Christians Advise Singles To Follow Certain Dating Advice But Then Shame, Criticize, or Punish Singles When That Advice Does Not Work
A recent post I made, along with a comment left under it by a regular blog visitor (hello mikewchair2165!) got me to thinking of something I’ve noticed or experienced myself when visiting other Christian forums or blogs.
The previous post I refer to was this one:
I had remarked in that blog post that using faith to get a spouse simply does not work. It did not work for me. I grew up in an evangelical, Southern Baptist family and church environ, and I listened to or watched a lot of TV sermons by evangelicals and other types of Christians on Christian TV. I also read a lot of Christian publications that sometimes had articles about dating and marriage.
So, from my youth and into my 20s, I was exposed to a lot of evangelical views, teachings, and advice about dating, gender roles, how to get a spouse, and so forth. The vast majority of material and teachings I was exposed to conveyed the idea that a single adult who desires marriage should be passive and “trust God” to send him or her a spouse.
This was usually taught as, you should just go about your daily life, attend a local church, but trust God to send Mr. Right into your life.
As I am not a man, I can’t gauge exactly what kinds of teachings evangelicals give men on these subjects and how often – I didn’t pay as much attention to the stuff being specifically directed at men on some topics (depending on what the topic is), because I’m not a dude.
However, from what little I do remember, about any time I have paid attention when Baptist or evangelical Christians were telling single males how to get a wife, they usually stressed that the man should be very active, and go out trying to find a date.
Christians usually tell the men to get off their duffs and look for a wife because “he who finds a wife finds a good thing” (which is quoting some Bible verse). But, there was also a strain of teaching given to men, which is quite similar to what we women were taught, of, “Just pray and trust God, and God will send a suitable partner across your path, no effort is required on your part, effort shows you are not trusting God.”
So I suppose some Baptist or evangelical men are also given the message that getting married is a very passive endeavor, with no effort on their part, it’s all up to God, which is also what Christian women are taught from the time they are girls.
As I am a lady, I will explain things from the woman’s view.
If you are an unmarried man (especially one who is over 30 years of age) who was brought up in a Baptist or evangelical church or family, you can weigh in and explain your experience in the comments below, how this stuff is taught to men, to give any visitors a more informed view, if you like.
The advice I heard from Christians growing up, on how and when to marry, (and all this was usually depicted as being “biblical” or “Bible based” advice, so of course if you are a sincere Christian, you want to do what is “biblical” and “pleasing to God”) is that you have to do X, Y, and Z, to get a spouse.
Sometimes, doing “X, Y, and Z” was presented as necessary, otherwise God would punish you by refusing to send you a husband.
That is, God will not send a godly, Christian husband to a woman, unless she does “X, Y, Z” and avoids doing “A, B, and C.” The particular advice here can vary.
Sometimes Christian advice about dating, marriage, and other issues is contradictory.
For example, because so many Christians are paranoid and fearful of, or despise, secular feminism, they will tell Christian single women,
“Do not be too independent. That will turn off men. You have to make the man feel as though you NEED him.”
On the other hand, Christians will tell single Christian women, “Don’t be TOO dependent on a man. You have to be independent, because being too dependent will turn a man off, you will be seen as too needy or clingy.”
So, the conflicting message to Christian single women is:
- Be independent, but at the same time, do not be independent.
In the physical appearance department, single Christian women are told: be pretty, but do not be pretty. We are told these conflicting messages:
- Men are visually oriented, so you must be thin and pretty to attract and keep a man. But, do not be pretty, lest you cause a brother in Christ to stumble and make him lust, and, remember, God loves you for your heart.
If I thought about it long enough, I could go on with other examples that are double standards, contradictions, and impossible to follow.
One teaching that is fairly consistent: Christians either out right say or imply that virginity is necessary for a Christian woman to get married. (I seldom to never hear Christians stress male virginity is necessary for a Christian man to “earn” a spouse.)
We women are told, or it is implied, God will not send a loving, nice, financially stable, Christian husband to a fornicator, so you best keep the skirt down and the legs together.
Never mind that over the years I have seen so many testimonies (on Christian shows!) of women who admit they slept around for decades, even working as call girls or strippers, even knowing it was sin, yet they later married a nice, Christian, middle class husband.
Anyway, other Christians may add other supposed qualities a Christian woman must possess before God will “permit her” to marry, or to “reward her with” a husband. Some Christians may tell a woman to “seek God first,” or “be content in God” before God will send you a spouse.
Other Christians will include all that stuff, or simply advise you to “trust in the Lord,” or “pray regularly for a spouse” or “have faith and believe, and it will come to pass in God’s timing.”
Some will tell a woman that she must pray regularly, read her Bible often, and volunteer at a charity.
Here’s the problem: you can sincerely follow all this supposed “godly” or “Bible based” advice on how to get a mate and still end up being single.
I know I followed all the advice and have never married, and I am over the age of 40 now.
When I began picking up on this around my mid or late 30s, and I started posting concerns, questions, and comments about these subjects on other Christian forums, blogs, and sites years ago, nobody had an answer.
A few people were sympathetic. They told me they were in a similar position.
However, more often than not, when I would point out,
- “I don’t get it. I had faith. I went to church, I trusted God, I read my Bible, lived a clean life style, truly believed God would provide, and I’m still a virgin. I did all the things I was told to do by Christians to get a spouse, but I am still single. What is going on, I don’t understand?” –
instead of receiving compassion and sympathy, which is the response I should have received, or else, I should have received serious responses to my issue, I would instead get shamed, criticized, attacked by both married and single Christians.
This post I am doing is speaking in more general terms of being single.
