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March 08, 2005

March 8th -- Women's Day

Today is Women's Day, a left-over Soviet-style Hallmark holiday, marked by the giving of chocolates and flowers.

I had some notes jotted down in last year's journal that I wanted to share on this holiday. I've been meditating lately on our identity in Christ and being complete in Him. One thing that struck me was how that impacts our single sisters in Christ, and the church's perception of single women.

I didnít experience ďsinglenessĒ as an adult. I met Hubby and wanted to marry him at 17. Four years of living at home, love and courtship, we were married.

The back home movement in GNAP* has, in some ways, excluded single women. I appreciate the emphasis on valuing woman as mothers and wives.

However, Iíve seen such a strong desire to rebuild the family and give honor to mothers, that those who are not married especially (but also those who are married but do not have children) are in a sort of limbo. There is talk (and action) of single women remaining with their family of origin and ministering from there. And though no one would actually say it--and in fact, would vehemently deny it--the message often communicate is that a womanís worth comes only from marriage and bearing children. That a woman is not complete without these things.

This attitude seems to go against our wholeness being found in Christ, being part of the Church as a whole, and our worth as Christís Bride.

And like the Soviet-style Women's Day holiday, it sometimes seems there is much noise but in the end, is the church really showing respect to women, if we are subtly snubbing our single and childless friends?

*Generic North American Protestantism


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Thank you for posting this. It really bugs me that whenever Christians start talking about women in the church they carry on the conversation as if all women in the church are married with children. It really does seem sometimes like women are invisable in the church unless they are wives and mothers. As a wife and mother I appreciate all of the attention, as a formerly single woman I really didn't relish the feeling of invisability.

Posted by: Samantha at March 9, 2005 01:55 AM

I have been particularly blessed by having friends who have not abandoned me after their marriages, who have married people I like, who include me in family celebrations despite my single status. But as a "singleton" now entering her fourth decade, it is easy for me to feel marooned, particularly by the church. I have to have a career to be able to support myself financially (romantic visions of being a stay-at-home mom have long vanished), and so I am doing graduate work in a city ten hours from where my parents live. I can't afford to live alone, nor do I have any single non-Christian friends who live in my area, so I rent a room in a house that I share with one girl and two guys. Too, my married friends are all beginning to have children, and so the dynamic of our relationships is changing. I'm happy, but it is an unusual position to be in, not being an officially-recognized foreign missionary, but a lone female academic. Come to think of it, most of my fellow grad students are married or in live-in relationships. I don't fit in in the secular culture, either! I do know that God has a plan for my future, and this satisfies me.

I do appreciate your interest in us Christian unwed non-mothers! I must confess I find your life with longtime husband and four children almost as unfamiliar as you say you find mine--not entirely unfamiliar, because that's the environment I grew up in, but not one I have experienced, or likely will experience, as spouse and parent. I have to remember that I am where I am because my Creator wants me there, not because I have failed to satisfy some sort of general Biblical or social requirement by omission or commission.

Posted by: Christina at March 9, 2005 04:30 AM

Interesting. This seems a lot like what I've been reading about the LDS church recently. With the family literally being the vehicle for salvation in LDS theology, single Mormons are S.O.L.

Pretty sad if GNAP (I like that!) ends up with something like the same thing.

Btw, how come you're blogging while hubby's gone dark? Of course I read you both, but gimme back my Le Sabot Post-Moderne! ;->

Posted by: Godric at March 9, 2005 05:55 AM

An intersting point to reflect on. I do feel somewhat for my single women friends. A holiday like Valentine's is supposed to be a time to celebrate love, but it is very hard for me as a married man to show love in an appropriate way to my single female friends. It was'nt really much differentwhen I was single to tell the truth--perhpas even harder as any gesture of affection could be taken the wrong way.

Fortunately Lenise has been great about showing love to our single friends, and so we can do that as a family. We have occasionally done group Valentines day events, and those have been fun. We even did that when we were dating.

I think this is not a minor issue for Christians today. We must be a family. We must make a real effort to show love to those who for whatever reason are denied it by their circumstances. Sometimes that's pretty easy, but occasionally it is hard due to some people being a bit more difficult to deal with. I suppose there's nothing to brag about for just doing what is easy though.

Posted by: Paul Baxter at March 9, 2005 03:13 PM

It's really interesting that you bring this up because it seems that I have been hearing about this more recently. I read an article in World Magazine that discussed how the women's ministries in churches often focus on developing women as good wives and mothers but not necessarily strong followers of Christ who find their complete worth in Him alone. As a single girl close to graduating from college, I have struggled with thinking that I won't be "complete" unless I eventually get married and have children. I have even feared that doing missions right out of college would keep this from ever happening. I do deeply desire a husband and family at some point, but I do not want to find my worth in or measure my relationship with Christ with this. I have the same fundamental purpose to know God and point others to Him now as I will if I get married and become a mother later on. Thanks for the post!

Posted by: Sarah at March 9, 2005 04:58 PM

Good post!

Oftentimes the church values women for their families, home schooling, do they make whole-wheat homemade bread?, etc. The world values women for their careers. Both extremes are wrong. God values women for their love for Him, a meek and quiet spirit, etc. We should value women for the same reasons God values them.

Posted by: Amy at March 9, 2005 07:43 PM

Excellent post. As a single Christian in the last half of her 30s it is a struggle at times to remember that God's plan for my life is good and perfect - whether or not that plan includes a husband and/or children. This is the one area in my life where I honestly feel I get zero support from my church - "from a church culture perspective" it seems that if I'm single I should be a 20-something and if I'm a 30-something then I should be married. Thankfully I have some other strong single Christian sisters with whom I can share my struggles and turn for support.

Thanks for raising the topic.

Posted by: Andrea at March 11, 2005 07:02 PM

You raise an important subject. I guess the question in my mind is, why must women be categorized merely by their marital status, degree of procreativity, or job skills? Must mothers associate only with mothers, and single women only with other single women, etc.?

It seems we could all be of so much help to one another, and others, if we made effort to get to know one another based on our common call as women of God.

No doubt there's a bit of snubbing in the other direction, too -- of single/childless women toward mothers, who have entered that strange new disheveled world of diapers, loud/active little bodies, jelly-smeared faces, messy houses, etc.

Not to mention the fact that now, with the GNAP movement toward having large families, a mother of only three children (like me) can start to feel that a mother's worth is found only in the number of children she's produced! (not that I have anything against the movement per se)

Thanks for a great post.

Posted by: Bonnie at March 12, 2005 04:48 AM

Thanks for bringing this topic up. I love Women's Day! It's a day where single women get appreciated a loved as well, not just mothers or lovers. It's too bad it's not celebrated in America. Perhaps GNAP can adopt it as a holiday to help rectify their shocking neglect of us single, valuable, loved-by-God-the-same-as-the-married-folks women.

Posted by: Ellen at March 14, 2005 02:55 AM

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