Needy Single Mom Feels Abandoned By Church Family (Ask Amy)
In an older post, I mentioned how it is that some older adults do not recognize just how poorly churches and Christian culture treats single adults until those older adults become single again via divorce or widowhood:
Then they notice how absolutely marriage-centric churches are, and how utterly horrid Christians are about meeting the needs of single adults.
Then you have your married parents who don’t realize how Obsessed With the Nuclear Family most churches are until their (Link): own kids grow up and move out and stop attending church with them.
Then and only then do some Christian married couples wake up to see how absolutely terrible churches are about neglecting single adults or the childless.
The woman who wrote this letter to “Ask Amy” had to go through a divorce before she noticed how anti-singles friendly her church was. Amazing.
Also, I could’ve told this woman that Christians in general are awful at showing concern, care, and empathy for people who are in pain or under-going some stress in life.
For one thing (among others), many American Christians believe that empathy, compassion, and help are to be reserved for (Link): only certain types of hurting people – never “average Joes” or middle class people who are going through grief, divorce, job loss, or whatever – and American Christians certainly do not believe that (Link): adult singles are worthy of compassion, support, or help.
American Christians show (Link): more concern over Ebola victims in foreign nations than they do hurting Americans in America (this would include single adults).
Even though the Bible tells Christians to show compassion to any and all, not just to orphans, sex trafficking victims, and etc.
I also did not care for most of Amy’s response to this woman. Here is her letter:
I was a stay-at-home mom with three children. I lived comfortably, and my husband always took care of the finances.
We were members of a nice church where we’d tithe 15 percent of our income and donate large sums on top of that. I agreed with my husband and our pastor that this was important.
Well, my husband blew through our money, cheated on me with a much younger woman and then left me and the children.
I reached out to the church for help but am now receiving the cold shoulder. No sympathy, no kindness — nothing. I’ve heard whispers from former friends that I’m a cheapskate because I can no longer afford to tithe large sums.
These people were my friends. A couple of the congregants are my son’s and daughters’ godparents, and now they are treating me like dirt, because not only am I a single mother in the midst of a divorce, but I can’t shell out money the way we used to because I need to feed my kids and pay insurance on my old car.
I took a job as a cleaning lady to make ends meet. I even had to move back in with my mother after all of this.
This is breaking my heart, because I really love this church, but I don’t understand this cruelty. I was the one who was wronged. In the meantime, my husband and his new fiancee are still members there, and they welcome him with open arms.
I am at a loss as to what to do. Can you offer any guidance?
Part of Amy’s answer (I did agree with some of it, but there were a few points where I feel she dropped the ball):
Dear Heartbroken: You need to find a new church. Everything you report is a reflection of how institutions run but not how spiritual communities should ideally operate. People should not be stigmatized when their circumstances change. And people who are needy, and hurting, should find solace, assistance and recognition of their struggles in their spiritual home.
This is a pastoral matter, and it would be brave (and appropriate) for you to bring this to the pastor of your church. All of those generous donations over the years were not intended as a down payment for a time when you might need payback, but your very presence should be enough for you to receive emotional, spiritual and perhaps even financial support when you need it.
You can read the rest of Amy’s reply here.