This evening I served as a navigator for a trip to a single’s pot luck here in Redmond that had been hosted by a couple of families. I was pleased to find plenty of conversation with young ladies from the Pacific Northwest, including the determination among us to get together at some point for lunch and chatting among ourselves. It was nice to find some acquaintances and hours of enjoyable chatting with strangers, who all had a good laugh at my story of how I ended up in Oregon in the first place given my speedy exit from Thailand. One of the young ladies expressed an interest in teaching at Legacy in Thailand, and I told her it would be wise to avoid any kind of interest in or study of politics, and that she would fall in love with the students and with the country if she went there. I find it ironic to serve as a bit of a cautious but honest recruiter, but my life is pretty full of irony.
I find it problematic and troublesome that the Church of God has tended to group people by marital status. Any kind of identity should be self-selected. For example, I consider myself an intellectual, knowing my own inclinations. Because I have chosen the identity for myself, I feel a certain bond with others who also self-select themselves as such, knowing that they will share a similar approach to life and life’s problems, along with a certain acceptable standard of intellectual discourse and evidence. However, no one self-selects an identity of a bachelor, and few people do as singles, especially since being single, especially for a long period of time, has the implication that one is preparing for eunuchhood. This is not a welcome implication for anyone.
There are a lot of issues with labeling a large group of people based on their marital status. For one, singlehood is a marginal status in a culture that values marriage and family to extremely high degrees, especially the longer someone has held that status. People who are unmarried in their 20’s and 30’s are lumped together with middle-aged divorcees and senior citizens who are widows or widowers. Since singlehood is a ghetto status, at least for middle-aged and older singles (since it is a state that is considered to be merely temporary for younger singles with at least passable job prospects and social skills), there is little social cohesion about such a marginal identity that is assigned by others and not chosen for myself. The lack of similarities apart from a status that everyone is either resigned to accept or actively seeking to get rid of leads to a lack of cohesion among that group of people.
This is what pleases me about the friendliness of the young people I met this evening, and their willingness to attend a singles event in the first place (the fact that there was good food helped). As for me, I enjoy talking with just about anyone who is able to listen and to respond thoughtfully or ask good questions, young or old, male or female, and so the wide age range was not a problem, even if I spent the vast majority of my time around other young adults. It was clear from my conversations that the young people I met were friendly and outgoing, and all considered their time as singles to be temporary, as do I, without any sense of desperation. It was a pleasant sort of environment to be in, as we are all in more or less the same kind of place, looking to get out of the ghetto. It isn’t the first time this has happened, but hopefully it’s the last. The ghetto is just not a fun place to be, and it’s not where I belong anyway.