This Christmas, I’m Defining Family by My Single Friends

This Christmas, I’m Defining Family by My Single Friends

Blood relatives are key to the holiday. But I share a deeper DNA with the body of Christ.

Every Saturday, after evening church services, my husband and I open our home to friends—mostly unmarried ones. Sometimes it’s four or five friends, sometimes one, sometimes it’s just my husband and me and our housemate, a 24-year-old intern at our church. Whatever the number, we gather around the table in the nook of our kitchen, light candles, listen to one another, pray, sometimes play a game, sometimes mourn with each other, and usually laugh.

My husband and I practiced hospitality during our single years and when we got married, started this particular tradition together. For us, it’s more normal than not to have friends join us in our home for meals, celebrations, discussions, traditions, and especially holidays.

Nearly three years into our marriage, we are childless, and not by choice. Our inability to start a nuclear family has certainly fostered an urgency to create a broader family environment in our home, but our motivation goes much deeper. It’s based on the Christian call to provide a haven for those with whom we don’t share DNA. As the old song and the good book say: We are family. We invite singles over to our home not as a substitute family but because they are quite simply part of our extended Christian family.

In his book Redeeming Singleness, Barry Danylak writes about Jesus’s poignant statement in Mark 3:34–35, that “whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” “Jesus’ point is dramatic,” says Danylak. “The relational bond of Jesus with his ministry family was stronger than that with his physical family.”

In Danylak’s interpretation, the family structure was principal in the Old Testament, …

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