Dating and sexual relationships are society’s idols that singles are told they must worship. Marriage is often made into the Golden Calf by Christians. Marriage is a great thing. It is a sacrament after all. The problem arises when Christian start to believe that everyone must get married and if they don’t, they are not fulfilling God’s plan for their life. Being single may be a vocation, but it has not been properly studied in theology. At a minimum, the single life should be recognized as a legitimate state of life. The single life needs to be respected within the Church and singles should push their pastors to study singleness.
There are many different types of singles. For this reason, the Church needs to study to find if there may be different degrees of singleness since not all singles want to take the sacrament of holy orders. Christ and the disciples were single. Many of the prophets were too. It would seem that there would be theological and historical reasons that could form a theological foundation for the single life. That foundation, along with the Golden Rule, could be first steps to move the emphasis off of the need to get married to respecting single at church. The Church, or parish, is “a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop (c. 515.1).” The parish, or church, is a living microcosm community of the totality of Church that provides access to community. In some cases, this community can become a second family for those who make use of all that their local church offers them.
Church members need to welcome singles with open arms. Being single is not a disease. It is not a sin. A church’s congregation should not give singles the cold shoulder, as many singles experience in the church. This is especially true if they are older and unmarried. The community within the Church needs to embrace singles and expand church groups for singles to not only be social events to find people to date within the church. By believing that singles need to get married and pushing marriage as a necessity on singles in the church, the congregation is making those who are unmarried feel lonely in their own church. The opposite of this should be true! Singles should be loved. Singles should want to attend services to see friends. Singles should want to be involved with their church’s community.
All denominations can do a better job to make singles feel welcome. The first step is for people to recognize that there is nothing wrong with being unmarried. Second, recognize that the single life offers its own advantages that are lost once someone is married. Third, Catholic and Protestant churches should explore and establish a theology about what it means to be single. This theology would help singles as they decide whether they want to remain single, commit their life to remain single and become a priest, or to wait until they are ready to date and ultimately get married. Christians are called to do unto others as they would like done to them. Do Christians treat you differently because you are single? Remind them of the Golden Rule.
Christians need to better follow the Golden Rule when it comes to their treatment of those who are single and unmarried. Christians should love those who are single. Christians should invite those who are single to events and to their homes for community. Christians need to better develop what it means to be single and how the single life fits into Biblical history and theology.
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