If you’ve ever been single – so that’s all of us – then you’ve probably heard one or two cringeworthy statements offered to singles in the church, not to mention all the terrible book titles like Surviving Singledom and Praying For Your Future Husband.
It’s time to call out some of the more ridiculous ones, so here’s our collection of some of the worst we’ve read/heard, and for your convenience, some suggested responses you might like to try out.
1. You’re so lovely, how come you’re not married?
There are plenty of jerks who end up getting married. I don’t think loveliness is God’s prerequisite for marriage. That’s not how he works.
2. The most devastating attack on marriage today is coming from singleness. Singleness is an assault on marriage. – John Macarthur
I am just so terribly sorry that my single existence attacks marriage (hint: this is sarcasm. I am not actually sorry). Let me be clear: I am not single because I hate marriage and want to see it destroyed.
3. Those who are single involuntarily must still worship the Lord, must still love Him, must still live productive lives in the church, and so on. The one thing they must not do is try to talk themselves into the view that singleness is a positive ideal like sunshine and upland meadows. It is a trial, and nothing is served by pretending it isn’t a trial. – Douglas Wilson
I won’t just find the nearest unmarried person who is not my sibling and marry them.
But singleness *is* a positive ideal. There is nothing wrong with singleness, even if it is unwanted. I’m not single because God is punishing me. God is working it out for my good, and for your good too. And I won’t just find the nearest unmarried person who is not my sibling and marry them, but neither will I loudly complain that God hasn’t provided for me. He has, even if it is not in the way that I would have chosen.
4. Why aren’t you married? Are you fussy? If you’re fussy you’ll never get married.
I AM fussy, and I will not apologise for it. Shockingly, I will not marry someone who is reliably unkind, harsh or narcissistic (but please note, I am not really fussy on height, hair colour or income). I don’t want to marry just anyone. I am quite sure that Jesus is enough for me, and even though I might like to marry, I would rather be single than married to a jerk.
5. If you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do that get married […] marriage is the preferred route to becoming more like him. – Gary Thomas
I didn’t know that there was a glass ceiling of sanctification for those who don’t get married.
I am so glad that all the married folk out there are in for some serious spiritual growth, but I didn’t know that there was a glass ceiling of sanctification for those who don’t get married. I suppose it’s good to know now what kind of spiritual development is off limits to me because I am single. Gotta say though, I thought the best way to become more like Jesus was to pursue him in faith, asking the Holy Spirit to change me.
6. Are you gay?
Dani Treweek, currently completing a PhD in singleness, said on her blog, “The reality is that for a not insignificant number of single Christians the answer to this question will be ‘Yes’ (even if that is an answer they do not wish to share publicly). It can be exceedingly difficult for same-sex attracted single Christians to constantly field questions and comments which assume that they are looking to find a romantic partner (of the opposite sex) to marry. And so, in one sense, it is helpful to keep this question in mind (without presuming to ask it!) as you speak to single Christians. However, for those singles who aren’t same-sex attracted, it can be upsetting to know that people may be making false assumptions about their sexuality simply because they aren’t married. It’s difficult to navigate our way through these waters, but ultimately I think we need to be sensitively aware that same-sex attraction may be a reality for some singles, without either presuming or speculating that it may be the case for a specific single friend unless we know otherwise.”
7. There are a lot of reasons why it’s not good for the man to be alone. Singleness isn’t ideal – in Genesis 2, God made a woman to come along and fix the man […] theologically, the Bible elevates marriage, it embraces marriage, and marriage is to be honoured and to be preferred. – Mark Driscoll
It can take a lot of effort to actively work on not seeing every single person as a possible spouse.
I get it, marriage is good. I am 100 per cent on board with that. But do you know what else is good? Contentment. In our culture, it can take a lot of effort to actively work on not seeing every single person as a possible spouse, and I have to say, this kind of emphasis on marriage does not make it easier. Marriage is good, but I want to be able to live as a faithful Christian in this single season of my life, however long it may last. Please stop saying I should be wishing it away.
8. You’re better off alone, you can do whatever you like whenever you want.
I will admit that there is an element of flexibility that comes with singleness that doesn’t always stretch to someone who is married, but no person on earth can do whatever they want, whenever they want to, unless they don’t care about anyone other than themselves.
9. Satan dishonours marriage by fooling us into believing that singleness is okay. – Debbie Maken
What you’re telling me is that should I remain single – by choice or by circumstance – I will be doing something that is not okay.
But singleness *is* okay. If it were not okay, why would Jesus have been single? If it were not okay, why would the Apostle Paul have said it is good to remain single? What you’re telling me is that should I remain single – by choice or by circumstance – I will be doing something that is not okay. That is simply not true. Stop lying to me; stop telling me that I am not okay if I am not married.
10. There is someone just around the corner for you. I know it.
Around exactly which corner is this person hiding? Because I will, for sure, meet up with them in like 2.7 minutes, and then we can all live happily ever after. Oh, wait, you mean the *metaphorical* corner. Well. That is much less exciting.
***Thanks to Dani Treweek, who is currently working on a PhD on singleness, for some of these quotes.