I was recently at a party with my mum when I overheard her advising a girl in her late 20s that if she wanted to find a husband, perhaps she should take up chess as – she alleged – chess clubs were full of single Christian men who would love wives but lack the relevant social skills. God. Help. Us. All. Worse – the room full of single girls in their 20s, rather than laughing their socks off, continued to discuss this as a plausible tactic.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, Christians up and down the country are obsessively talking about singleness – its benefits, its cures, its pitfalls and struggles, enforced singleness, the gift of singleness, what to do while you’re waiting.
We have singles days and go to conferences with names like Beloved and Heartfelt where we eat pink cupcakes are told to focus on being ‘God’s beautiful warrior princesses’ while waiting for our kingdom warrior men (vom). The section on how-to-be-not in a relationship stretches across half a wall at the Christian bookshop. No wonder perfectly rational girls are considering learning chess!
Christians have bought into an idea that says our singleness or otherwise constitutes a significant fact about our identity; we’ve embraced Facebook’s ‘Name, Hometown, Relationship Status’ version of reality.
When did it all become such a big deal?
I have friends who begin catch-up coffees with the question: “How are you? Met any nice men yet?”
At this point I usually feel obligated to come up with something along the lines of “erm…well, I suppose Martin looked quite nice in that blue jumper on Sunday?” after which ‘Martin’ is then mentioned every time we meet for the next year.
It’s an extremely weird culture of conversation; we seem to have become obsessed with walking in two by two – it’s like Noah’s ark. And it’s contagious. I’m a largely content single and yet I frequently find myself joining in conversations speculating about whether it was a ‘coffee-type-coffee’ or a ‘date-type coffee’, whether Tony is just being friendly, or does he fancy Sarah, and vetting profiles on christianmingle.com.
More than just being nutty, it’s not a particularly biblical way to look at ourselves; in maximising the role of an earthly partner in what constitutes our identity, we minimise the role of Jesus. Some Christians are going to get married and some are not- that’s a statistical fact. This fact is not going to be altered by people talking about it more, obsessing over it and generally blowing the whole thing out of proportion. At the end of all that, some Christians will still get married and others will still stay single.
Essentially – stop obsessing. Your single friend will tell you of any interesting news if and when it arises. Ask them about the weather, their favourite vegetable, and here’s an idea, their faith, but please, let’s stop rabbiting on about relationships.
Image by LilGoldWmn via stock.xchngimages.