In many churches, girls are taught that godly women are quiet, submissive, gentle, and encouraged to develop “feminine” skills such as sewing and cooking. Boys are taught to be assertive and athletic and to develop skills such as carpentry and mechanics. Woe to the girl with the gift of leadership who would rather get greasy working on a car than spending time in the kitchen, or the quiet, gentle boy who prefers books to athletics, for they are often made to feel like something is wrong with them and that they are living in sin for having skills and interests considered inappropriate for their gender.
Single women often have no choice but develop traits and skills not considered “feminine”. Many careers require that a woman be in a leadership role at some point. Assertiveness is crucial to not only get, but be promoted and keep a job. Assertiveness is also crucial for a single woman in her daily life as she manages her transportation, her home, and other affairs.
Without a husband to take care of her car and the home, many single women will learn basic vehicle maintenance and home repair skills. In their careers, single women may develop strong management, leadership, and sales skills, as well a multitude of other skills not seen as “feminine.”
As for the guys, singleness often requires them to cook if they want a homemade meal. With no wife to clean their house and do their laundry, they must hire a house cleaner or learn to clean if they want a clean house and to do laundry if they want clean clothes. If they have children, they may find themselves developing nurturing skills traditionally associated with women.
When scripture talks about secular skills and spiritual gifts, it does not specify that some are given to men and others to women. Yes, some skills and gifts are more dominant in men than women, and vice versa, but just because something does not fit the “norm” does not mean it is wrong. Romans 11:29 says “For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” God would never give a person a skill or gift he did not expect them to use, nor put them into a situation where they need to develop a skill or gift that is wrong.
Besides developing and using gifts and traits traditionally associated with the opposite gender, many single people develop a trait many churches consider to be a sin:
Without a spouse to submit to or suffer the consequences of the other spouses’ behavior, singles are free to question church leadership and are freer to leave the church if they no longer happy with it. Out of necessity, singles often develop independent behaviors because they have no spouse to rely on for things. In their greater freedom to serve Christ, they can take greater risks in serving him and do things that other people think are crazy.
This independence is a threat in churches where submission to church leaders is king, submission to the church as a whole is queen, and women are expected to submit to men.
Nowhere in scripture is independence considered a sin. Rebellion against God is. Failure to listen to wise wisdom is considered foolish. But choosing to follow God and not man is considered obedience to God. In I Cor 7, singleness is seen as a higher calling than marriage because the single person can focus on God alone and not the needs of their spouse. Unfortunately, much of the commands and advice church leaders give people comes not from God but from the sinful desire for control.
By marginalizing singleness, churches are free to restrict women to the home and to oppress, marginalize, and ostracize men and women who do not fit traditional gender roles and become independent.