During the time that I attended a service in Colorado, I noticed a few curious things that had me pondering about the state of Christian singles today and how churches treat them. There were so many groups and ministries that were specifically tailored for couples, families, children, men’s groups, women’s groups and youth groups, but virtually nothing for singles. Typically the singles group would really be the youth groups: teenagers or college students who are just getting started with life, and even then the central focus isn’t about pairing people together for marriage, but social endeavors to keep the young people happy and staying in church. And when they stay, they can also be utilized as cheap labor for church projects. It’s win-win (for the church that is).
We have a culture that promotes and provides an infinite variety of venues for short-term dating, hook-ups and flings, and yet the churches offer virtually nothing to counter that. They simply refuse or fail to take a more proactive role in helping singles get married, when in fact it should be one of its major priorities.
Why is it so important for Christians to get married? Marriage provides the training ground to breed new leaders and caretakers for the body of Christ. We read over and over again that a man cannot effectively lead the church unless he has first had the experience of raising and leading his own family. Women likewise are more effective caretakers and nurturers because of the experience of raising their own children. A marriage and family successfully functioning as one cohesive unit provides the skillset needed to run a church as one cohesive unit.
Our enemy (Satan) is well aware of this. That is why he seeks to destroy these cohesive units wherever he can find them. If he finds a single, he will try to keep that person single. If he finds a marriage, he will try to destroy it. If he finds a church serving Christ as one effectual body, he will introduce cliques to fragment that body and severely weaken its collective power. Our enemy is all about creating dissension, schisms, cliques and divisions. Divide and destroy.
For the single, the potential threat of them becoming leaders and a powerful force within the church is removed for as long as they remain single. In spite of the growing number of singles we are seeing today, rarely does the church ever consider that they may be existing in an unnatural state. The presumption is that God hasn’t meant for them to get married “at that time,” so rather than find them spouses, singles are instead pushed to do missions, missions, and more missions. Marrying early, despite no biblical sources to support their premises, is strongly discouraged. Young women are not urged to marry, but do missions, and if God means for them to have a husband, they’ll find one when the “time is right.” The idea of marriage is then put off indefinitely, with the focus instead on supporting church projects, ministries and outreaches. It occurs to very few that there may be little wisdom in perpetuating a lifestyle where both man and woman would have to resist and abide by a constant burn for intimacy and marriage for literally years without relief.
In the meantime, we have singles being given leadership roles within the church that they have no business taking on. The result are amateurs without a strong marital foundation and the needed experience to draw from to effectively lead the congregation. (Even David had his lions and bears before he finally confronted Goliath.) They are novices, and true to the warnings of Scripture, they become lifted up with pride and fall under condemnation.
And yet, the singles crisis is often ignored because it’s couched in the veil of good works. After all, what could be wrong with putting off marriage just for a little while longer to serve the church? What’s wrong with a single going on missions and feeding hungry children in Africa and witnessing to the lost? Is this not a sign of true holiness and proof they are putting ahead the interest of the kingdom of heaven ahead of their own interests and happiness?
Except that, it flies right in the face of Paul’s numerous instructions on running the church, where marriage is prioritized before members can begin taking more active roles. And while he speaks of the virtues of being single, he clearly expressed that this was his own opinion and not God’s, and described singlehood as a gift. If a man has no necessity, then and only then is he is encouraged by Paul not to marry. Any man who burns however would not be able to serve God without distraction, precisely the advantage he was supposed to have if God had truly granted him such a gift. This is the key distinction that too many churches gloss over. They must be confronted with the reality that there are many Christian singles in the church who remain that way OUTSIDE of the will of God, not because of it.
But rather than prayerfully consider whether the single is single by the gift of God or is merely existing in an unnatural state, the churches instead exploit them. Without a spouse or children of their own, such singles offer much time to volunteer and money to give. It is simply not in the church’s own financial/materialistic interest to see such a single get married. And thus, off to missions they go.
So programmed have members become to this way of thinking that we have a generation of Christian men riddled with guilt and frustration at the lack of prospects and a generation of women who rate their holiness not in having a successful marriage, but in the number of mission trips they embark on.
And yet notably there is another group that eerily shared this same trait: the ceaseless effort to travel thousands and thousands of miles to make a convert in the faith. They were called Pharisees.
Churches have focused outward, and as a result have ignored the dead bones within. Singles who remain true in the faith are being left behind, treated as pariahs and exploited for selfish purposes. The time will come when judgment will begin, not with the lost or in the huts of India, but within the house of God itself. May the churches consider their ways before then, and repent accordingly.