Church and its leaders did not prepare me for singleness. During the years I spent in traditional church (my family home churched for several years) I never heard singleness preached about, taught in Sunday School or saw singles valued for who they were as singles. The message was clear: marriage was the ultimate calling for a person, necessary to fit in, to be considered an adult, and to be valued. There were single people in those churches, and I am related to several singles, several of which lived/have lived long enough for me to know them. But to my eyes they were misfits, and I wanted to fit in, to serve God to the fullest.
It was my family and its issues that set me on the path to contentment as a single. From my parent’s marriage, I learned that even when a woman is married, submission is not always possible, for there are men like my father who do not demand it. My mother struggled with the burden that she must submit, and as part of that struggle, I was exposed to the doctrine that it was wrong for a woman to work outside the home.
Even when I did learn that it was not wrong for a woman to work outside the home and saw the futility of total submission, the damage had been done. Deep in my heart I still believed that marriage and motherhood were the ultimate calling for women, and that women should not be assertive leaders. Besides, I loved domestic duties and was an unassertive introvert who hated pushing herself in the world.
Years passed. My plans for a career kept falling through, and a husband never materialized. Despite attending several churches, no one in the churches made an effort to give me the singles specific guidance and support I craved. I became angry and bitter, which made things worse. God in his mercy sent me a Godly single woman who helped me overcome it. And then one day I started to pray that God would bring me a husband soon or make me content to be a single woman.
God answered my prayer in ways I never dreamed. Not only did he give me contentment to be single, but he revealed the egalitarian truth to me and showed me that I as a single, childless woman I was equal in value to a married man and just as much a voice in the church as he does. In the process, I learned why I had never heard anything about singleness from the church.
During the next two months, I will discuss the reasons why singleness is marginalized in the church.