How Do We Solve a Problem Like the Singles? by Rachel Kilgore
Before I get to the link to the essay by Kilgore, which is hosted at MOS (Mortificiation of Spin / specifically, Aimee Byrd’s blog, ‘Housewife Theologian’):
For years and years on this blog, here on “Christian Pundit” blog, I have been explaining over and over again that most evangelical, Baptist, Reformed, and Fundamentalist Christian denominations, churches, and groups IGNORE adults singles – the older a single you are, the worse it is – the more ignored you are.
I have also commented on other people’s blogs under the Christian Pundit blog name, and under other names, alerting Christians to how horribly American Christians treat adult singles. I have Tweeted about it.
When Christians aren’t ignoring us older singles, and they do manage to notice our existence, many Christians shame us for being single. They insult us. They try to make us feel like we are losers (seriously, see (Link): this post, (Link): this post, (Link): this post), (Link): this post – I could cite many more examples from my blog of anti-Singles bias by Christians, but that should suffice.)
I used to be what is called a gender complementarian. I am not interested in spending a lot of time explaining what that means.
I am no longer a gender complementarian.
I am linking you here to a post about adult singleness at a blog (the one by A. Byrd) owned by what I would term “soft gender complementarians.”
In a nutshell, being a “soft comp” (soft gender complementarian) means they do not think women should be preachers in churches, and they feel that in a marriage, that a husband gets the “tie-breaking vote” in marital conflicts concerning major disagreements.
Due to some recent in-fighting among gender complementarians, the people this blog I am linking you to may not like me slapping the label “soft comp” on them. They bristle at the term “complementarian” because very, super nutty, weird comps have taken the term over.
These nuttier, more extreme complementarians believe in something called E.S.S. (Eternal Submission of [Jesus] the Son). It has to do with the doctrine of the Trinity, and a belief that Jesus Christ has been eternally subordinate to God the Father. I don’t have the time, space, or interest to detail what ESS means and why complementarians are arguing with each other over it.
Suffice it to say, gender complementarians rarely have anything to say to or about never-married women, or childless women, childfree women, or widowed or divorced women.
The vast majority of gender complementarian literature, sermonizing, discussion, and debate is devoted to discussing married motherhood (women who are wives and mothers). Complementarians love to opine endlessly on how or what mothers and wives can and cannot do.
Complementarians love to remind wives that it is their supposed duty to “submit” to a husband (the way a slave would to a master, or an employee to a boss), due in part to their misinterpretation of a biblical passage in the New Testament book of Ephesians.
The Bible has no similar passage specifically asking never-married, widowed, or divorced women to submit to any man, therefore, complementarians don’t have any biblical grounds to bash single women with and keep them in “second place,” as they do with married women. So, they don’t have as much interest bossing single women around as much as they do married ones.
Single adult women simply do not fit into the complementarian world view. Single and childless women are not valued in gender complementarian thought. I have blogged on that before, such as (Link): in this post.
I would encourage you to visit web sites owned by Christian gender egalitarians, such as (Link): The Junia Project, to read their refutations of gender complementarian views.
Bear in mind that the host of the following essay (written by Kilgore), A. Byrd, is what I would refer to as a “soft gender complementarian.” She is a very nice and intelligent lady, but I completely disagree with her on her view of gender roles. (I would assume that Kilgore is also a soft comp, though it’s possible she’s not.)
The following blog post picks up on many of the same themes I have been blogging about here for the last few years – for example, how Christians have made marriage and parenthood into rites of adulthood (even though the Bible does no such thing), so that any adult who is still single and childless past the age of 25 or 30 is treated by Christian culture like a child, someone who is stuck in arrested development.
One of my issues with the following blog post (other than it’s hosted on a pro-complementarian site), is that it does use the “Gift of Singleness” phrase. Please see (Link): this post, (Link): this one, and (Link): this one for why I don’t care for that phrase.
If I am understanding things correctly the following was written by Rachel Kilgore but is hosted on Aimee Byrd’s blog.
You may want to scroll to the bottom of her blog post about singles to read the comments left by adult singles on this page, some of them were quite sad, and I could pick up on the hurt, anger, and frustration in them:
(Link): How Do We Solve a Problem Like the Singles? by Rachel Kilgore
Protestants are clueless about singleness. In spite of the many strengths of my reformed Presbyterian upbringing, at 25 I had absorbed the church culture’s implied teaching about singleness – that it is a state of interminable suffering. Accepting that I would be crippled without my “better half” until marriage, I turned to my church’s much better teaching about suffering.
…The Protestant Message in a Sexual Age
Christine Colon takes it one step further in her book Singled Out – culture tells us that virgins are immature and emotionally stunted neurotics whose only escape is in having sex. Christian singles hear this from culture and from the church that sex outside marriage is wrong. The result is that the slightest nudge toward marriage from a well-meaning believer comes across to the single like another reminder that we are immature and emotionally stunted and our only hope for happiness is marriage.
….The Difficulty of Content Singleness
…The single person is a whole person on their own. They wait for no “better half” to live the good life. That life is for now. That contentment is for now.
———- End Excerpt —–
The one area of her essay where Kilgore lost me is this one:
—– Begin Excerpt —–
Ultimately, then, if you are a single believer, congratulations! For now at least, you have the “gift of singleness.”
