Tag Archives: single christians

We’re All More Than We First Appear

19 Nov

My blog name makes me uncomfortable. It didn’t start out that way, but in the time since Passover, when I started this blog, I’ve had various people comment on the name. I’ve had someone ask me if I’m a racist because of my blog name. I’ve had someone else tell me the “white” part seemed weird. And I find myself, more and more often, talking about SWC instead of Single White Christian.

So why Single White Christian?

I was trying to accomplish two things with my blog name. I wanted to be 1) funny and 2) honest.

Funny, because it’s like a personal ad, right? SWF seeking SWM, GWM seeking GWM, SWM seeking SWF for FWB LOL. Except, of course, it isn’t funny if I have to explain it.

Honest, because I need to acknowledge upfront that, while I feel my life has known hardship, I am still speaking from a place of privilege. I can’t pretend to speak from any other point of view than a single, white, Christian woman. I can’t speak for gay people or black people. I can’t speak for men. I can’t speak for Asians or Frenchmen or Australians, for that matter, but I thought Single White Straight Lower-Middle-Class USian Christian might be too hard to remember.

I want to open a dialogue with people of other backgrounds and worldviews. I want to ask questions and learn from people, and maybe find something I can teach others. And if I start off by using language that is off-putting to others, I’ve already put myself at a disadvantage.

After my last conversation about the name of this blog, I started thinking about renaming the blog. I talked it over with a good friend who’s been super supportive of this effort…and who finally admitted that she felt a little weird about the white part. Rather than renaming, though, she suggested a redefining.

SWC means Single White Christian, yes. But what else can SWC mean?

  • Seeking Welcoming Church
  • Saved With Christ
  • Sharing Wonderful Companions
  • Shoulda Woulda Coulda
  • Sleep/Wake Cycle
  • Single Without Children
  • Snarky While Charming?

What do you guys think? Did the name confuse you? Make you angry? Make you ask questions? Would it be better if I found something else to call this blog? (And if you say yes to that, you’d better have some clever suggestions!)

Or do I own this name? Do I inhabit this name? Do I say, “Yes, I called it this. Yes, I realize now that it makes people uncomfortable. Yes, I know better now. But no, I’m not covering up this mistake?”

Or do you think it wasn’t a mistake at all? Do you actually (gasp) like the name? Did you see the blog name and think, “Yeah, I can identify with this chick?”

Let me know!

BOOK REVIEW: A Year of Biblical Womahood

2 Nov Year Of Biblical Womanhood Cover

I know I’m not the first person to review Rachel Held Evans‘ new (and apparently controversial) book A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”. But I might be the first person to emphasize that this is a singles-friendly book.

Let me admit this right up front: my first reaction, when I see a book written for Christian women, is to turn up my nose. Oh, look, another book about how to be a great wife and mother, I think. I bet it talks about praying for your spouse or, if you aren’t married yet, your future spouse.

Year Of Biblical Womanhood Cover

Year Of Biblical Womanhood Cover

And no, Rachel doesn’t write a great deal specifically about singles, and she does write a great deal specifically about marriage. She is, after all, married. But she is clearly a married woman who is aware of the concerns of single women.

The premise of the book, for those of you who are male or have been living in a media vacuum, is this: Rachel Held Evans spent a year trying to imitate, as literally as possible, various Biblical depictions of women. A lot of people have disparaged the book as mockery of the Bible, while a lot of people at the opposite end of the spectrum have disparaged the book as old-fashioned or unnecessary. But if you’ve truly read the book, it should be obvious that for Rachel, this was a labor of love.

She didn’t set out to mock or disprove the Bible. She set out to wrestle with it. She set out to live in the tension. She set out to surrender to God’s stories.

And in the end, she didn’t come away with a blueprint or job description of a Biblical woman. She found plenty of descriptions of women in the Bible, though, and she found that the Biblical concept of womanhood is simply too complex and varied to be summed up as a to-do list.

