Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians | Re: Marriage Not Happening for Hetero-sexual Christians Over the Age of 30
While conservative Christians keep on despairing that today’s American culture no longer resembles 1950s “Leave It To Beaver” families, the majority of them keep right on ignoring one significant group: unmarried Christians over the age of 30 who want to get married but who cannot find a Christian partner.
About the only Christians who have taken note of this plight are those who are in the group themselves, such as myself.
There are many Christians over the age of 30 who want to get married, but they cannot find a suitable partner at church, through friends, or on dating sites. And their petitions to God on this matter are not working. God remains silent and does not move.
Meanwhile, we unmarried Christians [* please see March 2016 update at the bottom of this post], who want marriage but for whom it remains out of reach…
Stand by and see the never-ending avalanche of blog pages, magazine articles, and booklets printed, or radio shows broadcast, by mainstream evangelical groups bemoaning the fact that 20-somethings are putting off marriage until their late 20s…
Or that they are dropping out of church altogether, with a smaller amount of attention paid to topics such as divorce and how to keep a marriage together.
But there is nothing from the Christian community, no attention, prayers, concern, or material, for those who cannot even get to the altar to begin with (with the exception of a small amount of Christian material which insults us and puts us down).
I was reminded of all this again when skimming over parts of a book online. The book is “Church in an Age of Crisis,” by James Emery White.
In a chapter about marriage (I don’t see any chapters on prolonged singleness among Christians – which is typical), he writes in a sidebar:
— Begin Quote from Book —
The Crumbling State of Marriage
- For the first time since the US began tallying marriages, more Americans of prime marrying age have stayed single rather than tied the knot
- Proportion of married adults of all ages was 52 percent in 2009, down from 72.2 percent in 1960 – the lowest percentage since the US began tracking in 1880
- Cohabitation in the US has nearly doubled since 1990
— End Quote from Book —
As for point 1, (“more Americans of prime marrying age have stayed single rather than tied the knot”), how many of those singles want to stay single? How many of them have intentionally chosen to stay single into their 30s and older? Why is this distinction almost never made?
How many of those singles are like me, who always desired and expected to marry, but it just never happened?
Why do these worried and pearl-clutching conservative Christians always seem to assume that those of us Christians who have remained single past the age of 30 or 40 have deliberately chosen to remain so?
The author of this book then goes on to quote movie actress Cameron Diaz, who believes in having ‘serial’ relationships, as opposed to staying married to one person her whole life. I am assuming that the author, White, is, by quoting Diaz, assuming that all older, unmarried people share Diaz’s views (we do not, Mr. White).
There is a segment of American Christians who do see that there is a tidal wave of Christians who want marriage but it’s not happened for them (other than those who are in this group), but unfortunately…
(Point 1.) The ones who recognize this problem (Link): blame us older singles for our singleness (even though we are not at fault); most out-spoken in this group are “Marriage Mandaters,” such as Christian author Debbie Makken and SBC president Al Mohler.
These people assume either we singles didn’t work hard enough to find a mate (never mind that most of us were told by Christian parents, literature, and pastors, to “pray and wait on the Lord” for a spouse and were specifically told not to actively seek one); or,
we are told (if single and female) we are man-hating feminists who put career first, which is why we have never married (not true of myself and many other Christian women); or,
(if single and male), you, they say, obviously spent all your time being a lazy ass, sitting on your sofa playing Call of Duty on your X-box when (Link): you should have been dating; or,
(according to a myriad other Christian authors), you’re a mal-adjusted freaky weirdo with all sorts of hangups, and if you’d just get your butt into therapy and fix them, you would meet your Mr or Ms Right tomorrow (yet other Christians say there’s no hope for you, you are (Link): too much of a loser for anyone to marry);
you must be an ugly, balding, obese side show freak with two heads and ten arms – get yourself some cosmetic surgery and lipo and you’ll be married within the next six months (yes, even Christian authors spout this crap, and it’s all over blogs by every day, Average Joe Christians who dole out advice to unmarried people).
(Point 2.) The Christians who do notice there is an epidemic of prolonged, unwanted singleness among Christians do not care about unmarried Christians over the age of 29 years old.
If you are under the age of 30 and unmarried, the entire attention span of the American Christian church, and all their funding, workshops, social functions and programs, is yours, all yours. All the dating and “how to get married” books and seminars and church functions are for you.
