There are more than enough “Why Singles are Marginalized in the Church” articles floating around cyberspace. My aim is not to add to their number. By God’s grace, there are also many pastoral and theologically-sound resources on singleness. My aim is not to improve upon these (I don’t think I can!). So what is this article all about?
Whether you are single or married, your theology of singleness will profoundly influence the life of the church. Instead of writing a five-point essay defending this statement, I submit to you a letter, a letter inspired from the experiences of many godly single women, from 20-somethings to 70-somethings.* While the letter is written to parents, most aspects can be profitably read as addressed to a congregation from a single sister. May the Lord use this to propel you to develop and live out a biblical theology of singleness.
Dear Dad and Mom,
At first I thought of writing you a letter of apology–an apology for not fulfilling your dreams, for not giving you a son-in-law, and for leaving you grandchildless. However, an apology implies I have the ability to change the story. And, at this moment, I don’t. So instead, I want to say “thank you.”
Thank you for giving me a biblical theology of marriage, and for teaching me by example that marriage is as wonderful as it is difficult.
Thanks for helping me look for a godly spouse without being pushy. Thanks for being there as I struggled through the years of “covert rejection” when no one pursued. Thank you for comforting me later in the “overt rejection” of going through a break up I didn’t see coming.
Thank you for helping me see the arrogance of presuming I deserve to be called as a wife and mom (Luke 17:10; James 4:13-16). Thank you also for helping me understand that some aspects of my pain are not the fruit of discontentment, but rather biblically-validated forms of human grief (Proverbs 13:12; 1 Samuel 1:15).
Thank you for studying the Word and reading books to develop a robust theology of singleness. Thanks for wrestling with me through my questions about the identity and purpose of a single woman in this world. Thanks for helping me discover the beautiful doctrine of “Union with Christ” (Colossians 3:1-4).
Thank you for discipling me in the life of self-sacrifice. When you trained me in the art of compassion, sent me to university, and instilled me with prowess in all things domestic, we thought these would be assets to my future husband. What we intended as wife-training, God used as cross-training, preparing me for a race only He knew I would run. The ability to love people, earn income, and do wonders in the crockpot have been used by God in ways we never imagined. Thanks for praying diligently for the people whose lives God has allowed me to touch.
Dad, thank you for picking up the phone no matter when I call. I am indebted to you for countless car repairs and wise words of counsel. More importantly, thank you for entrusting me to the Lord. In some ways, my singleness may be hardest of all for you. Perhaps the only thing harder than giving your daughter away is not being able to. Thanks for trusting the Lord to protect and provide for me.
Mom, thank you for laying at the cross each day your dream of watching Dad walk me down the aisle. Thank you for trusting the Lord with your grief when all your friends talk about their grandchildren. Thanks for using your grandmotherly instincts to serve so many.
Thank you both for your unconditional love. In the world, I feel valued for what I give. In the arms of your embrace, I feel the gospel–undeserved love because of what Christ has done.
In short, thank you for pushing me to live out mature adulthood, even when the calling seemed impossibly difficult. To this day, I never stop hoping for marriage on this earth. At the same time, I praise the Lord that this momentary singleness is made beautiful in Christ (Isaiah 56:4-5).
Your Single Daughter
*This letter does not aim to address the experience of every single woman, but rather themes of single womanhood.
**This post originally appeared on Gentle Reformation.