I talk to a lot of people from a lot of different churches about singleness. And I am really encouraged at how often I find people who are eager to help single people (whether same-sex or opposite-sex attracted) to thrive and flourish as followers of Jesus.
I often find, though, that people don’t really see how they can play a part in helping single people. Sometimes people seem to think it’s only the church leaders or perhaps the more confident single people who can make a difference for singles.
But I don’t think this is true. There are lots of ways that everyone can play a part in helping single people to thrive in our churches, and the simplest of these is to invest in being a good friend. Friendship is vital to making singleness plausible, and all of us can play a part in making our churches places where friendship is practiced and valued such that everyone can experience love and family.
I was recently reminded again how important this is when I was reading Matt Fuller’s book, Be True To Yourself. In the book he talks about a conversation he had with someone after he had been speaking at a church:
‘I spoke to an individual who had been sleeping with someone of the same sex. During the relationship they had wondered about giving up on Jesus altogether. It had clearly been an emotionally tumultuous few months, but eventually they had broken off the relationship and started coming to church regularly again. Their comment was, “Honestly, I was weighing up which way I was going to jump. When it came to it, I couldn’t bring myself to reject the promises of Scripture. But emotionally, it was the friendships that I had with people at church that kept me. I realised they cared for me and meant more to me than my lover did.”
'That’s a healthy church—where someone who has chosen to live a celibate life can testify that they have found deep, committed, nurturing relationships. It’s the kind of church culture that needs the whole church family to commit to self-giving rather than self-gratification in every kind of relationship.’1
Friendships can play a powerful part in making singleness possible for followers of Jesus. And that means all of us can play a part in helping single people to thrive and flourish. What would it look like for you to become a better friend?
- Matt Fuller, Be True To Yourself: Why It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does (and How That Can Make You Happy) (The Good Book Company, 2020), pp.116-117.