To be a Christian single adult who is a Black American is a three-fold identity. You are Black, you are seeking to follow Christ, and you are not married. For some, the combination of these three descriptions is a smooth addition of pleasant realities. For others it can be a rough juxtaposition. What different people make of it depends on how they see themselves, their race, their faith, and their single status.
As leaders of ministries to Black single adults, we need to recognize and hold up the rewards and possibilities of being Black, single, and Christian. Black Americans have always been a resourceful people. Turning chitterlings into a delicacy was no small feat. Personal joy and satisfaction can be part of the Black single Christian life, especially when singles understand that singlehood is not a curse, and that marriage does not guarantee happiness. Life for singles can assume a positive tilt when they:
- Live for God;
- Seek to know more about God;
- Seize opportunities to help others;
- Go places, rather than sit at home, waiting to be discovered;
- Spend time on self-improvement; and
- Bravely establish a faith in God that affirms their ability to make it in life, just as they are.
This is when life can be positive.
There is, however, another side to the story. Being Black, single, and Christian is not an easy path for a number of reasons. No one can deny, for example, that the Black-American experience has been one of racial oppression and discrimination for generations. Today, skyrocketing out-of-wedlock pregnancies and crippling drug abuse haunt our neighborhoods. Fear of crime imprisons neighbors inside their own homes. We are a people of multi-struggles. And, as a result, we have collective mental and emotional scars, such as self-hate, fear of success, and prejudice against one another due to light or dark skin tones.
In addition, we know that living authentically as a Christian in today’s world is difficult at best. The “if it feels good then do it” way of living is the order of the day. Life as a practicing Christian requires determination and hard work if one is to live the faith. Also, being a Christian is choosing to be different from the rest of society. This is because we live in a time when the wrong is often promoted as the right, and the right is ridiculed and relegated to the unpopular. Authentic Christians who stand up and fight for the right will risk being labeled as lame, oddballs, or weird.
Some difficulties arise, furthermore, just from the nature of being single in our society. This is because the single status has built-in problems such as vulnerability, weakened support systems, and few sources of consistent positive affirmation. Being a single person within a group that is experiencing racism, genocide, and more can subconsciously produce anxiety. But everything is not hopeless.
Despite all the difficulties, the Black single adult who is Christian is the most eligible for successful living in the 1990s and beyond. As it was with our ancestors, so it is with us — our destiny as a people is tied to the church.
by Sheron C. Patterson