On Being the Church’s Third Wheel

the-third-wheelThe month of February means red, white & pink bouquets, chalky heart-shaped candies, discounts on dating sites and of course… a marriage series at every church in America. 

Being single or divorced in the Church during the month of February is like being at the kid’s table on Thanksgiving. A marriage series is cute and all, but it’s not enough to simply say, “store this away for later” to the non-marrieds in the crowd—while carrying on with four solid weeks on how to be a better husband, a better wife or for you more “relevant” churches… how to have a better sex life.

It may be shocking to learn (and you may want to sit down for this), but the singles in your church are not waiting around for marriage in order to start their lives and to live out God’s purpose for them. And if they are—then you are teaching the wrong message!

Please understand  that I am not a bitter single woman dreading Valentine’s Day. It’s not a Valentine’s, February, etc. issue. It’s an issue of overlooking an entire demographic in the church whatever month or day of the year it is. Granted, by and large, the single community is smaller than the married community, but that doesn’t make them any less important. 

Is it appropriate to do a marriage message once in a while? Absolutely. Just as it would be appropriate to do a message that directly supports the hearts of single people. But who do you know that does this?

Dismissing the needs of an entire group of adults in the church is devaluing them as part of the Body—whether that is the intention or not. It says, “because you’re not married, you don’t have a place here.” That could not be further from the truth. One could liken it to ignoring middle schoolers because they are in between elementary and high school (which we can all agree would be terribly awkward).

God has a purpose for single people now… today. We all have a part to play in the Body of Christ and no one should be made to feel that they are somehow inadequate because of their life stage.

So have your marriage messages… but respect the singles in the body by giving them a part to play as well (and please… not as date night babysitters).

  • If you’re single, what are some ways you would like to see the Church value your life stage?

  • If you’re married, how can you help create a culture where it’s safe to be single?

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 
1 Corinthians 12:21

2 comments to On Being the Church’s Third Wheel

  • Sarah Eccles  says:

    Well said. Its like many times singles get lost in the shuffle compared to married people and your right Singleness is a very important part of life.
    Speaking of Valentine’s Day my husband and I do not celebrate it because my husband tells me we should love all year round not on some commercial day. So he does his special thing when he wants too. Thanks for writing this.

  • Charity Leslie  says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS ARTICLE! I literally spoke the same message to a group of Christian leaders here in Owosso yesterday afternoon. Singles are a non-entity in the Church because the Church simply does not know what to do with people who don’t fit into the box of married-with-children. While the Apostle Paul said that singleness is a gift, Church leaders have not enabled and commissioned singles into front-line ministries or even engaged in the process of finding great spouses for Christian singles. There is simply no support or even acknowledgement of singles. Anyway, I love your article! ~ Charity Leslie

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