Friday, January 07, 2005

Singles Bible Study - Room 202

Sometimes, when I'm tired of writing about how much Washington, DC is a complete and utter crock of a town, and sick of helplessly watching the world collapse under the weight of its own injustices, I float on over to and find something absurd to laugh about.

Christians say and do such stupid, stupid things. And I love them for it, mostly because I am one myself. If you can't laugh at the things we do in the name of Christ, then you might possibly resort to murder. So please, laugh, because I'm too young to die.

Not to say that everything that comes out of CT is total crap, but rest assured you can't surf the site for 5 minutes without unearthing something that'll make you smile. And this night in particular, it came from the Christian Singles section.

First, a disclaimer. I'm a single 20-something, so go ahead and put me into a box. Supposedly I really want a woman (or man) to give me meaning in life. Supposedly I'm a key demographic to the evangelical church. Supposedly what I really need is a singles-oriented group where I can interact with other Christian singles as we learn that being single is a gift from God.

Supposedly, according to all the Ministry textbooks, I am not just single. I am a single.

Well fuck that.

During my year in Montana I had every intention of joining a local church. For a couple of months there, I actually did....until I got pigeonholed as "a single." And once you get that label, there's only one way to rid of it. Back in college, this problem didn't exist. Everyone was single -- except for those few who couldn't wait until after graduation to have sex and not feel guilty about it. But church after college is about putting you with people of the same subset: young couples, soccer moms, retired folks, divorcees, etc. I guess there's no room for integration except for that hour or two on Sunday morning. Welcome to Willow Creek America.

My problem with the Montana church? I hate singles. Don't get me wrong, single people are fine; I get along with them great. Just like I get along with married people. Most of the people I admire most are married; they're good friends and I love them to death.

But singles? They make me want to vomit blood. That's overly gross, I know, but they seriously do.

So anyway, back to Christianity Today. One young lady has a column, or at least I think it's a column, about how being single is okay as long as you're in love with God, or something along those lines. In her column, she recounts a story about how she met a Frenchman on an airplane, instantly connected with him, then hours later found out he was married. It's a sad story, but I don't need her writing like she's a evangelical Bridget Jones to recognize that. And when she says things like, "He looked French, and anyone who knows me well knows that French men pretty much have me at bonjour," I can start tasting the vomit in the back of my throat.

It's not a bad story. It's the type of story that Anne Lamott might weave into gold, effortlessly tying grace and neurosis and anti-Bushisms while leaving your feet tingling with her words. But what makes the Frenchmen story hard to swallow is when CT girl has to end an a "point."

A few lessons about our "chance" meeting became clear with hindsight. As much as some sexual temptation is visible a mile away—you're in a serious dating relationship, you're walking into a steamy R-rated movie—some of it's very sneaky. It wasn't until I was relaying the situation to a friend and she replied, "That guy would've had an affair with you," that I realized the full extent of what I'd walked away from. My rendezvous on the plane also reminded me that we always need to be on guard, and close enough to God to hear his whispered cautions to us.

I'm sure ending on a "point" is something they require for CT columnists, especially when writing for Christians singles. But points sometimes hide what makes storytelling worthwhile in the first place. They seem to make everything that has come before it invalid, or at least not as important. Points make stories dishonest. And they turn storytellers into tele-evangelists.

So if you're going to take anything away from this, don't. Just enjoy how much I've left unsaid, and speculate how I'm really quite bitter about being single and would dance with joy if all married people died in house fires tomorrow. But don't try to find my point. And if you do find it, just ignore it. It's not really all that important to begin with.


P.S. I'm listening to Wilco while typing this, and realizing how much better they are than anything I could ever say. I almost want to erase this whole thing and tell you to go buy Being Therethis very instant. Because it's that good. So maybe pick it up if you stumble across it. And realize that music doesn't sound this good when life = happiness and every story has a lesson. Sometimes, stories just end. And sometimes, life keeps on going when you wish it would just stop.

P.P.S. Sorry to end on a downer, but that's going to be it for a few days, while I go about a mini-vacation of sorts across the Midwest. See you in Toledo, South Bend and North Adams. Be good.

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