Is Situational Singleness A Gift?

One of the things that I’ve read on occasion and heard in conversations as well as from the pulpit, is the way to know if you have the gift of singleness is if you are single right now, then you’ve got it.

Now, in some evangelical circles, there is of course debate on whether singleness is a gift or even a calling at all.  But I’m going to go ahead and side with 2000 years of Church history along with a straight reading of the scriptures and say that it is.

Here is the general idea of what these folks are selling.  The basic idea is of course that God is sovereign and therefore whatever context you find yourself in is the one that God is “gifting” you with right now.  If you are unmarried then right now you have the gift of singleness.  Married?  Then right now you have the gift of marriage.  Both are gifts.  All contexts we find ourselves in are gifts.

But in our current culture this idea is fraught with problems.

First of all, we don’t do this with other contexts of our lives.  For example.  Let’s say that you don’t have a job.  One might say, “God will bring you a job” or “God will show you how to get a job”.  We might even say, “take whatever job you can to provide for your needs but look for what God is calling you to do.”  What we don’t do however is say, “sit around and in the right time God will bring you a job.”  I’ve never heard anyone preach about the “Gift of Joblessness” simply because you don’t have one.  “God is gifting you with joblessness right now.”  Yeah no.  Do you have the gift of being thousands of dollars in debt because that’s your financial context?

This also flies in the face of what Paul says, (What is amazing is that they will quote Paul while teaching exactly what he doesn’t say – it’s confounding).  What Paul says is that if you are single and not content – go get married.

One of the big results of this sort of teaching is a bunch of Christians sitting around waiting for their spouse that God has for them or their Christian soulmate.  This creates all sorts of issues which we’ve discussed ad nauseam here.  The worst might be that it turns God into the Great Withholder and puts all the blame for our rise in singleness on Him.

Now we can be content in Jesus no matter what our circumstances.  And every day is indeed a gift from God.  But not everything that happens is a gift from God – although He can use it all.  In fact if we are content in Jesus, frankly that should make us discontent with our context at some level.  If for no other reason than I should at least be discontent with my sin.

Which brings us to the next problem.  It doesn’t take into account sin.  If you are single and sleeping with someone, or a lot of someones, do you have the gift of singleness right now?  If you are living with someone do you have the gift?  If you are divorced do you have the gift?

Whatever else Paul is implying he is not saying, “stay single and date around if you are called to singleness” or “remain single and irresponsible for as long as you can”.  He is in no way talking about the space of extended singleness we have created in our culture. That season did not exist in Paul’s world.  Certainly not as long of one.

We need to understand that in the secular vernacular anyone who is not married is single. And the Church has played right into this.  Rather than lead, we’ve surrendered the terms. Biblically speaking there are those who are celibate via one of three ways, those that are divorced, those that are widowed, and those that are not yet married.  Those are all completely different contexts with completely different instructions.  It would probably be better if the word single was never spoken from the pulpit again.

We need to rescue the call of celibacy for the Kingdom that Paul and Jesus are actually talking about from the contexts of our culture that frankly the church has helped create. We need to help people follow their actual calling.  We need to stop demanding everyone get married while at the same time telling them that God has them gifted as single “for now” which makes no sense whatsoever.  Downgrading the gift/calling of celibacy into a situational gift is hurting both those who are called to it and those who aren’t.

I realize that if you are currently not married, none of this helps you with the actual question of do you have the gift/calling of celibacy.  I plan to write a post soon with some help on that question.  But I want you to hear this:  Your circumstances do not define you or your gifting.

The Church’s Uncoupled Teaching Problem

My last two posts I’ve been responding to a post from Relevant that Scott Sauls wrote dealing with the Church and its focus on the nuclear family and lack of focus on singles.  I want to respond to one last part today.

I want to restate that I’m not trying to pick on Scott or attack him in any way.  I appreciate that he is at least identifying that there is a problem in our evangelical culture when it comes to this issue.  I also believe that he represents where a lot of people in our circle are at.  That is, they see there is a problem, but they don’t realize how deep it is and that a lot of the assumptions they are making are actually deeply flawed.

In the last post we looked at the idea that God will either bring you someone or He won’t and if you aren’t married then He just hasn’t done so yet.  I actually think the main reason that Scott brought this up is not so much to offer a terrible platitude to singles but to try to say that unmarried folks can have just as rich of walk with Jesus as married folks.  Let me say a huge Amen to that.

