I specifically picked the group that listed “No Childcare Provided” because I didn’t want to get stuck with a bunch of happy, young newlyweds with perfect little children. So I was pleased when I walked into the living room of my new bible study leader’s home and saw a lot of diversity – couples in their 60s, young girls fresh out of college, and multiple ethnicities. I was less pleased when we sat in a circle and all introduced ourselves, and I counted 31 people in the room – 15 wives, 15 husbands, and me.
I half-jokingly asked if I was forbidden from the group without a spouse. I knew the answer, of course. This bible study wasn’t advertised as one focused on marriage; everyone was welcome. But I probably would have felt a lot more welcome if there were less well-intentioned people who were horribly oblivious to their own insensitivity.
Over lasagna, I was asked, “Are you married?” Then, “Well, you at least have a boyfriend, don’t you?” And then, “How old are you?” And finally, “Do you live alone? How is that working for you? Do you get lonely?” At one point, I got so fed up that I told a girl stoically, “Oh, I was actually engaged in March, but he got cold feet. And that was my second broken engagement.” That shut her up real fast.
When the leader of the group reviewed the five objectives for the semester, one was about challenging the men to be more loving husbands; one was holding the women accountable to being respectful wives, and another was about building strong marriages. But, to be clear, this group is not exclusively for married couples. In fact, they’re trying to recruit more single people. Right.
For the big finale of our first session together, a photo booth had been set up in the backyard, along with funny hats, glasses, wigs, etc. Rather than taking a creepy Katy Perry-esque photo by myself, I opted to sneak out while all the married couples had a blast taking silly pictures together. Unfortunately, the photographer caught me. “Hey, I didn’t get a photo of you yet!”
“That’s because I don’t have anyone to take a photo with,” I explained as I kept walking toward the door.
“Well you could take one alone!” he called after me, waving a pair of oversized sunglasses.
He probably should have put on those sunglasses to protect his eyes from the look I shot him as I closed the door behind me.