A friend posted an article on her site entitled: “The Black Church: How Black Churches Keep African American Women Single and Lonely.” The article suggests that black women sit under spiritual teaching that “brainwashes” them into waiting for what they want to “magically come to them.” Here’s my response to that blog.
I don’t mind the black church being a whipping boy when it’s appropriate. But Deborrah Cooper’s article misses the point, if only because it’s based upon a flawed premise and does precious little to support its misguided hypothesis.
The article – beginning with its title – equates singleness with loneliness. Now, while it’s true many people who concurrently are single experience loneliness, it doesn’t automatically follow that someone is lonely simply because she is single. In fact, there’s no shortage of married folks with spouses and houses full of kids who too find themselves lonely.
Being single and by comparison being married are opposite sides of the same coin; they are two unique expressions of our personhood – whether someone expresses her oneness as an individual or whether she does so in union with someone else. Singleness is not tantamount to loneliness and the mere juxtaposition of the two terms is problematic from the outset.
By linking singleness and loneliness, Ms. Cooper accepts that being single is by design undesirable. And if the black church is to blame for a sizable segment of its population being single, then by extension the church is responsible for those people – women – being unhappy.
The truth is a great many people are single AND happy by choice. And for that, they have only themselves – not the church – to credit.
Ms. Cooper’s premise is that the black church is responsible for engendering a torrent of unhappy single ladies; it’s a shaky rationale based on a Pew Center study. (Who better to examine the church than the “Pew” Center, I guess?) The study finds that black folks are more religious than the general population. And if that’s the case – and most folks in black churches are women and most black women are single – then we should infer it must be the church’s fault these women are single – and of course unhappy.
At best, that’s simplistic, unrealistic and patently false. There are myriad reasons why so many black women are single.
Perhaps their religious teaching contributes to how they view marriage and who is marriage-worthy. And maybe that does dictate some how long a black woman remains husband-less. But other factors exist as well. Proximity to the opposite sex, status as single parents, the ratio of men to women in their locality and perhaps a half dozen other conditions can impact finding a mate.
To suggest the African American Church mostly keeps women single just fails at most rational reasoning. It just doesn’t pass the sniff test.
Now, I concede some religious teachers do a poorer job guiding single women through the dating maze than others. Emphasizing, for example, that a woman’s path to a husband is for her to remain hidden doesn’t seem altogether doctrinally sound. The notion that a woman should run off in the corner and hide just isn’t scripture’s intent. But I’m not prepared to suggest pastors who teach that have ill intentions, something the writer stops just short of intimating.
The bottom line is this: Too many women – in my view – place too much emphasis on finding a mate. That more than anything engenders unhappiness. How ironic it is to stand in church and sing “Jesus is the Center of My Joy,” then lament your life’s incompleteness without a man. That’s pitiful. That’s the cause of loneliness. THAT is nothing to teach our daughters.
In fact, scripture extols the value of singleness. Paul talks about how being single frees an individual to focus on The Lord’s affairs rather than his or her spouse’s. It’s in 1st Corinthians Chapter 7 if you don’t believe me.
My message to “All the Single Ladies” (to rip Beyonce): if you don’t like being single then you shoulda put some scripture on it, and stop believing all the hype.