The true romantic and chocolate devotee loves this time of year. And since I’m a sucker for good packaging, I also love all the cutesy pink and red hearts that adorn everything this month. I am thankful that this year I have a valentine—my husband, Aaron. However, before Aaron, I used to hate this holiday. I used to love going to a bakery in Chicago to buy cookies that said, “I love me more” or “Stop calling me” instead of the usual “I love you!” sap.
Last week, a seminarian posted this video from the blog, Feministing.com. It features a rant delivered by a 19-year-old woman in Canada. She expresses her anger about how well-meaning friends and family say things like, “When you meet the right person you will be happy…”or “When you get married. . .” to women who are single.
Her issue is that in this culture, women and girls are raised with the idea that a woman’s worth is judged on whether she has a partner or spouse. She says that single men in their 40s are almost always described as making the choice to be single—yet a woman who is 40 and single or unmarried is somehow to blame for her single status. She is single because she is not valuable or attractive enough to be chosen by a partner.
Her point is valid and I believe this attitude also can exist in our churches. If single people do show up to your congregation, how can they participate? Are there only activities and ministries available for married or retired women or for families and parents?
Kelly Faulstich, a single pastor, writes in this month’s issue of Café on the topic of celebrating as a single person especially around Valentine’s Day: “When we recognize that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace, we are complete. Considering the lilies of the field or birds of the air, we might remember the Jesus reminds us that we are loved and valued by God (Matthew 6, Luke 12). Waiting to hear someone proclaim that I ‘complete him or her’ might be a craving we have—and it might not be. I am no less of a person, or somehow incomplete, if I live by myself and file a single-income tax return.”
I will try to remember these ideas in the future. If you are not currently in a romantic relationship, how would you like people who are in relationships to welcome you?
Elizabeth McBride loves Valentine’s Day for the chocolate, but not for the sappy commercial sentiment it has come to symbolize. She’s the editor of Café.