Perhaps you have, as I have, noticed the bumper sticker entitled “Happiness is Being Single.” If happiness is being single, why do some of these people look so sad? They display that bumper sticker logo, but have “miserable and unhappy” written on their faces. How can this unhappiness be minimized among singles who are experiencing it? Prayerfully, these suggestions might be helpful.
• Change Church Attitudes. Something is wrong with a church that sees single adults as misfits, has no place in the body for unmarried people, lacks programs to meet the needs of singles, and shows no understanding or desire to understand their struggles — especially if the single person is divorced. These attitudes can be challenged from the pulpit. Married couples can be encouraged to welcome singles into the church and into their homes. It may be helpful to remind people that Jesus and Paul were single. They might not be welcome in some churches today. Certainly they would be unacceptable to many who maintain a strong prejudice against single pastors. As Christians, we find ultimate security in Christ and not in a local congregation, but believers do need one another. Many would agree that for singles especially, our home is the church, our family the body of believers. No definition of “family” can be called Christian which does not include single people. There may be a place in the church for Valentine’s or sweetheart banquets, couples’ clubs, and family-related church programs, but too often these exclude, overlook, or put down singles. Probably most organizers of these activities have no intention of excluding the unmarried; more often there is nonawareness of the singles in the congregation. Pastors, elders, other church leaders, and members of the congregation should all remember that single people are significant and equal members of the body of Christ. Unmarried adults should have full acceptance in the church community.
• Seek to Build Stable Marriages and Families. Many singles are afraid to marry, and others live difficult lives as single parents and divorced people because believers often have distorted and nonbiblical views of marriage. Teaching about healthy marriage and families may be an indirect and effective way to prevent problems that singles and married people both face. To reduce the increasing incidence of divorce among believers, to cut down the number of unfulfilling and status-quo marriages, and to help singles get a more balanced perspective on family relationships, the church can do the following:
- Restate its commitment to the family and to the institution of marriage.
- Give strong, clear, biblical teaching and preaching on marriage, the family, and singleness.
- Encourage fathers to be more active in parenting, and couples to be more involved in marriage building.
- Discourage thinking that creates unrealistic ideals about marriage and the family, or that encourages child-centered marriages.
- Teach communication and conflict resolution skills.
• Encourage Singles to Make Decisions and Be Active. Singleness problems can be prevented when unmarried people are helped to trust God for their present and future needs; to honestly face and attempt to deal with their personal problems and struggles; to reach out to others in a spirit of giving and friendship; to evaluate their life goals periodically; and to work on developing a balanced life that combines worship, work, play, rest, and periods of both socializing and solitude. Often when people are active and involved in meaningful ministry to others, there is less time or reason to dwell on problems.
Southern Union | March 2017