Why Church People Hate Singleness

I’ve determined that church people really hate singles issues.  Now they don’t hate singles (even though some singles might feel that way).  I think they for the most part really do care.  But I think they hate it and avoid dealing with it.

I’ve been thinking about why they feel that way, and I’ve come to some conclusions. This is not meant to be exhaustive, just my first thoughts.

First of all, people they care about are hurting.  There are people that church leaders care for that really want to get married.  They see the desire in their people’s hearts and it bothers them that they aren’t met.

Secondly they hate it because it leads to all sorts of messy problems within the church that they don’t have good answers for.  This guy won’t leave this girl alone.  These two went out three times and now the girl thinks because it didn’t work out that the guy is a player out to do harm.  A single man has the qualities to be an elder, but what if he dates someone in the church, what if it doesn’t work out?  What if he dates someone from a different church?  What if a woman from the church likes him and he isn’t interested? Is he more likely to fall into sexual sin than a married man?  What does that scripture about the husband of one wife mean? (For the record it means don’t have more than one wife).

It’s a mess.  It’s not supposed to work this way.  But our culture has changed.  Marriage is in the decline.  If we were to continue on the trend we are on right now, married people really will be in the minority in our country.  But the church isn’t set up for that.  It also isn’t set up to help us navigate our way out of it.  And that is freaking frustrating.

Thirdly, church people hate singleness because there is no easy biblical answer to the problem.  There are some biblical answers, but we don’t like most of them.  So what mostly happens instead is that we end up trying to make them up.  We like nice little bible answers.  We like when we can say to a married man, “Love your wife in this way or that, because a verse in the bible says it that way.” Or to a married woman, “respect your husband this or that way because there is a verse or two in the bible that says it that way.”

One of the reasons the Church likes to talk about marriage and family (not the only reason) is that it makes a really good sermon.  Singleness. . . . not so much.  Not only that but you can toss a word or two into a marriage sermon about singleness because most single people in the church want to get married.  Married people aren’t interested in the single sermon.  They should be, but they’re not.

The word singleness isn’t even in the bible.  Actually I guess the word is in 2nd Chronicles but not the way we mean it.  Dating is not in the bible.  Neither is courting in case you thought it was.  Taking a wife in the bible often meant literally taking one – and that probably won’t preach.

You see the problem with dealing with singleness is that you actually have to get dirty to do it.  To give any sort of answer that matters you have to jump in with the single person.  You can’t quote a verse, do a study and walk away feeling good about yourself because it won’t do the trick.

To deal with singleness we’d have to deal with things like the call to celibacy.  That actually is in the bible, but in 20 years in church I’ve never once heard a pastor do it justice.  I for sure have never seen a small group set up to determine if you might be called to it.

To deal with singleness we have to get in with the single person and help them navigate why they (that one person) is single?  It requires actually walking through things like, fear of commitment, awkwardness with the opposite sex, communication with the opposite sex, confidence around the opposite sex, insecurities and sin, not to mention the sins of consumerism, sexual immorality, and laziness.  It means dealing directly with people’s wounds over an extended period of time. It means dealing with fear – not creating it. 

We can tell men to man up and women to dress up until we are blue in the face but at some point we have to actually know the man or the woman and find out what’s up.  We can talk all day about God’s timing and waiting on the one He has for you, but at some point we have to move beyond sounding deep and go deep with people.

It means not pretending that there is biblical answers where there aren’t.  And church people hate that because they want there to be a biblical answer even where there isn’t one.  By the way this includes single church people too.

If the Church is interested in changing the trend and reaching out to the unmarried (50% of America is unmarried. 80% of those between 18-29 are) then maybe it’s time the Church “Man’s Up” itself and rethinks how it goes at this deal.





32 thoughts on “Why Church People Hate Singleness

  1. “To deal with singleness we have to get in with the single person and help them navigate why they (that one person) is single?”

