Posted by: suek2001 | January 27, 2010

Faith and the culture of being married

This time of year is one of my least favorite times. I usually love being single and have no regrets about not daiting or getting married or having ever been married.

Yet as Valentines Day approaches, I feel a rotten sense in the pit of my stomach that I just don’t belong on this planet.

I was thinking of that peer pressure as I saw Gayle Haggard on the Today Show this morning being asked “Why did you stay with Ted?” after the sex scandal with him broke. I smiled as I knew the “world” didn’t get it. All those who grew up in Pentecostal churches know why she stayed.

For the record, this blog will not be about Haggard’s penchant for gay men or any judgement for his desires. This is really about why marraige is so important and  the desire to keep appearances are so devastatingly important in the Evangelical Church.

I can name one reason she stayed. Divorce, no matter liberal the church seems, is still a mark on the record on women in the church.  I can only imagine how a woman in leadership feels when the choice is presented. As that classic Clash song goes “Should I stay or should I go?”

As much as churches will say they are all about “reaching lost souls”  ,  it may be a part of the ministry but marraige and family is the utmost goal. The perfect marraige is the gold standard of God’s blessing, along with the kind of house you live in and the car you drive in.

I have seen so many women get dumped or divorce their spouses after affairs and the aura they have is one of readjustment and the stench of failure. They are no longer a part of a couple. They are part of the single crowd. Even if they have children, they are still considered single and the church as a whole has no real idea of how to relate to single mothers as the family is defined by a man and a woman married with 2.5 kids.

So, the quiet pressure builds for these women .  They have to remarry. Find any man that will have them. If they aren’t saved, get ’em saved, baptised and active in the church. Once they go through all the rituals , they can get married with the blessing of the church. Then, the women can go back to the status they once knew.

I’ve seen churches try to hang on to a Pastor that tried to resign after his wife found out about the girlfriend on the side. For some churches, it’s all about the illusion of stability and the scar of divorce. That pastor would later divorce his wife and move out of state with the girlfriend. The humiliated wife went on to remarry within a year and hasn’t set foot in their old church since.

I have no problem with people who marry or even get into relationships as  they feel God’s call to enter into a union with thier beloved. That situation is different but I think there must be some awareness to the pressure put on women to get married, stay married and be happy.

I feel none of that desire and the sooner the whole concept of the Valentine’s Day peer pressure is over the better.

I hope that those will read this won’t think of me as condemning all Pentecostal churches. I’m not. I just wish a fundamental shift would occur that would allow for the freedom to be single would be cherished as much as the freedom to be married.

I attend a church now that is heavily coupled, whether married or dating. There are a few of us single folks there. I love the fact that in the three years I have attended this church, not one person has tried to set me up with anyone nor has there ever been an event just for singles to meet and hopefully get married. 

Let’s face it, when churches have “singles ministries”,  that’s the whole point, to get them all married. Luckiliy, I’m blessed with a fellowship that understands who I am and why I choose to be single.

I hope that most Pentecostal Churches will follow this lead. If they don’t, we will see more Gayle Haggards and switching of partners in the future.

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