So as I mentioned I go to a church that is around 50% single. We have a great lead pastor and a mentality that we can talk about almost anything from the pulpit. Unlike most churches we even talk about sex as it relates to marrieds and singles. We actually have “PG 13” sermons. It’s one of the things that after 7 years I still appreciate. Many churches never even mention this stuff and certainly not from the pulpit.
That said, they are fairly clueless beyond sex. In fact I’ve never heard singleness mentioned in a sermon in which sex wasn’t mentioned. Almost every example of a single person in a sermon has something to do with sex. (For free – if all the single people would quit having sex – they’d quit talking about it).
This is mainly bad for what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t address many of the traps for single people (loneliness, intimacy issues, bitterness, et. al.). It doesn’t help married people in the church love their single friends. It doesn’t offer much to singles who are already not having sex. It doesn’t help single people feel equal to married people in the church.
But this post is not to rail on pastors. I want us single people to step back and just realize that they don’t get it. Some pastors don’t think anything about it but I think most do. The problem is that most pastors have never been single. Seriously. Think about it. Name the single pastors you know. Single pastor is almost an oxymoron. In fact name the pastors you know that got married after 25. There just are not very many.
This is not to say that someone can’t teach on something that they haven’t experienced. That’s a terrible argument. But it helps to do one of two things before teaching on something – you either need experience or you need study it. Most pastors have done neither.
It is far easier for me to counsel married friends than for my pastor to counsel single people. For starters every single person has read books about marriage. There are thousands. Heck, you can even get a marriage book to match your theology. Who do you like? Piper, Keller, Eldrege, Jakes, Bell? Everybody has one. Ok, now name the book your married friends have read about singleness. Whoops Secondly there are very clear scriptures about marriage – what it is, what it is for, what the roles are etc. There is very little about singleness and most of it is interpreted wrong (teaser – future post). The point is that I know way more about marriage (while I haven’t experienced it and I’m not claiming to “get it”) than most pastors know about singleness.
So what do we do with this? Should we just be mad when our pastors don’t talk about singleness in a way that helps – That’s a waste of time. We’ll talk more about some of this but for starters we can:
1. Don’t tune out the marriage sermons – a proper understanding about marriage can save our butt as we navigate dating and the decision to marry. And we all have married friends who need us to love them.
2. If we are in a position of leadership (you are serving right?) we can make suggestions that are helpful. Earn the right to be heard – don’t yell from the cheap seats.
3. Cut your pastor some slack and realize that they love you even if they don’t get your situation. Seriously – especially if they try. Pastor’s hearts break for their people. Trust me I know this to be true.