    Is there always an answer to this “Why?” question? The issues you listed are valid; sometimes these could very well answer the “why” question. But…

    When I do hear this “why” issue addressed by the church, it’s usually in the form of offering a reason why the single person is single (they’ve made marriage an idol; they haven’t learned to be content in God alone; God is still working on their issues; they want marriage too much; they don’t want it enough, etc.) General sentiment? Single people have issues – that’s why they’re single. (Unexpressed, but implied, converse: Married people have their crap together – that’s why they’re married!)

    We know that’s not true, of course. We know some wonderful, godly people who are single for no clear discernible reason. And we know some married people who entered their union riddled with insecurities, immoralities, awkwardness and fear.

    And I think *that’s* what the Church hates – those situations where there is NO easy answer. No sound bite, no 12-step resolution or 3-point sermon recap, no discernible reason for the question “Why?”

    This may be too dramatic a theological leap – but doesn’t this tie into theodicy? How could a good God let bad things happen? Too often the Church plays the part of Job’s friends – ready with an answer, ready to assign blame.

    But I’m longing for the Church to just say to me, “I don’t know. I don’t know why you’re still single. But I’m going to sit with you in it, though we may never have answers or understand ‘why.’ I’ll sit with you in the unknowing.”

    • Good thoughts and a big Amen to your last paragraph. The truth of course is that it’s not just true for singleness. There’s a lot of places (maybe most) that we’d be better off to just sit with the person – at least first – before we offer a potential answer. Great great thought.

    • “Unexpressed, but implied, converse: Married people have their crap together – that’s why they’re married!”


      At times, I feel this is implied, and in defense of marrieds in Christ, out there and in my own church…….no one has ever said this out loud to me.

      We singles know that everyone who is married didn’t: have a high paying job, didn’t have enough saved for the house, a huge college investment trust-fund already set-up for the “future” children, their own educations paid for (finally cleared up my own student loans from grad school…took almost twenty years), have everything figured out for every situation.

      ….and yet, at times it comes off that way, even if that is not the intent.

      I really liked this post because it IS something that is going to be a very serious challenge in the church, and I am going to see this problem (at my age) really expand in the next decade or so, and already…..even with “good intentions” in churches great and small. It is not being properly addressed.

      My Officer at my church has given orders for me to “set-up” a “Singles Ministry” and all the info I am getting. Wow. All the other churches I am visiting, all the mission statements I am looking at, all the “types” of singles we have today (the ones like me who have never been married, never dated, never had children, but WANT to be married. The widow. The widower. The single parent who was never married. The divorced parent, the older, the college aged; persons with mental / physical challenges; and the ones who have truly been blessed and do indeed have the Gift of Celibacy). All of these singles “count” and “matter” in the church, because more than likely, many of them are going to leading many aspects of the internal ministries in the church much sooner than later. They are not being fed in a way that makes them more useful to God, or their potentials utilized and channeled in ways that serve with an honest joyful heart! Like Justin said, it is not that “single” people in Christ are being marginalized, or that the church “hates” them. Totally untrue…..but there is a definite attitude of not knowing really “what” to do, about this serious trend or “how” to do it in a way that makes sense.

      It has to be more than studies about “Corinthians 7”

      That much I do know.

      I am a bit scared to do this. Why? I am afraid that I will be “fixed” into the group of whispers or thoughts of: Yeah, he leads the singles ministry. He must be called to be single.

      One of the younger soldiers I have asked to help me run this (a woman, about 22) politely said “no” to my request for that same reason: “Every guy my age here and at other Corps will think I am called to be single if I help run it. I just don’t want that.”

      I really could not fault her for her genuine honesty.

      It’s a legitimate fear of mine, and I am praying on it.

      • “We singles know that everyone who is married didn’t: have a high paying job, didn’t have enough saved for the house …”

        Just wanted to be sure that you knew that married people have always made more money than single people. Statistics have always shown this to be true, but the only factor that has been found to explain it is discrimination. The last article I read on the subject said married men make on average make 44% more than single men. And it’s true across the board for men and women – even controlling for education, experience, IQ, race, etc.