I think more and more church leaders are waking up to that idea.  However, the way in which they view that unmarried life is lacking and it is a huge reason we have all the confusion that we have.  So let me respond to that here.

Scott writes:

Rather than feed the false view that the single life is the unfulfilled life, the Church must renew its vision for singleness as a high and honored calling—one that was shared by the Apostle Paul and Jesus, no less—that positions uncoupled men and women to serve God’s Kingdom with unhindered focus, creativity and zeal.

 

We need to quit using the word singleness as catch all.  Here’s what I mean.  When we talk about singleness as a calling, at least biblically, we are talking about the call to celibacy.  We have to get this.  This is exactly what I’m talking about when I say that we can’t afford to take short cuts on this issue.  We have to define what all of these things are.  There are people who end up celibate in one three ways (from birth, by choice, or by the sin of man).  Then there are those who are called to be married, the divorced and the widowed.  All completely different.

Being unmarried is not the same as being called to celibacy.  Paul and Jesus were not called to date indefinitely.  They were not widowed or divorced.  They were not forced into singleness because they couldn’t get a date or interact with the opposite sex.  Was Jesus hoping to get married and God was just good to Him by not giving Him a spouse? We have to actually think this through.

More importantly, we cannot afford to continue to equate all unmarried people with what Paul writes in 1st Corinthians. Uncoupled?  Really?!  All uncoupled people have unhindered focus, creativity and zeal? This makes my head want to explode.

If that is the case then all “uncoupled” people would be closer to and more mature in Christ than married people.  Why would we want anyone to get married?  Do they offer a logic course in seminary?

A person who is called to celibacy does have a distinct and high calling.  It is way more than just not being married.  Instead it is a calling, gifting and/or choice to live with a singular focus on doing God’s work from an unmarried context.  It is not a calling away from something but towards something.  It’s not seasonal.  It is a picture of the future and a special place in the Kingdom now.  We should indeed see this as a high and honored calling.  We don’t.  At all.  In fact we have no plan for these people.  But it starts with recognizing it as different and unique and not just an outcome for all people who don’t happen to be married right now.

When we don’t separate it out we end up with a completely confusing and unfair message to both the people who have this high calling and to those who don’t but aren’t currently married.

We are failing to honor and support those who are called to it and therefore end up not allowing them to offer all that they can to our Church family.  They are getting ripped off and so is our family as a whole because their gifts go unused or at least under utilized.

At the same time it’s unfair to those without this gift.  We end up essentially saying to the single who feels called to get married, “No worries. This is so great you can focus more on the Lord.  If you get married that means less Jesus for you.”  Is this our message to them? Is our message to the married folks that they can’t be as focused on Jesus?

It also puts undue pressure on the people who are single but not called to this high honor. To try to call them to something that they are not called to and not trying to choose.  To say that they should or could look for a spouse but also be undistracted by it is frankly sort of asinine.  A straight reading of 1 Corinthians seems to me to say, “If you are not distracted – stay single and follow that calling.  If you are distracted – go get married.”

The bottom line here is that Paul’s teaching is not referring to singleness as we know it in our culture and we need to quit teaching that it does.  We also do need to offer the honor that Scott is suggesting to those that are called to it.  If we did that one thing the whole game would change.

You Will Spend Eternity Unmarried – But What About Now?

A few years ago I’d had sort of an interesting run where I’d been in a relationship that ended about a few months earlier.  I had been on some dates with various people and was sort of tired of it all.  But I was also doing a lot of random ministry and enjoying it.  I told a friend at that time that I was considering once again if maybe I should just stay single. I wasn’t mad about it (believe me I’d been there), I was just looking realistically at my situation and thinking it wasn’t all bad. The truth was that I had asked God about this several times.  What was cool about that time period is I was really ok hearing whatever from God.  If God wanted me to remain unmarried I was ok with that.

As an aside – one of the keys to hearing God is being willing to hear anything.  I need to be willing to hear yes and no.  That is what being surrendered to him means.  “God I will do what you want – whatever that is.”  When you are in that posture it makes it much easier to really see what He is calling you to.  I’m not suggesting that is easy, just saying it’s true.

But as I prayed it never felt like God was calling me to that.  It just never felt right to say I was called to celibacy and to remain unmarried – even when I wanted it to.

