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From the writing of this post...

16 hours ago a question basically asking why am I still unmarried was asked. It created the tag "singleness."

14 hours ago curiousdannii added the "singleness" tag to this question about "asexuality" (in the context of having no sex drive, not the biological definition of self-conceiving).

Over the last couple of days I've been adding definitions to the tag wikis, but I'm not convinced this tag should exist. Especially since the two questions have very different uses of "singleness."

Frankly, neither question is about "singleness" or "the state of being single." The first is about a person who wants to be married being unmarried, the second is about the biological lack of sexual desire.

  1. Should this tag exist? Can we imagine a practical and useful number of questions being tagged with it?

  2. If it should exist, what definition should we give it? There already is a "celibacy" tag, but neither question is about celibacy.

While I can imagine why the OP of the first question and curiousdannii for the second used the "singleness" tag, my personal opinion is that the tag is awkward and even with a clear definition might be used in all kinds of nonsensical ways. I'm inclined to recommend burning the tag, but seek community input.

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First, singleness is definitely a prominent category in Christian thinking and pastoral care. For example, see this search for "singleness" in the Koorong book store, compared to those for celibate/celibacy. While not all of the results for singleness are about this topic, there is still a much greater number of them: 2516 compared to 20/19. It's also a common topic for Evangelical sites such as: Relevant magazine, The Gospel Coalition (4119 results!), Desiring God. We may not have many questions tagged here yet, but that just means there are many still to be asked!

Second, I would not want it to be reduced to the sex-emphasising concept of celibacy. As Wikipedia says, "In its narrow sense, the term celibacy is applied only to those for whom the unmarried state is the result of a sacred vow, act of renunciation, or religious conviction." Singleness is used to talk about the temptation and longing many Christians have for a romantic relationship, and their pain at not being in one, while sex may hardly be a temptation, longing, or pain for some of them at all.

While it may be technically true to equate the two, I think that in less formal settings they remain distinct, and are often thought of differently in pastoral contexts. "Celibate" will for many people denote those who have taken vows (such as Catholic priests), or who are abstaining from sex and relationships for religious reasons (such as the same sex attracted Christians who believe acting on their attractions is sinful.) Celibate (or abstinent) may be the more appropriate term for dating Christians who don't accept pre-marital sex, but I think more Christians would use the term "singleness" to refer to those who aren't dating but want a partner (and who don't engage in casual sex.)

And for a weird case, there are even denominations that have married but celibate priests.

Should we have both tags? Maybe. I'm not sure.


Related: I do think that the tag should be broken up. It's tag wiki says "This tag refers to both sexual intercourse and gender identity and expression." One tag for gender identity, gender expression, sexual identity, and sexual acts is really grouping too many distinct things together.

  • How prominent is the "singleness" tag in Christianity? The word is meaningless in the small LDS sphere. How prominent is it in the Catholic sphere? the Protestant sphere? I do agree that "celibate" represents a different discussion, the "choice to be single" vs. the "fact of being single." – JBH Jun 30 '18 at 14:35
  • @JBH I'd say it's a very common topic in Evangelical Protestantism. Here are some popular sites with many articles on singleness: Relevant magazine, The Gospel Coalition (4119 results!), Desiring God. – curiousdannii Jun 30 '18 at 14:40
  • That's what I was afraid of, very well known in one group but not well known amongst all. I completely agree that we could use a tag (or tags) that reflect "the fact of being single" or "the consequence of being unmarried." But the word "singleness" isn't well enough recognized by Christianity (as defined by this site) for it to be understood without reading the Wiki, which almost no one does. Peter's "single-men" and "single-women" proposal would be more universally understood by context. – JBH Jun 30 '18 at 14:44
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    @JBH It's not an inherently confusing term, so I don't see the problem with it, and it probably is still used by other groups, I'm just not as familiar with everyone else's language. But Peter's proposal is much more problematic IMO, I think most Protestants would be very confused as to why the topic was split up. – curiousdannii Jun 30 '18 at 14:45
  • Isn't the confusion I'm worried about reflected by the two questions linked above? One a discussion about "why am I unmarried" and the other about "what does the church think about people with no sex drive?" Those appear to be unrelated discussions, but they both have the tag. Should they? – JBH Jun 30 '18 at 14:50
  • @JBH Well I tagged them both, so I see them being somewhat related. To be honest, the main reason I tagged the asexuality question was to make sure the tag wouldn't be removed by giving it two questions. The question is not a good one and should be closed. Only some asexual people are aromantic and many asexual people would be in committed relationships or married, so the tag is not a perfect fit. But I don't regret tagging it, it's close enough because many asexual people are single and may struggle with that. – curiousdannii Jun 30 '18 at 14:55
  • I tagged another legitimate question (though it is closed). – curiousdannii Jun 30 '18 at 14:59
  • Thanks for bringing that here. In fact, a list of existing questions that would be legitimately tagged by a singlenessy tag would help the discussion. I'll start poking around, too. Feel free to edit my post to list them there if that helps. – JBH Jun 30 '18 at 15:01
  • I tagged another, so we're up to 4, though perhaps that should only be 3 if we don't think the asexuality question should have the tag. That's not many questions yet, but I think it's definitely a legitimate subject matter. If need be, I could even ask a few. The fact that you said the word is meaningless in the LDS sphere suggests a question, while Peter's statement that it's wholly different for men and women suggests another. And you may have questions for Protestants! – curiousdannii Jun 30 '18 at 15:10
  • "Meaningless" in this context means "we don't use that word for this purpose." The word that would make the most sense to Mormons is "Singles." From my own perspective and experience with this site, "single-men" and "single-women" make a lot of sense as the two have enough different issues that it's a useful distinction. I'm not in favor, where possible, of having denomination-specific tags. Worst of all, I have a strong language background. "Singleness" is (from that perspective) a weird word. – JBH Jun 30 '18 at 18:03
  • If "singleness" is strange to some (I don't see it as problematic), maybe "single-life" or "unmarried" would be better? Then use "singleness" as a synonym. – Nathaniel is protesting Jun 30 '18 at 21:43
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I don't think singleness is a very good tag,

taking as an example how my local library categorizes a good book on the subject Dawn Eden's "Thrill of the Chaste"

Single women -- Religious life | Single women -- Conduct of life | Single women -- Sexual behavior | Christian women -- Conduct of life | Chastity | Sexual abstinence -- Religious aspects -- Christianity

https://www.linkcat.info/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=1340727

I think one of those would be applicable. "Single Men" or "Single Women", not singleness. The single life is wholly different for men and women and doesn't make sense to group together in singleness.

  • "The single life is wholly different for men and women" While that may be true in Catholicism (if it is?) that would not be accepted by most Protestants I think. – curiousdannii Jun 30 '18 at 14:11

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