      • John, that may be true about marrieds making more money than singles, but those marrieds were at ONE TIME single. There were not a complete, fashioned package with a perfect job, owning several homes, and all the ducks lined up before they got married. They did not have enough money saved to handle every crisis. Many did not have their educations complete. Many married folks have started with little, and progressed from there. The point I was making was about Kristy, she mentioned the assumptions about single people that they don’t have everything ready, and somehow the one ones who are married “did” and how this perception, not said…is at times “felt” or “implied” in the church.

        We know this not to be true.

  2. Good points Justin. Marriage and family are worshiped like idols in churches today. They can’t see over the cribs and piles of diapers long enough to notice singles in the church. And once a society has made a fundamental value change like that, it’s hard to reverse things. I’ve often wondered why the word “single” is so often paired with “Christian.” Christian single. Christian single. 3+ million Google hits. But you hardly ever see “Christian married” or “Christian couple.” It sounds as if singleness is a sin that has to be paired with Christianity before it can even be discussed. Of my 40+ years in church, I’ve only heard the gift of celibacy mentioned once in church. And it was after I brought it to the pastor’s attention. You know, the church is being dumbed down right along with society. So lack of insight may very well be playing a big part in churches neglecting singles. Like you said, there is not an easy answer. But I’m always willing to give my opinion when asked.

  3. Justin, this is the best post of yours that I have ever read. You’ve made me upset here and there, indifferent…but this post, it hit something in me. I know you don’t five hundred-years to read the rambling I would give, but I’ll just say “thank you”

    I might pose a question or two in a bit, but again. Thanx

  4. I am a “Christian Single” who serves in my church. The absolute most encouraging thing I’ve ever heard about being single was from David Platt in this series:


    He talks about singleness at 27:14, and you can read the transcript by pressing “Read” beneath the video because he goes REALLY fast.

    I am single and it isn’t a problem. I want to be married. Sometimes desperately and heartbreakingly so, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with me or that I am incomplete or unsuited for the work God has given me to do. As far as “why” I’m single…I don’t think it has to do with sin or with God’s favor, or even me being “ready,” because, as others have mentioned, I will never be. I also don’t think it has to do with my performance as a social human being because… let’s be honest…we’ve all known someone that made us think “THEY are married and I’m single!?” The only “why” is that God knows what is best for me. I choose to trust that and walk in this gift of singleness that I have for as long as it is mine, trying to recognize it as a gift. It’s getting easier to do that. Sometimes it’s really hard. But just because something is hard or painful doesn’t mean it’s wrong or needs fixing. We only have to look at Jesus’ life to see that.

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  6. This is why I left church roughly 8 months ago. I found no fellowship. Support or community. That and we never really dealt with the issues. I guess its easier to spin ad nauseam this ‘Prosperity Gospel’. It looks better and sounds better to attendees when they hear God cares enough to bless them with financial means. Job security. Careers and education leading to that. As suggested a pastor being unable to explain why single people are struggling to ‘hook up’. Doesn’t look like a well oiled machine. After all he is ‘God’s chosen’ and is meant to lead the flock and have answers.
    So people do what comes naturally-takes the easy road. We are all fine. You must be fine to. After all. We are projecting this! Sort yaself out. People are instinctively selfish. As for me. They say Man cannot live on bread alone. I cannot live on things left unspoken. Especially when issues pile up with no one to talk to. And yes I am single.

    • i was the same. Church expects celebacy (although if preachers were telling the truth they’d say in Bible times everyone had arranged marriage by the time they were 20 ish) lots of emphasis on staying pure,but zero help with navigating dating. You get more help and how to chat up the other sex from “worldly people”.is that what females are supposed to do?

      • Churches expect marriage. Celibacy is evil once you are 25 or 30.

        And you MUST be getting some on the sly! Since sex is worshipped in “family friendly” churches. Only they worship Hymen along with Aphrodite. So obviously celibacy is impossible cause the marrieds enjoy sex all the time and brag about it in prayer meetings and Sunday school!

