On page 10 of Singled Out you wrote that as thirtysomething single women you “discovered that the evangelical world, which so often revolves around the nuclear family, didn’t quite know what to do with us” (pg 10). What do you think are the reasons for why the evangelical world is often so preoccupied with the nuclear family? When do you think a proper concern for and love of the nuclear family becomes an unhelpful preoccupation with it – often to the detriment of single Christians? Whose responsibility is it to remedy this situation?
I believe that by focusing so much on the nuclear family the evangelical world is desperately trying to combat the influences of the secular world that it fears will destroy not only the family but also the church. “Family values” becomes a rallying cry for many who wish to make sure that Christian values are maintained as they fight against homosexual marriage, divorce, adultery, and pre-marital sex. While I understand this tendency, and I certainly believe in the importance of maintaining strong families, I am disturbed by the fact that this intense focus on the family has, in some cases, come to overshadow the role of the church. Several passages in the New Testament remind us that our ultimately loyalties are to be given to Christ and His Church not to our biological families (Matthew 10:34-7; 12:47-50; Luke 9:59-60; 18:29-30), but today many churches seemingly exist solely to support the nuclear family. And if you aren’t part of a nuclear family, you don’t quite fit into the church body.
To combat this tendency, I believe that we need to re-think what it means to be part of the body of Christ and live in community with one another. Too often, we simply see each other Sunday mornings, say a quick hello, and then disappear into our own lives. For those who are single and don’t run off with a spouse and children, this version of community can be very lonely. But I also think it can be very difficult for the families who are left to deal with all of their stresses on their own as well. No one really thrives in this version of community. I think we all need to be more intentional about becoming part of each other’s lives in a way that lives out the truth expressed in I Corinthians 12. We have too many eyes and heads and feet running around by themselves wondering why they feel so stressed out and defeated. We need to come together to help each other out not only in ministry but also in the realities of our lives, and in order for this to occur, everyone needs to take part: church leaders who encourage it, married couples who recognize the need to look beyond their nuclear family, and singles who understand the importance of focusing on relationships within the body of Christ and not just relationships that they hope will lead to marriage.