Every religious organisation is comprised of various blends of family structures. As an individual accepts membership they are welcomed into the family of God which is the largest family of all. The congregation and the organisation structure, however, are not perfect to address the needs of each family structure and singles are often left behind by departmental programs that are not geared toward their mental and emotional needs.
What do I mean specifically? There are limited activities geared towards singles such as social activities to address the physical and emotional challenges of loneliness and social events to support their emotional needs. Did you know that “singles” make up the largest group in most churches? The group consists of single adults who have never been married, divorcees, widows and widowers. However, divorcees, widows and widowers have an experience of marriage and memories that deviates from the organic experience and varied emotional needs of those who have never been married. As a result, the emotional needs are similar in some instances but also very different. Our views of these individuals also differ. What do I mean? The divorcee, widow and widower are accepted as being able to have experienced a normal lifestyle while those who have never been married are considered incomplete and singleness is often perceived as a condition that needs treatment.
Remarks include: “One day you will find your other half”; “You are probably too picky that’s why you can’t find a mate”; “You don’t make yourself available”; “You are not getting any younger, so what are you waiting for” and “Pray about it”. Most, if not all, point to the individual at fault or lacking in some area or thing. Many singles suffer silently because of the above comments made repeatedly over the years. It is true that marriage is God’s design for humans but it was never a requirement for happiness.
While some individuals support the idea that singleness is a gift from God others view it as a negative status. If singleness is a gift we received at birth it’s given up once you marry or if you are a divorcee or your spouse dies the gift returns.
How do you relate to singles? Or how do you see yourself as a single person? As you ponder your response, think about your emotional needs or that of a single person. What would be the #1 desire of a single person? Instead of depending on meeting an individual to feel accepted and loved as a significant requirement for happiness, why not access happiness through diverse roles, relationships and opportunities? Below is a list of opportunities for singles.
- Single Never Married
- Unlimited dating partners
- No longstanding relationship issues
- You are only responsible for yourself
- Intimacy is not limited to sex
- You can always have friends over, no permission needed
- Your choice of dwelling, food, clothing, time and financial resources does not need approval from anyone, but is guided by God
- Access to friends and family in challenging times is in abundance, rather than limited.
- Adopt, foster care or accept being free
- Take home nieces and nephews on your own time
- Get adequate rest without responsibilities
- No personal teenage drama
- Pension plan set up and guaranteed
- Any night can be date night
- Take a vacation anytime
- You can be a spiritual mentor for anyone
- No sacrifice of income for children unless impressed to give. It is not your responsibility nor should you interpret that if you do not have kids you are obligated to take care of others
- As God leads
- Change and make financial sacrifices as you see fit
- No responsibilities at home give flexibility to demands of work
- Between you and God
- Unlimited time to serve and work for God
From the lists above ask yourself, have I considered all my options? Am I restricting myself by waiting to live and accomplish my plans through someone’s commitment to me in marriage? If so, has God put a limit on your plans, goals or vision with a condition apply clause for a spouse? As humans, we tend to subconsciously limit God’s plan.
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favour and honour;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11).
I hope this article has given you a fresh view and you can embrace the following statements:
- Singleness is not a gift.
- Singleness is not a condition to be treated; you are not broken or need fixing.
- Singleness does not limit one’s opportunities or happiness.
- Singles have equal opportunities to be happy and content without a life partner.
- Singles are complete persons not incomplete individuals.
- Being single does not exclude your ability to fall in love as the highest form of love is Agape love.
Finally, remember Jesus is our example, and here are a few facts about Jesus to think about:
- Jesus was SINGLE.
- Jesus did not procreate in human flesh but is the Father of all mankind.
- Jesus experienced love, peace, joy, longsuffering, scorn, hate, shame, grief, anger and fear but they did not overwhelm Him as He was dependent on God.
- Jesus did not experience sexual intimacy.
- Jesus experienced temptation.
- Jesus was never alone and neither are you.
Michelle Hamilton, MDiv MND is a Naturopathic doctor.