One of the great failures of the church is that we do basically no teaching on this calling.  In protestant culture we don’t really even offer it as an option.  I’m not sure why we are so afraid of it.  I’ve had pastors say from the pulpit essentially, “we don’t know anything about this, so we are going to skip it.”  I’ve mentioned before that at my church we have a position on every other angle – dating, marriage, divorce, remarriage, sexual ethics, homosexuality – but not celibacy or being unmarried.  And our church has at least 40% unmarried people.  Do you think it’s possible that someone in there might need that teaching?

Part of it is that we have made marriage/family an idol in the church.  But I think part of it is that now for generations no one has taught on it, so people are just lost.

Let’s be clear about a couple of things.

You are created and born unmarried.  Even Adam and Eve were created unmarried. There is no soulmate.  Your number one relationship regardless of marital status is with Jesus.  At the resurrection, regardless of what happened in your life here, you will be unmarried.  You will spend eternity unmarried.

The question is what are you called to here and now?  I know it’s really only one scripture but I think Jesus actually lays it out pretty well in Matthew 19.

The pharisees have tried to trap Jesus with a question about divorce.  Jesus answers that by raising the bar to the point where basically divorce is almost always wrong. A person can’t just get divorced.  The disciples freak out and say essentially, “that’s too hard”.

Jesus then says that the gift of marriage isn’t for everyone. It’s at this point that Jesus offers some thoughts on celibacy.  Most translations use the term eunuchs but I think it applies. (for a couple of interesting versions, check out The Message and the JB Phillips)

Jesus basically says that there are three groups of people that are called to celibacy (notice they are not called to dating forever, sleeping around etc.).

There are first of all those who are born that way.  They are born with the “gift” so to speak. Maybe it’s physical.  Maybe they for whatever reason have just never really felt the drive for marriage, maybe even for sex.  In other words there are those who have been created to live a life unmarried.

Secondly there are those who have been made that way by men.  These might be people who have never been asked to be married or have been rejected.  Maybe they’ve been physically injured or have a mental illness.

You see here’s the deal, we live in a fallen world.  I know that hurts.  But there will be some people who don’t have the gift or the calling to remain unmarried who nonetheless, because of sin, woundedness (their own, others’, the world’s) don’t get married.  There are earthly consequences to sin – both our own and others.  This is one reason we need to punt the family idol.  You could do a lot right and still not have one.  We Have To Get This.

Finally there are those who have chosen celibacy for the kingdom.  We have choice.  If we get married, we choose that.  Both marriage and celibacy are a gift and a choice.  Jesus is saying that some choose to dedicate themselves to a work that means not being married. They choose it.

One of the big problems is that we have lumped all unmarried people into one category – single.  But in the scripture there are the not married yet, the married, the divorced, the widowed and then these three – those who are unmarried because they were born with a different gift, those that are unmarried because of a fallen world, and those that are unmarried because they choose to forgo that gift and follow a different calling.

The question is of course where are you on this list.  Are you willing to hear that answer? Are we willing to walk with people to help them figure it out?

I’m not pretending to be exactly right about all of this.  But I do know we HAVE to have the conversation.

God’s Plan For Marriage

Several months ago. while talking about my upcoming marriage, an encouraging friend said, “It’s amazing.  You’ve had to wait all this time.  And this whole time God had this plan and person for you.”  I just kind of grinned.  After 20 years of singleness in the Church, I’ve heard it all.

You know he might be right, but if he is then we’ve got a God who has changed his mind about marriage.

Here’s what I mean.  If we play out that there is one person for you from the beginning and that God has a plan to bring you a perfect Christian soulmate, then God has changed His mind about how to deliver it.

It seems that early on God wanted us to grow up and get married at about 14.  Now this makes some sense.  I mean we hit puberty in our early teens (or earlier) so let’s do this deal.  Besides, you might only live to 40 so all the more reason.

But it gets better.  God also decided that for centuries he would deliver this soulmate through arranged marriages.  Now before you get in your head the perfect scenario for this where all parents are believers and they only hook you up with the hot chick, think again and ask yourself if you’d like your parents to pick your spouse for you when you were about 10.  As the song goes, “At 3 I started Hebrew school, at 10 I learned a trade.  I hear they’ve picked a bride for me, I hope, she’s pretty. . . Tradition.”

Not only that, but this was only done within your caste.  God didn’t want anyone to marry up or down economically or socially.  He just wanted the deal done.

