20 November 2017

Life & Sole: Unapproachable or simply not approached…?

We all know that our society is changing, but are we ready to change our Christian mind-set towards it? In today’s demograph a large number of people are single and this number is growing. Research shows that approximately one in three young adults are single. Are churches a haven and a home for the individual or is it possible that they are one of the places singles most fear to tread?

From a young age we are fed the notion that the ideal adult life is one shared with a spouse and happy children. Even in our bedtime stories the narrative is only complete when the princess marries her Prince Charming – only then can they “…live happily ever after.” Churches are wonderfully family friendly, and it is so appropriate that this should be the case. However, it can be hard to find the right place for those who are not married. We must recognise the fact that there are people who choose to be single or feel called to remain unmarried. As fellow Christians we should not view them as incomplete. In 1 Corinthians 7 we clearly read that there is a gift of marriage and a gift of singleness. They are equal. The single person is not half of a person or lacking in any way.

The Bible offers a number of examples of people for whom God’s will was singleness. In the Old Testament Jeremiah had been told not to marry and his life was a prophetic statement (Jeremiah 16:1-15). Daniel had been appointed a palace eunuch and therefore never had a spouse (Daniel 1:3-6). There are further examples in the New Testament. If we look to John the Baptist we observe a single man who was completely focused on preparing the very way for Jesus. Ultimately, God chose to make Himself known to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived His life as a single person. Fully man and fully God, tempted in every way as a human being, yet fulfilled – not incomplete.

We must also be aware that there are those who are not single by choice, rather they long for the companionship and intimacy found in a healthy marriage. Too often these people are subjected to awkward and potentially painful conversations over a cup of tea after the church service, wherein advice is proffered, “Don’t be too choosy – you can’t wait for a Prince on a white horse” or “Don’t wait too long, you aren’t getting any younger!” While these quips are often well meant, they can give the impression that there is something wrong with being unmarried and can succeed in alienating the single person. Worse again is the practise in some churches of placing single people in a “single’s club,” which, if handled without sensitivity and respect, can be a further step towards making them feel on the periphery rather than creating a sense of being absorbed into the main body of the church as a valued member. We as a Church have a responsibility to enfold these individuals into the life and love of the church family. We can not leave these people on their own. We need to find a way to approach them in an honest, open and caring manner. We need to try to understand their needs. And ultimately we need to be the family of Christ for them. We are the body of Christ and this includes us all – married or single and all have a special part to play. We must all work together to encourage one another and facilitate each one in the discovery of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

Zuzana Polackova