Please click the “more” link farther below to read the entire post.
I disagree with some of the positions of the “marriage mandate” crowd, including those of Debbie Maken, who wrote a book about the issue.
I intend on posting more content about the ‘marriage mandate’ perspective in the future but thought I’d start with excerpts from a good review of Maken’s book and view.
(Link): 30 and Single? It’s Your Own Fault [ by Camerin Courtney]
There are more unmarried people in our congregations than ever, and some say that’s just sinful.
By that October, they were engaged.
Following the path afforded by her ethnicity (she’s Indian), she [Debbie Maken] signed up with an Indian Christian Web agency to find a suitable suitor and, aided by her parents’ watchful care, started e-mailing a man in July 2001.
Now happily married and the mother of two young girls, Maken drew a map—in the form of her book, Getting Serious About Getting Married—to the Land of Marital Bliss. She hopes to prevent her daughters and countless single women across the country from having to experience any more “unnecessary protracted singleness.”
….In later chapters, she addresses the well-meaning advice handed to singles in Christian circles—such as “just wait on the Lord to bring a mate to you” or “Jesus is all you need”—and deftly explains some of the erroneous thinking and theology surrounding each.
At her best, in passages such as these, Maken gives platitude-battered single women needed permission to admit, “I’d like to get married, and that’s okay.”
Unfortunately, these bits of trend-spotting and balanced synthesis are drowning in a sea of shame and blame.
Maken seems to think a vast majority of singles view their solo status as a special gift from God (a stance I’ve seen in only a fraction of the thousands of e-mails I’ve received as a columnist for ChristianSinglesToday.com, a CT sister publication), a notion the very subtitle of the book urges them to reconsider.
Based on this assumption, she spends the lion’s share of the book arguing a case for marriage.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t stop there; she also makes a case against adult singleness, going so far as to call it unbiblical—and marriage a “biblical mandate” for all but the few who have been called to full-time kingdom work that makes family life impossible (a la biblical singletons Paul, Jeremiah, Barnabas, and John the Baptist) or who have a medical condition that makes them unable to perform marital “duties.”
…She backs this up [the view that all Christians are obliged to be married] with a basic dismissal of Paul’s extolling singleness in 1 Corinthians 7, pointing to the unique historical context as a reason his words aren’t still valid today.
….To those who would ask, “What about the fact that Jesus was single?” Maken summarily answers, “There are a lot of things that Jesus was and did that we are never going to be or do.” Case closed. That seems like a scary, simplistic paradigm with which to view our Savior.
If marriage really is a biblical mandate for all believers, why aren’t there any recorded words from Jesus about the matter?
…. She also employs a troubling technique common in Christian circles—making the descriptive prescriptive.
The Bible mentions “the wife of your youth” a couple of times, so Maken extrapolates that all should marry young.
Maken found her spouse by “enlisting agency” and therefore asserts that all singles will find resolution in the same manner.
Unfortunately, this technique of over-prescribing doesn’t allow room for one of God’s best traits: his personal touch in our lives. He relates to us individually, has different plans and timelines for each of us, and such cookie-cutter theology doesn’t allow room for this wonderful truth.
I don’t view singleness as a higher spiritual state I’m loathe to leave, even though I have found unique ministry opportunities in this life stage.
I haven’t avoided marriage.
In fact, I’ve allowed friends to set me up on dates, signed up for Christian online dating agencies, prayed for God to open doors. I have been serious about getting married.
Seriousness isn’t the problem for me and most of my single sisters.
A large part of the problem is found in two statistics: According to Barna research, there are between 11 and 13 million more born-again women than born-again men, and according to 2000 U.S. Census findings, there are 86 unmarried men for every 100 unmarried women.
Meaning? As a single Christian woman, there are less marital options out there for me to get serious about.
I have a feeling the new growing demographic of still-single women is more due to those realities than to our viewing singleness as an amazing gift or to any lack of seriousness about marriage.
As such, Getting Serious About Getting Married feels like 140 pages extolling the virtues of food to hungry people, then 30 pages of unrelatable and unrealistic advice on where to find this fabulous sustenance.
For many of us, singleness is a default reality.
….voices such as Maken’s in Getting Serious About Getting Married sabotage our quest for godly purpose and hope.
Most of us still-singles aren’t trying to glorify singleness but to redeem it from second-class citizenship, to remind ourselves and our family-centric churches that God loves, values, and wants to work through all his kids—whether married or single.
(Link): What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis (from TIME) (ie, Why Are Conservative Religious Women Not Marrying Even Though They Want to Be Married. Hint: It’s a Demographics Issue)
(Link): How Christians Have Failed on Teaching Maturity and Morality Vis A Vis Marriage / Parenthood – Used as Markers of Maturity Or Assumed to be Sanctifiers – Also: More Hypocrisy – Christians Teach You Need A Spouse to Be Purified, But Also Teach God Won’t Send You a Spouse Until You Become Purified