Singleness in the Church (good luck with that)

Part One


What is it we’re so obsessed with?
Marriage? or guilt-free sex?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my experience growing up around “church-people”. Particularly, I’ve been considering my observations regarding singleness, relationships, sex and marriage.

From a young age, I decided that I didn’t want to engage in the dating culture of high school. I didn’t want to hold anyone’s hand or kiss a boy “just for fun.” I wanted that kind of affection to mean something. And I also didn’t think I would miss any quality catches by avoiding the dating scene in high school. So, my summary of high school was one boy asking me out (via a friend), one boy playing with my hair during chemistry, and several asking if I was lesbian–because why else wouldn’t you date?!

Then college came. I re-evaluated and decided that earning my acceptance into the nursing program would be more than enough work. So I decided ahead of time–no dating for the first two years. Summary–met some genuine Christians on campus, held a few crushes, and a guy in my bible study passive aggressively said I was racist if I didn’t vote for Obama. Nice. I also led several of my own bible studies with the girls at church, sang on the worship team, created/launched an active prayer circle, and led one of my professors to Christ. Two years came and went. No one even asked me out.

Then came nursing school. I quietly determined that I would be open to a relationship if something came up. ONE guy asked me out. Wasn’t feeling it. And that was the summary of my college “love life.” Meanwhile, several of my friends are either in serious relationships, engaged, or at least pursued.

So that’s my sad-sap story of being single.

As people, our lives are shaped by our environment AND our choices. As a young teenager and adult, I can see now that I made some pretty mature decisions. However, if I’m honest–I didn’t get much in the way of affirmation for that. What I did see is that people entering relationships were quickly given a new circle of friends, a mentor that all of the sudden wanted to “speak into” their lives, and even talk of “congratulations”…for DATING.

Ultimately, young Kirsten stood firm in her decisions despite the evidence of positive reinforcement for those who dated. However, just like a pressure ulcer slowly breaks down the skin (the body’s ultimate armor against the world)…the loneliness began to eat away at young Kirsten. Church-people were often forgoing deep friendships for the sake of potential matrimonial union. The wound left behind by deep loneliness is still with me to this day.

As I’ve examined my life and confronted my wounds in this area, I’ve learned some things:

Loneliness is, at it’s root, healthy. Loneliness is an emotional response that prompts us to seek out people. Loneliness sparks a desire to be “known.” Loneliness is supposed to push us toward deep friendship.

Singleness is, biblically, healthy and even preferential. Singleness is a time to be “fully devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.” Singleness is a time to be “undivided” in our devotion to God and advancing his kingdom. Singleness is the very opposite of a disease.

Basically, I’ve started to wonder if all those scriptures saying “two are better than one” really mean just that. Two people working together are better than one. Nowhere in the context does it insinuate that the passage is oriented toward marriage ONLY. But you know what I grew up believing? That marriage was the ultimate sign of reward, favor, and success. In marriage, I would be rewarded with a companion and guilt-free sex (Whew! Just made it!).

I know this is a tough line to walk, but I’m going to keep typing until it I get it out. Marriage is a beautiful picture of God’s love for the church–definitely. I get it. However, through the lense of scripture I struggle to see where we draw the conclusion that when it comes to marriage, “the sooner the better.” The only premise I could possibly find is regarding sex. But guys, seriously, is that not the most shallow reason to hurry marriage? Ok, whoopdeedoo…if you get married young and don’t have premarital sex–you have successfully not sinned in one particular subset of sexual sin. Sin is bad, I’m not diminishing that. However, two people having sex isn’t the only way to sin. It’s not even the only way to sin sexually! You could struggle with lustful fantasizing. You could struggle with porn. You could struggle with controlling your passions. You could struggle with creating constructive boundaries. And you can do all that without getting naked. (Sorry, not sorry)

Unfortunately, I’ve observed the above struggles affect MARRIED people–even Christian married people. Conclusion: marriage does not fix anything. So for the love of GOD, can we please stop encouraging our young people to hurry up and get married?! Even when marriage is done right, the bible says it will bring much trouble!

