Ignorance is bliss the saying goes. But some things we shouldn’t be ignorant about in the Body of Christ.
For example, singles should employ wisdom and standards when interacting with married saints at church… or anywhere for that matter.
When I was single, I instinctively followed many standards when it came to married people and also men. I’ve shared these standards with a few sistas & brothas over the years who really appreciated it. So I decided to blog on these (often unsaid and untaught) “wisdom rules.”
1. Co-worker Wisdom. If you work closely with a member of the opposite sex, particularly at church or a Christian organization, make a point to get to know his or her spouse. For example, for a decade I worked closely with males when I worked for The Cross Movement camp (an urban ministry based in Philly). I made sure I knew their wives. It made me (and I’m sure the wives too) feel more comfortable. One wife in fact, Missie, is still a close girlfriend today. I’ve witnessed other singles employ this rule with great outcomes.
2. Close Friends Wisdom. In like manner, if you have “close friends” of the opposite sex who become engaged or married, make a point to get to know the person’s mate. If not, then it’s best not to stay “close” friends with the person.
3. Close Proximity Wisdom. If you interact with a married person who is standing or sitting with his or her spouse, acknowledge the spouse. For example, if you’re in church as a single woman and say, “Hi,” to a male in leadership, hug him, and/or have a conversation with him, without greeting his wife who is at his side, that’s rude. Especially if you routinely do this. At least smile at her, say hi, shake her hand, introduce yourself… or something. Some singles might argue, “But I don’t know her.” Well, that’s the point. Get to know her.
4. Marital Privacy Wisdom. Some things aren’t for you to know. Years ago a single friend of mine was irritated that I didn’t “let on” that I was going through a rough patch in my marriage. During this difficult time I had selected three mature women of God with whom I confided and prayed with almost daily. In addition I had a core support group that included my aunt (who is an associate pastor). Using wisdom I continued to speak well of my spouse in public, something my hubby appreciates to this day.
The first time I saw this friend in a very long time at a church, she pulled me aside to aggressively ask questions about my marriage, specifically about the rough patch we had overcame over a year ago at this point. There wasn’t any, “Hi, how are you doing?” (I had recently had a baby.) She later said she was concerned about me but had seemed more concerned about confirming gossip she heard. The wisdom rule here is that married people aren’t obligated to share their marital issues. They may not even be at liberty to do so without the consent of their mate. Use discernment before approaching one-half of the couple asking these type of questions. And don’t fall prey to a thirst for gossip or a “need to know” someone’s private business.
One pastor when marrying a couple asked everyone in attendance to make a vow to never to gossip about the couple’s marriage but to instead pray for them. Nice!
5. Dress Code Wisdom. I made it a point when I worked with all men to dress extra modestly. No tight fitting clothes. And I covered everything up. It surprises me that many women do not think of these things when dressing for church or the workplace. I’ve seen it all: cleavage, the outline of crotches, jiggling butts and more. It’s okay to dress attractive. And even sexy. Just not provocative. Women also need to be aware if men standing over them can see down their dress or blouse. The wisdom rule here is to dress in a manner that is not distractful from the mission at hand, at work or church. And being well endowed isn’t an excuse (I’ve heard this excuse from a few women over the years). I’m heavy chested but wear minimizers in outfits that warrant it. And I wear tank tops underneath tops that have plunging necklines. For all women I highly recommend Spanx (to stop jiggling butts and much more). And Linda’s Bras (her site helps u find the right size bra and sells small to extremely large sizes). If you’re well endowed, be sure to watch Linda’s YouTube videos.
6. Damsel in Distress Wisdom. In general, if you’re single, use caution about asking a married person for “help” if you are not friends with both the husband and the wife. For example, if you are a single female, and you are constantly going to the same married man for help with your resume, help with your flat tire, help with installing your child’s car seat, help with selecting the right fertilizer for your garden (you get the idea) and you do not have any existing relationship with his wife, that could be a problem. You may need to examine your heart as to why you are exclusively requesting help from this married person.
7. Home Alone Wisdom. Single people shouldn’t invite a married person of the opposite sex to their home alone. As a married woman I’ve actually been invited to a single male’s home. I do realize there are exceptions to this rule but in general it’s not a good idea. For example, when I was 8 1/2-months pregnant and my husband was out of town on a trip, I was rearranging our entire home as a surprise, and I requested the help of a male friend to help move some furniture. I made sure other people knew he was at the home and why. But when he asked to spend the night and said he didn’t want to sleep on the couch, I readily took him home. I disclosed to my husband later what happened. He was pleased with how I handled the situation. (And the house looked bangin’ to boot so he couldn’t be too mad.) The Bible says to be “gentle as doves but wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16).
These wisdom rules are not a matter of insecurity for married persons. Rather, it’s a matter of decency and common courtesy. Respect. Manners. Following these wisdom rules does not guarantee you won’t experience problems interacting with married persons, but it sure helps.
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Question: So what do think of these wisdom rules? Why do you think these type of standards are innate for some and not others? Are there other standards you would add? Let’s discuss!