If I Get Married, Can We Still Be Friends?

Let’s say after a few visits to a church you decide to join a small group. You go to sign up and after taking down your general information the person running the sign up asks you, “How much money do you make?”  After you recover from shock, you say, “Excuse me? Why does that matter?”  The person warmly smiles (because that is what we do at church) and says, “Oh, this year we are going to be doing a couple of lessons on money, so we are setting up our small groups by income level – you know so that people are kind of in the same boat so to speak, and can identify with each other better.”

What would your reaction be to that?  Or how about if you go to a church with Sunday School classes.  What if there was a people with a lot of money class and a people with no money class.  You know because people with different income have different needs, experience different struggles and of course like to hang out with people just like them.

Here’s the best part about this – if you get a big promotion – you get to move to a new group.  Of course if you get demoted – well . . . .

In my opinion, one of the great problems in our Christian communities is that we have become all about affinity.  We hang out with people like us.  The problem is the kingdom doesn’t look like this.  

Just look at Jesus’s disciples.  I mean it was not very often in those days that you would have a fisherman, a zealot and a tax collector hanging out together. . . every day. . . for three years. Actually it doesn’t happen today either.

But they did.  Why?  Because they came together around Jesus.  And a funny thing, it worked.  In fact we are having this conversation because it worked.  But this is not how we like it.  We like comfort.  We like the people who look, act, and think like us.  There’s a lot wrong with this but for me the main problem is we are ripping each other off.

I bring all this up because there is often this weird divide between singles and marrieds in the church.  In fact I would say that the divide is more apparent in Christians than non-Christians.  There are a lot of reasons for it.  We can make idols out of family, marriage, or even singleness.  The Church in our current culture is pretty marriage centered and often treat marrieds and singles differently.

But a lot of it is that we are just so self focussed that we rule out anyone in a different context.

I see this all the time.  Sometimes it’s the married peoples fault.  They get married and just kind of abandon their single friends because somehow magically they now identify more with them than those they were friends with before.  But then there are single people who give their newly married friends almost no choice because they start treating them as if now they have some sort of weird disease – “they’re married now so you know. . . ”  To top it off, many churches (and ministries) are set up in such a way that when you get married you have to switch groups/classes/etc.

And of course no one who is in a different place could possibly be helpful.  The married person doesn’t think the single person could possibly understand and speak into their married life, and the single person knows that married person just doesn’t get their plight.

Here’s what’s funny about this for me.  I’m 40 years old.  I’ve never been married – I’m about as single as you can get.  And in six months I’ll be married.  So can we still be friends?

All of my mentors are married.  A whole lot of things on this blog come from conversations with them. At the same time a whole lot of people I mentor are married – will I now suddenly be a better mentor to them?  Once I’m married do I still have stuff to say about being single or am I now clueless?  Will more married people now trust me because I’m married?  Really, if you want to be un-single should you listen to the person who is always single (I once told someone I could teach them how to not get married. Ha!) or the person who figured out how to get married?  We could play this game all day.

The truth is we need each other.  We singles need to learn how to love our married friends and vice versa.  It can be complicated.  It takes being intentional. It takes having a right theology of singleness and of marriage.  It means not lifting one up over the other but lifting Jesus up over both.  It probably means being uncomfortable.

Is your community divided?  Whether you are single or married, are you willing to be intentional with those who aren’t?

8 thoughts on “If I Get Married, Can We Still Be Friends?

  1. Hey Justin,

    Thanks for writing this post. I feel like you’ve touched on this before, but I’m in a place where it’s starting to feel like all of my friends are getting married except for me so the reminder that they are still my friends is helpful. 🙂

    I guess this is a silly question given what you just wrote, but as good a time as any to ask it! First off, CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement!! That’s very exciting news and I pray many blessings over your marriage. 🙂 My question is, are you still planning to write about singleness once you get married or are you planning to change your focus? (Clearly I’m sure you could speak for the rest of your life on singleness, married or not, if you wanted to which is why I’ve been wondering since you first announced it a few blogs ago.) I really feel that your blog fulfills a major need within the greater Church and wish that more leaders would be as in touch with this issue as you are in addressing it… 🙂

    • Hey Angela

      It’s not a silly question at all. My short answer is I’m going to keep writing about this stuff. If I do change focus some it won’t be because I get married but because I have loved writing and have other things I might weigh in on. Still thinking through what that looks like.

      But I’m not done ringing this bell. I started this blog because of exactly what you said – there is a huge need. It’s not because I was mad or hurt (that would have been my blog 10 years ago 🙂 ) but because it’s a huge issue in the Church.

      That said, I actually plan on finding some new ways to get the message out and engage the conversation. So stay tuned – if we are going to impact this conversation we will need more than just this blog. 🙂

      • *Phew* I am glad to hear that! I would absolutely love to see you host Singles Retreats or Seminars or something like that… Perhaps even traveling to other church leaders to examine the issue and give them tools for addressing it within their churches… I’m very excited to see what lies ahead for you with this – please keep us posted!! 🙂

    • A as someone who struggles with Same Sex Attraction, in order to be obedient to God and His Word I must remain single. In fact, I’m studying to take the Vow of Celibacy. But I’ve had the painful experience of having great friends who, upon marriage, push me out of their life. No contact from them and only to be told “we only do things with married couples now.” I was scared of going to an Evangelical church struggling with SSA. Being gay in the Evangelical Church is easy, being single is hell. Married people just spend time with others like them and singles, if they haven’t left the church, stand in the corner like a bunch of diseased trash. Some local churches get it and married couples “adopt” singles and have them live with them and include them in their family because we’re supposed to be one family in Christ Jesus. Unfortunately, most churches worship marriage and have great ceremonies for the couple. For those that feel called to be Single for Christ not even the pastor will acknowledge them from the pulpit and say anything about this being a holy and God ordained calling. Instead of feeling loved, valued, and like we have a family, singles are damaged and greatly hurt by how the Church treats them and sadly most of them have left the Church to find “love” somewhere else. Scripture teaches something different about singleness, family, intimacy, and friendship that the Church teaches. If the Church won’t uphold Scripture on this issue how can I have any faith that it upholds Scripture on other issues? I jut want to look my pastor in the face and ask him why does the Church seem to hate single people so?

  2. Thanks Justin, Good thoughts. I loved your analogy between affinity of income to affinity of marital status. I might have to use that sometime. As a Pastor for Discipleship, I get lots of phone calls asking where the Singles group is. Of course, they also tell me that the college and career group is different than Single Adults who are different from Divorced Singles who are not the same as “older” Singles. Yikes!

  3. Pingback: Focus On God’s Family | More Than Don't Have Sex

  4. Pingback: Top Reasons “While You’re Single” Lists Are Bad | More Than Don't Have Sex

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