Being single in the Christian church can be an isolating experience. Sometimes it feels like all of the ministries are either pointed at kids or parents. And any single Christian will tell you that most “singles” groups at churches feel more like a cover for church-approved speed dating. I know they mean well, but I’m going to pass on that one. But the hardest part about being single in the Christian church are the typical “singles” questions and comments well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ say to you. I really believe they’re trying to be encouraging, but frankly, it’s the very opposite of that. Need some proof? Below is my list of 5 Things Every Single Christian Is Tired of Hearing (and yes, I really have heard every single one of these).
1. “So, is there anyone special in your life?”
Yeah, my parents have this great dog named Abednego and if I Skype them they’ll hold her up to the camera for me. Oh, you weren’t talking about my dog? Look, I know you’re just trying to get to know me, but there really are better questions you can start with. Here’s a few ideas that will help you get to know me: Where did you grow up? What’s your dream job? What brought you to this church/church event? What do you do in your free time? It’s not the question that I hate, it’s that it seems people always ask it before they ask anything else. It makes me feel like singleness is my main trait. God made me so much more than that, so please see me for who I am, not for who I’m seeing.
2. “If you wait and pray, God will bring you a husband/wife.”
I have a lot of personal experience with this one. And frankly, it’s just as insulting as it is wrong. Let’s start with the wrongness. God never promises that He’ll give us everything we pray for. And that’s a blessing! Sometimes the things we pray for are not best for us! There are great examples of how singleness can be God-pleasing in the Bible (hello Paul) so please remember that God’s plan and timing is different in everyone’s life. His plan may not include a husband or wife. Now moving on to the insulting part. If God has a husband planned for me, yay! Go God. But my life is not on hold until he comes around. I’m not Sleeping Beauty. God has plans and experiences and adventures for me right now. Marriage is a wonderful, beautiful, God-pleasing thing, but it is not the only wonderful, beautiful, God-pleasing thing. I’m living a Christian life right now. God is using me right now. Please don’t imply that I need a diamond ring before my life can really begin.
3. “So, when are you going to get married?”
If I knew, I’d tell you. I’ve never really understood why so many people ask this question. Do you think I’ve just had a personal chat with God and we both decided that it can wait till I’m 32? When Christians ask singles this question it once again implies that their life won’t really begin until they’re married. I know you don’t mean this (at least I hope you don’t) but you’re inferring it. And besides, I’ve talked to a lot of single Christians and none of us know how to answer when we are asked this.
4. “I have this grandson (/son/nephew/cousin/dogwalker)…”
Okay two main issues with this comment. #1 When I come to church or church events, I want to worship with you, pray for you, and spend time just being around fellow Christians. There’s a difference between worship services and Christian Mingle. As cool as your grandson/son/nephew/cousin/dogwalker sounds, when you try to set me up with him, it feels like you’re more concerned about my romantic life than you are about my spiritual life. That hurts. #2 What do you expect me to do with this information? Call him up and say, “Hey your grandma says you’re pretty awesome and also plagued by singleness, want to get married?” I know dating has changed a lot over the years, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have been the best pick-up line in your single days either.
5. “Don’t you want to get married?”
The answer to this question is going to be different for every single person. I know some single Christians who really struggle with the fact that they haven’t found Mr./Mrs. Right yet and I know some single Christians who plan to be single the rest of their days. And then the rest of us go back and forth between contentment and longing every day. But when you ask this question, you have no idea where people are emotionally at. You’re asking us to justify a status because it feels like the answer should be public knowledge. If a single Christian wants to talk to you about where they’re at with their singleness, they will. Don’t force someone to have a conversation with you that could be an emotionally touchy subject if they’re not ready too. It’s their relationship status, and it’s just another question that makes single Christians feel like they’re an anomaly.
This post isn’t intended to make you feel like a horrible, judgmental person if you’ve said one of these things. It’s just intended to remind us all that our words can be very isolating if we’re not careful about what we say. I know my church family cares about me and only wants the best for me, but sometimes it feels like they care more about my relationship status than me as a person. Let’s not let single Christians slip away from the church just because we haven’t thought about how what we are saying may sound. I love you Church, and I am loved by you Church. Let’s make sure all of our brothers and sisters, single or not, feel that way too.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Director of Christian Education
Single (but so much more than that) Christian
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church