on being young and married in the church

A few events have happened over the past week that have had me dwelling on the topic of being a young married person in the evangelical church.

I must admit that my heart dropped just a little bit when my church’s weekly upcoming events e-mail newsletter promoted the latest Young Adults gathering as a place for “young singles”. I started questioning mine and Sean’s involvement in the young adults group. Are we overstaying our welcome in this ministry? 

This past weekend, Sean and I went on a double date with another pair of newlyweds from our young adults group. We had been planning this outing to the Eli Young Band shindig for months, though it just so happened that the young adults fall party was scheduled for the same night. I suddenly feared that our foregoing of the fall party for a double date would be perceived as.. oh hey, we’re married so we’re just going to do our own thing now. 

I hated that thought, even if I was the only one who thought it.

But I grew up in the evangelical church… my season of singleness during my adulthood was short-lived, yes, but I know all too well the thoughts, the expectations, the desires, the real and perceived purposes of these “young adult” groups. I have heard mothers of single twenty-somethings and single thirty-somethings who pity the fact that their daughter has yet to find a husband, then proceed to take it among themselves to promote the notion that their daughter needs a husband. I have been in a college ministry where the pastor had practically turned his ministry into spiritual speed dating. It seemed that getting his students married off by the time they graduated was the end to his means.

This happens. But I don’t want to be a part of this system. I don’t want to just “graduate” from the young adults group because I am now married. I am, after all, a young adult. I’m 23. Sean’s 23.

And most importantly, I don’t want my single friends to perceive that they are somehow “left behind” or that we have moved on without them.

The truth is, it bothers me that pre-constructed ideas exist within the evangelical church that lead us to believe that:

1) A singles group or a young adults group is a means to an end–that end being marriage. Marriage is not the pinnacle of Christianity, of adulthood, or of success. And it’s not guaranteed. Can we (the church) please stop acting like it is?

2) Our community should be with those whom are in similar seasons of life or similar life stages as us. I value diversity, and shoving people into groups that seemingly fit because of a role one plays or a life stage one is in is a dangerous practice in the church. How is one to grow or learn in such a limited community?

How can we help our churches broaden the scope of diversity to include various ages and life stages? How can the church better integrate the singles and the marrieds?