Candice Watters and Boundless Blog Magazine Are So Wrong. So Very, Very Wrong (Regarding Singleness and Marriage and the Church)
Candice Watters really missed the mark in her blog page for Boundless, “Mind The Single Minded Church.”
Watters notes that one reason so many singles have cited for dropping out of church attendance is that so many churches are “family focused.”(I think this is especially true for singles over the age of 35.)
When one has never been married but one’s local church never offers programs or sermons aimed at the particular heartaches and challenges of being single, one does tend to feel ostracized, ignored, hurt by this, or taken for granted, and so they stop attending church.
Most church sermons (the ones about how to be a better spouse or a better parent, or other marriage-related topics) are completely irrelevant to most singles.
I am one single who would not object to the occasional marriage or parenting sermon or after-church program, but it seems they are way, way, way too frequent, not only in local churches, but on Christian television shows, and on Christian blogs and in Christian magazines.
Marriage or parenting are the only metaphor preachers use in their sermons, tracts, articles, or books, as I’ve noted in previous writings on this blog.
As someone who has never married or had kids, it really stings, hurts, and annoys to always hear marriage (or parenting) used as the default story illustration in sermons or Christian books/ TV shows/ magazines. It would not be difficult for preachers or Christian television hosts to use other, non-marriage metaphors to make their points, and to stop making singles feel so excluded.
Because older singles (older, as in over 35 years old) feel so overlooked and out of place by a marriage-obsessed church body, many do stop going to church.
Therefore, some singles, some Christian authors, and a tiny minority of married pastors, have suggested that to make singles feel more included, that the church needs to stop focusing as much on the family (and on marriage) as they have been doing.
Christian author Watters, who contributes to the Christian blogzine “Boundless,” however, feels this is a bad idea and that doing so will actually create the reverse situation: make marriage even harder to obtain for Christian singles who want marriage. I have no idea how the hell she arrives at such a bizarre conclusion.
Watters asks (I am amazed that she asks this, but then I think Boundless is an extension of “Focus on the Family” organization, so there is a pro-nuclear family agenda to maintain at all expense, I suppose),
“But is it in the best interest of single believers who hope to marry some day to attend such churches [that stop relentlessly sermonizing and focusing on children and marriage]?”
My answer is YES it is. HELL YES.
The extreme family (marriage and kids)-centric outlook of most churches is what is driving singles away in the first place.
If you hope for singles to meet at church (and then marry), one has to get them to attend, which naturally means removing aspects they find hurtful or a turn-off.
And singles are not going to bother showing up to attend if their current needs and current status (which is singlehood) is being ignored.
Or, when the needs and issues of the single are not being ignored, they, or the singles themselves, are usually being insulted, as is the case in some churches who make marriage sound more biblical, proper, or better than singlehood, or they make singlehood sound abnormal (which is what Boundless does, especially in regards for singleness over the age of 30).
Some churches, and some Christians, elevate marriage to such an absurd degree to the point they make singleness sound bad, weird, shameful, un-biblical, or disgraceful.
I do want to get married – but the way to get me to show up to your church and meet a single Christian man at your church (if such a creature even exists?) is once I get in the church door, treat me with just as much attention and respect as you do the marrieds.
Ignoring me, or ignoring what I go through as a single, gives me no incentive to return to your church (or any church that operates this way), Ms. Watters.
Your church can offer as many pro- marriage rallies, pro- parenting seminars, and pot luck suppers for “families” as they wish, but if they keep ignoring my status in life as a single, it’s very wounding, infuriating, and annoying – and I won’t be back.
Or, if your church insults me by (including but not limited to), (and yes, some Christian writers and publications have indeed mentioned or done the following, I am not fabricating this),
- blaming me for my singleness (i.e., I did not deliberately choose to be single this long; I did not put career before marriage, etc – contrary to “marriage mandaters” such as Debbie Maken);
- or by implying I’m a sex- crazed floozy (because you know the usual assumption even by other Christians is that all Christian singles past age 30 are having sex all over the place);
- or by teaching I’m weird, I must have too much baggage;
- I’m second class – not as mature, responsible, or valuable as married Christians;
- or, according to the pastors and married people, I’m there only to serve the marrieds and the Christian nuclear family (e.g, babysitting the married people’s kids in the church nursery);
- (if my presence and needs as a never-married woman over the age of 35 are actually acknowledged, which they rarely are), or, if, in most sermons, your pastor goes on and on about how great or challenging marriage is (as though being single is shameful or does not pose challenges), and
- your church caters primarily to marrieds while offering next to no programs and help to singles,
-also gives me no incentive to return to your church. That’s the way it is.
The fact is that the never-relenting beating on the pro-marriage, pro-parenting drum by preachers and church laity can, and has, driven older singles away from the church.
You writing your editorial saying churches should keep on beating the same pro-marriage (pro- kids) drum is not going to rectify this, and it is not the way to address the issue.
Watters believes that downplaying the amount of attention marriage receives in churches (for the sake of making singles feel more welcome) would mean that churches would somehow be elevating singlehood to a preferred, super-spiritual status, and that this would be harmful to marriage. Again, I have no idea how she arrives at this conclusion.
Maybe Watters believes that cutting the amount of time and attention lavished on marriage (by Christians or by local churches) would mean treating the institution itself as unimportant, but that is not necessarily so. A church or a preacher can still easily uphold marriage as being biblical and wonderful – but they do not have to do so by preaching on the topic practically every single Sunday, which has been the norm the past few decades.
Singles are not asking for married people, and for the topic of marriage itself, to be totally ignored by churches, nor are we asking marriage to be insulted or put down. Most of us singles want to be married too.
We older singles are asking for equal time and equal respect, not for preferential treatment. Why is this such a hard concept for Watters and those like her to grasp?
Instead of a church offering a six- week marriage series, for example, why not cut it down to two or three weeks? Or, why not devote a six- week singles series in addition to the six- week marriage one? (Click on “more” below to read the rest of this post)
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