But then God decided that in the “New World” things would be different.  Each person should now go and find their own spouse and everyone would have full right of refusal. (Unless you were a woman who kind of had to say yes to someone because you couldn’t get a job).

But God wasn’t done.  Not by a long shot.  He decided that even though he had this perfect person “planned” for you, that he wouldn’t be revealing that right away.  Now early on, he only made you wait until you were 18-23 (after all, He had already pushed back adulthood by 4 years – he was just getting started).

God enjoyed holding out on us so much that He decided to keep pushing the limit. In fact over the last 40 years He has been dropping the amount of people to receive the “great reveal” before the age of 29 by about a percentage point per year so that now in 2013 only 20% of those people currently receive this revelation.

To sum up God’s “plan”, if you were born 500 years ago He revealed your “one” to your parents when you were a kid.  If you were born 100 years ago He revealed to you by 20. And now, He’ll reveal it to 1 in 5 of us by 29.

Is that the message we want to send single people?  Because essentially when we drop the “God has someone for you, just wait on it”, that is what we are saying.

Here’s the truth, this whole idea is way more about western culture affecting theology than the other way around.  But worse, when we combine it with our culture, it sets up to fail, both in finding a spouse and in staying married.

I believe that marriage was meant to be a calling and a choice.  So is staying married.  Like any other calling you can of course walk away from it.

But this idea of having to find God’s one person that is perfect for me is a crazy way to go about singleness, even if it were to be true.

Among a myriad of other problems, it helps turn us into consumer daters.  We end up looking for this person that fits whatever we think God would have for us.  Right away we are in trouble.  I mean find the person who says, “God has this person planned for me who doesn’t meet all my needs and has all these personal issues”.  At the very least, if you are going to believe that God has one person for you to marry, flip the script.  In other words ask who you are perfect for instead of who is perfect for you.  That will get you a step closer to truth – Heck, that’d I’d maybe buy.

Look, I’m not suggesting that we go back to having our parents marry us off at 14.  We don’t live in that culture.  We live in this one.  I’m also not saying God doesn’t bring people into our lives because I know for sure that He does.  What I am saying is that we need to quit treating our singleness as if God is the Great Witholder and I just need to be good, and wait out this person He currently refuses to reveal to me.

God’s main plan is for us to know and walk with Him.  That is our first calling and vow.  After that we need to ask, are we called to celibacy or marriage? Then we need to pursue that calling with God, figuring out stuff that gets in the way.  We in the Church to stop giving out sleep at night theology and help people do those three things.

Singleness Is Not A Spiritual Gift

Many different times I’ve been asked if I had the “gift” of singleness.  It’s always bothered me.  I think it’s because there is basically only one scripture that uses anything close to that term, and even then it isn’t singled out (ha – how about that pun).

The scripture of course is in 1 Corinthians 7.  I’ve talked about this section of scripture more in depth but basically Paul is talking about marriage, singleness, divorce etc. In the very first paragraph, Paul says that he wishes all were like him (single) but that each person has their own gift from God.

That’s it.  That is the only place in the entire Bible where you could make the case for the “gift” of singleness.

Notice that we don’t go around asking people if they have the gift of marriage.  I guess if you are married you’ve got it and if not it could go either way?

I think either marriage or singleness could be a gift in a sense.  But it’s not a spiritual gift.  It’s not tongues, prophesy, teaching, mercy, healing, exhortation, singleness. . .

The big problem I have with the gift idea is what is often implied.  It’s the idea that if you have this gift then you will know it and you will be able to handle singleness no problem. Flip this around – if you have the gift of marriage then you will not have any problems in marriage, because you will desire all the right things etc.  Um yeah, not so much.

A president of a seminary has said that to determine if I have the gift of singleness I should ask myself, “Can I go the rest of my life without sex, without the companionship of marriage, without having children and without being bitter about it?”  He says if I answer yes, then I probably have the gift of singleness.

Maybe, but the problem is that I could probably answer that yes at this point in my life.  But I’m engaged and I’m pretty sure God is in that.  My point is that I could go without sex (I’ve done it for 40 years) and I’m not bitter.

This whole area is a complete mess in our culture because we have so many people not married.  There are A LOT of reasons for this, some good, most bad.  But we have the chance here as the Church to begin to help people figure this out.  It starts with recognizing what marriage really is and what celibacy for life really is, and then helping people walk in both.  We need some different questions.

