Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I had an interesting encounter with a student yesterday, who seems to think that all single people are by definition selfish. She implied that there is nothing that she (as a married woman) can learn from single people in her church.

I started to wonder how deep that stereotype really is. Do most people think that single people are selfish and promiscuous? Our society has been harmed by sitcoms that glorify single life as one endless stream of meaningless sexual encounters. So where does that leave all of us who are faithfully single and celibate? For many that is a temporary state, but many others today have embraced it as relatively permanent and a meaningful way to live in the world.

It's no wonder that the church has been slow to recognize the needs of single people in their parishes. Especially if the stereotype is incompatible with Christian moral values.

So what can a married woman learn from the single people around her? She can witness the time and talent that person can contribute to society because she does not have children and household to take care of. She can take advantage of the services that a single person might be able to offer the parish that others cannot--babysitting, or leading bible studies, or serving donuts and coffee after mass.

On the other side, I think that being single in the church reminds me that there are lonely people who have needs that are not met. It also shows me the value of family life--something that I miss greatly, as I live far from my own family.

I wish that the families and couples in parishes could recognize that single life for most Catholics is not about sex and freedom from responsibility: it's about living out the life Christ has called us to, to love and serve God in all things! That is a heavy responsibility.

1 comment:

Maude said...

Thanks for your post and insights!

My [single person's] perspective on the topic:

Married people choose to take responsibility for their family and married life, or choose not to do so (possibily making selfish or irresponsible choices). Similarly, single people choose to take responsibility and live up to the opportunities which arise in their life, or choose not to do so (again, possibly choosing the selfish or irresponsible path).

The choices and responsibilities (and the consequences of ignoring them) are different, but the choice of living up to one's call and responsibility is similar for both lifestyles.