Churches love families. We have family nights, family worship, bring families up front and we have pictures of families on our websites and screens in churches. Churches ought to be a good place for families – a place to support families and strengthen them. In many of our churches, families are defined as the mid twentieth-century ideal: mom, dad, and two-and-a-half children.
But where does this leave people who don’t fit into this nuclear family ideal?
As a married person without children, people within the church often don’t know how to speak to me.
When I meet people and we exchange the traditional set of inquiries: where are you from? What do you do? We get the the dreaded question that I don’t like being asked: Do you have a family?
The exchange typically goes like this:
Me: Yes, I’m married.
Them: Do you have children?
Me: No, I don’t.
At this point, there is often a pause. Sometimes it is simply acknowledged, but other times a series of responses follow.
“Not the right time?”
“Just wait for a bit.”
“Someday you will.”
“Go ahead and take your time, things change after children.”
“Children are such a joy, I hope that someday you can experience that same joy.”
In many instances it becomes clear that they are slightly uncomfortable with a Christian who has been married for nearly a decade with no children, and this is amplified by the fact that I am a pastor..
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