For a long while I couldn’t watch Mad Men. It was just too depressing. (Fodder for a different blog post.)
But we started watching Season 5, and the story arcs involving Peggy (the feisty – if dowdy – career woman who has never married) and Joan (the sultry secretary who married for security, then became a de facto single mom) are nothing less than brilliant.
And then along comes Tracy McMillan who has written a book for single women: Why You Are Still Not Married. (ouch) Maybe one answer is: I don’t want to be married.
I write this as a married woman (25 years this August) even though – at the age of 30 – I was pretty sure I would never marry. I was a happy single person and had unknowingly tapped my inner Peggy Olson in terms of doing what I wanted to do without a husband. At 27, I was ordained and serving a congregation – twice engaged but never married. At 28, I was kind of dying to get married – so lonely while serving a tiny church in a rural village. At 29 I was wondering if I’d ever have a date again. At 30 I freaked out a little – especially when someone at a cousin’s wedding reception asked me why I wasn’t married yet.
“Do you have some kind of personality disorder?” she asked as my champagne glass moved perilously close to her face, before my sister gently placed her own hand on top of my champagne glass, as if to say, “Don’t bother.”
A year later, I was married. It was honestly shocking how quickly my life shifted. By my fifth wedding anniversary, there would be three children. And now, twenty five years into this, I like having someone to wake up to and share a life with. But I think it would also be fine if I’d never married. Maybe. Who can really say?
Between the 1960s and the 2010s, marriage in the 21st Century has shifted considerably. Check out Mark Regnerus’ marriage and divorce stats here. We’ve all seen this on Facebook as a response to criticism of gay marriage as a threat to traditional marriage.
Back to the pain of watching Mad Men and reading Tracy McMillan’s commentary on marriage: there is no wholeness in these people. Married or single, gay or straight, we are created to live in shalom – wholeness and peace.
Just as the Early Church was known for treating women and children in a counter-culturally compassionate way, the challenge continues in the 21st Century Church. Tracy McMillan’s article/book is unnecessary if the church successfully encourages women to be the people they were created to be.