Now, that claim usually gets me raised eyebrows and lots of questions. The answers are in I Corinthians Chapter 7.
This is the (in?)famous “gift of singleness” passage, which never uses the words “gift of singleness” at all. Instead, what we think of as “singleness” is really treated as just the baseline of the Christian calling. Marriage has added responsibilities, but everyone is first called to the ordinary, individual, Christian life. When I am told that my apparent “gift of singleness,” of not longing for marriage makes my message irrelevant to those who do long for marriage, I am confused. Should those who inherit the enormous ocean of Christ’s riches be characterized by sorrow because they lack the thimbleful of marriage?
Yet because marriage is a good thing to desire, we assume it isn’t wrong to be sad that we don’t have it. In fact, it’s almost considered a virtue in this age of equating marriage to maturity.
But if we were to replace the term “marriage” with any other (an orderly house, a trip to Bora-Bora, tiny houses…) it is immediately clear that this is idolatry in disguise.
Kevin DeYoung notes in his book on same-sex attraction that “A minivan full of kids on the way to Disneyland is a wonderful good, but a terrible god.”
—– End Excerpt —–
If I am understanding her correctly in this portion of her essay, Kilgore may be treading dangerously close to the (Link): Types of Christian Singles Who Annoy Me ground.
By the way, in a much older post of mine on this blog, I used the same argument Kilgore did but to arrive at the completely opposite conclusion: wanting a house is NOT “idolatry.” Wanting a better job, a new car, nicer house, a college education, or a chocolate candy bar is not idolatry.
Merely wanting something – whatever it may be – does not make that thing or state of being an idol.
What can possibly make something an idol is if a lot of emphasis is put upon it, which most churches do in fact do, in regards to MARRIAGE.
However, a single adult simply wanting a spouse does not mean she is turning that desire into an idol. I wanted a hot shower today after I went on a jog to clean the sweat and grime off – don’t try telling me that wanting a clean body is a form of idolatry.
Further, the Bible says that sometimes God himself plants dreams and desires in our hearts – maybe your desire for marriage was put there by God.
I’ve no problem at all if an adult single is truly happy being single and has no desire for marriage. I am fine with that.
If you don’t want marriage, no problem by me. I don’t think it’s weird, stupid, sinful, or horrible if you don’t want to be married; I just accept you for what you are and the way you are on that. I’m not going to try to convince you that you should want to be married.
What bothers me is when the “La La La, I am Happy To Be Single, so Should You!!” types (who are generally, though not always, pretty super spiritual, pious types, and annoyingly perky about being single) proceed to shame and criticize those of us singles who still desire marriage.
I read a copy of the book “Singled Out” that Kilgore mentions in her essay. I read it a few years ago.
Overall, the book was a fine work, but, it ended up shaming any adult single past the age of 35 or 40 who desires marriage and seeks steps to make it happen.
The authors, Colon and Field, who were in their late 30s or early 40s at time of writing, have never married. They spend some time off and on in their book trying to convince adult Christian singles that pining for marriage is somehow un-spiritual, immature, or selfish.
While it is true that many churches, and Christian culture, have in fact turned Marriage into an idol, which has the effect of marginalizing singleness and singles, and which is unfortunate and should be rectified, it is not a fact that an adult single who desires to be married herself or himself has ipso facto, automatically, turned marriage into an idol (see (Link): Desire for Marriage Idolatry?).
There is nothing immature, selfish, sinful, or wrong with a never-married adult over the age of 35 wanting to get married, or trying to make it happen.
As I said, you may not only want to visit (Link): that blog page to read the whole post, but also scroll to the bottom of the page to read comments left by other adult singles.
(Link): “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” – one of the most excellent Christian rebuttals I have seen against the Christian idolatry of marriage and natalism, and in support of adult singleness and celibacy – from CBE’s site
(Link): Singleness is Not A Gift
(Link): Desire for Marriage Idolatry?
(Link): Why Christians Need to Uphold Lifelong Celibacy as an Option for All Instead of Merely Pressuring All to Marry – vis a vis Sexless Marriages, Counselors Who Tell Marrieds that Having Affairs Can Help their Marriages
(Link): What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis (from TIME) (ie, Why Are Conservative Religious Women Not Marrying Even Though They Want to Be Married. Hint: It’s a Demographics Issue)
Link): Typical Erroneous Teaching About Adult Celibacy Rears Its Head Again: To Paraphrase Speaker at Ethics and Public Policy Center: Lifelong Celibacy is “heroic ethical standard that is not expected of heteros, so it should not be expected of homosexuals”
(Link): Typical Erroneous Teaching About Adult Celibacy Rears Its Head Again: To Paraphrase Speaker at Ethics and Public Policy Center: Lifelong Celibacy is “heroic ethical standard that is not expected of heteros, so it should not be expected of homosexuals” (ie, it’s supposedly an impossible feat for any human being to achieve)
(Link): Singles Advocate DePaulo Responds to Right Wing, Conservative Critics of Singlehood, Who Blame Singles For Breakdown of The Family (reminder: I myself am right wing)
(Link): Marcotte on Anyone Choosing To Be a Virgin Until Marriage: “It’s a Silly Idea” – What Progressive Christians, Conservative Christians, Non Christians, and Salon’s Amanda Marcotte Gets Wrong About Christian Views on Virginity