        So obviously you aren’t really a virgin. You’re a Jezebel if you’re a woman. Or gay or maybe a pedophile if you’re a man.

        So sick of hearing men at church guffaw and gloat over pedophile priests. “Well what can you expect from folks who never marry? Yuk yuk yuk.”

        If I ever express how hurtful I find this and how it could be construed as an insult to the older singles they tell me I’m too sensitive. One told me he realized I was single “through no fault of my own” since he’d witnessed my masochistic frenzy over 47 years of crash dieting, hours on internet sites, settling for abusive losers.

        I may be Protestant but I have done my share of penance for being born unattractive to men. Not one ever asked me out in high school or college when everyone else married.

  7. Being single is not wrong nor is it a problem!! It’s what some people are! I don’t attend church anymore because they look at me like I am the problem, and that I’m not as good as a married person. I live on a single wage, and eat every meal alone. I put 100s of dollars in the plate before my rent, bills and groceries. The church said God would take care of me yet my rent check bounced, and I can only afford cheap noodles to eat, and they are probably gonna shut off my hydro soon too! It ticks me off when after church all the rich people who make all the decisions in the church sit around discussing whether they should lunch at red lobster or the keg!!!

    • Why are you putting your money on the plate? Tithing is legalism and an erroneous doctrine. I dont give a penny to church, only to charity.

  8. I live in a college town so most churches of any size are totally geared toward the nearly 60,000 students that live here 9-10 months out of the year. I have looked into and visited every single church in this town excluding the extremely small ones or those with whom I have serious issues with their doctrine. I’m not one to condemn others for believing differently than I do, but there are some I just would not feel comfortable attending.

    Anyway, there is no longer any church in this town which has a ministry for singles over the age of ~25. Some even actively encouraged singles to leave and go elsewhere. Something happened over the last 5 years and I have no idea what it is. Growing up in church, I remembers we always had huge singles groups for post-college singles. Now it seems like there are none. The last church I attended had a singles group of almost 100 with people ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-30s. I started attending in 2005, just before starting grad school. It was a lot of fun, both at church and outside of it. We had four couples as our sponsors/teachers; all good Christians who had been married for decades. They truly cared about our needs and wanted us to be strong Christians with a good life, whether single or eventually married. Then the bottom dropped out. We lost two of the couples as they had to move away due to work. One couple both took jobs at a major hospital in Dallas, the other was transferred to Miami leaving us with only two and our backers with the most influence gone.

    The powers that be, aka those with a lot of money and thus influence, setup committees to “reevaluate” the different ministries of the church. A committee comprised of 7 women, all in their 70s or older decided that we were not a “good influence” on the church. (Yes, that is the exact words they used both to our face and in their final report.) Some of these women used to come to our class and harass us to “hurry up and get into the newly married class” which we all hated them doing. They cut off the small amount of funding we had, although our sponsors kept it alive for a while with their own money. However, then the committee played their backup card and had the church go to only 2 services, eliminating the one with more contemporary music, despite the fact it was always full. They knew this would drive away people and ensure new ones did not join. When I left, there were only 6 people out of the original ~100 and last I heard, there are 3.

    These women looked at us like we were defective or something. You could see the loathing in their eyes every time they’d barge into our class to lecture us, or when some of us spoke before their committee. It was like the Spanish Inquisition; we all could feel the animosity coming from them. I was lucky being a guy; the single women bore the brunt of their hatred. I guess they saw them as potential adulterers or something who were going to break up marriages in the church. I swear, Christians can be some of the most hateful people on Earth. It does make it hard to want to go to church after being hurt more than once by people who claim to be Christians.

