“But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”—I Corinthians 7:8-9 (NKJV)
Sometimes you go into other people’s homes and realize that they’re actually not much more different than you are. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s not so great. As a single, will-be-37-year-old-in-June woman, I couldn’t help but have a really weird feeling of deja vu when I read an article about, reportedly, the first singles-only church in America. I’m not sure what’s more intriguing to me: that it’s Mormon or that it’s based so close to the nation’s capital (I’ll have to get back to you on that). Anyway and either way, it was this part (of Gawker’s commentary) that took me back to some of my own experience’s with so-called “singles ministry” in the Christian faith:
The church’s 800 or so members get together for romantic games of table tennis, romantic Bible study sessions, romantic normalcy, and other fun activities—plus worship services. And unlike Utah-based Mormons, 23rders are not prohibited by state law from acting sexy, which probably helps them signal their interest to prospective mates.
Sounds like fun! Yet there are a few drawbacks. For example, sometimes congregants end up competing with friends for partners (the Post article seems to suggest “romantic” partners, but maybe table-tennis partners as well), which produces drama and awkwardness. Also, “the concentration of so many single men and women produces sexual tension that their faith forbids them to act upon,” because of the Mormon ban on premarital sex. Of course, they can alleviate this tension by getting married ASAP, which also permits them to hold church leadership positions and stop worrying about the afterlife so much.
Don’t you love how it says “plus worship services” at the end of all of the romantic stuff (I actually wrote a piece on the randomness of the word “romance” here)? It’s kinda like ordering a combo at McDonald’s. The fact that you can plus size it is a bonus. And an afterthought. And oftentimes overlooked.
And while to some, what this particular church is doing may seem really odd, apart of me can’t help but to wonder if this is some of the reason why the divorce rate within the Christian church is basically as high as in “the world”; that we’re so busy (or is it obsessed?) with getting people married that we’re not really *preparing them for it*. Indeed, if singles ministry is supposed to be just as the words are defined, it should be “wholeness and completion service”. You have no idea how many wives I know who are a burden rather than a helpmate because their husbands married them with bad credit (or a bad attitude). You have no idea how many husbands I know whose wives write me, even on this blog, because their husbands were not in a season of purity (I Timothy 5:22) prior to their wedding day. You have no idea how much I have grown to not just desire marriage but *reverence it* now that I am *not* in a relationship.
There was one woman at the end of the article who said, “I say that marriage isn’t that great. I’ve done it…” As the kiddies do on their cell phones, I couldn’t help but to “SMH”. Boy, if humans ain’t one extreme, they’re the other. The first relationship we see in the Word (John 1:1, 2 Timothy 3:16-17) *is* a marital union (Genesis 2:18-25) and that’s something else that I think we also forget (or is it neglect?) within the faith. Hmph. I couldn’t help but to wonder if that woman is a result and consequence of the old, “Better to marry than to burn” speed-date counseling trend. Oh how I wish people put that part *of Paul’s opinion* (cause Christ actually reminded us that what God has joined together, man is not to separate; that only if one cannot accept *the awesome responsibility* that comes with marriage that they should remain single-Matthew 19:1-12) into context. I Corinthians 7:7 says that he wishes that all men could be like him, *but that we all have our own gifts*. For some, it’s the gift of celibacy, for others it’s the gift of marriage. His point was that if you don’t have his gift, you would be better off married than trying to live single while burning with passion. And we do know of *many instances* when people try to force themselves to be called to a life of singleness (*cue in “Jeopardy” music here*). You don’t have to force a gift upon yourself. Or others (Ecclesiastes 3:14). Therefore, to say that everyone should be married to get a life is totally irresponsible. To say that people should avoid marriage to actually enjoy the quality of life is spiritually delusional. And to put all of that into the context of a worship service? Well, being obsessed with any one thing can send a person over the edge. Of reason.
You know, besides all of the reported jealousy, drama and hormonal tension already in progress at that church, the other thing that I couldn’t help but to wonder is, “Who’s guiding the single folks in marital preparation if there are only single people there?” Cause if it’s people like that divorced woman, they can already hold the benediction and give themselves a “C-” for effort. I Corinthians 12 speaks of *unity in diversity*. A singles-only environment doesn’t seem really family conducive. And if/when you get married, what happens then? You get outed? Or disfellowshipped? Sometimes I (re)visit Acts 2 (and read excerpts of “Pagan Christianity“) and I’m like, “I know church was not supposed to be *this complex*, Lord.” WORSHIP SHOULD NOT BE SO HARD.
Anyway, I’m off to do some single things. You know, pay some bills. Make some calls. Work on this new project/concept that the I’ll share with you in the upcoming months. Doesn’t sound very romantic? Well, if by that you mean “fanciful”, “unpractical” and “unreal” (all definitions of the word, by the way) then, why thank you! (LOL) Living my best life, in the now, is the agenda. The best kind of love story I know.
Looking forward to when someone, single or married, preaches a sermon on *that*.