Supporting Christian women who are single and childless
(because they don’t want to marry a non-Christian)
There are essentially half the number of men than women in the church, meaning that getting married to a Christian will not be possible for around 50% of Christian women.
If Christian women are genuinely happy to remain single, they should be honoured and supported in that. However, most Christian women would prefer to marry a Christian man and as time goes by, they find that being single and childless is a very different experience depending on whether they are in their 20s, 30s, 40s or older.
Many Church members are unaware of the church gender imbalance, and sometimes wrongly assume that there is something wrong with the many single Christian women in their congregations. This can lead to many of them feeling isolated, misunderstood and unsupported, although usually they are in their situation as a direct result of their faithfulness to God. They are not honoured by their church for their faithfulness, but instead often have to cope alone with feelings of sadness, loss and hurt.
They are supported in being proactive about meeting single Christian men
They are supported to lead fulfilling lives as a single Christian
Their church intentionally and explicitly reaches and disciples men
The Evangelical Alliance 2012 report (How’s the Family, page 14) asked about marriage and parenting support. The statement “Your church…offers good pastoral support for childless couples who would like a family” was rated lowest of all statements for ‘strongly agree and ‘agree’, and the highest of all for ‘not sure’. If the pain of unwanted childlessness is rarely recognised and effectively supported for couples, is it ever addressed at all for single people?
Married couples who are waiting for children can potentially support each other – single people do not have this sort of support. One Christian woman who was single for years, then got married, and was then unable to have children said “When I got married, at least I could try for kids, and at least I could share the agony with my husband – when I was single I couldn’t do either of those things”.
Older single people may find some aspects of resources produced for couples about waiting for children helpful, although others may not. Currently, their unique situation is almost always ignored in the church, which needs to be sensitively addressed.
How many single Christian women are in your church?
What pastoral care is in place to support them?
Is this intentional, genuine and sensitive enough so that issues around singleness and childlessness can be shared if they wish, and they can receive the type of support they find helpful?
Some women who are childless through circumstance may find aspects of the (non Christian) online community Gateway Women helpful.