The Shifting Ground of ‘Church Values’

In response to Graham’s post, I think there’s a lot to be gained from remembering that the Church has never had a perfect/functional view of marriage/singleness/sex, but that we go through phases of different types of dysfunction. A quick read of the Church fathers and you find yourself embroiled in debates as to whether men and women should be able to leave their marriages in order to join monastic orders; singleness (or, more specifically, virginity) being considered a ‘higher’ calling than married life. Or, to look at the tradition of Roman Catholic priests, as a minister, your call is marriage to the Church, which is a sacrament in itself – the direct opposite of the ‘favour’ shown to married ministers in protestant churches.

As to representing the ‘single’ view, as a very young single woman (though currently in a relationship) my early twenties have been plagued by the ‘dating pool’ view of church, and a constant anxiety about whether my attempts at friendship are being read as having ulterior motives. More generally, I do get the feeling that single people are relegated to a kind of ‘second class citizen’ status, once they are over ‘marriageable’ age – an age which is much harsher for women than men.