Getting married is a life-defining moment. Depending on the spouse chosen, our life can be what one author called a "delight or disaster." And for a woman in ministry, marrying the right person is increasingly important — because her husband has the authority to cover or suffocate her ministry. The question is, however: How does a single woman in ministry position herself to be married to Mr. Right? Like Ruth, should she "lie at Boaz's feet?" Or, like most contemporary women, should she go on a date?
This question has been met with controversy. Some argue that dating is a secular practice, and Christians (especially those in ministry) should "be in the world, but not conformed to it." Yet others proclaim that "dating" in itself is perfectly fine. Well, that is, as long as the dating process is above reproach.
CALLED Magazine spoke with Reverend Darla Winn (Senior Pastor of Solid Front for Christ in Plainwell, Michigan, and author of Living Single and Holy) to gain insight into the needs of single women in ministry, and to explore suitable approaches to dating. As an unmarried woman with more than 30 years of ministerial experience, she does more than write about these issues — she lives them.
"I believe that dating is an appropriate option for women in ministry," Darla says. "But that doesn't mean it will be easy. People in ministry will face false accusations and the suspicions of [legalistic] critics. So it's important to date wisely. Essentially, dating is about getting to know someone who is a candidate for marriage. It should not be done casually or just for 'fun.' If a woman in ministry is seen dating several different candidates, her credibility could be at stake. If she loses her credibility, she could lose her ministerial platform," Darla warns.
Pastor Darla understands the loneliness that a single woman in ministry endures. "There are lonely days," she shares. "The biggest challenge is not having a husband to share the ministerial load. And then, there is the natural desire to have companionship. But it's important to understand that desiring a husband is not a weakness. It's natural," Darla reflects.