Today I am sad. No I’m angry. Or sad. Then angry. As you can tell, it’s a mixture of the two. And why? Because today I read an article in the Church Times entitled ‘Single churchwomen “cry inside” for the lack of men.’ (You can read it here.. http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2015/20-february/news/uk/single-churchwomen-cry-inside-for-lack-of-men)
Less than two weeks ago I endured a four hour lecture on ‘Singleness and Marriage’ which assumed that everyone’s main aim was to move from the former to the latter. I wrote it off as four hours of my life that I would never get back and was then ready to forget it and move on. However, today I read an article pretty much summarising the same kind of drivel spouted in those four hours. As a one-off it was both offensive but strangely amusing as it was so bizarre, but if it’s going to be pushed in wider circles as the norm then it’s time for me to be more vocal.
So here are my 5 main reasons why I object to it so much:
1. The headline is offensive.
I don’t want to suggest that there aren’t many single women who would prefer to be married, there are, I have met them. However the words ‘crying inside’ paint a picture of desperate and pathetic women who are sitting and waiting for Mr Right to sweep them off their feet. It conjures up images of women sitting every night with a bottle of wine, a tub of Ben and Jerrys and box of tissues snivelling over every rom-com going. It’s simply not true. Even those who would prefer to be married are merrily getting on with life, they are not pathetic and desperate, they are strong, independent and sociable.
2. The information gathered.
The stats are not a surprise. There are more women than men in church. Well no shit Sherlock, I’m fairly sure every person there could have told you that without a survey. And the information about how to interpret them, how women feel about the situation etc. comes from a man who runs a dating website. Firstly, if you want to know how single women feel perhaps it’s better to actually ask them. Secondly, if you survey people on a dating website then they’re probably going to tell you that they’d prefer to be in a relationship.
3. It insults single men in the church.
What message is this giving to single men?! They aren’t trying hard enough? They have no personality? They should review their expectations? Whatever message they are receiving from this sort of article, teaching and mindset, it can’t be a healthy or positive one.
4. The underlying message is that marriage makes life complete.
It is unhealthy to be constantly striving for something that may never happen. I remember the desperation of wanting a baby, it was all consuming and I would have tried anything to increase the chances of it happening. I remember people trying to be helpful and telling me to be patient and it would happen in it’s own time. One day someone spoke the harshest and wisest words I have ever heard. She told me that many people never had any children and they still lived happy and fulfilled lives so I should get my head round that and get on with living. I tried. Not always successfully, every month I would hope, but in the meantime I was living not waiting.
In the same way, marriage can be a blessing…but you can live a happy and fulfilled life without it. You are not incomplete if you are not married.
5. ‘Flirt to convert’ should always be a joke and not a life plan.
‘Thousands of Christian women in particular must choose between marrying somebody who doesn’t share their beliefs, or staying single.’
Yes, if we can’t find an eligible man in the church then we may……marry an unbeliever! Quelle horreur! Only in the church do we have this strange idea that future partners should agree and like everything we say and do. Outside of it there are many many couples that don’t have the same political views or don’t share a liking for each other’s social activities. Opposites can and do attract.
So I have a suggestion, I hadn’t considered it radical until today. What about if single people, instead of looking for Christians who believe exactly what they do, looked to marry other single people that they loved and who loved them, who appreciated them for who they really are and accepted them complete with faults? Would that not be a good idea?
Let’s also remember that not everyone is looking to get married.
And to all single people…you are lovely as you are, you are beautifully and wonderfully made, and you are complete. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!