    Anyway, after I left I spent a few months doing some soul searching, praying, and looking for a job in a larger city that isn’t all about a university. Not finding one which was comparable or better than my current one, I started looking for a new church. IIRC, I visited around 20 over the course of about 8 months. None, not one, had a singles ministry. One or two had what they called “small groups” for singles, comprised of 4 and 6 people respectively, all male. Sorry, but I would like to find a Christian woman to marry one day before I’m too old to remember my own name and both my parents desperately want grandchildren since it is up to me as my sister cannot have kids unless God performs a miracle for her. Some of these churches are huge, probably 3,000-5,000 total members. Two of them are so big that they have two separate buildings in different parts of the city with 3 services in each one. Still, they ignore the thousands of singles in this town, which due to demographics is about 70% male.

    I don’t know what it is, nor do my friends. I still see two of the guys that were at the last church I attended. We hang out once a week, watch football, go to the movies, the gun range, or some other type of “guy thing.” It’s fun, but it’s not the same as going on a date with a nice lady. We’ve had numerous discussions about this topic and all we can figure is that the modern Christian church simply doesn’t have a clue what to do with us. People used to get married in their 20s at the latest, and now most do not. Those in charge cannot understand this and do not know how to respond to it. Either they ignore it, attack it, or get rid of it by driving us away. I wonder how they will answer to God when he asks them on Judgment Day as to why they treated us so poorly.

    • Hi Kyle. I’m curious. What state do you live in?

      In my state in the mid-west, Christian bachelors over 25 are scarce. After 30 they’re non-existent. At least at church.

      You’re not the only man I have heard making this complaint. I believe you, but wonder if this scarcity of eligible women at church is a regional phenomenon. In college I met a nice guy who was 30 (old back then.) Tom came from New York and said there were no Christian women to date out there.

      Here I have visited a number of churches. Usually one or two other spinsters and a few elderly widows.

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  11. I think this issue is tied into the decline of the church preaching the fear of God.

    If the church actually had real influence on the congregation rather than just a gentle breeze then they could actually organize singles events among other churches, and people would actually show up!

    As it is now, the church has watered down Christianity to the point that all that matters is the good vibes of worship with none of the fear of Him that makes it REAL.

    The church could challenge picky women and aloof men to settle down on an individual basis if they stopped acting like a nice guy uncle and actually LED.

    • What should a church do if there are 20 old maids and only 2 bachelors? As far as being “picky” I refuse to date or marry a pagan regardless of what fellow church goers think. Obeying God is more important than appeasing narrow minded crabs who think marriage outweighs the Biblical mandate against unequal yoking. Polygamy or lesbianism are also out of the question. So it’s more than women being too choosy.

  12. Singleness is definitely a curse for many of us that really hate being single, especially for many of us Good men out there that really wanted to be married with a family. And with so many women these days that are so very high maintenance, independent, selfish, and very spoiled is a very excellent reason why many of us men are still single today as i speak which it certainly was No Fault of ours.

  13. I’ve come to the conclusion that on Sunday mornings I would rather spend time in the mountains than go to church. The answer is simple. It’s peaceful and drama free. Every church I go to seems to be the same scenario. If you visit as a couple, people swarm you. If you walk in as a single (especially as a guy) you’re generally left alone. If someone does get the courage to speak with you it’s usually to invite you to their recycling program better known as single’s group. I’ve been to 5 of them in the last year and they always consist of more women complaining about how every man has done them wrong.
    Therefore, if you want to find me on a Sunday morning look in the mountains. I’ll be speaking to another famous single man. You may have heard of him. Jesus…

  14. @lance

    I just returned from two weeks from Boy Scout Camp in a very deep and remote part of California’s gorgeous Sierra-Nevada mountains. I served as a Assistant Camp Scoutmaster for these two weeks; and I led the Vespers service as well for the Scouts that came from all over the state.

    Deep in His creation, and surrounded by such beauty…….I did feel such a great love by Him towards me while I had an afternoon to myself down on the shore of clear mountain lake and I contemplated life. I prayed. I got a ‘clarity’ that came from the Holy Ghost itself! I read His Word, I felt comfort, a great deal of peace and just the notion that indeed God loves me.

