Monday, February 4, 2008

What I'm about in this blog....

When I was a single adult (12 years worth), I found myself sometimes obsessing to get married. Would I get married? Could I have my dream wedding?

Then, when I finally did get married (2.5 years worth), I found myself sometimes obsessing to get a free moment to myself. When would this other person in my life go away? How could I be me and still be married?

And I thought about how our culture, and to some extent the Church, cultivates those feelings. I have heard (and said often enough) that the church is really for married people. All the activities are geared toward married people. Sunday school and catechesis is aimed at married people's children. The few activities sometimes offered for (choose one): single adults, young adults, older adults - are dwarfed by the assumptions that being a good adult and being a good Christian means being married.

And I have heard (sometimes more hurtfully) that singles just care about themselves anyway, that they're free and wild, and therefore that they don't really care about adult responsibilities. Or at least, that's why lots of singles don't show up in church.

That description (of what we might call young adulthood) basically serves for a tiny portion of the single people in the church. Add to that the stigma associated with particular ways of living singly:
  • Celibacy - bad rap due to sexual abuse scandals, even though it has centuries (dating to pre-Christian days) of good reviews. Not all celibacy is bad.
  • Divorce - sometimes divorced people still feel stigmas about going back to church. And they struggle mightily with the scriptures dealing with divorce.
  • Widows and widowers - Often depicted as helpless old gossiping ladies - but really often the backbone of what gets done in a typical week at a church.
  • Lots of others might come to your mind, as well.
We could add all kinds of other problems and stigmas and issues that come up - most notably for a lot of people would be gay marriage/civil unions.

In this blog, I want to talk about all these things, but I also want to get us to start asking some different questions first, maybe. Being Christian doesn't depend on living any one particular state of life (though lots of literature might say otherwise) - I think all these "groups" belong in the church together, living a life of Christian discipleship. (Think about 1 Corinthians 7, for instance) But what does the Christian life, and then subsequently, one's marriage or life as a single person depend on? How do we live together in the Body of Christ and not see the dichotomies that sometimes seem all too real?

Now you might be thinking to yourself, she wasn't single for all that long, and she hasn't been married for all that long. So how does she think she can write about any of this. Good point - and part of my answer is that I'm hoping any visitors to this blog will fill in what's missing with some stories, some commentaries, some helpful critique.

The other part of the answer - at the time I started raising all these questions, I was a graduate student. And I wrote a rather lengthy dissertation about the questions, which subsequently became a book. So I've spent a lot of time reading about the subject and trying to live what I am thinking about - you'll see some of that in future posts). My concern was and is that people, and theologians in particular, haven't addressed the questions that married people AND singles together face, and my ultimate aim here is to raise some public awareness and maybe help us live better lives together in Christian community. Just a dream I have, anyway.

I'll try to be mostly non-technical in the blog - if you're really interested in some of my more technical arguments, you might check out my book.... And I'll post some reviews of other books from time to time.