“Don’t have a date today? Don’t worry. Not everyone has a shark during shark week, either.” (A Valentine’s Day Post from a single friend)
We idolize marriage in church
The church idolizes marriage just a little bit. You know it’s true. How often do you get asked about your relationship status? You almost count as half a person in church without a significant other.
I felt under-connected as a single man in the church.
I still remember attending Mesquite Bible Church (MBC) as a single man. One thousand miles from home, I tried to get to know people. Unfortunately, most of the ways you connect in church revolve around relationships and kids. Frequently I left warm worship gatherings feeling lonely and under-connected.
I need you to understand I had a fantastic church family. People cared deeply about me and invested in me at MBC before I married Ashley. Yet, without a relationship, people had half the reasons to talk to me on an average Sunday.
My love note to you.
Please know this truth. You play a crucial role in the church. We love you and desperately need you!
The church will always have single men and women. Also, everyone in the church will live singly at some point in their lives.
“Why do we need you?” You ask.
First of all, you show everyone how to live in a relationship with God. Every one of us lives first and foremost in a relationship with our Creator. Your presence in church relating to God and others reminds everyone of how we all should live. Pursue God, find your greatest love in Him, and show the rest of us how human relationships fall short of a divine connection.
Secondly, you stand in a long history of profound men and women in the church. Throughout the history of the church, individuals have devoted the bulk of their lives to God through singleness. As Paul put it
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife,–ESV
Think about it. Living in a relationship takes time and energy and more time. Some individuals have the gifting to make a profound difference in the world with little time. Yet for most people, to make a big difference in writing, serving, and leading takes lots of time. Relationships take away from the time you have to serve God.
Now don’t get me wrong. I serve God alongside Ashley. My relationship with her encourages, inspires, and helps me. Yet you as a single man or woman simply have a higher capacity to say yes to God in more radical ways. You can also say yes with way more time if you chose.
I treasure the time I spend with you.
Some of the most joyful moments of ministry have been connecting with and sharing life with single men and women. Having you over to eat, enjoying late games nights, and more bring so much happiness to Ashley and I. What’s more, getting to deeply share the highs and lows of your life enriches my life as a pastor.
I believe the church needs to raise the standards for relationships across the board.
The church must challenge those in relationships in marriages to hold themselves to the highest standards. The church must love deeply and keep as firmly in friendships as much as it does in marriages. We need to move from idolizing marriage as the end-all to life to celebrating every stage of the Christian life.
If God has placed a desire for a relationship in your heart, I pray that you find it in His time. I pray you find the patience to wait on His time. If God has called you to live single, I pray you find deep friendships in the church and geat hope for the future. Whatever your future holds, I hope you find hope today in the place you play in our church and the hearts of many.