At the beginning of April, a cosmetics advertisement by SK-II went viral in China. The video emotionally addresses the issue of “leftover women,” a social stigma for women over the age of twenty-seven who are still single. Because of strongly held ideas concerning what makes a good match, many women with successful careers feel torn between doing their best work and the limited dating pool their success creates. Furthermore, according to traditional Chinese ideals the best way for a woman to honor her parents is to marry and provide a family. The pressure singles face from parents can be intense.
Interestingly, this video has also gained significant attention in the United States – a reminder that in many ways Chinese and Americans face similar struggles and pressures. The high number of views on YouTube demonstrates that the issues addressed in the video strike a chord not only with Chinese hearts, but with many Western women, as well.
How to pray:
- Pray for single women (and men!) in China to find their identity in Christ above all else. Pray for their hearts to be secure as daughters of God and to be confident in whom he has created them to be.
- Pray for the church to take care of its singles and pray for the church to be a safe and welcoming place for those hurting on this topic. Pray for a distinct Chinese perspective and theology on the topic of singleness that reflects Chinese culture, while also challenging broken paradigms.
- Pray for China’s dating culture. In many ways, the current younger generations are the first to truly date to find a spouse rather than relying on a matchmaker. As China goes through this cultural transition, pray for wisdom, purity, and justice for those seeking a spouse.
- Pray for parents of singles. Their fears are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. The family is the backbone of Chinese society – children are the social safety net for aging parents, so the pressure to marry is viewed as a practical and necessary step to ensure the welfare of a family. Pray that parents will trust in Jesus for their own and for their daughters' futures. Pray that they will not fear, but rejoice in the Lord’s provision.
- Pray for singles who desire to be married to find good spouses, particularly in the church. The pressures surrounding marriage in China are amplified in the church where there is often a significant gender imbalance. Pray for the Lord to provide.
- Pray for single Chinese women you know and take time to encourage them. Many Chinese women studying or working in America feel this pressure acutely, especially since they are far from home and their own cultural context. Since they are not even in China, dating and relationships with parents can become even more challenging.