From my perspective, it’s a tough era for singles.
A relatively common refrain from men and women who are single—especially those who find themselves single long after they expected or wanted to be—goes something like this:
“Year after year, I watch friends get engaged, marry and have kids. I’m happy for them, but I’m still going home alone, still longing for that someone special, for a family of my own.”
And too many singles in the church are leaving, or suspending their faith, or attempting to rewrite it because, “After a while, I just couldn’t believe in a God who would give me these deep desires for connection and intimacy (including physical intimacy) and then ask me to live without them for the rest of my life.”
Singleness isn’t new, but singleness as we know it today is something new.
As we hold to traditional biblical teaching on marriage, sex, and singleness, we do well to also recognize that in some very significant ways, singleness is harder than ever.
Although over 40% of the adult population in the U.S. is single, and although singleness doesn’t carry the same stigma it did 50 or 60 years ago, still the relational framework in our culture (including in our churches) is not conducive to relationally healthy singleness.
- Relationships have become transient. The norm for marriage, home, work, and church used to be that they were life-long. Not so anymore.
- Same-gender friendships, perhaps especially among men, have become optional. These relationships used to be a primary source of information, community, reputation, and dignity for both marrieds and singles.
- Touch has become oddly taboo. Because of concerns about abuse, “sending the wrong message”, or spreading germs touch is viewed with a level of suspicion unprecedented in history.
- Physicality has become over-sexualized. Perhaps as a result of the touch taboo, or perhaps the cause of it, physicality is for many a slippery slope to something sexual.
- Face-to-face interaction is less. The quick go-to for connection has fast become Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, while research suggests these can actually increase unhappiness and discontent.
- We’re extremely busy. With work, ministry, fitness, family. We live with nearly zero margin in our lives.
As these and other realities have combined, they’ve sucked relational oxygen from around us, leaving especially our single brothers and sisters gasping, desperate for air. (And subsequently, it’s a more challenging environment for single Christians to live out a Christian sexual ethic.)
What can be done? I’ll give some thoughts next week, but for now I’d love to hear from you:
How do you think we, as Christians, married and single, can be a part of the solution to loneliness in the lives of singles?