The Church, Singles, and Calling

The Church, Singles, and Calling

Extended singleness is a reality that many, young and old, face today. God is not surprised by this. Rather, He has called his people to live in “such a time as this.” In such a time, the Church has a responsibility not only to recover and uphold the institution of marriage but to graciously help people live out their singleness in self-sacrificial faithfulness.

Americans today are getting married later in life than their parents or grandparents. As of 2022, the average age at which Americans get married is 28 for women and 30 for men. This is eight years later in life than the average bride and groom of the 1960s.  

As many have noted, today’s spike in singleness and single-person households is, in part, the result of a widespread cultural erosion of marriage, both inside and outside of the Church. Over the past 60 years, marriage has taken a social and cultural beating thanks to the legalization of no-fault divorce and abortion, the widespread use of birth control, the proliferation of easily accessible hook-up apps, and the casual dominance of pornography. These realities undermine the maturity, self-control, and responsibility required for stable and successful marriages. Whether or not an individual chooses to engage in these practices, they decrease everyone’s chances of finding a partner interested in or ready for marriage. 

In the wake of this cultural erosion, the Church has had to make necessary and prudential efforts to reinforce marriage and family life as the God-given norm, reaffirming the goodness of marriage and family life in its teaching, serving as a space for Christians who desire marriage to find a spouse, and offering support and recovery for those fighting the temptations of “free love.” However, in these efforts, the Church has often struggled in its approach to singles. While not intentionally excluding singles, the Church has often failed to intentionally include singles—whether young or old, never married or widows/widowers—and create space for them to participate and serve in the life of the Church apart from the pursuit of marriage. In the process, some churches have even given the impression that singleness is only a problem to be fixed, rather than a calling that some have for part or all of their lives.  

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