So this last term, I had a class called Christian Marriage.
I enjoyed it! My professor is an excellent communicator, knew the material really well, and used real-life experiences (most of which are his own, which are mostly hilarious) as illustrations.
And because the class is called Christian Marriage, and because majority of the student population of IGSL are married, naturally, majority of the class was composed of married people. And because most of the students lived on campus with their own families, a lot of the married couples attended the class together. So they basically got to attend a two-hour weekly Marriage Seminar.
Then there are the singles. The singles, a small fraction of the population of the class. It’s like they didn’t know what to do with us, so they just dumped us into the class. But maybe I’m just being cynical.
So I sat there in class, listening to my professor talk about marriage problems and how to relate with the in-laws, trying my hardest to relate to the interesting, but unrelatable topics. Some of my single classmates had given up altogether trying to relate and simply went to class just for attendance.
And like these fellow single classmates, there are some things I wish I could tell the married people / teachers / curriculum-developers / whoever-is-in-power-and-in-charge-of-the-courses here in seminary:
- Why does it seem like everyone assumes that all the singles want to get married? Marriage is good, I get it. But singleness is also good. I don’t hear enough of THAT here.
- Why not have a Christian Singleness / Celibacy class?! It’s a brilliant idea, if I may say so. Or okay, fine, so I might concede that there are certain topics about marriage I need to learn about, for future reference in the ministry. In that case, the class should be renamed Christian Marriage and Singleness. It would be divided into two parts: the first part would be a combination of Marrieds and Singles, and in the second part, the Marrieds and Singles would have their own classes.
- This two-part class would be great, especially when it came to discussing some topics like sex and sexuality. Yeah, sexuality from a single person’s perspective – there’s an idea! It would also eliminate awkwardness from the marrieds and singles.
- Speaking of which, I wonder why the marrieds assume that we know nothing about sex? Why treat us like naïve children as if we won’t be able to handle the discussion about sex? Seriously?
WHY GO THROUGH ALL THE TROUBLE?
The other day, one of the people-in-authority here said she read my Single’s Manifesto, and she commented that we did use to have a Christian Singleness class. But then they thought, Oh they’ll all get married anyway, so let’s just scrap that class off.
I was genuinely saddened when I heard that.
Because I don’t think we hear enough of the perspective of single ministers / missionaries, if at all. Already, in many cultures, singles are deemed less qualified to minister. This seminary, this unique place of learning, could’ve been that place where this notion could be challenged and examined, or at least this could have been the place where a conversation about this could be started. Sayang.
Also, I know how the desire (take note, desire!) for marriage can be enslaving. This desire… it can possess you, control you, and rule your thoughts and motives. It creeps in slowly, subtly, until it has grabbed ahold of you. Then it starts suffocating you.
I think communicating that not being married is also fulfilling can be liberating! And it doesn’t mean eliminating all longings for marriage. I know I still dream of marriage someday.. It’s just claiming the freedom of knowing that singleness and marriage are equally good and fulfilling in their own ways.
Last but not least, it would communicate that they value the singles. I’ve heard it said once or twice that the community here wants to be sensitive to singles. Well, this is one way of putting your money where your mouth is, methinks.
All this to say: I just wish for an avenue, a safe space for authentic communication of these really relevant issues.
“Well, why don’t you start it?” some of you may say. Well, my impact won’t be as great as when it comes as a mandate from the authorities / leadership, will it?
ALL THAT BEING SAID, in no way am I saying that the people in my seminary are complete jerks to the singles. And I hope you don’t walk away cynical of the Christian community consisting of married people. We are not all insensitive. But I think, I believe, we can be more sensitive.