Moishe wanted to offer some practical applications with the cover article. These are mostly his suggestions with input from the (single) editor.
We are commanded to be considerate to one another in the body of Christ. I don’t know that anyone is intentionally inconsiderate, but it takes some planning to consider the feelings of others. Sometimes married people simply are not certain how to be considerate of those who are single. Perhaps the following will get some creative juices flowing.
- Do not engage in unwelcome matchmaking! However, if matchmaking is welcome, please be discreet.
- When it comes to social rituals, try not to impose your perspective on others. One of my daughters is happily single, and it embarrasses her when people ask if she has a family. As far as she is concerned, she surely does. But she has discovered that people who ask are usually referring to a husband and children, implying that to be without them is to be without a family. It is also embarrassing when people express sympathy upon finding that she is single. It isn’t the fact of being unmarried that embarrasses many people, but rather the assumptions that others make about their happiness.
- You can also be considerate by remembering that even when people are committed to being single, that does not mean they want to be left alone. If you are married, share your home and your family. Some of the best aunts and uncles are not necessarily blood relatives. Many single people enjoy interacting with children; they delight in the spontaneity, in seeing the joy and being able to make children smile. (Caution: single friends should not be regarded as baby-sitters in the absence of the parents.)
- When it comes to major holidays, no one in your church should have to be alone. Times of celebration can be particularly hard on those who are widowed or have been abandoned by a spouse. It is helpful to view the single person who lives far from any relatives as a family of one who has much to give as well as receive from others. Brothers and sisters in Christ do well to extend themselves to include families of one. And though a person might be well intentioned in inviting all the single people” to their home, most people would be just as happy to mix with married as well as single people for the holidays.
- Likewise, let us be careful how we celebrate matters of love and marriage. It is proper to rejoice over holy matrimony, but our greatest, most frequent celebrations should revolve around Jesus. Wedding showers (like baby showers) are fine…but should be balanced with occasions that can be enjoyed equally by those who do not have and possibly never will have spouses and/or children. I love to see churches spend time and energy celebrating Jesus—such a celebration includes every believer.
- It’s sad to see some newlyweds abandon their circle of single friends. Sometimes those they neglect are the very friends who rejoiced the most and extended themselves the farthest to help with the shower or wedding. Without intending to, some newly married people behave as though they have graduated from “singleness school.” Their “diplomas” are marriage certificates, and they seek to associate with other “graduates,” that is, married couples who will reinforce their new identity. (The same thing often happens when couples have children; some join the other parents and neglect friends who don’t have children.) It’s quite easy to slip into this pattern unless one makes a conscious choice to do otherwise.
- Many single people are good homemakers. Many are wise. Some have life experience that can help or encourage their married friends. There are bachelors who don’t subsist on TV dinners, and there are unmarried women who can help a young mother calm her crying infant. People, whether married or single, want to be known for who they are. Their traits and skills have little to do with whether they have a spouse. The body of Christ is wonderfully diverse—and the best way to enjoy it is to avoid stereotypes and get to know people who are at different stations in life.