Why Are So Many Single Women Leaving the Church? by K. Gaddini
I have been blogging about this topic, and ones pertaining to it, for several years now. It’s no mystery to me why women have been leaving the church in droves the last ten or more years.
(If you’d like to see just a few of my posts explaining why the Christian faith, or more specifically, churches, are a huge turn-off to single women, please see some of the links to my other blog posts below in this post, under the “Related Posts” heading.)
However, most Christians only obsess over smaller numbers of MEN leaving church; they don’t seem to either notice or to care that single women have been dropping out as well.
One of the few things this article highlights is that the “equally yoked” rule is a waste of time for women of faith who’d like to be married.
If you are a Christian woman, and you’d like to marry, it is vital you give up a hope or strict rule of marrying only a Christian man – otherwise, you are more than likely to remain single.
Secondly, and obviously, too many churches have made marriage and parenthood into idols and benchmarks of adulthood, so that any woman who doesn’t marry or have kids is ignored or viewed and treated like a child. That needs to change. Single women should be valued and recognized in their singleness.
I can also see how gender complementarianism (traditional gender roles) are also keeping these Christian women from getting married: they have internalized the idea that being anything other than the Christian gender complementarian woman (i.e., a passive doormat) hinders them from getting a husband, and worse yet, some of the men they’ve met in church actually do feel that way.
Christians need to toss out the regressive stereotypes (which are snuck into Christian teaching under heretical gender complementarian teachings) if they are truly concerned about declining marriage rates and would like to actually help marriage-minded single women to get married.
Not all women naturally fit into the gender complementarian ideal, which means they may not get married, if everyone insists all women must be gender comp to merit marriage. (The Bible does not hold up women being passive or being gender complementarian to merit a husband; it is church members who promote this false view.)
(Link): Why Are So Many Single Women Leaving the Church? by K. Gaddini
…. It turns out that in both countries, single Christian women are leaving churches at increasingly high rates. In the UK, one study showed that single women are the most likely group to leave Christianity.
In the US, the numbers tell a similar story.
Of course, there is a distinction between leaving church and leaving Christianity, and these studies do not make the difference clear.
Regardless, leaving – whether it be your congregation or your faith — is a difficult decision. Women stand to lose their friends, their sense of identity, their community and, in some cases, even their family. And yet, many are doing it anyway.
What or who is driving them out?
The first thing I discovered is that single Christian women are leaving because they are single.
It’s no secret that Christian churches exhort marriage as God’s design for humankind, and yet many women struggle to find a suitable spouse in the church.
On the one hand, the gender ratio is not in their favor.
In both countries women far outstrip men in terms of church attendance at an almost 2 to 1 ratio.
Many women I interviewed argued that the ratio is far worse, even 4 to 1 in some churches.
And most women want to marry Christian men, someone who shares their faith.
This means that often by their mid to late thirties, women face the difficult choice: hold out for a Christian husband or date outside the church.
To make matters trickier, in many Christian circles women aren’t supposed to pursue men.
.. Feeling powerless to pursue men yet pressured to get married, women often resort to alternative means of attracting male attention…
….The pursuit of marriage wasn’t just because women wanted to be married – some didn’t. It was because marriage afforded women a certain visibility, even authority within the church, that they otherwise lacked. “They don’t know what to do with us!” exclaimed Stacy, a 38-year-old woman…
Without the validity that comes with marriage, single women don’t feel accepted in Christian contexts.
And more so if they are ambitious or career-focused, personality traits that are often recoded as “intense” or “difficult.”
Women described the ideal Christian woman to me: gentle, easy-going, submissive. And when they didn’t fit this description, it caused them to feel even more out of place. The word “intimidating” came up often in my interviews with single Christian women – an accusation launched at even the most unintimidating women. Julie, for example, worked as an events coordinator for a church.
Despite being a soft-spoken 37-year-old woman, she too reported that she had often been told by men that she was “intimidating” and that she needed to “tone it down.” It being her personality.
By far the biggest factor propelling women out of the church is sex. The recent #ChurchToo movement attests to just how damaging irresponsible handling of the Church’s messages of sexual purity can be for some women.
Even in the UK, where purity is taught much less, women still struggle with the church’s approach to female sexuality. “Where do I put my sexuality, if I’m not having sex?” one woman asked me.
“As single women, we aren’t even allowed to talk about our sexuality!” another said. “Christian leaders assume that our sexuality is like a faucet that you only turn on when you get married.”
Again, age is a major factor.
Single women in their late twenties, thirties and forties are caught in a no-mans-land: too old for Christian messages on abstinence targeting teens, and too single for messages about intimacy aimed at married couples.
Related Posts on this blog:
(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): “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): Desire for Marriage is Idolatry?