Case in point: the chapter on the Proverbs 31 Woman. Did you know that in Jewish culture, it isn’t the women who memorize Proverbs 31? The men do! It isn’t a recipe for how to be a great woman, it’s an example of how men should praise their wives. The Hebrew phrase used in Proverbs 31, eshet chayil, is best translated as “valorous woman”, which means a lot more to me, as a single woman, than “a wife of good character”.

What really made me, as a single woman, love Rachel’s approach, however, was when I reached page 178 and saw this quote

Growing up in the Church, I must have heard a thousand times that my highest calling as a woman was to bear and bring up children. While men could honor God in varying capacities through work, family, and ministry, a woman’s spiritual aptitude was measured primarily by her ability to procreate. Even as a child I noticed that the church deaconesses hosted dozens of wedding and baby showers each year, but never a housewarming party for a single woman or a celebration dinner for a woman who passed the bar or graduated from medical school.

That passage told me two things: Rachel Held Evans understands how single people are overlooked in the church, and Rachel Held Evans doesn’t view me, as a single woman, as someone who’s worth less than a married woman with children.

I could go on and on about what a great book this is, but frankly, there are lots of people who’ve done a better job than I could–Ben Witherington, for one. I could talk more about the controversy that has grown up around the book, but Rachel Marie Stone has done a great job of discussing that.

I just want to recommend that single women not pass this book over thinking, “Oh, it won’t address single women.” I want to recommend that men not pass this book over thinking, “Oh, it won’t address men.” It does both.

And I, for one, am living for the day someone calls me eshet chayil.

Happy Birthday, You’re Single!

12 Oct

Today is my thirty-sixth birthday, and I have something I need to get off my chest.

I hate what people in the church call “the gift of singleness.” They talk about it like it’s a white elephant gift or one step below a lump of coal in your stocking. They call it a gift the same way my seventh grade health teacher tried to convince me my period was a gift. And we all know better than that!

The gift of singleness isn’t a present you open on your twenty-fifth birthday, when you realize all your college friends are married but you aren’t. It isn’t something that arrives in your Easter Basket, when you realize you don’t have anyone to share a huge, clove-studded ham and chocolate bunnies with. It isn’t something you get for Christmas, along with your annual AAA membership and airline tickets to Disney World.

The gift of singleness is sort of like the gift of patience. It’s something you know better than to ask God for. It’s a gift you want someone else to have. It’s a consolation prize.

Or at least, that’s always how it comes across when it’s discussed at church. It’s not something that’s really treated with the Paul-esque glory it truly deserves.

The gift of singleness is described in 1 Corinthians 7. Paul says, “I wish that all men were [single] as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” (v. 7-8, emphasis mine)

Did you get that? It is good to stay unmarried. Paul considers the state of singleness as a state to be preferred. It’s better than being married. In fact, in verse 28, he even has to reassure people, “If you do marry, you have not sinned.” And then there’s the part of that verse that makes me laugh: “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”

So Paul is pretty clear in stating that singleness is better than marriage. He spends an entire chapter talking about this. And yet you know how my Bible describes this chapter? “Marriage.” Excuse me while I take a minute to LOL at this piece of editorializing.

So how does one get the gift of singleness?

I’ll tell you up front that it’s not available at your local department store. You can’t order it from Amazon.com. And to be honest, I didn’t really spend years of my life praying that God would grant me this gift.

It’s something that comes on slowly, at least in my experience. You move forward in your life, worshiping God, watching friends get married and have kids, trying to find your place in the world, making friends, losing friends. Sometimes you spend a lot of time wishing to be married. Sometimes you don’t think about it unless you don’t have a plus one to attend a wedding or other formal event. You pay the bills by yourself and learn to enjoy going to the movies alone (hey, no one talks during the show that way) and probably end up buying a pet.

And somewhere along the way, you realize that you are content with your life. You are happy living with only God as your life partner. You enjoy the fact that you don’t have to share the bed with anyone. You don’t open it like a present. It opens inside you like a blossom.

You’re single. And it’s a gift.

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