Jesus doesn’t talk about it being a gift.  In one of the most misused “singleness” scriptures of all time Jesus actually says something way more interesting.  In Matthew 19 Jesus is asked about divorce.  He says it’s not good and goes beyond what they were expecting to say that anyone who divorces his wife for any reason other than sexual immorality and marries another, commits adultery.

The disciples are shocked.  They say, “If this is the situation between man and wife, it’s better not to marry.”  Then Jesus says this not every one can accept this word (what he just shared about marriage), but only those to whom it is given.

But then Jesus goes on to say that some are eunuchs at birth, some are made that way by others and, “there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”  Big word there.  Do you see it.  CHOOSE.  Look Out!

Is Jesus saying we have a choice?

This is so critical.  We have over spiritualized/romanticized the whole dang thing.  No where in the Bible does it say that there is THE ONE.  No where does it talk about a soul mate.  No where does it say that married or single that I won’t struggle with sexual sin or have no unmet desires.  We’ve made up this perfect scenario and it messes up the whole thing – singleness and marriage.

Marriage is a choice.  So is celibacy.  I can choose to make a vow with God to another person in holy matrimony.  I can also make a vow with God, to celibate ministry.  Both are good.  Neither has anything to do with being single as we know it today.  It’s not about whether one is easier or harder for me.

We all make choices.  We pass on dating/marrying certain people and we make choices to date/marry certain people.  Other people make choices about us.  We make vocational choices, geographical choices.  We have more choices than any culture at any point in history.

This is why it is so critical that we walk with God and others – so that we can make more good choices.  God may well call you toward one or the other.  We choose whether or not to listen and obey – just like every other aspect of life.

Take Advantage Of Your Singleness – What Does That Even Mean?

I ran into a guy I hadn’t seen in a while a couple of weeks ago.  He had heard about my recent engagement (you read that right). He said, “I always thought that you felt called to singleness.”  I said that while I have prayed about it at different times I’ve never felt that call.  He said, “Man, that sucks”.  What he meant was that since I was 40 that’s a long time to not feel called to singleness.  He’d be right. Ha.

I had another friend tell me once, “We were talking about you the other day and wondering if you really would ever get married.  I mean you take such advantage of your singleness.”

We are told all the time to take advantage of our singleness.  I’ve always kind of been bothered by this idea.  I mean I get it.  When you get married stuff changes.  In many ways you have less freedom to do what you want, when you want.  You aren’t making decisions on your own (not that you should be doing that anyway).  Then when you throw in kids, you have even more immediate responsibility.

But we have to be careful with this line of thinking. Taking advantage of your singleness could lead to a couple traps we as singles can fall into.  

For starters taking advantage of your singleness shouldn’t turn into, “live it up now because when you are married the fun is over.”  This creates a bad idea of marriage. When you get married you don’t die (you will have to die to yourself in places – but again you should be learning to do that anyway).  You’re not dead – you’re married.  This is so critical.  Marriage does require sacrifice and compromise.  But it should be fun.  Marriage should be a new place to live life to the full – just in a different context.

The idea of living it up now – can also become an excuse for sin.  In other words I can just do what I want regardless.  This can lead to sexual sin, partying or other hard living.  Or along with this – why not play video games or whatever all the time.  The list goes on.  This is all stuff that gets in the way of becoming married and more importantly it is not what we are called to by Jesus.

Secondly, taking advantage of your singleness shouldn’t turn into, “Throw yourself into your work and build your career.”  There are way too many people finding their identity in their work.  This is a huge trap for single folks.  I mean if I’m free to work more, shouldn’t I?  When I started out in my career I would sometimes work 80 hours a week.  That was stupid.  But who was gonna tell me that?  No one.  When work becomes our identity it also becomes a place to hide from the hard parts of our singleness. In other words, if I’m focussed on work, then I don’t have to face my insecurities in other areas. Plus if my identity is in my work, and then I get married I’m going to be in trouble – both at work and at home.

Then the church comes into play.  You’re single, so take advantage of your singleness or in other words “You should do more ministry than a married person.”  This is bad on a couple of levels.  It again sets marriage up as an end to doing good ministry.  I know for a fact that this isn’t true because I’ve watched lots of married people be just as effective as me at ministry.  But if we build that into singles’ heads then when they get married they will think that they should not do ministry.  I’ve also seen that happen lots of times.  Don’t get me wrong, marriage will change HOW you do ministry, but it doesn’t change that you should be doing ministry.

