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By E. W. Russell, Photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Starting today, I will be posting a new weekly feature called “Single in the Sanctuary.” The recurring topic will focus on what it means to be a non-married progressive Christian in the twenty-first century.

I doubt I’m the only one who has felt a bit left out of the church based on the fact that I’m over 40 and still not married.  Even when I was in my late 20’s and early 30’s, I felt out of place because I don’t have the traditional family structure.

We look around our churches and, most of the time, only see certain demographics, namely

  • Married with children
  • Married, retired with grown children
  • Widowed

Only on occasions like the Christmas and Easter holidays or weddings, baptisms and funerals do I see my demographic: the never-married person.  I don’t see many divorced individuals, single parents, co-habitating couples, LGBT individuals and couples either.

In reality, people are getting married later.  Many marriages do not last.  Couples are choosing to live together for a while before deciding to marry.  So why don’t they feel comfortable being themselves in our sanctuaries?  Are we welcoming enough for these demographics?

Could it be that our sanctuaries become a sanctuary for those with an “ideal lifestyle” as set by the Christian right – a life which promotes purity, a nearly-desperate desire to get married and a postcard image of a husband, wife and two or three children?

Let’s start this conversation here and now.  How have churches made you feel comfortable?  How have they made you feel extremely uncomfortable based on your marital status?  And would the church you currently attend make you feel welcome if they knew you were single, cohabitating or divorced?

Is there a topic you would like to see covered in Single in the Sanctuary?  Let me know your interest below.