Being Single Is a Good Way to Lose Brownie Points at Church

I don’t typically post material aimed at validating and supporting oft-discriminated against groups if I’m a part of those groups. But there are over 100 million single adults in America who experience the forms of discrimination outlined here. I’m sick of it.

Compelling research featured in a recent TED article by Jessica Gross shows that: “Single people face discrimination in the workplace and are generally held in lower esteem than married counterparts,” and that single participants in these studies are deemed arbitrarily as “less socially mature, less well adjusted, and more self-centered than their otherwise identical married counterparts.”

To be clear, not every single person experiences this, but I have. I don’t say that as a request for personal validation, but to add my voice to validate the experiences of others, even if I know many married people who would scoff at my words. I’ve found that evangelical Christianity has a culture that breeds this mentality more powerfully than the secular community does.

If you’re a single Christian, your thoughts are more readily dismissed, you are more easily passed over for employment in churches and Christian organizations (sometimes as spelled out in “preferred experience” sections of job description documents), and your opinions, particularly regarding family, child raising, and relationships, are often laughed off as “inexperienced” in daily community conversations.

Here’s the reality: Marriage doesn’t teach you things. Life teaches you things. Marriage is one path to learning lessons about communication, sacrifice, sexuality, and selflessness. There are many, many others. To say otherwise is to position yourself on a self-idolizing pedestal designed to justify your experiences and the way you look at them. It validates the struggles you’ve gone through while diminishing the struggles of others.

And hey, we all do that. I could say that people who’ve gotten married in their early twenties have no concept of what it’s like to walk through some really formative years by yourself, facing the same struggles without anyone to wake up next to you. I could claim that for myself. We could all find things to claim for ourselves. But doing that builds fences, not bridges.

The other reality is that if you’re married, you’ve got the power here. You’re the “heard.” So speak out against garbage like this. Just like we should for any brother or sister judged for appearance, life experiences, or a way of looking at the world that we don’t understand.

Now, I wouldn’t consider myself a liberal theologian, so don’t get the idea that I’m valuing social issues over scriptural integrity. There are plenty of ways to dodge the bullet if you want to jack around with my wording. But social justice fits within a biblical framework, and we have a call to uphold it. God has created people equal–even if some of us make selfish choices, even if some of us are confused about who we are, even if we all want to justify our emotional self preservation as much as the next guy. If our culture can’t embrace that truth, and if our hearts keep creating these kinds of barriers between each other, then we’re in trouble.


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