Here is what I came to several years ago.  The key is to live life as best you can to the full.  In other words, take advantage of life regardless of the context you are in.  What is Jesus leading me to do from where I’m at?  That is for sure going to look different married vs. single.  But you know what, it also looks different at 40 than it did at 25.  I’m not who I was at 25.  My role in God’s story is different.  I’m counting on that being different 10 years from now.  Don’t take advantage of singleness (and don’t be defined by it) – live your life to the full regardless of context.  Engage Jesus and the people and world around you.  Don’t miss that.

Are you engaged in your context?  Are you taking advantage of the now? Or are you missing it by hiding?  What is your identity in?

The Church Doesn’t Get Singleness

Here’s a fun experiment.  Go to amazon and search for Christian marriage books and then search Christian Single books.  It’s not pretty.  (Then for real fun go through the Christian single list and try to find books written by a guy.)

Here’s the point.  The Church loves to talk about marriage.  They are like the marriage experts.  As I’ve said no matter what your theological beliefs, you can find a marriage book for you.  I mean you name it – you like Keller? Eldredge? Piper? Jakes? Bell?  You can find their take on marriage. Books about how to navigate singleness – not as much, (apparently ladies you are supposed to do a lot of waiting and being satisfied, and us guys are supposed to figure it out without any help whatsoever).

But it’s not just books.  Marriage retreats, forums, conferences, sermon series.  Its even part of churches’ missional approach, “we are going to be doing a series on marriage – invite all your friends.”

Sure somewhere in there they like to throw in the obligatory thought on singleness, which is usually short sided, un-researched, full of platitudes and impractical.  And then the best part is we kind of get a pat on the head as if to say, someday you too can be a grown up married person.

Now someone will say that I’m bitter or just seeing the grass as greener on the other side.  I’m not mad – I’m just right.  In 20 years of walking with Jesus and going to church (including the last eight at a church that has 50% single people) I’ve never had a married friend say, “The church just doesn’t get marriage.”  Single people feel it all the time.  It’s a no brainer and it’s real.

Have you ever thought about why it’s this way?  One main reason that I’ve talked about before if that most pastors don’t get it.  But there are other basic reasons.

First it’s just flat easier to talk about.  There’s more clear scriptures on marriage.  There’s not much on singleness and exactly zero on dating.  Also, it’s more obvious if a marriage is in trouble than if a single is.  So the fact is it’s just easier.

Second, married people fit the church structure better.  They are more comfortable showing up to church to begin with. Much easier to go with someone than alone.  The church knows that if you love kids then you will get parents.  A lot of Christian parents are married – (side note – we are not very good with single parents either.  Holy smokes.  Let’s hold another moms group during the day – that helps – yikes).

The truth is almost everything we do is set up for the family – training the family, protecting the family, growing the family. In fact I would submit that family is an idol in our church today, but that is another post.  Now it is helpful as a single person, especially if we didn’t grow up with it, to see and be engaged with solid families and I’m all about that.  But where does the non married person fit into all of that.  What real practical help are we giving to them for where they are right now?

Third, the church assumes that you should get married.  We talk about being called to singleness but we do absolutely nothing to help anyone determine that.  Our theology of singleness is messed up at best and completely lacking at worst.  

Finally, because they don’t know what to do and what to say, they offer up spiritual platitudes about waiting on God, not settling, perfect definitions of who we should marry, and how to not have sex – which is their biggest concern.

Now some of this is our fault as singles.  Here’s what I mean.  We are way more likely to church hop (in fairness some of that is due to the stuff above).  We can leave any time – we don’t have to convince a spouse or pull kids away from their youth group.  Secondly, married people typically give more money and assume more Sunday leadership roles.  I can’t back that up with statistics but I’d stake any amount you want on that being true. We often have less invested.

But here’s the thing, and you, me, married people, the church and everyone else might want to grab a hold of this.  The day of reckoning is here.  50% of America is unmarried and the trend is upwards.  80% of people age 18-29 have never been married and that trend is upwards.  So unless the church wants to get smaller it might want to think about how to help, reach out to, walk with, encourage, engage, and challenge singles.  They might want to figure out how to empower them in leadership.  Perhaps they could help them figure out and pursue their calling to marriage or to celibate ministry.

The church could be a place where singles are welcome, treated equally and held accountable through real relationships.  Or it can keep ignoring reality and miss out on the opportunity.