A few weeks ago I wrote a post about why married people need a singleness sermon series. The reason I wrote that post was two fold. First, we need married people and single people to be taught from Christian leadership the truth about the whole thing. Single people need to learn from a marriage and married people need to learn from singleness. It represents the whole of the story. One without the other comes up short.
Secondly, I think that one of the reasons that more pastors and leaders are scared to preach and teach on this (besides never having thought about it) is that they don’t know how to include the married people in it. I outlined that in that post and I’d encourage you to go back and read it if you haven’t.
Today I want to share with you the opening remarks of that sermon series. It’s the sermon you probably won’t ever hear, but the only one with a real chance to matter.
So without further adieu – pretend I’m in your pulpit.
“Today we begin our sermon series on singleness and the gospel. As I mentioned last week, we all need this sermon series – no matter what our marital context. It’s important because it affects not just the unmarried in our congregation but the marrieds and our youth. It all works together. This is one of the most important things we’ve done here in a long time.
I want to start today by saying this. Most of what you have heard about singleness is wrong. On behalf of the church – our church here and the church universally – I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for all the times that we skimmed over it or mentioned it in passing including the obvious scriptures. I’m sorry for all the times we focussed on the nuclear family instead of the family of God. For all the platitudes and easy quick answers, I’m sorry. For all the times that we said things without actually studying and thinking about how all this plays out in the gospel and in the lives of our people, I’m sorry.
In the fight to rescue our culture, we’ve often failed to engage all of our people. In an effort to fight for the marriages in our church, we’ve often left out or glossed over the unmarried. To those who are unmarried and struggling, I’m sorry for where we have not taken your context seriously. For all who are married, I’m sorry for how what we taught you about singleness (or didn’t teach you as the case may be) may have hurt your marriage.
For all the times, and there have been many, that we made it seem like the only important thing for the unmarried was not having sex – I’m sorry. There have been times where we have treated you as less complete, less spiritual and less capable of leadership because you weren’t married. That was wrong.
For those of you who are called to celibacy there are no words. We have just flat screwed that up. We haven’t talked about it or offered you any guidance, support or teaching. Nor have we honored your calling and choice. I ask your forgiveness.
For lumping all unmarrieds into one group, I’m truly sorry. The truth is there are those who are single by calling, those who are single by choice, those who are single because of sin in their life or the sin of others. There are those who don’t know how to get married but want to. There are also those who are divorced – some biblically and others not so much and others who were divorced before they even knew Jesus. Finally there are those who are widowed – who never expected to be unmarried again. These are all completely different situations, and yet we’ve often treated them the same. That was wrong.
We’ve taught you what not to do, but not what to do. At times – too many times – we’ve made marriage and family an idol. We repent of that here and now, in public. Jesus invites us all to be in the family of God – and so do we – no matter what.
One sermon series over the course of a few weeks cannot repair all of that. It can’t possibly heal all the wounds or fix all the problems – for you as an individual and certainly not as a whole church. But maybe it can be a starting point towards a different discussion – and a discussion that actually includes everyone. The conversation won’t be easy or short, and we won’t all agree on everything. But we have to have it – both for those inside our church and for the lost outside the church.
Our hope is that this series will open the door to a whole different way of seeing singleness, marriage and the Kingdom. So, here we go. . . . ”
The serious guts it would take to say the above and pursue this series would be incredible and probably won’t happen. But it would be awesome. Talk about changing a room.
What would you want to see in a singleness sermon series?