All the books, blogs, and radio programs are written or hosted by 50 – 60 year old Christians who have been married for 30 or more years who are always worried about the teens to those up to age 25 – 29, and they are especially concerned about getting you guys in that age group (early to mid 20s) married.
The moment you hit the age of 30 (and it gets worse by the time you get to your late 30s and early 40s), you cease to exist to these same people and to their “Focus on the Family” type groups.
Speaking of which, a spokesperson from “Focus on the Family” is interviewed for this “Crisis” book on a page or two, by the way.
Why don’t authors seek out never-married Christians over the age of 30 so we can tell them about our crisis? You have troves of Christian women over the age of 30 – 35 who want to get married, but they cannot find suitable partners.
The 20-somethings you “Focus on the Family” people are so concerned about today, right now, will one day be 35 years old – and still unmarried.
I skimmed over available preview content for this book by White, and it appears to be more of the same, a Christian author who defines and bites his nails over, the further erosion of American culture, such as a chapter on the “pornification” of society and so on.
Though I take it from the blurb I was able to preview about the role of women in his book that White is most likely a “biblical gender complementarian” who is unhappy to see that women believe that they don’t have to be confined to roles of (Link): home-maker, wife, or mommy.
I am (Link): a gender egalitarian, so I totally part company with him on that; I think the more liberated Christian women come, the better off the church would become as well and churches would probably see an increase in membership. (I don’t see it as harming American society, either.)
As it stands right now, most American churches ostracize or ignore older Christian females who aren’t married or who don’t have children, so these women (such as myself) stop attending altogether.
Christians need to stop assuming that all unmarried Christians have deliberately chosen to stay single.
Many of us single Christians wanted marriage and thought we would be married by age 35 or so, but for whatever reason, God is with-holding a spouse from us (no matter how much we pray, visit the gym, or join dating sites), and the church is acting as an obstacle from making marriage possible for single Christians (some of them chide us for wanting marriage – we are told that wanting marriage equals “making an idol of marriage”).
Instead of helping us to get married most churches refuse to help, especially for singles over the age of 30 – 35, and they continue to act as a hindrance.
30 and Single? It’s All Your Fault – hosted on Christianity Today (excerpts also available on my blog)
✪ May 2014: WELCOME
One of my Twitter friends informed me that she shared a link to this page on CBE’s Facebook page. So welcome to anyone who has arrived here from that site or from Twitter.
You might want to visit my blog’s (Link): About page. I’ve been undergoing a faith crisis the last few years and reside somewhere between Christianity and agnosticism these days.
One result is that I sometimes use off-color language in more recent posts (sorry, I know that salty language makes some Christians uncomfortable). 🙂
(BTW, I have my blog set to moderated status, to cut down on trolls and spammers, so if you are a new visitor, I have to manually approve of comments, if you leave one.)
*March 2016 update
As of 2016, I am not strictly Christian or Non-Christian; I’ve been in a faith crisis the last couple of years or so – I have not completely left the faith, but I don’t think I fully subscribe to all of Christianity as I once did. I am somewhere between the two poles of Christianity and Agnosticism.
✪ RELATED POSTS
I have a few related blog posts on this topic such as:
(Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single
(Link): I Married Young. I Was Widowed Young. I Never Want A Long-Term Partner Again by R. Woolf
(Link): Critique of Federalist Editorial “There Is One Pro-Women Camp In American Politics, And It’s The Right by Elle Reynolds” – Do Federalist Magazine Members Realize There Are Single, Childless Conservative Women?
(Link): Twice-Divorced Lady Suggests That God Told Her He’d Send Her Husband Number Three and She Got Married a Third Time – I Actually Don’t Find This Story Uplifting
(Link): Authors at The Federalist Keep Bashing Singleness in the Service of Promoting Marriage – Which Is Not Okay
(Link): Federalist Magazine Staff Annoyed that Other Outlets Publish the Down Side of Motherhood and Are Requesting Sunny Motherhood Propaganda Pieces – As If Conservatives Haven’t Pushed for Motherhood Enough? The Mind Boggles
(Link): What Christians Really Think About the Church’s Relationship Advice by Anna Broadway
(Link): James the Single 40-Something Guy Asks 700 Club’s Pat Robertson Why Churches Don’t Help Singles
(Link): Cathy The Single Woman Asks Pat Robertson Why God Has Not Replied to Her Prayers for Years to Send Her a Spouse
(Link): Stop Believing God Told You to Marry Your Spouse by G. Thomas
(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): To Get Any Attention or Support from a Church These Days you Have To Be A Stripper, Prostitute, or Orphan
(Link): The Irrelevancy To Single or Childless or Childfree Christian Women of Biblical Gender Complementarian Roles / Biblical Womanhood Teachings
(Link): Are Marriage and Family A Woman’s Highest Calling? by Marcia Wolf – and other links that address the Christian fallacy that a woman’s most godly or only proper role is as wife and mother
4 thoughts on “Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians Re: Marriage”
Same old thing has been happening for centuries, but now the internet makes it possible for us to find each other. I’m not talking about older singles necessarily, but for ALL Christians for whom the evangelical script is not working.
