Married couples with kids need the support of the Church. They deserve the support of the Church. But unmarried people do, too. Big time. Our singles are practicing celibacy in a culture that can’t even comprehend the concept. Our singles are struggling with the fact that fewer and fewer people are getting married and with the idea that their hopes for a spouse and children might possibly go unfulfilled. Our singles are fighting loneliness and trying to live good, responsible lives. And in the middle of all that, they’re also dealing with the ways the Church can make them feel like they don’t belong. Church has to be a lifeline of support for our singles, not an anchor dragging them down.
“In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” ~Romans 12:5
God’s Church is not a civic club or a special interest organization. There is a bond between Christians that is stronger than any other connection — stronger than blood, stronger than race, stronger than country. Ephesians 2 says in Christ we are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. Family.
That means single people in a strong Christian community can and should experience family relationships, especially sibling-type relationships between brothers and sisters. But they can also benefit from the love and support of close relationships with members of the opposite sex.
My wife, Carrie-Anne, makes me a better person. Being in an intimately close relationship with her, just being around her, makes me more like Christ. She is not like me. We are very, very different from each other. She thinks differently, she acts differently, she sees and understands things differently. She’s operating on a whole ‘nother level! Sometimes I get into a tough spot at work or into a rough patch with a daughter or a weird place with a neighbor and I think, “What would Carrie-Anne do?” Now, I don’t ask that when I’m on the baseball field or driving in heavy traffic. But I do occasionally try to imagine Carrie-Anne’s response. She’s more careful and much more thoughtful than I am. She’s more gracious and compassionate than I am. And she is slowly rubbing off on me. I do the right thing, the Christ-like thing, more now than before we got married. I’ve got a broader range of possible words and actions. Sometimes I can look at life the way Carrie-Anne does and I’ve got a greater spectrum of responses. I’m more likely to honor my Lord in my behavior.
That’s one of the ways Carrie-Anne and I complete each other and reflect the glory of God together. But that’s not something only married people can do. This kind of thing happens pretty naturally in a strong Christian community where we share our hearts and our lives and experience together what God is teaching us and how he is shaping us and growing us into the image of Jesus.
The Church is not a family-training center in which people who don’t fit the nuclear family model get pushed to the sides. Jesus calls all people to his table without distinction. And the Spirit says all gifts are equal.