Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 17, 2004
Single people have spiritual needs too
If you type the words "single people" in any web search engines, you will be flooded with websites on dating, mate finders, chat rooms and other services. Our society has almost equated being single to people who are constantly looking for someone to be with.
Is this who single people really are?
Every newspaper has personals classified ads which runs slogans like: "Where single people meet; Meet singles like you; Find a date, friend or more, Find someone near you; Singles ready to mingle."
They even have created their own "language." Often you will find in personal ads abbreviations like, swf (single white female) swm (single white male), sam (single asian male), saf (single asian female), ltr (long-term relationship).
Shouldn't all relationships strive for a long term and not just a temporary term?
There are even sites for Christian singles who are looking for Christian partners. This makes me wonder whether being single is really some kind of a curse that nobody wants to be today. But that is not the case because there are single people who deliberately chose to be singles as they have discerned that is their vocation: single blessedness.
Somebody asks, "What is blessed about being single? Isn't single blessedness an oxymoron?" It really depends on how blessedness is understood. If it is understood as having children or being with someone then being single is definitely not being blessed. If being blessed is understood as having abundant material possessions then most single people who are financially stable are indeed blessed.
But in our Christian understanding, being blessed does not only mean being blessed with a wife or husband or with children or being blessed with financial security. Being blessed has a multitude of faces. Being blessed is primarily being in a faithful relationship with Christ, who rose from the dead.
Like being married, the state of being single has its own difficulties, challenges and consolations. Like a married couple, single people come with their own spiritual needs. As a community of believers and followers of Christ they too are entitled to be given appropriate pastoral care.
But is this the case?
Isn't this the function of young adult groups? In a way it is part of the ministry of young adult groups: To provide a faith-filled and healthy environment that will nourish their faith. But not all singles are young adults and not all young adults are singles.
Some singles have never married while others are divorced or widowed. These singles come from all age groups, which means they have different spiritual needs.
Often a church community is pre-occupied caring for the well being of the families, for obvious reasons: the family is the fundamental unit of the Church and society. But this does not mean that people with families are the only ones who should receive pastoral care.
For example, how often do we pray for them publicly and without labelling them sometimes as "the lonely"? It may be a reality of their lives - which gives us more reason to care for them - but it is not always the case. Some of them are not lonely.
Families, young adults, children, the bereaved, the sick, and yes the single people all come with their unique and special spiritual needs. Some of these needs may be the same. But some of these needs cannot be addressed in one sweeping way. Sometimes different strokes are needed for different folks. What is sure, we are all called to care for everyone.
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