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.
The January cover story of Boston Magazine also features singles-by-choice, a concept that pastors need to bring to our congregations and deal with ourselves. I remember one colleague in my former district who was so desperate to get married, I wondered how she could minister to singles in her congregation when she so obviously had internalized being single as a failure and was openly miserable about being unpartnered.
And speaking from personal experience: not everyone with an active dating life is looking for “the one.” Therefore, there is no need for elaborate expressions of disappointment when a relationship ends. Coupled people need to learn to listen to the singles around them. Times have changed and so have relationship needs and expectations.