There is no denying it, there is an obsession in the world with relationship status. One of the first things anyone you meet wants to know is, “Are you married? If not, are you dating anyone?” Just look at Facebook… what an ordeal it is when someone changes their relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship.” If you ever want to see your “like” count go up in numbers just make this switch. Watch what happens.
Much of our adult identity is wrapped up in this one category about ourselves. Are you married? Are you single? As we meet new people along life’s journey, one after another, our minds are made up and our curiosity is quenched once we can place them in the single, dating, or married box.
Aren't we more than what our relationship status says we are?
Unfortunately, this need to label people by their relationship status seems heightened in the Church. Once we know which box each member checks off, we start to place who their friends should be, what small group they’d fit into best, and what ministry they should be a part of. It seems that the body of Christ has created an unnecessary divide among its members, intentionally compartmentalizing its people according to their relationship status. This makes it very awkward for many people to go over to another box and engage with those who don’t share the same status. Instead we just stay in our own box, however comfortable or uncomfortable it may be... So how do we help this?
To the single, and the married, I have 5 suggestions for closing the relationship gap in the church…
1. If you’re married… intentionally seek out a single person in your church. Welcome them into your home and into your family. Do life with them. Get to know them apart from their single status. Don't make it your mission to find them a husband or a wife. And more importantly, share your married life with them!
2. If you’re single… intentionally get to know the married people in your church. And not just the ones that are your age. There is much wisdom to be gained from their married experiences. If your desire is for marriage yourself, make friends with married people! And take notes!
3. Celebrate one another. Don’t just limit your celebration to birthdays, anniversaries, marriages, and new babies (all of which are worthy of celebration), but also celebrate new jobs, new homes, and new schools. More importantly… celebrate those tangible experiences that prove God’s faithfulness in your lives!
4. Honor where God has each of you. And do not put one above another. Marriage is not a reward for those who proved themselves faithful. And intimacy with God in singleness doesn’t mean God loves you better or more. Singles don’t need rescuing from their singleness. And married folks don’t need to take the blame for your unsatisfied desire. Know that each of you is where you are because Christ purposed it for His glory. Love what you see when you see Him in each other.
5. Pray together. Pray often. And pray for each other. Don’t isolate your prayer life to yourself and your season. Be mindful of one another in prayer. Share your requests… even if the other person is not living the same experience. When you are in covenant relationship, all of what we are going through together matters.
Ultimately we are One Body, with One Spirit. Our differences should glorify our Father all the more. And as the Church, our likeness is in Christ Jesus. We have no difference in Him. So next time you see that married or single person at church, remind yourself that their relationship status is one with Jesus FIRST, then grab a cup of coffee with them. Our fellowship has no divide when we remember what ties us together.