jefferson Bethke, known for his poem “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus” and a follow-up book “Jesus > Religion,” has recently delved into the issue of adult singles in the church, saying that they — we — aren’t part of the Christian “JV team.” That is to say, Christian singles aren’t less worthy to be part of the church, to say nothing of being in leadership, just because they don’t have a spouse.
I understand that, but the real problem here is the lack of relationships between married and single, which obviously puts the single at an immediate disadvantage.
That should be obvious, but it’s something married people may not quite see. Of course the married person is in a covenant relationship, which by definition has to take priority. Usually, however, married people fraternize with other married people, and when you have a situation where pastors are married, which is almost always, the gap widens. And with more and more singles coming to church, especially with the “millennial generation” being primarily single, the difference in marital status will become an issue within the next decade.
As a lifelong singleton, I understand this from experience. I left the post-college fellowship at my former church because of the large number of weddings, 18 in the year-and-a-half I was part of it; I wasn’t in a position to date any of the women and had virtually nothing in common with the men, so I had trouble building relationships there. I ended up leaving the church altogether 12 years later for similar reasons; even though I was a respected deacon I felt lonely and fell for a woman in the church whom I had no business approaching; I realized in that situation that I was slipping spiritually.
My current church, where I’ve gone for over 17 years, has a large single population that at one time drove the church but no longer as visible as it once was. Spiritually, it suits my purposes, and I get to play music, always good for a musician. I’d like to find someone there that I could date and possible marry, but that hasn’t happened yet. Furthermore, I won’t change just for the sake of “finding someone” because I don’t see that as a valid reason to change churches.
But I digress. It’s still difficult to come to church alone and leave church alone, and I do with that I had a group of peers to go to lunch with. Would more coupled people be sensitive to that.