The author of this article, Deborah Cooper, bills herself as a "dating expert and advice columnist". We think some of our readers may disagree with some of these points, but it's worth discussion.
The Black Church: How Black Churches Keep African American Women Single and Lonely
Black women have an inordinate amount of faith in both Black men and Black churches. My position is that such blind and unwavering faith in either is misplaced. It is my belief that the Black church, structured around traditional gender roles which makes women submissive to and inferior to men, greatly limits females. Single Black women sitting in church every Sunday are being subtly brainwashed, soothed and placated into waiting without demand for what they want to magically come to them. Who is doing this to Black women? The male standing at the front of the Church in the role of spiritual leader, that’s who!
This is the true reason that there are so many single, never married Black women in the United States – Black churches. Black women should abandon Black churches and focus more on themselves, their needs and those of their children than those of Black men or a religion which Black men use to castigate and control an entire race of women.
Single Black Females in Church
Black females have long been considered the backbone of the Black community and the cornerstone of their families and churches. But what is the real price Black women have paid to wear this crown of fool’s gold?
An examination of any congregation of the average Black church shows that single Black females fill the pews. Results of a recent study “African Americans and Religion” by the PEW Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life found that “African Americans are markedly more religious on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole.”
Almost 90% of Black Americans express “absolutely certain belief in God” compared to just over 70% of the total U.S. population. Two other important statistics gleaned from this survey: (1) 80% of Black Americans report that religion is “very important” in their lives as compared to 57% of the general U.S. population; and (2) 55% of Black Americans report that they “interpret scripture literally” as compared to 32% of the general U.S. population.
The PEW study also reported that “Men are significantly more likely than women to claim no religious affiliation. Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13% of women.”
The survey shows a distinct correlation between religion and social attitudes amongst African Americans. “African Americans who are more religiously observant (as defined by frequency of worship service attendance and the importance of religion in their lives), are more likely to oppose abortion and homosexuality, and more likely to report higher levels of conservative ideology.”
What Do The PEW Study Results Mean For Single Black Women?
They mean that:
Going to church makes you a sheep, blindly following the mandates of a small group of men you have placed in your life in a position of power. Going to church makes you malleable and predictable, and narrows your thinking and thus limits your options.
Going to church for single Black women is a waste of time.
There ARE Single Men in Church, However…
Women don’t seem to understand that the very principles of manhood require that a man stand on his own two feet, and that he meet life’s challenges without asking for help from anyone. This means that no man of strength and purpose is going to go to church and have some other man judge him, tell him that he is wrong or bad, or tell him what to do. Therefore, you can bet if a young, handsome, strapping man is in church every Sunday, there is something wrong with him.
Some women will argue that there are lots of “nice” single men in church and that I am being harsh. Okay, I’ve been to dozens of churches around the country and looked hard at those guys. Without a doubt I can tell you flatly that the vast majority (I’m saying 98%) of them fit into one of four categories
But with so few Black men attending church, and those that are in church being largely unsuitable as marital partners, what is it that single Black women are looking for in church?
Why do Black women run to church in droves and willingly put themselves in the position to be dictated to, harshly judged and instructed like a child on how to live their lives by some man that is not their father and to whom they are not married?
Black women are socialized to be submissive to men, and are thoroughly trained to do so with Biblical scriptures. How can passivity be justified when in reality, women are the source of the power fueling every Black church in the nation? Female members of the congregation support the church with monetary donations, organize fundraising and social events, cook, clean, and provide assistance to the males with the titles and true power. Though women lead committees and are very influential in their churches, few Black women are in a real position of power as the spiritual leader of their churches. How many Black women Ministers, Bishops or Preachers do you know?
Single Black women are instructed to seek a church-going man, a God-fearing man, a man that places love of the Lord first in his life. If a woman is looking for a husband, odds are poor that she will find such a man in a Black church. Further complicating matters, many single women are in church for women’s group, Bible study twice per week, some special committee meetings, singles ministry, fellowshipping through the community, and attending service all day on Sunday. When exactly is it that this single Black woman would have time for a man in her life? In reality she doesn’t, which is just what the men in her church want!
And should she by some stroke of luck actually find a man that she enjoys and request that he attend services with her, she will most likely hear a resounding “No!”
There are few men that are going to allow themselves to be dictated to by some other chump – that is what WOMEN do, not real men.
In most Black churches marriage is held up as the ideal state of existence; women that remain single are deemed to have some major flaw in attitude or ability. Thus, no single woman in the church wants to remain single because women are expected to marry and to bear children. For sistahs in the church, the pressure from family and fellow church members to marry can be so intense it may motivate her to make an fear-based decision to marry someone totally inappropriate. Such choices are made out of sheer desperation to avoid being single.
Finding the Black Man That You Seek… He Ain’t Up in Church
Single Black women trying to live a sanctified lifestyle won’t be caught dead in the places where men are likely to be found. These church women refuse to go to parties, sports bars or sporting events, or clubs where there is drinking, card playing, domino throwing, shit talking and cussing – you know, the things that most men who enjoy life like to do. Instead these single Black women sit at home alone, or get together with their friends and read the Bible, then pray that God will bring them a husband.
My suggestion is that you get off your knees, stop paying so much attention to what your Pastor says and open your eyes to the world around you. There are millions of really great guys out here that would love you to the depths of your soul and stand by you. There are many single men that will happily honor your spirit and desire to leave your mark on the world. However, he may not EVER set foot in a church, read the Bible or even pray; and he certainly may not be Black.
Do those things make him a bad person, unworthy of your attention or love? I don’t think so.
A church itself is nothing but a building; what makes a church a place of spiritual growth is the people that come into the building. If you are a single Black woman attending a traditional Black church, you will be surrounded by sexually frustrated single women who feel guilty and confused about their physical desires and emotional hungers. You will be told that it is your responsibility to uplift the Black man and be a “helpmeet” to him. You will be told that your sexuality and sensuality must be contained or you lose value as a woman. You will also be told that it is your job to make Black men the men they need to be.
That is a lot of responsibility to place on Black women who are already carrying a huge load. I believe it is improper for church leaders to use the Bible to place that responsibility on women. I advocate that Black women refuse to accept the blame for the problems of the Black community, and refuse to shoulder responsibility for repairing the damage all alone.
Though your neighborhood Black church may hold sentimental value, there comes a time when one must reexamine habits and beliefs, choosing a new path when it becomes obvious that the old one is not bringing you the results you seek. If you’ve been participating in your church for 10, 12, 18 years looking for love and a husband to make your life complete, and you haven’t found him yet, it’s time to try something new. Though the intent of your church leaders may have been good, their approach is not working… you’re still single, still alone, still have no spouse and are still on your knees praying for love.
Stand up Sistah! There is a huge world out here full of men of many different religious and spiritual beliefs, races, cultures and ages. Traditional thinking about women, men and gender roles which place Black women in a small box is passé – this is 2010! Break free of the chains of mental control promoted by the Black church and look around! Broaden your horizons and explore other options for romance.
Black churches certainly have a vested interest in maintaining high numbers of single Black women as members of their congregations, but you don’t have to be a part of those statistics.
©2010 Deborrah Cooper, dating expert and advice columnist on http://www.survivingdating.com.