Three Reasons Women’s Ministries Might Want to Focus Less on Marriage and Motherhood

Three Reasons Women’s Ministries Might Want to Focus Less on Marriage and Motherhood

I’ve been saying many of the same things on this blog for the last several years that this 2022 essay says.

Churches, especially gender complementarian ones – and not just in women’s ministries, but overall, in every facet of a church – make single / childless / childfree women feel ignored or unwanted, except for those Christians who patronizingly behave like the only use for a single, childless woman is to babysit the children of the married couples.

Reminder to Christians: more adults are not marrying these days – at all. Some may marry, but not until their 30s, 40s or older. Many (even if they do marry) are choosing to forgo children.

When churches focus on marriage and motherhood to the extent they do, they also send a message that being married and a parent is necessary for sanctification or relationship with God, which is false.

A person does not need to marry or have children to be sanctified, know God, or to be mature, ethical, godly, loving, or responsible.

(Link): Three Reasons Women’s Ministries Might Want to Focus Less on Marriage and Motherhood

Excerpts:

March 25, 2022
by Rachel Baker

Women’s ministries are often the home to every category of woman: Single, married, mother, widow, and so forth. As a Women’s Ministry Director, I both attend a women’s small group and organize the women’s ministry meetings at my local church.

In my small group alone there is a vast array of women, each in different categories, some are empty nesters, some are starting families, some are intentionally single, while others are single with the hope of being in a relationship in the future.

We cover the gamut, so why is it that women’s ministries’ regularly cast their focus on the married mother?

Don’t get me wrong, as a married mother I have absolutely benefited from Bible study curriculum and content focused on marriage and motherhood, however it should go without saying that these types of studies do not represent all women.

If you are in a position at your local church in women’s ministry or as a small group leader here are a few reasons why you might want to steer your Bible study content away from marriage and motherhood:

Studies Solely Based on Marriage and Motherhood Can Feel Exclusive

As a young married woman and then young mother I desperately needed support and connection and resources to help me feel a little less alone in that particular season of my life.

Marriage ministries and parenting ministries absolutely have a place within the church; they are absolutely needed.

However, when our larger-scale ministries such as women’s ministry or small group ministry only focus on young-married or motherhood we can miss out on the richness that comes from a group of women of all life-stages and relationship status.

To solely focus on marriage and motherhood means an inadvertent (or possibly intentional) exclusion of women who do not fit into those categories.

Single women need community just like married women.

Women without children need community just like mothers. We all need community, additionally, we can all benefit from each other’s wisdom and perspectives.

Exclusion of the unwed or childless woman can leave a void in those various ministries. Without these women or their voices in our small groups and women’s ministries, our ministries are at risk of becoming echo chambers of sorts.

When a group is exclusively comprised of young and potentially struggling mothers, who in that group will help them see themselves as individuals outside of their role of mother? When a group is specifically comprised of single women or widows, or any other one life-stage, we miss the opportunity to grow as diverse and unique individuals. Furthermore, we miss out on the richness that a diverse group creates.

Christian Culture May Elevate Marriage and Motherhood over Singleness but the Bible Does Not

The Apostle Paul writes this of singleness:

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided.
An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” —1 Corinthians 7:32-35

While it might be easy to glorify marriage and motherhood within Christian culture the fact is that the single and childless play an equally important role in ministry and kingdom work.

It is true a single woman isn’t concerned about juggling family schedules and her husband’s needs. If they are called into ministry or missions or a specific area of service they can respond in ways that a married mother cannot.

…According to Paul, singleness can be a gift, just like marriage can be a gift, likewise, singleness can present challenges, just like marriage can present challenges.

Each Woman Has Value, No Matter Her Relationship Status

As the body of Christ, we each have a function, our relationship status is not our full identity nor is it the whole of who we were made to be in Christ. Before I was ever married or a mother my life and my heart mattered to God. Likewise, a single woman has immense value in the Kingdom.

…As a prompting for those of us in Christian leadership it may be helpful to consider the women who help serve in our ministries: Are our leaders exclusively married with children or is there a good mix of all different women on our teams?


