The Taylor community is uncomfortable with singleness, and it shouldn’t be.
It is no secret that much of an individual’s experience at Taylor is animated by pick-a-dates and ring downs. Each of these affairs operates as systems to find or celebrate one’s relationship status.
From a student’s first night at Taylor, there is a strong emphasis on finding your future spouse.
For many freshmen, their first night away from home and ‘in the real world’ is characterized by starting their spousal search. The search begins with the infamous ‘awk-walk.’
These traditions are harmless and enjoyable. But for some, these traditional systems generate anxiety. Often, this compounds a mounting pressure to find “the one” while in college.
To take a deeper look, The Echo Editorial Board conducted a survey to determine whether students feel pressure around relationships at Taylor.
The survey opened March 26th and closed April 5, 75 students — 53 female, 22 male — completed the survey. 25 of those students are currently in a relationship with someone on campus and 50 are not.
Of the 50 individuals who are not in a relationship, 41 felt pressure to be in one and nine did not.
Put into percentages, 82% of single students feel the need to find a life partner during their college years.
The results are clear — students that are not in a relationship feel they need to find a spouse during their time at Taylor.
This pressure stems from something much deeper than Taylor traditions; it is rooted in the contemporary Christian belief that being married defines an individual’s worth and success.
Within the church and its institution, this marriage ideology manifests itself in two main ways.
The first way this dogma presents itself is through believing that the only way to effectively further the kingdom of Christ is with a spouse.
While the partnership with brothers and sisters in Christ does act as the linchpin in advancing the Gospel, this does not mean this partnership is exclusive to married people.
This thinking has steep implications — that being married fundamentally defines the Christian calling. Meaning, the primary calling set out for Christians in the Great Commission (Matthew 28 — to make disciples of all nations) is dependent on relational status.
Many survey participants gave further thoughts into the relational pressure felt at Taylor.
“We have put a lot of stock and weight in relationships,” junior Kate Johnson said. “It’s turned into a part of our calling as Christians. That we further Christ’s kingdom … with a partner by their side.”
“I think that Christians can see the ultimate goal of our faith as a relationship — such as marriage,” sophomore Jordan Ladd said. “Ultimately, I'm not sure that we are teaching people to recognize that God is calling some into singleness. Additionally, even if some people do find their calling in marriage, we can push people into something they aren't ready for.”
This mentality presents a problematic theme. It implies that one is not whole without a romantic partner.
When asked where relational pressure stems from, freshman Regan Martin said, “The idea and talk that you’re not ‘whole’ in a sense, if you’re single.”
In many ways, the implementation of this principle is damaging to the overall cause of Christ.
Several students offered up a way to rectify the issue: a further focus on the theology of singleness.
“I wish that TU spent more time talking about a theology of singleness rather than how to prepare for marriage,” junior Jeanna Evans said. “Marriage is temporary (I or my spouse will one day die) but my relationship with Christ is an eternal foundation that my life needs to rest on and be defined by.”
Junior Lauryn Mekelburg furthered this by proposing a celebration of singleness.
“There is also not much celebration of singleness, not much conversation around it, and that makes it really hard for single people,” Mekelburg said.
The second way the church’s view on marriage manifests itself is through defining the amount of fulfillment singleness provides.
In many Christian circles, being single is treated as a season of loneliness that will pass. Well-known ministries have tagged the season as a waiting period Christians go through to enter their ‘happily ever after.’
For example, in spring 2016, Desiring God, a well-known Christian ministry, spoke on this ‘season of singleness’ in an article.
“The single person fears a life of loneliness without a spouse,” Katelynn Luedke, Desiring God contributor, wrote.
This sentiment promotes the idea that a single individual experiences less fulfillment in life, and will experience true fulfillment only through a spousal relationship.
Marriage may offer great fulfillment to many people, but marriage should not be treated as the only way to experience satisfaction.
Additionally, advancing the idea that being single is simply a season implies that singleness is only a waiting period until true contentment is experienced through marriage.
Singleness is not just a vestibule.
When asked why people feel pressure to find a spouse, senior Victoria Lawson said, “Singleness is treated as a waiting room in many churches instead of an equally valuable/visible status.”
The Bible is clear — some disciples are called to singleness to fulfill their calling in Christ.
In Matthew 19:10–12, Jesus clarifies this principle, telling his disciples that remaining single is a valuable way of life and can be used for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ.
Overall, students at Taylor feel unnecessary pressure to find a life partner during their college years. This pressure is propelled by the manifestations of the contemporary Christian view of marriage that has been distorted.
While iconic Taylor traditions that are focused on relationship status are not inherently bad, they do have the potential to compound the pressure students experience.
We on the Echo Editorial Board see the harm in being uncomfortable with singleness, because it perpetuates the belief that marriage is the only successful way to do ministry.