Being Single in the Church (article)

Being Single in the Church (article)

I was brought up in the Southern Baptist church and do not agree with all teachings of the Roman Catholic Church (such as their rejection of sola fide and sola scriptura), but while the following article addresses singles in the Roman Catholic Church, I could totally relate to it. If you are Baptist or Protestant (and unmarried), I think you will be able to relate to it, too.

Being Single in the Church (article)


    By Emily Stimpson – OSV Newsweekly, 7/24/2011

    Although it may be reassuring, in some ways, that today’s unmarried Catholics have lots of company in the single life, it’s also a problem. Never before have quite so many adults, Catholics or otherwise, delayed marriage quite so late in life. Some delay by choice. Others by chance. But marriage is delayed regardless. And the results are often less than rosy.

    …There also are plenty of Catholic singles managing to live happy and virtuous lives because of, not in spite of, their singleness. They’re serving God, building up his Kingdom in the world and loving those who cross their path. These singles are going to church, going to confession and not going home from bars with strangers. They’re actually not going home with anyone. They’re both professing and living the Church’s teachings on human sexuality.

    Unfortunately, those singles are the minority, even within the Catholic Church. And for as happy and virtuous as that minority might be, most still have their fair share of struggles with their singleness.

    At the top of most faithful Catholic singles’ list of complaints is their single status itself. Most don’t want to remain unmarried. They want to say “I do.” But finding a spouse who shares their faith and who won’t pressure them to abide by the culture’s sexual norms is something of a trick these days, particularly for women.

    “The men aren’t there,” said Dave Sloan, who helps run the Atlanta-based national singles outreach Singles Serving Orphans, part of Serving God’s Kids, which sponsors missions trips to a Mexican orphanage multiple times each year. “Go to the parish events. There are loads of attractive, appealing, virtuous women and just a handful of guys. It’s a tough situation.”

    …“That loneliness is the key issue for most singles,” Sloan said. “The human person was made to be in a family, a community. We image God, who is a family, and we were made to share our life with others.”

    They also leave many singles asking some big questions about God.

    “Their life isn’t turning out as they expected, so they want to know where God is in their singleness. Did he forget them? Why are they still single? And what do they do about it?” said Catholic Match columnist and “Real Love” (Ignatius Press, $14.95) author Mary Beth Bonacci.

    For all those reasons and more, the Church sympathizes with singles, both the faithful variety and the less-than-faithful variety. It understands the path they’re on isn’t an easy one. It wants to help. It just isn’t sure how.

    …Once you get outside the major cities and away from the national scene, however, you have to start looking harder for thriving singles ministries. A lot harder.

    According to Sloan, in recent years most Catholic dioceses have scaled back their outreach to singles and young adults, eliminating young adult ministers or reducing their positions to part time. Tough financial times account for some of those decisions, but Sloan believes something else is at work.

    “When people find themselves single later than they thought they would be, their instinct often is to go to God,” Bonacci said. “But when they do, what they find are parish structures built around families, and they don’t know how to break in.

    “It’s not a bad thing for parishes to be concerned about families,” she added. “Families need all the help they can get. But parishes need to find ways to incorporate those who don’t fit into the family programming mold — sacramental prep, Catholic schools and catechetical programs.”

    No one (or almost no one) questions that. But the dilemma remains: How?

    “It’s a hard demographic to pin down,” said Christopher Chapman, associate director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. “You’ve got Catholic singles who are 25, and you’ve got Catholic singles who are 55. The 25-year-olds don’t want to socialize with the 55-year-olds, and the 55-year-olds don’t want to socialize with the 25-year-olds.”

    Less ‘churchy’ events

    For those reasons, the growing consensus among those involved in singles ministry is that a multi-pronged approach, which encompasses evangelization, formation, socialization and opportunities for service, needs to be taken.

    In Bonacci’s Denver-area parish, they’re attempting an end run around the diverse age range by hosting events for singles that are more substantive than social. After the teaching is over, people still socialize, but they tend to break off into age-appropriate groups.

Scoll down that page to read testimonials by adult Catholic singles – their experiences are the same as Baptist and Protestant singles.

