Thursday, November 18, 2010

Out of place?

Many churches focus on family, family, family. Which means that couples (married couples, of course) are the prime base for everything that goes on.

Which leaves the singles out. Single men barely exist in churches - they're regarded as a bit strange, and possibly to be avoided. Marry them off quickly if you can.

As for single women. Hmmm. How do they fit in? Awkward phrases like 'left on the shelf' still linger in the 21st century air. Well, at least they're good for teaching Sunday School: safe, (safer than the men - they're positively dangerous in Sunday School, and even if they're safe they have a tendency to make the kids hyper).

You may disagree and say all this is generalization. Of course it is, but there's a hint of truth in it. And what started me thinking about it, in part, was an article in The Guardian: Another Year, same old witch-hunt. Another Year is the name of the latest Mike Leigh movie, which features a married couple and a single woman, and the article reviews the movie in part.

But what is more interesting about the article is its focus on single women, in which it states that half of women under 35 live alone. Now, this is an English stat, and I'm not sure that I'd take it as gospel (considering its source); nevertheless it indicates that there is an issue, and things may be similar here in New Zealand.

To quote: One survey found that half of its sample [of married couples] never had single women as visitors, and 19% knew no single women at all. Casual disregard for this social group goes unremarked. Our prime minister insists that marriage must be prioritised and rewarded. The last government repeatedly identified "hard-working families" as its abiding concern. In a world centred on cosily coupled units, leftover women labour under an enduring disadvantage. When they're not ignored completely, they're expected to provide tireless but unrecompensed support for people who matter more than them, as babysitters, carers or shoulders to cry on.

Note that the Government regards married couples as their prime focus too.

So what's the point of this post? Single women in our churches: how do they find a 'place' - they find a place? Or is there such an emphasis in every respect on couples that single people feel out of place?

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