Related:

(Link): Christians: Please Stop Telling Singles that Their Singleness is “For God’s Glory” /  Owen Strachan’s “Being Single To Bring God Glory” Essay

(Link): Another Christianity Today Magazine Editorial (2019) Expects Single Women To Meet the Needs of Married Women – Christians Never Ask the Reverse

(Link): Can We Stop Saying Singleness is God’s Will? by Anonymous via Sheila Wray Gregoire

(Link): Self-Serving Editorial at CT: Married With Kids Lady Says ‘Why Christians Need to Embrace a Changing Definition of Family’ – But She Wants Free Baby Sitting

(Link):  Christian Blogger About Divorce, Pastor Andrew Webb, Thinks All To Most Mid-Life Never – Married or Single – Again Adults Are Mal-Adjusted, Ugly Losers Who Have Too Much Baggage

(Link):  I Guess The Southern Baptist “Biblical Womanhood” Site Is No More – Many Other Complementarian Blogs Now Inactive – and I’m Not Sad About It

(Link):  To the Christians (especially married ones) Who Like to Instruct Single Christian Adults They Should Only Marry Other Christians, Listen Up (Re: Equally Yoked Rule)

(Link): Marriage Does Not Make People More Godly, Mature, or Sexually Ethical

(Link): Husband-Hunting is the Worst Part of a Christian Upbringing – Christianity Made Me Obsessed with Finding a Husband – by B. Ramos

(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): “God’s gifting of singleness is rare”

(Link):  Christians Advise Singles To Follow Certain Dating Advice But Then Shame, Criticize, or Punish Singles When That Advice Does Not Work

(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):  Learning to See Your Single Neighbor by H. Stallcup

(Link): BreakPoint Unfortunately Pushing the False and Un-Biblical “Society Needs Marriage and the Nuclear Family” Rhetoric (and I say this as a Conservative)

(Link): Authors at The Federalist Keep Bashing Singleness in the Service of Promoting Marriage – Which Is Not Okay

(Link):  It Goes In Cycles: Push For “Early Marriage” Makes the Rounds AGAIN Lately, Because of Marriage-Idolater, Singleness Shaming Brad Wilcox (Feb 2022)

(Link):  To the Christians (especially married ones) Who Like to Instruct Single Christian Adults They Should Only Marry Other Christians, Listen Up (Re: Equally Yoked Rule)

(Link): Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians Re: Marriage

(Link): The Nauseating Push by Evangelicals for Early Marriage

(Link):   Single Adult Christian Pressured Into Marriage by Her Church – And Regrets It

(Link): Southern Baptist Al Mohler Intimates That Childless And Childfree Adults Are  Not Human (2019) – and He Thinks This is a Good and Biblical Worldview

(Link):  Ever Notice That Christians Don’t Care About or Value Singleness, Unless Jesus Christ’s Singleness and Celibacy is Doubted or Called Into Question by Scholars?

(Link):  Why Christians Need To Stress Spiritual Family Over the Nuclear Family – People with no flesh and blood relations including Muslims who Convert to Christianity – Also: First World, White, Rich People Problems

(Link):  Are Marriage and Family A Woman’s Highest Calling? by Marcia Wolf – and other links that address the Christian fallacy that a woman’s most godly or only proper role is as wife and mother

(Link) Have we made an idol of families? by A. Stirrup (copy)

(Link): Is The Church Failing Childless Women? by Diane Paddison

(Link): Lies The Church Tells Single Women (by Sue Bohlin)

(Link): The Bible Does Not Teach Christians to “Focus On The Family” – The Idolization of Family by American Christians (article)

(Link):  The Irrelevancy To Single or Childless or Childfree Christian Women of Biblical Gender Complementarian Roles / Biblical Womanhood Teachings

(Link): What Christians Really Think About the Church’s Relationship Advice by Anna Broadway

(Link):  The One Thing Evangelical Leaders Don’t Want Christians to Know about Mixed-Faith Marriages (two links). by C. Cassidy

(Link):  I’m a Christian Married to an Atheist — Here’s How We Make It Work by S. Allen

(Link): Tim Challies Needs to Shut His Pie Hole about Many Things, but Especially About Dating, Marriage, Singleness, and Now, Equally Yoked

(Link):  Never-Married Adult Man Named Stephen Asks Christian Host Why God Has Not Answered His 3-Decades Long Prayers To Send Him A Wife

