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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Church Hurts When You're Single

Due to some catastrophic health events last year (a head/neck/inner ear injury), I stopped going to church. It was pretty severe and I couldn't think straight. Actually, the injury just sealed how I really felt. I quit alot of things, not just church. I am now thinking about going back. But there are alot of issues to consider in going back.

What church is the right church?
I had a church that I really loved in a Big City. There were alot of other singles and it was easy to make friends. They were very welcoming of performers. I also made alot of friends who didn't go to church. I've tried a few churches out here and haven't really felt like I belonged anywhere. In fact, I'm not sure that my personality as a performer/teacher really belongs at church. I seem to be judged as too loud, fun and outrageous to be a good Christian girl.

Being Single
Being single at church sucks where I am now. Everything is about couples. My ex-boyfriend told me that at church they had a bet on him as to when he would get married. One guy promised him 8000 pennies for when he did. Funny, but a little painful. He's kind of a jerk, but I get the feeling that he genuinely wants to find someone.

Sitting Alone
It stinks to sit alone in the pew and watch the oblivious couple in front of you. She has her head on his shoulder, he's stroking her back or her arm. You sit there watching that instead of listening to the sermon because you know how good that would feel.

Read This
Everyone wants you to read the latest book on dating because it will really help. Help you what? Barf? Last time I was at a singles thing at church, the guy started talking about his friend who was going to come speak and had written a book on dating. Honestly, I've been reading them all since I was a teen. My response, "Oh God." Everyone laughed. They're all in the same boat.

Singles Groups
At church they suck. For crying out loud, I'm an adult. I like to do some fun things. I like to get my drink on every once in awhile. When you do things with a singles group from church, it just seems like I don't feel like I can really let loose and have a good time. If I have to be single, at least let me have some fun.

Join the Choir
As soon as they find out I can sing, they want me to join the choir. Oh, that would be soooo fun. That's like asking a professional contractor to come paint your whole church for free. I teach choir. Why not hire me to run the choir?

The Gay Boys in Choir
Are you shocked? There are lots of gay boys in choir, especially if your church has paid soloists and an organist. After having been a paid soloist myself, coupled with being a professional performer, I'm really tired of gay boys. I love them, I just don't want to hang out with them anymore. I'd rather have a straight boyfriend.

The Best Place to Meet A Guy Is At Church
Umm. Yeah, right. So I've heard. I've been trying to do that on and off for awhile. It's not working. Then I got a married lady saying, Please tell me you don't come to church just to meet men. Wow, does it LOOK like I do that? I mean clearly I don't if I haven't dated many guys from church. But what's so wrong about meeting and dating someone from church? What's so bad about that when the Bible tells us we are not to be unequally yoked with non-believers? What's so bad about finding someone within your denomination? Just wondering.

Why Bother?
Honestly, I'm wondering why I even want to go and deal with all of this by going back to church. Maybe I'm just too single, to cynical and too tired of it all. I do believe in God, but I'm going through some real hurts that most church people don't understand. I'm sort of like the prodigal son right now, but I get the feeling no one will celebrate with a fatted calf or a big party when/if I return. I used to love reading the Bible when I was a teen and I loved going to church and being in the choir. I had lots of friends. I went to college and was active in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I had lots of friends there too. I used to go to Bible studies all the time. But it's different now.

No one thought I'd be the one that stayed single. Quite frankly, neither did I.

Does church hurt you? Share your experiences...

If you think I'm just complaining, have a read. I'm not alone.

If Singleness Is A Blessing, Why Does it Feel Like A Curse?
Open Letter to Single Men (Christianity Today)
Why Men Hate Church

Misunderstood World of Single Adults

The Mormon Church throws all their singles together into Singles Wards.
Latter Day Singles


single/certain said...

i know, it's tough. i think you need to keep looking for a better church. my church is awesome. there are tons of single guys (of course, i know them all and am not really interested in any of them, but that's another story. and honestly new ones show up all the time). we'r'e seeker oriented, so we have all kinds of people (eg people who still think it's ok to have a drink with friends or swear or whatever).

anyways, hang in there. and also, sometimes it's good to go to a different church... one outside your comfort zone. i dunno....

Amir Larijani said...

SSC: I agree with S/C. You may need to look for another church body. I also recommend going outside the traditional comfort zone.

I also would recommend staying away from so-called singles classes. I say this for a couple reasons:

(1) In my experience, I haven't seen very many marital relationships born in such classes. Most of the folks I know from those days who got married met their mates outside the class.

(2) Those classes often turn into meet markets. While I am all for seeking a mate in the Church, turning singles classes--designed to teach the Scriptures and nurture discipling relationships--into meet markets degrades the purpose of the class.

In an alternate structure--such as a couples class wherein others in the class might help your search for a mate--you can meet people while not undermining the discipleship mission of the class.

At any rate, you need to stay within the fellowship, even if it's a dysfunctional fellowship. Even a fractured Body is better than no Body.

Anonymous said...

I experienced a time where I was treated rather poorly by different peers within the same local church.

Finally, I left and I found a fellowship where people treat each other with common courtesy. The quality of my life has improved tremendously in the last six months. I also started to find different facets of fellowship because I know that using a local church as my main and only source for fellowship is not conducive towards a deeper fellowship between myself and Jesus Christ.

There is a line between being a new creation and retaining your true self. Sometimes you have to die to parts of yourself in order to grow and also improve fellowship experiences with others. Sometimes you have to draw boundaries by saying,"This is me." But it has to be on the basis of scripture and the Holy Spirit working. I have a strong personality and I am opinionated, yet through God's work and grace, I have taken steps to sift out what really matters to HIM (not the church) in terms of conduct.

A part of being in and not of the world is allowing the refining process to work between ourselves and God. I can't tell you what that looks like because we are all different.

D said...

Hey all, thanks for the comments.

Combined singles/couples classes are equally odious to singles only classes.

The parts of my personality that I defend are the parts that made me an excellent performer. Some people just don't like that kind of personality because I am don't seem demure or whatever.

As always, there's more to it than what I wrote for the public.

D said...

My mom set me up once and I blogged about it. A family friend tried to set me up and the guy never followed through. I can't imagine that joining a couples class and getting set up is any better than anything else.

Read about my setups:


Amir Larijani said...

D: I'm not going to suggest that I have any perfect answers; let's face it, there probably are none.

Your experience in church is not a far cry from mine. Like you, I've had relationships break off for whatever reason. (One of those times, I take the blame; the rest were case studies from gehenna.)

I've also tried online services: AOL Christian Singles chats, [mis]Match.com, and e[dis]Harmony. The latter appeared to have some promise, but these online services are probably best for people who live in larger cities. I've been shot down more times than I care to say due to distance issues.

Like you, I've had others try to set me up. While that hasn't worked for me, there seems to be some indication that such arrangements carry a higher probability of success. Granted, I'm skeptical of Boundless, but they are right about a few things, not the least of which is that the current "dating game" is not terribly efficient.

That said, I'd stay in church. I may look for a different church Body, but I would not bolt.

I generally shy away from being preachy, but there is no Biblical precedence for eschewing the fellowship of the Body.

Hang in there buddy, and stay in the fight.