Over the past few weeks, we have had three HOPE staff members get engaged. I am absolutely thrilled for them. They each met a special person. They each have a fantastic engagement story. They each are about to enter an incredible lifelong journey and learn about mutual service.
But I think it’s time to also celebrate singleness.
A few days ago, a friend of mine referenced a single friend of ours. “Jane is such a nice person,” he said, “I just hope she finds her special someone soon.”
I’ve often heard these comments. And I’m sure people who are single hear them regularly. Well-intentioned, the underlying message being sent to singles in Christian community is this—If you are single, you are incomplete. Life is on pause until you’ve met your spouse.
But I see a different story in Scripture. Jesus chose to remain single. Another bachelor, the apostle Paul said, “I wish that all of you were [single] as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:7). Paul celebrated singleness and referred to it as a gift. At the very least, in today’s world, let’s not put so much pressure on singles or only view the world through the “you-have-to-be-married” lens.
To my married friends, here are several dos and don’ts on how to celebrate singleness:
Please don’t …
- Treat singles as if something’s wrong with them. In the Church, sometimes we make people feel something’s wrong if you don’t get married within 10 years after graduation. Reject the lie that being a Christian means you have kids and a spouse.
- Let dating monopolize conversations. Interact as friends, and don’t lead every conversation with “have you met anyone yet?”
- Pretend you understand what it’s like to be single. Yes, you were single once. But being single for a few years doesn’t make you the expert today.
Please do …
- Value their voice. The Church can be the loneliest place for singles. That could explain why so few singles attend. They are relegated to singles groups – where the preoccupation is dating, rather than growing in Christ. We need their voices, and they are an invaluable member of our community.
- Celebrate milestones. “Adult” milestones—bridal showers, bachelor parties, and baby showers—exclude singles. Why not throw a single person a birthday party or celebrate their promotion at work? Or just find a way to make them feel special and valued?
- Invite singles on Friday nights, not just weekday small group. Weekends can be a low point for singles whose married friends prefer “couples only” activities. Invest in your single friends. Invite them to be part of your social world, especially on weekends.
Bottom line: Being married is not the ultimate goal of life. Being a faithful follower of Jesus is—and that can be done whether we are married or single.