Single and loving it

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Being single throughout adulthood is more and more common and less stigmatized but many people–as well as workplaces and the church–don’t get that it is possible to be single and never want to get married or have children.


Boston magazine writes about those who are “Single by Choice:”

In the past decade, increased public support for gay marriage and a growing acceptance of domestic partnerships has helped to redefine what it means to be a couple — and a family — in this country. But what do we make of a person who remains single by choice? Our politically correct culture keeps us from voicing our judgments about people based on skin color, ethnicity, gender, or orientation. Yet we’re quite comfortable telling people that they’ll be better off when they’ve found someone to share their life with. That’s in part because we’re constantly being told that happiness and success come through our partnerships.

But what happens to that logic when more of us than ever before are going it alone?

The 2010 U.S. Census found that nearly half of all American adults — 100 million — are now single, the highest rate in recent history, and 61 percent of them have never married. Here in Boston, 59 percent of men and 55 percent of women have never walked down the aisle, which has us out-singling New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. And while those stats reflect both our sizable student population and our professional aspirations — our median marrying age, hovering around 30, is among the highest in the nation — it’s also a reflection of national trends. In 1960, 15 percent of American adults had never been married. By 2010, that had nearly doubled to 28 percent. The census also found that for the first time since it started counting, married couples now make up less than half of American households. In all, 31 million Americans live alone. And in Massachusetts, 41 percent of singles rent apartments by themselves, while a quarter put down welcome mats in front of homes they own.

Boston.com reports on a study that tells us that many single adults would rather spend time, including the holidays, with their friends instead of their families.

According to a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, more people have supplanted their biological families with homemade families made up of friends and neighbors whom they hold dear

More than 40 percent of unmarried US residents under age 60 said they are more than happy to spend the holidays away from biological family and with friends, according to a recent study authored by Jamila Bookwala, a psychology professor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.

Although the high cost of airfares and gasoline may play a role for some people who spend the holidays away from their relatives, many more are kept away by a desire to avoid conflict, Bookwala says.

PeaceBang writes in the blog “Beauty Tips for Ministers:”

This came in the comments this morning as a response to a pastor who referred to the “Lonely Hearts Crowd” being one she thought might come for Christmas morning services:

Somewhat off topic, but I’m a bit bothered by the term “Lonely Hearts Crowd.” It feels a bit shaming, especially within a group of people who wouldn’t criticize on the basis of sexual orientation, weight, physical limitations, income, or any of those other distinctions by which the world seeks to categorize. My hope is always that church is a place where I’m accepted as being in relationship with my Creator and my community, even if my romantic life is marked by failures and disappointments. Do I really need further labeling by those who call themselves my pastors?

I could not agree with you more. It felt like a mockery to me, and uncharacteristically insensitive for a woman I know to be a wonderful minister. The Boston Globe just had an article featuring singles who choose to spend the holidays with their chosen family rather than their blood kin. Mighty Christian, that concept, eh? Loving those outside your “tribe?” I know that for myself, trying to endure a Christmas with my family of origin was always a “Lonely Hearts” experience while being alone never felt that way – just peaceful, tranquil and joyful. Seeing friends that day is just icing on Baby Jesus’ birthday cake.

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James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk
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James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

"‘Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can." -Matthew 19:11b-12, New Revised Standard Version

Respectfully,

James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

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