I'm writing a book about this. The modern evangelical church is the deadliest thing to happen to singles for a long, long time. It is almost useless as a way to help singles find their mates, except for a few churches that have viable singles ministries, but even those have issues. The issue is much, much bigger than "adult singles ministry", or singles being 'selfish' about finding a mate. The 'selfish' accusation by pastors and others is an arrogant and insensitive response to a need that is legitimate and deeply felt by modern singles, especially women, as I understand it. The issue is so big that most churches and singles don't even know how to approach it. I don't want to criticize churches too much, but they are doing enormous damage to the modern family by ignoring singles. And they DO ignore singles, in a big, big way.
I'll tell you why I began looking into this. I spent over twenty years going to singles groups, and I noticed a recurring phenomenon. Singles groups would always start with a bang. Everyone was involved, there were lots of well-attended activities, and there was an energy and excitement that permeated the group. Loads of people would show up. You could have seventy or more people when the group started, and that would last a few weeks, maybe a few months, even a few years, but eventually it would begin to dwindle. As the months and years passed, attendance would drop down to twenty or so, then seven to twelve would show up. At this point, there is a core group running things and making it work. These are the committed people who know how to make things happen and make the sacrifice to get things done. A few couples would get married and leave the group, and eventually the group would be nothing more than a Bible Study attended by singles. Not very exciting. Eventually, the core group burns out and the group dies. Or everyone gets married off and there's no one left.
At the same time, if someone held a dating seminar or a 'Finding The Love Of Your Life' conference, thousands of singles would show up every time. These seminars are always well-attended, and there is always an energy and excitement that permeates the room. What is happening here that isn't happening in the singles group? Well, it did happen in the singles group when it started, but it got lost somehow. The singles group ended up being an empty shell of how it began.
This is what happens. Singles are looking for a mate. Duh. For those of you who insist that looking for a mate is not a proper function of churches or singles groups, you are wrong. Dead wrong. You can't stop it from happening anyway. Singles are looking for a mate, and they are drawn to groups that promise to satisfy that need like moths are drawn to light bulbs. It is not a matter of being 'selfish'. The idea that looking for a mate is selfish was spawned in Hell. God's design is for everyone to be married. Singles are simply trying to get married like God wants them to be. We are designed to be married. Fulfilling God's design is God's will for everyone. When singles groups begin, they promise to provide a possible mate for everyone who shows up. When the singles who attend that group begin to realize that they won't find a mate in that group, they begin to leave. When most of them leave, the only people left are those who have given up on finding a mate and still want to hang out with other singles in hopes that maybe, someday, a mate will come along, or they just want to hang out with their friends.
So what we realize from this is that singles are looking for a mate, and they go where they think they can find one. This is not rocket science. With modern society encouraging singleness of all kinds, including cohabitation without marriage, every kind of gay you can think of, and encouraging women to essentially be men, the family is dying on the vine. Children are a burden, not a joy, and financial and personal success are the holy grail of modern life. What we're not being told is that, if we stop having children in proper families, society will die off. If we achieve negative population growth, we will soon be no more. God's original command to mankind was to multiply and replenish the earth. Singles are simply attempting to obey that divine directive, whether they know it or not. It is built into our genes. It is part of our structure.
When I suggest to a pastor or singles minister that they do something to help singles find a mate, they act like I dropped a rattlesnake in their lap. There is an aversion to doing anything along these lines in churches. Many churches have singles groups, and those that are successful have considerable potential for finding a mate. When that potential diminishes or disappears, the group dies. It is a very simple equation: potential for mating = successful singles group.
It is possible for these groups to thrive in a church, but it is not the church's intention to help singles find a mate. Only if it is accidentally true that there is mating potential will the group thrive. If the modern church is going to turn around the decline of the family, it must help singles find godly mates. Marriage is far too important to leave it to singles. Singles do not know how to find a mate. They find them, but how many of those marriages end up broken?
In the ancient world, arranged marriages were the norm. There were two families involved in negotiations to put their children together in a marriage that would last and would produce children. The community was also frequently involved. That puts a lot of intelligence into the marriage, and there have been civilizations where divorce was unheard of using this method of finding a mate. It is time for the modern church to pull its head out of the sand and start providing this function for singles. I will deal with this at length in my book.
Content copyright 2018. Ken Sauter. All rights reserved.