What does the Church need to hear about singleness? Few people in today’s Christian culture, even among singles, understand that singleness is a calling from God. For some it is temporary, but for others it is life-long. Rather than view singleness as a calling, many in the Church tend to view singleness as a state of brokenness needing to be fixed by marriage.
There seems to be an overwhelming sentiment about singleness as a bad thing. It is not good for the man to be alone. And so, God made a helper for Adam. But being single is not synonymous with being alone as we sometimes assume. God did not say It is not good for the man to be single or unmarried. If that were His intention, do you think He would have married when He took human form as Jesus? It is not good for the man to be alone, but at the same time it is not bad for the man to be single.
A recent New York Times article explored the difficulty of single pastors to find work “in a field where those doing the hiring overwhelmingly prefer married people and, especially, married men with children.” There is open prejudice against single people leading congregations, and there are questions about their ability to counsel married couples and parents, in addition to what the article calls “irrational fears.” I cannot speak to the theology of those denominations who believe the Bible calls for married leaders, but the Church needs to be reminded to cultivate single people for ministry. We, too, seek opportunities for service or perhaps feel called to leadership – and not exclusively in the singles ministry. But how can we fill these ministerial roles if the Church does not allow it or think we should simply because we lack a spouse?
One woman in the article talked about interviewing for pastoral positions, saying, “they often acted like I’m not quite whole because I’m single.” Feeling incomplete, like less of a person, really damages the value we feel as individuals. It can be enough of a struggle to feel valued as a single person thanks to society, media, and personal doubts, but if there is one place we can trust to feel valued, it ought to be the Church.