“I CAN’T Read Your Book Because I’M not Single.” Huh? Re-envisioning a Theology of Singleness
When I was in junior high school there were about eight girls that were chosen to have an opportunity to try out for the high school basketball teams. I was one of those eight. If by some chance we did not make the high school team then we would be relegated to play for our junior high team. I remember being really excited and nervous as a bus from the high school came to our junior high to pick the eight of us up to take us to the tryouts. It was a big deal to play for the high school. They were division champs, they were also sectional champs and many times had reached the finals for state championships. Many of those girls received recognition in local newspapers, they were recruited at the top colleges and I was chosen as one of the eight to try out in advance for the team. Everyone who was anyone wanted to be on the girls high school basketball team. Needless to say I screwed up the tryouts and I was one of two young ladies that did not make the high school team and unfortunately was sent to play on the junior high school team. That was a really tough year for me -not because I didn’t make the team -but because of how those who did make the HS team made me feel for not making their team. It wasn’t a direct ostracizing, it was indirect and passive and at the risk of using slang- siddity. Mainly because even though those six girls got to practice and play at the games with the high school team, they still had a responsibility to their junior high team. They still -from time to time- had to come practice with us. They still -from time to time- had to play in a few games with us. And they hated that. They wanted nothing to do with our team because they arrived to another team; a team affirmed, a team recognized and a team in a preferred place of distinction.
It’s unfortunate that within the Christian community, #teammarried and #teamsingle reflect those same sentiments as illustratively expressed above. And many times, #teammarried as well intentioned as they are, make #teamsingle feel relegated as nothing more than a JV Team, unable to compete with the likes of those on the high school team. Recently a (single) friend shared with me her experience having coffee with a (married) friend, in which the (married) friend attempted to “hook her up” with someone who would be “perfect for her.” In the same conversation the (married) friend said to her “I should be your singles pastor.” My (single) friend, expressed how she was able to bite her lip- an exceptional feat for her, because I know without a shadow of a doubt that she could have responded in that firm kind of love and grace. I honestly don’t think that he realized he was being offensive, partly because his offenses were dressed in good intentions and partly because he was well-intentionally continuing in this tradition of an impractical theology of singleness as adopted by Christian culture over the years. This theology, I attempt to address and re-envision in my book: It’s the idea that in order to have a healthy philosophy & theology of relationships, we have to deconstruct the traditional approaches towards singleness that have pervaded. In his book, “Families at the Crossroads,” Rodney clap says this:
<strong>“We need to re-examine the reasons for seeing singleness as good so that, in a confused and searching post-modern world, we can reassert the goodness of singleness for the right reasons. Only so as we shall see, can we reinsert the goodness of family and the goodness of freedom for the right reasons…..One sure sign of a defective interpretation of Christian family is that it denigrates and dishonors singleness.”</strong>
Recently, when I mentioned my book to someone (unmarried & just dating), they responded “Man I wish I could really take from that but i’m not single.” That mentality is problematic for a variety of reasons and it’s telling as to why this re-envisioning is so necessary. His comment suggested that there is nothing to be gleaned from this kind of book. His comment suggested that, while singles are forced to sit and hear sermon series’ on marriage, that married couples, need not dare sit and hear or read about topic surrounding singleness because they have somewhat graduated to the next level. But these aren’t levels, and the idea that they are is exactly why it needs to be deconstructed. Relational status’ are not grade levels. They are circumstantial. There are young, middle aged and older singles, never been married, single parents, divorced, widowed and even those living single within a separation in their marriage. All circumstantial and all people that make up our ONE body that we preach are ONE in Christ. If I saw a book on Middle Eastern History, or Asian contemporary topics and said “Man I sure wish I could really take that in but i’m Black” would that not suggest that I feel as though I have nothing to learn from those ethnic groups? Now granted, it made sense because many books written on singleness have to do with “how to be single” from a relational standpoint…how to “wait” so to speak. I am challenging those types of books as well; though they can be helpful if done appropriately. There are things that can be taken from a re-envisioned theology of singleness for everyone. If for nothing else, for those of us to have a different approach towards our sisters and brothers who are in their seasons of singleness…appropriate, inclusive approaches.