Thoughts Regarding the Essay “3 Things Every Single Person Needs to Stop Doing”
Over at SCCL, this Relevant editorial was under discussion – (Link): here, on Facebook. You may want to read the comments there – this is one of those times I am in agreement with some (or most) of the SCCL commentators
Here is the article itself:
(Link): 3 Things Every Single Person Needs to Stop Doing by Q. Ross
I feel some of the advice on the page is okay – the author, Ross, basically tells you if you’re a single who wants to be married, go out and live your life – go on a cruise or whatever, don’t just sit around waiting for your life to start. That’s not necessarily bad advice.
In her editorial, Ross coaches singles not to complain about being single, which is a point I don’t agree with. Singles should be permitted to complain about being single if it helps them cope with the hurt, stress, or frustrations of being single, especially if the single in question had wanted to be married.
Singles needs to be heard (included any negative thoughts or emotions they’d like to share about singleness), not shushed by Christians who are uncomfortable with strong emotion. Singles don’t need any more platitudes, either.
Where things go south is where she suggests that if you’re still single, it’s because you have something wrong with you – God, she implies, is waiting for you to meet some kind of criteria before he will send you a spouse.
For example, Ross writes this:
Instead of complaining, show God that you are content with him alone and then maybe He’ll trust you with a relationship. He wants to know that when He does bring someone into your life, you won’t bail on Him and worship the gift rather than the gift-giver.
As I’ve said time and again on my blog, I’ve seen far too many losers, weirdos, and violent people – whether Christian or not – who get married to believe that God requires people to become wonderful, mature, godly, or what have you, to earn a spouse.
I have a running list (here) of examples of married Christian people who are child abusers, adulterers, or what have you – don’t tell me that these married people developed some level of ethics or maturity that I lack, because I’m not the one running around having sex all over the place, abusing kids, or looking at kiddie porn.
Meanwhile, yet other Christians seem to feel that the act of being married will instill certain qualities into a person, such as being giving, loving, what have you. That of course is not true.
I’ve known or have read about married people who are mean, cruel, stupid, selfish, or immature. If it were true that marriage could mature people and cause them to live sinless lives, there would be no need for any to accept Jesus as Lord and the Holy Spirit would be redundant.
Here are some of the comments under the essay on Relevant’s site:
comment by Mel Lou:
This was an encouraging article and I can appreciate that just because you are single, doesn’t mean you can’t have a fulfilling life.
However, I think comments such as this: “Instead of complaining, show God that you are content with him alone and then maybe He’ll trust you with a relationship.” are dangerous.
This sounds a little bit like: “if you’re single, God doesn’t trust you to be in a relationship. Everyone who is in a relationship is trustworthy, and obviously you are not.”
by Martha Peterson :
Just read this on another comment thread to this article:
“So salvation is a free gift, but you have to earn the right to be married.”
by Fawn Kimble:
Like some others who have commented, I’m concerned with this section in particular.
(start quote) “Instead of complaining, show God that you are content with him alone and then maybe He’ll trust you with a relationship. He wants to know that when He does bring someone into your life, you won’t bail on Him and worship the gift rather than the gift-giver.” (end quote)
First, we should never try to prove we are content with God alone in order to gain a relationship, that rather defeats the contentment.
Second, writing as if you know what God wants using anything other than what’s He’s said in Scripture is a bit presumptuois.
Third, please stop perpetuating the myth that God gifts relationships to those who are somehow more mature or ready for them. The flip side of this is that single people just aren’t as mature, content, or godly as married people.
From the SCCL thread about the essay:
And I agree with this first guy here (Mike George) – I too am so sick and tired of Christians telling singles who are tired of being single to fill up their time by “serving others.” It would be nice if Christians just acknowledged the deep pain or frustration singles feel at being single when they had expected to be married by a certain age.
I’d also like for churches to step up and start meeting the needs of singles: ask how you, as a church, can meet the needs of marriage-minded singles who are still single, rather than telling those singles to volunteer more and serve others!
by Mike George:
I hate this. The answer to everything is serve the church, serve the community. Stop telling me to serve and sit in the pain acknowledge I’m human with emotion
by June Wilde:
Would you look at that poor, sad, single woman? Cheer up, honey, because “Maybe God just has some work for you to do in His kingdom…”
by Melody Malaviarachchi:
Oh, so that’s why single people are single. God is withholding a relationship from them because they’re not faithful enough.