Let’s face it, active church goers are a self-selecting group. The script is at least partially working for them, or they would wise up and move on. With the internet, all the people for whom the script doesn’t work can now at least acknowledge their existence among the others excluded by the herd. No one will ever talk about this at church, nor will it matter, because MOST of the still single at thirty finally stop trying to live by the evangelical script. Those who remains are a very small number, and you’re right, no one cares about you. All data that does not support the evangelical life script is ignored, and that means you.
Smart women? No place for you unless you are able to conceal your intelligence at least to the point where smart men can still feel paternal around you. Not attractive by your local church standards? You not only won’t get a date, you won’t get any sort of honor. They might let you play piano or work in the nursery, though. Men who don’t make good money? Men who have disabilities, intellect or otherwise? If they are rich, white and handsome, they will be paraded on the stage;otherwise no one will befriend them. You can stay in church as long as you choose, but once you leave, no one will notice for weeks, and then it will just be a momentary thought.
I swept in to a new church thirty years ago, vivacious, outspoken, young, smart and easy on the eyes. A longtime member of that singles group was dating me in weeks and we married a year later. I have often thought of the women his age who were also long term members of that singles group. They did all the things the evangelical world told them was right: meek, submissive, needlework, cooking, traditional non-threatening careers (teacher, office administrator i.e. secretary, etc.), devoted church attendance, tithing, modest attire, not much focus on appearance/fashion…and yet, since I didn’t know the rules yet and was free to be me, I am the one who married. I bet those girls are still single.
The cake is a lie.
Thank you for the comments. I agree with what you wrote.
One difference for me though, is up until my mid or late 30s, I was a gender complementarian, my mother was a very traditional house wife and raised me to be that way.
I was a sweet, quiet, nice, un-threatening woman, the type Christian churches and books say we women should be and that Christian single men will ask to marry them, but I was never married. (I was engaged in my early 30s but broke up with the guy.)
So, even if you are the sweet, compliant 1950s house wife in looks and demeanor, it is still not a guarantee you will get married.
Reblogged this on gwenmehargblog and commented:
I am not ignoring you!!!! i am shocked and dismayed at the number of INCREDIBLE women friends that I have in the church who are single when they had planned and hoped to marry. It is something I have watched and prayed about for the last fifteen years. Part of me wonders if gender hierarchy is not at the root with the men seeing and getting to know beautiful strong women who they admire but subconsciously don’t fit the gender role model.
Honestly, I am still shocked that I ever married, much less stayed married and had kids. My oldest is 25 and my youngest is nine. There are four more in the middle and some days I look around and wonder how I got here. I would say, “By the grace of God.” but that would imply that GOd’s grace was not sufficient for my single sisters.
Please know that I love you and admire the way you have made a place for yourself and friends outside of the Focus on the Family model. Sometimes, please, invite me to join you. It is nice to sometimes be other than mom or wife. And drop in any time. I gave up inviting people over years ago. I promise to make you a pot of tea and clear off a spot on the sofa.
Much love and respect, Gwen
Thank you for the comments and the support Gwen.
I am in my early 40s now and still hope to be married, so long as it’s to a decent guy. I’ve read so many horror stories the last few years (and recall ones from years past) of Christian men who are abusive, etc.
I just get so tired of how most churches and talking heads in Christianity ignore adult singles -they always go on and on about marriage, divorce, and “the family” – and on the few occasions they do talk about older, never-married adults, they drag out hurtful stereotypes, assume we deliberately chose to stay single, and/ or insult us.
I had really expected to marry. My mother told me from the time I was a kid to ask God for a spouse and he would send me one, and I had preachers say the same thing. I prayed, waited, had faith, tried a church or two, and a few dating sites and am still single.
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