Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Whither Singles Ministries?

In my last post, I wrote:

the social space in which a non-college-educated woman (for instance) can be courted by a college-educated professional man is much smaller than it perhaps once was.

I started to add that one such social space remaining would be church singles ministries. These usually take the form of age-bracketed Sunday school classes, often specifically advertised as catering to unmarried people. I met my own wife in one such class at a large mainline church in a city Out West and have no regrets.

But I noted some time ago that this church no longer offers such classes. I did a quick check among the larger local Protestant Evangelical churches I knew about (at least one of which is famous enough that you, too, have heard of it), yet found only one that advertised a singles ministry (for 30- and 40-somethings). My RC friends have reported a similar decline in single's ministries for Roman Catholics. What's going on?

Has online dating really sucked dry the market for IRL social spaces? Perhaps all single people today believe the advantages of online dating (large pool of participants, limited personal exposure prior to date commitment) outweigh the costs (Tinder screening factors, date commitment necessary to meet and interact).

Perhaps it reflects the desires of women, or at least of those with the loudest voices. Putting single men and women together inevitably means the former will approach the latter. No doubt some women want to be approached, but it may be difficult for those women to express this against women who do not want to be approached, or for whom being approached by the wrong men or in the wrong way is an intolerable social cost. I expect their complaints would find a receptive ear among the church leaders, older men who met and married their wives in a different age, men who accpet uncritically the claim that today's low marriage rates are wholly the fault of men for their failure to meet women's expectations.

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