Today I read an article taken from ‘The Independent’ which someone had posted on to Facebook. The title instantly grabbed my attention… ‘Isolated: Single Christians feel unsupported by family-focused churches.’
Using the responses given from an on-line Christian dating site, the research carried out found that:
- nearly four out of ten single churchgoers said they often felt “inadequate or ignored”
- single people feel ‘accepted’ but do not feel ‘included’ socially.
- they feel the “pain” of being single in a predominantly family setting
- they felt excluded from leadership positions
Given the fact that the number of single people in society is growing, the article was basically saying how VITAL it is for ‘the Church’ to recognise this and to attempt to become an inclusive community that embraces and welcomes ALL people.
Now, if I’m honest, the article made me quite angry. Why? – because as a ‘single person’, I could very much relate to the majority of what was said, and it hurt. Now, fortunately, whilst I’ve never experienced being excluded from positions of leadership within ‘the Church’, I have, as a ‘single person’ felt somewhat ignored and isolated at times, and this has been incredibly painful.
Over the last two years I have experienced this sense of exclusion and isolation more than ever before, and the pain has been immense. Whilst at Theological College, I have made many friends – however, I’ve noticed that if they are married then the likelihood is (although, I admit there are exceptions) that they have tended to want very little do to with me outside ‘college hours’, and if they host anything remotely ‘social’ like a dinner party for example, then they are only likely to invite their married friends. It’s almost like they don’t bother asking me because they think I’ll feel embarrassed and out of place, when in reality by not inviting me they do the complete opposite by making me feel like the ‘odd one out’, that I’m somehow not good enough.
I remember having a conversation with someone once, who was talking about going along to a pub quiz with their ‘spouse’ and how good it was going to be – they were really selling it to me. I immediately thought: “They’re asking me to go along with them! – At last! – I’m one of them! I’m in their club.” This was somewhat short-lived though, as it turned out that they were simply assuming that I would babysit for them while they went out with their married friends!
Tomorrow evening there is going to be a quiz, and whilst I’m sure people will have a great night, and whilst it’s for a fantastic cause, what is interesting is that people appear to have segregated themselves by and large into teams of ‘single’ people, ‘married’ people, – oh… and … ‘faculty’.
Those who are married, (and I say this in love) I think there are a few important things to note here when it comes to single people:
- Just because I am ‘single’ it does not mean that I am somehow allergic to married people
- Some people CHOOSE to be single (it’s actually ok!), others don’t (and it’s painful)
- Just because you were once single, don’t pretend that you know what it’s like. For instance, if you got married at 23 – don’t pretend to know what it’s like being single at 30, 40, 60 – after all people are different, priorities change etc
- Just because I am single, it does not mean I will jump on your man while you are not looking!
- Just because I am single, does not mean I will make a good babysitter!
- Don’t be scared to invite me out, if I don’t want to come to something I am more than capable of saying so!
- Just because I am single does not mean that I ‘don’t have a family’ – I do, and I have responsibilities (unlike what some have told me!)
I guess like most things in ‘the Church’, much grace is needed when it comes to dealing with this whole issue of ‘singleness’. It’s an incredibly emotive and sensitive subject for many and whilst I’ve written from a perspective of a ‘single person’, I also recognise that married couples have stresses and pressures put upon them that some single people don’t have. I also need to say here that I have been privileged to meet some outstanding Christian couples who I respect and admire. They have taken the time to get to know me, invited me round for meals etc, and have made me feel ‘normal’, and I am so very grateful to God for them (they know who they are).
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (the Bible)
- Isolated: single Christians feel unsupported by family-focused churches (independent.co.uk)