    Contrast this with my church “holiness service” at times. I wondered why “church” can’t be or feel like this? Isn’t making ‘heaven on earth’ a striving goal of us all as believers? Is it because we humans just always “mess things up”? I like church, and being a part of something….but what I experienced in the mountains for those two weeks………..God’s creation won hands down over morning coffee before adult Sunday school. It won over the announcements. His natural creation won over belittling comments about “men being men” and the announcements of what committee of what group was meeting that week. His creation of sound….the summer-sun breeze through the tall tamaracks. The sound of birds, water lapping on boulder strew shore of the deep cold lake was a praise song in itself….and the just plain silence as well. It too sang!

    I get where you are coming from lance. I do. I don’t know if I am more in tune with this because I am single….or because I have a love for the outdoors (camping / hiking / solitude), or maybe it was just the fact that I did need a few weeks from “church” itself.

    • There’s nothing more relaxing than the sound or birds first thing in the morning or the distant thunder of an approaching storm. Out in nature there’s no need to conform to other’s standards or worry about preconceived notions. You just have to “be”.
      I misspoke, however, when I said that churches do not like singles. If they need money or volunteers, your name will move to the top of their list because as a single you must have plenty of both…

  15. Singleness is just like having Cancer which kills you very Quick and Loneliness is a very extremely slow and very Painful death. Can’t win either way.

  16. I hate going to church. If the Bible didn’t command it I wouldn’t attend at all.

    The American church is only for life’s winners. Rich, respectable marrieds. Beautiful people with expensive hair cuts, fashionable SUvs for their 2.3 children, designer clothes and McMansion homes. Maybe the praise bands should adopt this as their new opening chorus for Sunday mornings,

    “We are the champions, my friend!…
    No time for losers! We are the champions!”

    The main difference between the girls who lucked out and married at the Christian college I attended and us failures is physical beauty and a perky, bubbly attitude. Spiritual depth of character and fearing God were irrelevant to the young men who picked out the wheat from the chaff. When it comes to selecting mates I see little difference in the standards of worldly men and Christians. Super model/Barbie dolls is all most are after. At 40+ I’m through with dating. I’m less of a Barbie doll than at 20 and I never was beauty contestant material anyhow.

    Some of us are single because of dumb luck. Or if you want to sound pious, God has mysteriously

    • I quit church over the never offering of any friendship whatsoever from anyone. If you are single, they want nothing to do with you, except work (not in leadership though but stuff few want to do). I’m 50 and maybe one time, which I don’t remember, did I do something with someone else outside of church.

      Church offers no community at all anymore unless you are married (poor marrieds are probably not liked either). Married, good job, kids is what the church today covets. They told the rest of us to take a hike.

      I did.

      I’m not saying you should. I’m just saying I did and really don’t miss church much at all. I went and sat alone for years. I can be alone anywhere. And, it is certainly a lot cheaper. Hate to say this, but I had the thought, the church doesn’t want me so they don’t need my money either.

      I’m not great looking nor am I ugly. I’m a little above average. I went to a singles group in the 1990s and the women went for the professional guy, which I was not. Only one I know of married a guy that wasn’t a professional. I quit when I found out the singles minister was having groups for certain singles only (all professionals) and most of the singles acted like they didn’t know who I was when I saw them outside of church somewhere.

  17. I have to seriously blame the kind of women that we have out there today which is the very real reason why many of us good men are still single today. Women have certainly changed today from the past which tells the whole true story right there. And if only women had been like the past, many of us men that wanted to get married and have a family would have been already. It is the women of today that are nothing at all like the women in the past were since most of the women back then were Real Ladies.

  18. The church simply doesn’t want singles. In my city, there isn’t something for my age group, period. They have youth, teen and college, singles, and a few have retired singles, 60-up. I’m 50 and felt invisible for years at church. I did work in the TV ministry for years and not one of them ever asked me to do anything with them outside church, but they all knew each other (and probably did things together) and not one time ever invited me. None were ever friend friends. I simply gave up. I’m Catholic and they had nothing period. I looked at others and they had nothing for singles. Unless you are married, the church ignores you. It is as simple as that.

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