Should Christians use a church congregation SOLELY as a place to meet and marry?
In 1990, at the ripe old age of 19, I was asked to be a Deacon at my church. Being a Deacon isn’t an ordained position, but it is a very important position. I was one of 24 volunteer members of a select commitee (members who served a 6 year calling) that was responsible for deciding some of the financial and missions related aspects of the church. 12 of us (myself included) were also responsible for the weekly responsibilities of preparing for church service that Sunday. My month of Sundays, was August.
In one of these August Sundays, I remember greeting a newbie who was visiting our church. It was a young woman in her mid to late 20s, a single mother. As Deacon, I was one of the first people to greet her at the door and I showed her to a pew where she was seated. We had our service and I assisted the Pastor in greeting people when they left. This young mom lingered in the Sanctuary with her daughter, not in any hurry to leave, trying to talk to as many people as she could. This continued the following week when she visited our church a second time.
In her third visit, she spent about 5 minutes talking to me in the sanctuary and told me that she would not be returning. I asked her why, if someone had offended her or if we didn’t make her feel comfortable? She said she was in fact very comfortable at our church and she very much wanted to continue attending but she saw no real reason to do so, that she was “…wasting her time.” So I asked a follow up question as to how she could be wasting her time here? She said that there weren’t any single Christian men at our church that she was interested in seeing socially outside of church and she wanted to get married. Returning for additional Sundays would be a waste of her very sparse time.
Well…. an honest (if not cold) response.
So this leads to a much bigger question: was she (from a Christian standpoint) acting ethically? Obviously, looking for a husband (and step-father for her daughter) was her primary motivation for attending our church if only for a very short period of time, but should that be the ONLY reason (as it apparently was?)
My first fiancée (well, we were engaged to be engaged if there is such a thing) told me that before she met me (early 1990s), she used to church-hop. For those not aware of what that means: church-hopping is like bar-hopping, but going to different churches week-after-week. You do that for the social aspect of church first (the spiritual aspect second.) I am not aware if this is still a custom carried out by younger Christians today but I can see the reason for it if you are shopping for a Christian spouse. What better possible place to look than church?
But is it ethical to do so if that is your sole motivation? Do you simply rule out attending a church simply because you can’t find anyone there who you might consider an eligible suitor? What if you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as you listen to sermon? Is nothing gained (nothing to gain that makes it worth your time) if no one there will do until death you do part?
Moreover, sometimes people in church might regard the search for a spouse (in their church) as something that makes them uncomfortable. Would a protective father who wants to raise his daughters in a place that he feels very Holy and sacred take kindly to some strange visiting man attending church one week and then asking to see one of his daughters socially, just one week later? As a father of a young daughter, I can tell you that I would find that downright creepy.
I’ve been searching the Gospels lately and I haven’t found any scripture that specifically disapproves of this behavior. So the answer to this question is pretty subjective based on how one looks at a church and the members who attend it.