Article: Sensitivity to Singles’ Needs Grows

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April 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY. — When he looks out over his small congregation on Sunday mornings, Steven Schafer sees a picture of modern American family life.

About half of the congregants come from what was once typical – families headed by married couples.

The rest include “a lot of single parents, a lot of divorced parents, a lot of grandparents raising their kids,” said Schafer, pastor of Ridgewood Baptist Church. “The traditional family is not the norm.”

That presents a major challenge to churches, which are struggling to respond to the revolution in how Americans structure their families, households and romances.

Nearly half of American adults today are unmarried – whether never-married, currently divorced, separated or widowed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Married couples account for just under half of all American households – down from 71 percent in 1970, according to the U.S. Census.

Yet still today, married people are more likely than singles to be church attendees. And churches often seem focused on the nuclear family, whether it’s in the sermon topics or the posters on the walls or the graded Sunday Schools.

The Rev. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church, said his congregation is trying to create a culture in which “you’re not abnormal if you’re single.”

“One is a whole number,” he said. “You’re not a fraction.”

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Never Married 38 Year Old Christian Guy Wants to Know Why Churches Treat Him Like a Freak

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I totally related to this guy’s question. A guy calling himself “John” wrote in to the Christian television show “The 700 Club” and asked the hosts a question about why, as a 38- year- old, never- married man, so many churches have rejected him (or left him feeling rejected).

I’m just a few years older than John is, though I am a woman. I have never been married, but I wanted to be. I don’t know why I’m not married.

I have to disagree with host Pat Robertson’s reply – Robertson tells the guy, John, that the rejection is all in his head and that churches do not “reject” older singles. WRONG!

The letter writer, John, may not be “rejected” per se by churches, but most churches, and many Christians, do treat single or never- married Christians over the age of 35 and 40 differently – and that in a negative fashion.

We older, never married (single) Christians are either ignored by churches, or most Christians and churches assume that everyone over 25 years old is married with kids, or, they assume if you’re 40, you have been divorced at some stage – (wrong again, I’ve never been married).

Some Christians (the married ones) let loose with the gossip and slander against the older singles…. they assume if you’re over 35 and never married, you are some how “flawed,” a weirdo, or homosexual (none of that is true, either).

Here is a partial transcript from today’s show:
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Article: 30 And Single? It’s Your Own Fault

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I disagree with some of the positions of the “marriage mandate” crowd, including those of Debbie Maken, who wrote a book about the issue.

I intend on posting more content about the ‘marriage mandate’ perspective in the future but thought I’d start with excerpts from a good review of Maken’s book and view.

(Link): 30 and Single? It’s Your Own Fault [ by Camerin Courtney]

There are more unmarried people in our congregations than ever, and some say that’s just sinful.

From Ms. Courtney’s article:

By that October, they were engaged.

Following the path afforded by her ethnicity (she’s Indian), she [Debbie Maken] signed up with an Indian Christian Web agency to find a suitable suitor and, aided by her parents’ watchful care, started e-mailing a man in July 2001.

Now happily married and the mother of two young girls, Maken drew a map—in the form of her book, Getting Serious About Getting Married—to the Land of Marital Bliss. She hopes to prevent her daughters and countless single women across the country from having to experience any more “unnecessary protracted singleness.”

….In later chapters, she addresses the well-meaning advice handed to singles in Christian circles—such as “just wait on the Lord to bring a mate to you” or “Jesus is all you need”—and deftly explains some of the erroneous thinking and theology surrounding each.

At her best, in passages such as these, Maken gives platitude-battered single women needed permission to admit, “I’d like to get married, and that’s okay.”

Unfortunately, these bits of trend-spotting and balanced synthesis are drowning in a sea of shame and blame.

Maken seems to think a vast majority of singles view their solo status as a special gift from God (a stance I’ve seen in only a fraction of the thousands of e-mails I’ve received as a columnist for ChristianSinglesToday.com, a CT sister publication), a notion the very subtitle of the book urges them to reconsider.

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