I’m not a religious person, but I understand the comfort and meaning that many people find in their religion, in their places of worship, and in their fellow congregants. That’s why I find it especially exasperating when people who are single feel neglected, rejected, or stigmatized when they want to practice their religion.
There was a time when I was hearing from single people so often on this topic that I conducted a series of interviews with experts in various religions to ask if those religions were welcoming to singles. You can find links to all of those interviews, and a few other relevant blog posts, here. (I welcome other experts who want to share their knowledge about other religions.)
I was reminded of that issue recently when I read a very heartfelt essay by Stephanie Wellen Levine, who, in her research on an Orthodox Jewish community, found that singles did not seem to be respected there. One of the first slights she described was a comment that the growing number of Jews who were staying single past the usual age of marrying constituted an “epidemic” – as if they were some sort of disease. Go ahead and read her entire article to learn about the many other ways she felt that singles were marginalized or derogated in the very place they went to feel inspired to live up to their highest values.
I am always excited when I discover another person who is truly single at heart, and I think Stephanie Wellen Levine is one such person. So what I want to share in the rest of this post are some choice quotes from her.
This first one captures beautifully some of the key qualities of many of the people who are single at heart:
“When I say marriage isn’t for me, I ask you to trust me and not assume I’m ignorant of my true nature. I know how relieved I am to arrive home after a night of socializing or a full day of working with others. I thrive on my own, making independent choices, seeing people when I want and then having space and time to reflect on it all in my quiet apartment. I don’t want to be intermeshed with anyone at nearly the level of spousehood.”
Here’s another good one:
“That one factor—whether or not you had married—determined basic status, and it just didn’t speak to me because I had no desire to land a husband and knew in my soul that I was better off without one.”
Levine wants her “core needs as a person who needs space and privacy and does not gravitate towards wifehood or motherhood” to be respected.
About those who would derogate single people, she notes:
“Yet… the person who goes around making nasty comments is hurting feelings and doing great damage to other human beings. The person who doesn’t marry because he/she can’t imagine enjoying that kind of partnership is frankly saving another soul from a lonely life of wondering why he/she is unable to inspire true love, attraction, and commitment.”
[Note: In addition to the religion collection, you can find collections of links about other singles-relevant themes here. Also, the Singlism book includes several short articles about the prejudice against single people in religion.]
Woman at cross photo available from Shutterstock