As if singles don’t carry enough of a stigma from society, the World Health Organization (WHO) just heaped another helping of “less-than” on the world-wide singles community. The WHO has now decided that singles who are not sexually active are somehow “disabled.” (read here)
First they cast this shame on couples who were unable to conceive as having some form of “disorder.” The change will be part of their generalization in the “International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which in its 10th edition, classifies and codes different types of medical and psychiatric disorders.” According to the 2014 US Census, there are 107 million unmarried persons over 18 in the United States. Of those, 63 percent have never married, 24 percent are divorced, and 13 percent are widowed. That is a huge slice of the population now considered ‘disabled’ because of a choice in life-style or a change in circumstances.
The intent of this new classification is to make it easier for unmarried persons to gain access to in vitro fertilization. However well-intended this new classification only furthers the struggle many singles have that they are not as capable as their married counterparts.
Consider that many singles are only allowed limited roles in most religious organizations.
- Many singles hear announcements for “family” events at church and feel excluded.
- Some churches prohibit singles, especially female singles, from taking active leadership roles and may only do so when partnered with a married person.
- In the workplace, many singles are considered first when it comes to taking holiday shifts or working late so that married can go home to their families.
- Most single women are bombarded by friends asking when they will get married–asked if they aren’t sad that they don’t have children–as if they are missing out on something.
I know many singles that have decided they are more productive and happier not married and not engaging in sex outside of a marriage. I know many singles who have been married and now that they are single have found peace and contentment in their new circumstances. I also know singles who have a desire to be married and have a family but they have not found the person with whom to share that experience. And yet they are all living full lives or in the process of finding purpose and living out that purpose as a single.
Those of us choosing to live single non-sexual lives are not disabled. We are people who are living in our circumstances, enjoying the gifts of life. For many of us, we are active in ministry, despite constraints placed on our houses of worship. We don’t need some international organization to take that joy and gift from us.