[Aside: for all my quickly or young-married friends out there, I love you and hold zero resentment towards you. Please know that. I celebrate your union and pray that it is pure and kingdom advancing. Rep Christ’s love for his people like it’s your JOB! Cuz it is.]

So. Yeah.
Now that I’ve gotten all that out…

I believe what we say we value and what we actually value as a group of people has been made clear, to me at least. I believe we are failing to encourage eachother in the pursuit of the highest things. In my next post, I plan to explain with scripture and in detail the way we should “provoke” the youth, the singles, and everyone else in our church. Let’s get back to the main thing.


Please read part two in my next post titled, “Dear Church People.”

 

Thank you/The Return of Murph

I’ve delayed this letter for too long. So as a result, I’m going to commit the ultimate crime—almost like merging a birthday and Christmas present. I apologize for my misdeeds. I suppose I still haven’t rid myself of my procrastination. I’ll work on it. Promise.

First off, I’d like to express my deepest thanks to the support I received for my seven-month trip to Madagascar! I was genuinely blown away by the generosity I witnessed. You should have seen my stupid codfish face when I saw a batch of donations come through while I was on night shift watching over sleeping patients with newly repaired clubbed-feet and bowed-legs. God has faithfully used my sacrifice as well as your own to serve some of the most patient and persevering people I’ve ever met.

I’ve seen the desolate be filled with hope.
I’ve seen the faith-filled receive the healing they’ve prayed earnestly for.
I’ve seen the forgotten be recognized for their courage.
I’ve seen the suicidal find new hope again—in Christ, through his healing power.
I’ve seen a patient and family given the utmost dignity in an unexpected death.
I’ve heard of the care given to palliative care patients that we are not able to help with a surgery.

Not everything was easy and uplifting, but in everything God’s love was shown in a tangible way to patients and our employed local day crew.

After the ship sailed away from Madagascar in June, hope did not sail away with it. We left behind lives transformed, nurses put through schooling, surgeons mentored, biomedical technicians trained, nutritional agriculture students successfully training other locals to grow more nutritious food, country hospital operating rooms with better work environments and improved patient outcomes via implementation of the WHO surgical safety checklist, a newly refurbished operating room and Obstetric Fistula Clinic to continue bringing healing to women with 24/7 incontinence from a childbirth injury, and finally a Ponseti Clinic to continue straightening the clubbed-feet of children under 3 years old.

I could go on… My heart has been touched and I’m addicted. I love that I can use my skills to serve. I love that although lives are changed, I am privileged to realize that I am no savior. To the contrary I have been saved SO THAT I can serve. I could not continue unless I drew thirst-quenching water from the deep well of my Savior.

During my trip to Madagascar, I was interviewed and selected to be part of the Dressings Team—a group of nurses that perform all the sterile dressing changes on our burn patients who have received plastic-reconstructive surgery via skin grafts. With all that said, I’d like to announce my return to the Africa Mercy—this time while serving the people of Benin! I will once again be on the Dressings Team providing wound care in the Fall and also caring for patients on the wards after plastic surgery wraps up.

My service will extend from September 4th, 2016 to December 19th, 2016 (I state the year simply because my mother will hope I’m gone for longer haha). Once again, I have saved for my monthly crew fees and airfare—so don’t feel pressured to give. However, I’ll extend the same offer as my last trip: if you’d like to be part of the adventure and take stock in a bit of “kingdom-work” overseas, pray earnestly. And if you are compelled to do so, give cheerfully.

To give online visit: http://mercyships-us.donorpages.com/crewmates/KirstenMurphy
To give via check: Mail a check payable to Mercy Ships with my name and code #4155 in the memo. Their address is PO Box 1930, Lindale, TX 75771

Thank you again for your past and continuing support. I cannot wait to see what happens when we bring Hope and Healing to the Forgotten Poor of Benin following the 2,000 year model of Jesus. He met needs—THEN people knew who he was. Actions speak louder than words sometimes. Whether it is through Mercy Ships or not, I pray that you will GO and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. There is work to be done. Let’s not mismanage the gifts God has given us. For we owe a continual debt of love to one another.
Much love,
Kirsten Murphy