Single people are bad and they should feel bad.
by Cynthia Schrage
Still makes the assumption that everyone will eventually get married. “While you’re waiting, do X.”
by Joi Weaver:
I was single til I was 34. …
Also, single people rarely get to complain about being single in church spaces. I was generally ashamed to be single so late in life when everyone else was married. I mostly didn’t talk about how much it hurt, which made things worse.
by Ashley Brianna
“Show God that you’ve overcome the need for human connection that he made all humans to have, and then he’ll maybe allow you to finally have human connection.”
by Rebekah Nerad
Married people should also stop complaining about being married. 😛
by Fawn Kimble
I’m so sick of this myth being perpetuated by the church – that God will gift us relationships when we’ve somehow earned them through contentment or service or some other action. Yeah, that’s how Jesus works – earning our way.
by Ashley Brianna
You know what… people (generally) need connection with other people. Like, that’s one of our strongest needs. I’m as introverted as it gets and I still need connection with other people, and if I start feeling too isolated, it’s excruciating.
Christian culture COMPLETELY invalidates that. And it is inhumane. It ignores our need for people, it pretends that loneliness is something you can overcome if you just distract yourself enough, and it pretends that talking to God can satisfy your need for people. Because talking to an idea that never fucking talks back is a great cure for loneliness.
God does not give personal connection. Cruises do not give personal connection. Let people satisfy the needs that they know they have, and stop telling them to hate themselves for it.
by Curt Story:
In my years at church, it’s always struck me that evangelicals had a disproportionate amount of “advice” for single people. I don’t remember them talking down to the marrieds in the same way. I got so sick of them treating us some kind of social disease that needs fixing with marriage. Just one more thing that convinced me I don’t need church-sanctioned marriage at all.
(Link): Also: More Hypocrisy – Christians Teach You Need A Spouse to Be Purified, But Also Teach God Won’t Send You a Spouse Until You Become Purified
(Link): Do Married Couples Slight Their Family Members as Well as Their Friends? (The answer: Yes, they do – studies show married people are more selfish than single people) / “Greedy Marriages”
(Link): The Holy Spirit Sanctifies a Person Not A Spouse – Weekly Christian Marriage Advice Column Pokes Holes in Christian Stereotype that Marriage Automatically Sanctifies People
One thought on “Thoughts Regarding the Essay “3 Things Every Single Person Needs to Stop Doing””
Here’s another thing single people should not do–they should not seek out websites that are written by obviously unhappy single people who need to get over their situation and get a life. I actually was told something very similar to this by someone in my church when I mentioned that I was not the only one in my situation, that there were many more like myself online who were writing freely about their experiences. The person who gave me this wonderful bit of advice is, by her own admission, in a crappy marriage that looks good from the outside–but when I pointed out to her that she had the option of becoming single again, her answer was that she would give up too much if she actually went ahead and did this. She would lose her nice house, her standard of living would go down–and if a crappy, unfulfilling marriage was the price she needed to pay for all this, then so be it. So yet another example of how Christians devalue the very things they claim to value.
But this is nothing new. This has been going on since the 1970’s, when I and many other Christian women had the misfortune to come of age right at the time the sexual revolution began to make serious inroads and caught the church flat-footed. Oh, yes, I remember that time very well. They (the pro-chastity people) lied to us then and it seems, from reading your and others’ posts on the topic, that they are still telling the same damned lies they were telling forty years ago. I remember a 1980’s article in the conservative Catholic magazine “Fidelity” that was written by a young woman who lamented that the young men that she was meeting were intelligent, witty, great companions, BUT, because they all rejected premarital chastity, she did not consider them potentially eligible partners. As the years, then decades, spun by, I remembered her words; and it seemed like I was increasingly meeting other women like us in the various churches I attended.
Which got me to thinking. Did practicing premarital abstinence actually decrease a woman’s chances of marrying? So I started searching online, to see if any studies had been done on the subject. What I am finding is that there are quite a few blogs by celibate Christian women who have been passed up in the marriage lottery because they would not compromise their beliefs. I do not have enough facts and figures to know just how many of us there are or whether our numbers are statistically significant–but I do think that the church definitely needs to start paying attention. At 60, I see no real advantage and potentially a lot of disadvantages to marrying; and while right now I am not looking for someone, who knows, I too might decide to stop waiting if the right person came along. This is a seismic shift in my thinking as people who knew me in my younger years can attest.
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