Here is a sample comment from that page:

3 thoughts on “Being Single in the Church (article)”

  1. “After the teaching is over, people still socialize, but they tend to break off into age-appropriate groups.” Isn’t “age-appropriate” just a politically correct way of saying “expected sexual experience based on social stereotypes”? Is a 55 year old virtuous single less valuable than a 25 year old? Isn’t that . . . backwards? In the Protestant world, most rural churches have become senior citizens homes with grandkids thrown in for fun. It’s sort of funny really. The only people you find in churches these days are either those with brains young enough to mold or brains old enough to worry about dying tomorrow. Thanks for posting that ChristianPundit.

    1. I guess I didn’t take those comments in an “age-ist” way. I posted that article because I thought most single people would like it, since even among RCs, singles feel out of placed, overlooked, etc.

      I think the author was just saying that 20-somethings tend to gravitate towards other 20-somethings socially, same with 30- somethings, 40- somethings, etc. Most of us would prefer to, and feel more comfortable around, those in our own age group.

      I personally would not want to socialize with 20-somethings. (I’m in my early 40s.)

      Even when I was in my 20s, despite having a good sense of humor, I was very mature for my age, tended to be very serious and reserved, and could not relate to the giggling, air headed, immature, vapid 20-somethings, and many 20-somethings are airheaded vapid things, IMO.

      Even in my 20s, I preferred platonic friendships or chats with people older than myself.

      I do not support church- wide, Christian cultural age discrimination, which is rampant, such as churches who focus only on 20-something singles. Churches are hideous about supporting never married people who are over 30 years old. However

      As far as the phrase “age appropriate” in the other sense. On the other hand, as a once- twenty something woman, I was hit on by men age 40 and up, it does happen, and it is creepy.

      I’ve read of churches where 40 year old men prey on 20 something women in singles classes, and the preachers have to kick those men out. These men would not stay in singles classes meant for their age but would seek out 20 year old women in 20-something singles classes to date or marry. The 20 year old women said this made them uncomfortable, and I don’t blame them.

      Maybe not all single men over 35 are trying to hit on the under age 35 ladies, but it did happen to me, and I’ve seen it happen to other young women.

      A lot of men – not all, but a lot- do have a penchant to chase after women 15 years or more their junior, which I find rather sexist, ageist – and creepy.

      Maybe not all men do that, but trust me, there are dudes over 35 -this includes Christians- who chase after and hit on Christian single women who are under 35 / 25.

      You have attractive, smart, single 40ish year old females such as me being passed over by the unmarried 40 y.o. men for 25 year old girls.

      A lot of men -Christian and secular- tend to be pretty bad about the age thing, and that is a reality.

      I do get approached by 60ish – 70ish year old men now that I’m in my 40s, even though my dating site profiles say “no men past age 45ish, please.” That doesn’t stop the white haired AARP members from hitting on me on dating sites. Seriously, dudes old enough to be my father hit me up on those sites.

      When it comes to marriage, dating, and romance, men need to stick to five years or so of their own age – not more than ten yrs, IMO. (A 40 year old dude should not be hitting on 25 year olds. He should be sticking to 40 year old women, or down to age 35, or up to 45.)

      Anyway. I don’t blame 25 year olds, male or female, for preferring the company of other 20 somethings.

      It reminds me of that line on “Stuff Singles Like,” which was,

      Younger single (Student): “My roommate bought a microwave for our dorm room. I love being a Freshman!”
      Older Single: “My 401K is underperforming…”

      See, when you mix the 50 year old singles with the 20 year old college singles, you end up with those sorts of conversations, where nobody can relate to anyone. I’m not saying singles of all ages should never mix, but it can make for odd groups.

      When I was 30ish, I was often the only 30 in the room (singles church classes), everyone else was 40 something, and divorced and bitched incessantly about their ex. I had never married, though I had an ex (BF, not ex hubby), so I could not relate to the intense hatred, or the bonding over divorce.

      Oh, the divorced woman at one church I went to in the singles class who bitched about, “I’m single again after being married for 15 years. I pray Lord send me a husband I’m tired of being single/lonely.”

      I wanted to punch her in her face after she said that. She had at least been married once. I was mid-30s at the time and had not been married at all.

      Women like that, the divorced ones who gripe about their exes – and the infertile married ones, I get infuriated at them.

      The infertile ones should be grateful they have a husband, but all they do is cry and toss fits about not being able to get pregnant and have a baby. They should feel grateful to have a spouse, but no, they have tunnel vision and only care about if they will ever pop out a kid.

      I do think churches need to address all types singles (divorced, widowed) and all age groups of singles, BUT, the never-married past the age of 30 get treated the absolute WORST.

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