|WIDOWED - ARE THEY SINGLES?|
Most churches today define singles as those who have never been married, or those who have been divorced or widowed. Although the categorization is correct and all of these individuals are technically single, they could not be further apart in the definition of single.
According to the Census Bureau's 2006 report, less than half of American households are made up of married couples. USA Today reports that the average age of a first marriage in the USA has been inching upward; it's now 26 for women and 27 for men. Divorce rates continue to remain around 50% in America. Statistics on how many young widowed are in America are hard to find, but it is an easy assumption that the number is far less than singles who have never married or those who are divorced.
Responding to increasing demands for programs, churches typically combine all individuals considered single into one group. Depending on the church's perspective of success, the results are either highly successful or devastating. If the church is basing success on numbers, likely their reviews of the program will be met with enthusiasm. On the other hand if the church bases its success on spiritual growth and high moral standards, too frequently they will be disturbed by the results. All too often the individuals hurt the most through singles ministries are those who have been widowed. Having built their life on faithfulness to their spouse in marriage, the individuals that surround them in the singles ministry have either never married, or are divorced.
The widowed are clearly a minority, not only feeling alone, but devastated by the insinuation that remaining faithful to their marriage is not valued. One must question if singles classes reflect 1 Timothy 5:3 "Honor widows who are widows indeed." Very few widows/widowers feel single. When the Biblical model of marriage is followed transforming two individuals into one, upon death widows/widowers do not automatically revert to a singles thought process. Widows/widowers continue to function as married people, but feel as if one half of themselves is missing. Many describe the feeling as trying to function with one arm and one leg and one half of their brain. Expectations for them to grieve, grow, and find a place of new normalcy in a group of singles who have never married or have chosen to divorce their spouse, are unrealistic and not supported in Scripture.
Churches are given golden opportunities to live out Biblical principles through honoring widows/widowers. Consider what role your church can have in the life of the widows/widowers God brings to you.