“Singleness is the new barrenness,” Dana’s words were shocking, I wished I had been sitting in her living room chatting, and not on the phone while driving. She continued, “In the modern church it is better to be childless than unmarried, but in the Bible you knew when someone was barren, something epic was about to happen.” I was laughing, and she was laughing, but there was also the weight of my singleness and her motherhood hanging between us. I had gone to a friend for wise counsel, I wanted her to speak heartwarming truths- but instead she sucker punched me with hard truths.
We continued to talk and laugh as Target grew closer—I had wanted a pep talk, but what I got was so much harder to handle. Was I now part of a marginalized group within the Church? I had felt that way but thought that was me being overly sensitive (side note: I have NEVER been accused of being overly sensitive). But here was my independent, happily married, sleepy mom friend telling me what I had been feeling was not an over reach.
Is something epic going to happen with all the single women—with me? Has it been happening while the Church was not paying attention? Has the Church’s attention been so focused on attracting men, that it has overlooked one of the fastest growing segments in America, Single Women?
I have wrestled with these questions for the better part of the past decade—as the reality of my dedicated singleness has set in, and God has not moved to change it, I have had to create a path for myself within evangelical culture. As I have been navigating and negotiating this path I have met so many other travelers. Women who desire marraige and God has closed doors, women who have loved and lost, women who are committed to singleness for the sake of the Gospel, and women who love their lives yet are open to change. These women are smart, thoughtful, passionate, and theologically minded. Some are biblical feminists, and others are not. But these single women who are forging their paths are in need of the words Dana spoke over me: Something epic is about to happen.
So, to my fellow single travelers in the Church: God is raising up Godly examples of singleness within the Church, God is placing us in settings that our singleness and availability will overshadow our gender. We get to be a part of young women seeing singleness as an option, and not be tied the institutionalized standards of the “must be married” mindset. I am not saying marriage is bad, but I am saying that it can become an idol or a distraction from God’s call on a life. We can faithfully work for equality in the church, we can seek eldership and pastoral roles because God is calling and we are to respond with a, “YES.”
So, something epic is about to happen with single women. Our numbers are growing inside and outside the Church. God is giving us these moments to shape us into the women who He will use to radically transform the next generation of women in the Church. As God used Hannah to bring Samuel, so God will us to raise up prophetesses, priestesses and strong warriors for the Kingdom.