I knew it would happen. In an era of hash tags and isms it was only a matter of time before our growing unmarried population found a way to play the same card.
It’s finally here single folks. You’re very own ism. Singlism. This is the new word for the way that singles are discriminated against in our society. I guess the people doing it will be called Singlist? Man the church for sure is #singlist. No doubt about that.
Bella DePaulo is a single lady in her sixties and a harvard trained social scientist has “coined” the term. (Man I wish I had gotten to it first). She defines it as “the stereotyping, stigmatizing and discrimination of people who are not married”.
Oh but it gets better. Married people of course have “marital privilege — the unearned advantages that benefit those who are married”
DePaulo actually points out many things that we’ve talked about here. Married people make more money than single people. Not only that, but due to tax laws, family leave acts, along with other systemic Singlism issues in the corporate world such as insurance rates and even travel packages, singles end up paying more for things. All of that is true.
Man, I was a victim for so long, and I didn’t even realize it.
If DePaulo thinks singles in the secular world have it tough, she should try the Church. In the Church it’s hard to get a job as a pastor if you are single. Often singles are not offered positions of leadership even in non-paid positions. And they have to endure marriage sermons, conferences and a barrage of bad Christian romance novels. #suffering #singlechristianproblems.
Now I want to be clear, if I were running things I’d change a lot of this. Obviously I have constantly advocated here many times that the Church needs to change how it deals with singles. But that starts not with creating a new victim group but instead actually dealing with whole body of Christ including all forms of singleness and marriage.
What I have never advocated and do not advocate is turning singles into a special group in and of themselves. There are a number of reasons for this.
The first is that as I’ve pointed out many times, singleness is a terrible term. We have to get that there are many different groups and each has their own standing and context in the Church. There are the widowed, the divorced, those called to marriage who aren’t and then those who are celibate for life either because of gifting, choice, or the sin of man. These are absolutely not the same.
Second, to me the idea of singlism implies that it works the same as say racism or sexism etc. The problem with this is that for most of us, being single is sort of our choice. Our race or sex is not (at least from a biblical perspective – I can’t believe I have to type that).
Now I know that right now some of you are saying, “but I’m not single by choice”. Ok, I hear you. Let me make a couple points about that.
For starters saying that there is singlism when a significant amount of people are simply single because they lack the ability/desire to make a lifetime commitment to a person is ridiculous. Every single person who is sleeping with or living with someone does not count as living the single Christian life. In no way are they a victim of the people with marital privilege. GIve me a break.
Secondly, most people could get married to someone if they wanted. Not all. But most. I was single until I was nearly 41. But there were people I could have married. But many things kept that from happening. Some of those things were my own fault. Some were issues that I needed to deal with but again, I had to choose to deal with them. Sometimes I chose the wrong person to date. Sometimes someone didn’t choose me. But I had choice many different times.
That is not to say that everyone who is unmarried had that choice. Obviously a widow didn’t choose to have their spouse die. Divorce can be a choice, and most often is, but if the person divorces you, that might not be your choice. But again those are different contexts from not being married yet. So I guess in that sense you could be a victim.
Finally, most single people are working at or at least hoping for a time when they are not single. Do the same people who are single now want to give up this supposed marital privilege when they get married?
Frankly the only people who can claim singlism are the people who are gifted, called or forced into celibacy. So perhaps we should call it celibacism. That’s not quite a catchy though.
I acknowledge that we have a problem with how we deal with singles. We really should change many of our laws because honestly, we should want to treat people fairly regardless of marital status. This should be especially true in the Church where the Church family should trump the nuclear one. But playing the victim and equating singleness to race is for sure not the way to go about it. Instead we need to actually deal with what marriage is and help people walk in each of the contexts of singleness. Our problem is more in how we view the whole thing.
What’s crazy is there is still time for the Church to lead here. Now that would be a movement worth getting behind. #Crazy #Leadership #Biblical