Monday, July 19, 2004
Single Christians: Today's New York Times has an interesting article on the plethora of books out there aimed at evangelical singles. The piece mainly focuses on women, though there are books out there aimed at men too.
Since I've been quoted (anonymously) in one of these books (Single Men are Like Waffles, Single Women are Like Spaghetti), I feel the need to plug it.
One thing mentioned in the article that I have found to be true, and a big problem in many churches across America, is the fact that singles are often left out of the church's life.
Another reason for the explosion of interest in Christian single life is the belief among some unwed evangelicals, and even some ministers, that church culture has lagged behind secular society in validating the experiences of those without partners or families.
"The church has adapted the concept that there is something wrong with you if you've reached a certain age and you are not married," said Heindrich Shirley, 34, a pastor at Redemption World Outreach Center, a Pentecostal church in Greenville, S.C., with 6,500 congregants, more than half single. "We've given singles the idea that if they're single they are diseased or gay," Mr. Shirley said. He is holding a conference for singles later this month, at which Ms. Hammond, the author, will be the featured speaker.
The importance of marriage and family to church life can leave many singles feeling alienated. "Sunday mornings are my loneliest time; I go to worship and I often feel like crying," said Kristee Jackson, 30, a social worker in suburban Chicago who grew up in an evangelical household.
Though many churches have long maintained singles ministries — church services and social outings just for singles — unmarried congregants say they often feel segregated by them. At least one among the new wave of books, last year's "Single, Not Separate," calls for churches to integrate singles better. "Single people should not feel like misfits, especially at church," said Virginia McInerney, the author of the book.
The first church I went to after graduating from college had a singles group that I joined for all of three weeks. Why? Because everyone in the group had at least 15 years, one kid, and one marriage on me. With a Sunday attendence of probably 1,000 people, there was nothing for young singles.
I was especially amused by this paragraph in the story.
Ms. Smith, an evangelical author and speaker, included in her book a chapter titled "You May Not Get Married." Such a message of self-sufficiency ultimately proved too unconventional even for the producers of "Sex and the City," who ended their series this year with all four main characters in long-term relationships.
That struck me as funny because of why I was quoted in the book linked to above. The authors gave out a survey and one of the questions was: "If you were to write a book for singles, what would you call it?"
Working on the presumption that if you find yourself looking for such a book, you're already lost, my book was titled: "Face it. There's no one out there for you."