I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

05 November 2012

The Girl Effect, part 14

Tea Rose - photo by J.Stahl

According to a 2010 census survey, 447,204 women over the age of 18 are single in the United States.  The same census states "For every 100 unmarried women there are 88 unmarried men."
The  2005 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey says that there were 117 million women age 15 and over in the United States. Of this number: 63 million are married, 3.1 million are legally separated and 2.4 million have a husband who lives elsewhere.  This means that 57.5 million American women live with a husband and 59.9 million are living with no husband in the home, for various reasons. (Here are the 2011 statistics)

In The Resignation of Eve, Jim Henderson tells many stories about women in faith and how their faith walk has been represented. Denie Tackett's story really stuck out to me (especially page 204-205). Denie began a ministry to the homeless, and was discouraged. First, because she is a woman. Secondly, because she is single. Thirdly, women are meant to be married. Here's an excerpt:

"Though her church family appeared concerned about her ministry, Denie grew more comfortable in her role and continued to pass out water and sandwiches to her new friends "without homes".
Then, the woman issue began to surface. The first one to bring it up was another concerned woman who actually told Denie that she was a loose woman for going alone to minister to men and that, as a single woman, she should be involved in the church ministries and looking for a husband..."
Denie ended up leaving her church, but continued with her ministry - which now involves men and women.  You can read more of her story here, here, here and here. And her blog can be found here.

In Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women, Carolyn Custis James brought something forward that I thought worth discussing:
"Lots of women never marry and many are single moms. Are these women forced into a man's role? Are they violating their true calling as women, or are they actually fulfilling God's calling for them as ezers? Single women are caught in the awful quandry of developing skills and competencies in the secular world that can lower their marketability as prospective brides. Does the necessity of being the follower compel them to reach for the "off" switch when a marriage prospect surfaces or wedding bells ring? Or should they be valued for bringing these strengths to their marriages?"

There are seven myths that single women believe in Christianity:
  • God will give me a husband when I'm ready.
  • God views me more as a useful tool than a beloved child. 
  • When it's the right guy, I'll just know. 
  • When I get married, then my life will begin.
  • Marriage will/will not meet my deepest needs.
  • There must be something wrong with me. If I could just figure out what it is, I could fix it and guys would start showing interest.
  • The older I get, the less likely it is that I will find someone.     
More info: Seven Myths Single Women Believe by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin.

"The reality is, God does value family and marriage, but nowhere in scripture does He make it a command to marry (except to the rare few like Hosea). On the flip side, we also know from the Apostle Paul that, at least in his opinion (which, um, ain’t a bad opinion), the single life affords individuals many more opportunities to serve Christ.
Christian women are taught to idealize and admire the Proverbs 31 woman and, hey, I get it. She is pretty awesome. She is not, however, the only example of a Godly woman in the Bible." - The Single Christian Woman: Blessed or Doomed?

"Women are often mentioned in the Bible as helpers, offering support to those who labor with the ministry; they are described as helpers of the gospel. In Romans 16 Priscilla (with her husband Aquilla) is called a helper (verse 3). The church met in her house! Mary (in verse 6) is described as bestowing much labor on Paul and his band. She must have fed, cared for, and provided housing for Paul and those with him. Phoebe (verse 12) is called a servant of the church. She obviously laid herself out for the saints. These women are described as serving, sacrificing, bestowing, and helping. Women like this are a tremendous resource in the church. They were in Paul's day, and they still are. But I often think that unmarried women in particular don't realize the huge impact for good they can have in the church. They don't give themselves a good job description, and they don't think they can really be very fruitful (at least in any important manner) until they are having babies. This is simply false."
Unmarried Women in the Covenant Community,

As a married woman with children, I feel a little out of my depth here - but I know this, I was single for a time, and I hinged my entire life on being fulfilled only as married with children. I had been taught that this was the epitome of femininity, and something that every woman should strive for. That Proverbs 31 was a banner to carry overhead and no single person can fulfill the duties of a Proverbs 31 woman. No, it takes being married to do that. And not only do you need to be married, you must pop out lots and lots of babies. (That's not true.)

Guess what? G-d wants us to be happy in whatever state we find ourselves in. Whether that is single, married, or single again. We need not be pining for whatever other situation.  We are in that place, in that station for whatever reason. And G-d holds each and every one of us as the apple of his eye, his dear beloved child - and wants to help us become the best us that we can be in Him. We can only do that, if we - the clay, bend to the Potter's hand.

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” - Isaiah 64:8

However, you will find that in many churches and Messianic synagogues, that your singles ministries do not actually meet all the needs of singles/singles again, or allow them into ministry positions because of their singleness. There are SO many females within the body that are not yet old enough to be married, there are those not called to be married, there are those in temporary single states... there are so many unable to, or not called to have children. It has ALWAYS been this way in the Body. Always.

Why then, are we pushing a model of Female Faith that is only exemplified as a married, older, mother of many?

Something is not right here.  We need to push for change. Put information out there. Help our sisters out! It's a travesty when men and women are pushing down other men and women, simply because we do not have the same calling, or are not at the same life stage.

I suppose you could say that one of the ways the Girl Effect changed me, is the realization that every single stage of a woman's life, in every single situation - is a situation that G-d can work in. It is a situation that G-d can bring us through and make us flourish in, if we are given the opportunity. We need to stop putting people in molds, and let G-d mold people.


Please note: On the videos that are posted here today, they are more for a conversational point, not because I agree with everything 100%.  Think about what is being presented and if maybe, there is a way for you to minister, or be ministered to, or to expand your thinking and theology to meet the needs of others around you.  (yes, I totally noticed the last two videos about singleness turned things around to talk about marriage rather than being single and I was rather dismayed myself. There are good nuggets in there though!) Also, I'm not really keen on Focus on the Family, but their article was timely.

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