Single churchwomen ‘cry inside’ for lack of men

20 February 2015

SARAH SUTHERLAND-ROWE

Saying it with balloons: more than 20 couples, both gay and straight, re-affirmed their marriage or civil partnership vows at a special St Valentine's Day service at All Saints', Hove, on Sunday

Saying it with balloons: more than 20 couples, both gay and straight, re-affirmed their marriage or civil partnership vows at a special St Valentine...

SINGLE Christian women may have to choose between marrying a partner who does not share their beliefs and staying single, a new survey suggests. It found that churches contained large numbers of middle-class single women, but few single men.

The research concluded that Christian women had to face up to the possibility that they would go through life without finding a partner who shared their Christian beliefs.

The survey of more than 7200 adults was carried out by YouGov. It found that half a million more women than men were regular churchgoers, and that these single women were very largely middle class.

While just eight per cent of single people in Britain regularly attend a place of worship, single women from the socio-economic group ABC1 make up the greatest proportion. More than one fifth of these single women attend at least once a year, compared with 13 per cent of single middle-class men.

In contrast, married couples are significantly more likely to attend church than those in different relationships or none. Three in five of those who regularly attend places of worship are married, although in society less than half the population are married.

Dr David Pullinger, the co-founder of singlechristians.co.uk, a new website to support single people in the Church, which co-funded the research with the charity Christian Vision for Men, said: "We've known it, anecdotally, for a long time, but this new survey proves it at last.

"Traditionally, churches have been very successful supporting marriage, but this data shows married couples are already over-represented in churches. What about single people? What about those of other marital status? Thousands of Christian women in particular must choose between marrying somebody who doesn't share their beliefs, or staying single. They deserve far greater understanding."

Dr Pullinger called on churches to work harder to understand the challenges of those experiencing a single life, and to help people form relationships: "There will be single women who cry inside for the families they never had, because they waited in vain to find a man sharing the same faith as themselves.

Advertisement

"Churches will need to do two things: first is to understand the pain of those in this situation, and help them with sensitivity and warmth to find their life story within the Christian adventure. The second is to actually do something about the absence of men. Many men say they believe in God, and are practising Christians, but don't come to church. Many men no longer come when around 25 years of age. Others who sit in churches for 15 years no longer go when children leave their household."

Another survey, released intime for St Valentine's Day by the Christian dating-service FriendsFirst, found that church leaders would encourage single people in their church to use a dating agency as the best way to find a potential spouse. The poll of 100 church leaders, representing 10,000 worshippers, also showed that relationships with a non-Christian were the main reason (45 per cent) for single Christians' ceasing to attend church.

Church Times: about us

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read twelve articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)