Being single in our society today is an extremely difficult thing. However, being a single woman in the Lord’s church can often be a hundred times harder. When I was single, I experienced being overlooked, underrated, and basically treated as a useless entity simply because I was a single woman. I moved around a lot during those years, and, unfortunately, some of the congregations I attended saw no use for their single women. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 14:33b-35 “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.” It seems that some in the church take this verse to mean that women, especially single women, have no value or purpose. That is not what Paul is saying, and it could not be further from the truth.
Paul also wrote in I Cor. 7:8 “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” Why would Paul write this if single men and women were not beneficial to the work of the church? Because they ARE useful; single women want to help with the work of the church, want to be included, and want to encourage others. We simply have to let them.
There are a plethora of things that a single woman can do to help the church, and the congregation should not overlook her simply because she is not married. She can teach Bible classes, help with VBS, clean the building, set up communion, visit, work with the Ladies’ Bible classes, cook for funerals…just to name a few.
The Scriptures give us lots of examples of women, some single and some not, doing great things for God and the church. In Joshua 2 Rahab shows her courage and conviction by helping and hiding the spies from Israel. She is also one of only two women mentioned in the “faith chapter” in Hebrews 11, being commended for the faith she showed in helping God’s people.
Then in Acts 9 we read about Tabitha being “full of good works and acts of charity” (verse 36). In chapter 16 of Acts we are told of the baptism of Lydia and her household. And of how she took Paul and his companions in as guests in her home (verses 11-15). Finally in Romans 16: 1-2 Paul personally commends Phoebe for the work that she did. What better recommendation could there be than that?
These are only a few examples of the many we are given, but they show that women, even single women, are useful and need to be included in the work of the church. Every congregation needs to take the time and make the effort to include single women in what is happening.
Not only do single women need to be included in the work of a congregation, but in the social aspects as well. People are getting married later in life than ever before. I was 33 when my husband and I married (just seven months ago), and had lived on my own for ten years before God blessed me with this wonderful man to be my spiritual leader. Some of those congregations I attended during my single years did much better than others at helping their singles (especially the single women) fit in and become a true part of the congregation.
Many of the singles’ activities I attended, unfortunately, were only designed to “set up” people rather than edify and encourage. It was as though those who planned the activities were telling us that we weren’t good enough by ourselves. The entire focus of everything that was said and done was to get us married. People in the church need to realize that not every person even wants to get married. And for some, they believe they are of more benefit to the church by remaining single.
Several years ago I was blessed to go on a mission trip to Albania. The entire trip (including travel time) took approximately a month. During that time our team got to know each other pretty well. One of the other women on my team was also single. Every year she went on as many mission trips as she could. She told me that she believed that was her talent, her contribution. She had no desire to get married because she would no longer be able to go on those trips and help spread God’s word. Although she was a single woman, she worked hard for God and for the church.
It is essential that we realize that single women do have a place in the church and can be a tremendous asset. There are so many jobs they can do, so many ways they can be an encouragement to the rest of us. We simply have to realize their potential, make them feel they are a part of the congregation, and step back to watch them flourish.
by Christie Fredman Roberts
Christie and her husband Billy worship with the Lone Grove church of Christ in Lone Grove, OK. She comes from a strong Christian family. She is proud to have two preachers and an elder to call kin. Christie enjoys reading and gardening.