I confess upfront that this is going to be a somewhat personal post because this is topic near and dear to my heart and one in which I have experienced great heartache. But hopefully leveraging my own angst might generate some food for thought, especially among church leaders but definitely among all the people of God.
I sometimes think we have a bi-polar disorder in the church. Now I’m not making light of those who suffer from this psychiatric condition. Why do I say that? The other day, a friend sent me a sermon on 1 Corinthians 7 that was given to singles at her church. Now granted, it was part of a series so maybe some of what concerned me was covered in another sermon. But the heart of it was pretty standard stuff I’ve heard before. Paul says singleness is better because you can devote yourself to the Lord. Don’t be over-desirous of marriage because that is idolatry (note the introduction of the dichotomies we like to create so much). If you really hate singleness and really want marriage, you probably have a problem. Bottom line, be content where you are.
But in the same breath, we sound the alarm regarding the fatherless. We decry single-mother households and their detrimental impact on boys growing up without dad. Of course, the assumption is that it is that way because the moms have no use for men. Never mind that contributing factors in these situations also includes 1) the guy totally abdicate his responsibilities; 2) the guy mistreats the woman that breaches the marriage covenant; or 3) the guy dies. Yes, I hate to break it to the statistics mongers but devaluing a dad in the home is not the only reason these situations happen. We live in a very broken world, which also produces bad kids with dads in the house. Yes, lets talk about that in the same breath as how bad off fatherless boys are. Now I’m not undermining the importance of fathers, not in the least. Only that we need to be cognizant of rash generalities and the fact that many single-mother homes would rather not want it that way.
So on one hand, we tell the single mother with the fatherless boy to be content and don’t really yearn for marriage. But on the other hand, we give her every reason to believe that her household is dire straights without a dad. What is a single mother to do? Continue reading