(Link):  Getting Married Is Not an Accomplishment by N. Brooke

(Link): Stop Believing God Told You to Marry Your Spouse by G. Thomas

(Link):  Supporting Singles and How Churches Can Help Singles Get Married – Lessons from Match-Making by B. Lea

(Link): Typical Incorrect Conservative Christian Assumption: If you want marriage bad enough, Mr. Right will magically appear

(Link): ‘Why Are You Single’ Lists That Do Not Pathologize Singles by Bella DePaulo

(Link): And They Like to Caution Single Women About Being “Too Picky” Check this nauseatingly too picky list by a single 39 year old man who will die single

(Link): Do You Need a Partner to Have a Happy Life? by D. LaBier

(Link):   Consider The Source: Christians Who Give Singles Dating Advice Also Regularly Coach Wives to Stay in Abusive Marriages

(Link): People Who Get Divorced Are More Likely To Die Early Than Those …  Who Never Got Married In the First Place, Study Shows

(Link): American Romance Standards Are Changing as People Have Less Sex and Marriage Rates Drop 

(Link): Really, It’s Okay To Be Single – In order to protect marriage, we should be careful not to denigrate singleness – by Peter Chin

(Link): Four in 10 Adults Between the Ages of 25 and 54 are Single, Up From 29% in 1990

(Link):  Nearly 4 in 10 American Adults Live Without Spouse or Partner As Single Population Grows: Pew

(Link): 27 Eye-Opening Confessions About Relationships From People Who Have Been Single Their Entire Lives

(Link): What You Lose When You Gain a Spouse – What if marriage is not the social good that so many believe and want it to be? by M. Catron

(Link): How Can Conservatives and Christians Keep Teaching Family is Backbone of Society when there are so many dysfunctional or abusive familes

(Link): Cathy The Single Woman Asks Pat Robertson Why God Has Not Replied to Her Prayers for Years to Send Her a Spouse

(Link): It’s Better To Be Single, According To Science by Erin Brodwin

(Link): The War Over Marriage Is Raging; Single People Are Winning by B. DePaulo

(Link):  Craigslist confessional: I’m in my 40s, never married, and a virgin—but I’m happy by Abigail

(Link): Unmarried and Childless Women Are the Happiest, Happiness Expert Claims (2019 Study)

(Link): Never Married Christians Over Age 35 who are childless Are More Ignored Than Divorced or Infertile People or Single Parents

(Link): The Nuclear Family Was A Mistake – by David Brooks – and Related Links

(Link):  Fewer Americans See Their Romantic Partners As a Source of Life’s Meaning

(Link):  The Way We Never Were: American Families And The Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz (Author)

(Link): Society Has It Wrong: Married People Shouldn’t Get Benefits That Single People do Not by V. Larson

(Link): Woman Says She is Lonely in Marriage to Husband Who Ignores Her in Favor of His Job, Watching TV, etc.

(Link): Why We Thought Marriage Made Us Healthier, and Why We Were Wrong by Bella DePaulo

(Link): Family as “The” Backbone of Society? – It’s Not In The Bible

(Link): Jesus Christ Removed the Stigma, Shame From Being Single and Childless – by David Instone Brewer

(Link):   Pastor Actually Questions, in the Year 2017, If It’s Acceptable for Mothers to Work Outside of the Home

(Link): Placing One’s Marriage Ahead of The Church – Preacher Used Prioritizing and Rebuilding His Marriage as Rationale for Bullying His Church Members

(Link): Salvation By Marriage Alone – The Over Emphasis Upon Marriage by Conservative Christians Evangelicals Southern Baptists

(Link): Study: Couples Without Children Have Happier Marriages / Study: Having Kids Ruins Your Life

(Link): Pat Robertson’s Incredibly Insensitive Advice to Gail the Unmarried Woman 

(Link): Motherhood Does Not Make Women More Godly or Mature (Mother Suffocates New Born and Shoves It In Toilet)

(Link): Twice-Divorced Lady Suggests That God Told Her He’d Send Her Husband Number Three and She Got Married a Third Time – I Actually Don’t Find This Story Uplifting

(Link): Neither Fully Widow Nor Fully Wife – Married People Will Be Single Again (Married people who have spouses with dementia)

(Link): Cultural Discrimination Against Childless and Childfree Women – and link to an editorial by a Childless Woman

(Link): Don’t Judge Me, I’m Childless (from Today’s Christian Woman)

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