Over a year ago, I made a very similar post about being a virgin past the age of 30, and how, instead of supporting older virgins, a lot of married Christians, such as Al Mohler and Russell Moore, insult or shame mature virgins, and accuse them of all manner of untrue things, such as supposedly being prideful.
Christian culture is very cruel about these things.
When you are a teenager (at least this was true up until the last five or ten years), Christians drill the importance of staying a virgin until marriage into your head (at least for the ladies), but if you are still a virgin over the age of 25, 35 or older, they shun you or put you down for doing the very thing they taught you to do as a child.
Which tells me such Christians don’t take the teaching (of staying a virgin until marriage) seriously at all, not even for teens, otherwise, one would expect them to be just as respectful and supportive of a 50 year old virgin as they are of a 12 year old one, but no, that is not the case.
All of this is quite similar to the topic of singleness.
Here you go, from the time you are a teen and older, seriously following (what you assume to be) God’s plans for nabbing a spouse at some point. You are a godly, pure, nice kid, living a clean lifestyle. You are living up and living out all the advice you read and hear from Christian preachers and authors on how to be godly, how to date, how to get a spouse, but you still find yourself single over the age of 35.
But when you start getting upset, worried, sad, or angry that none of this lifestyle or world view panned out, and you start bringing this to the attention of other Christians on blogs -whether lay persons, or “famous” Christians such as Al Mohler – you will get shamed or scolded over it.
I’ve heard Christians say to me (or to others who are in the same position as I am), that how dare we get upset about it?
Someone by this point will usually lob the “bitter” word your way.
You will be told you are “bitter,” even if that word does not apply. For a long time, I was personally not “bitter” about this situation, I was, rather, hurt and confused. I was looking for answers. Not bitter.
But it doesn’t stop other Christians from wanting to call you bitter.
I had some lady, a few months ago, stop by this blog to say, “Honestly, I feel like your blog post about thus- and- so is just bitter.”
(Screw you, lady. I think I address her and other jerks who have left me nasty comments at this blog (Link): here)
But so what if you are bitter? You are entitled to being bitter about this.
I have never understood why Christians think saying ‘you are bitter’ to someone else should bring a halt to someone’s argument, or as though it’s an argument winner – because it’s not. I do not understand Christians who have a Godwin’s Law about the concept of bitterness (if you have never heard of Godwin’s Law, please visit (Llnk): this page).
It’s almost as soon as you sound angry or upset (you’re not even bitter), a Christian comes along and thinks it stops all conversation, stops you in your tracks, and somehow disproves the content of your arguments or comments, to accuse you of being bitter.
Oh, okay, you jackass who like to toss out the word “bitter” at people to shut them up: how are my points about the church treating singles like trash invalidated because I may be “bitter.”
My being bitter (or not) is a totally separate issue from the content of my complaints. Go about disproving my arguments, do not play arm chair psychologist and claim you know my motives or emotions (because you do not).
But I digress.
To return to the topic at hand. We should, according to some Christians, express nothing but joy about our singlehood status, and we should be happy and content where ever God planted us.
- By the way? The whole Christian cliche’ and propaganda about “be happy and content about your single status” line they give you is also bogus and another double standard, because most Christians will then turn around and say that singleness is not as good as marriage, or, like some famous Christians, they equate being single to being a criminal or being promiscuous, seriously, (Link): please see this post
Almost any time myself (or other adult singles) have pointed out to other Christians on their forums or blogs that we followed all the rules (we had faith, stayed sexually pure, prayed, trusted God, went to church, etc) and yet we don’t have a spouse, and we ask, why has God not sent us a spouse, where is the spouse Christian culture promised us since we were youth, if only we followed all the rules?
And we mature singles, who desired marriage, but it did not come to pass, get met with accusations by other Christians, of being prideful, we will be told that we do not “deserve” a spouse for being sexually pure, praying, having faith, or being good, or what have you. I have personally been told those things by Christians on other sites when commenting on these topics.
On one blog, one weenie Christian guy even compared me to the bratty older brother in the Prodigal Son story who said, “Father I’ve been good all these years, and in spite of that, you have not in all these many years even thrown me one party to have with my friends.”
Well, answer me this: why do you conservative, evangelical, Reformed, fundamentalist and Southern Baptist Christian motherf-ckers regularly teach Christian teenager girls, when they are 12 or 15, that if only they stay virgins or do X, Y, and Z, that God will send them a spouse when they are older?
And yes, all that is very common in evangelical or Baptist circles: I was exposed to these teachings constantly growing up.
If you don’t believe a girl can earn, merit, or deserve a spouse from following teachings or ethics X, Y, and Z, why do you guys keep telling teen girls that they should follow X, Y, and Z to get a spouse?
Christians are teaching conflicting things on these subjects. They told me when I was 15 years old that if I wanted marriage, that I should do “X.” Well, okay, so fine, I did “X,” but am still single as an adult.
When I point this out, that their teaching is bogus and has failed, they then start insulting me, accusing me, telling me I am bitter or am not “owed” a good husband merely because I did “X.”
In the past few years, I have come to realize my life is my own to live, and I can make my own choices: on when and if I have sex, with whom, and so forth.
I have had to ditch and trash most all the things I was ever taught by conservative Christians about dating, gender roles, marriage and sex.
Christian teachings on these topics did not help me at all, but created problems for me in my life.
I did not find joy, peace, happiness, fulfillment following Christian teachings about dating, sex, and all the rest.
A lot of conservative Christian teaching (and no, I am no supporter of most liberal or progressive Christian teachings either) are riddled with confusing points, with hypocrisy, with double standards.
It’s very hypocritical of Baptists and evangelical Christians to tell adult singles (starting when they are youth), “if you want to get married, you must do X,” and when they do X, and yet still find themselves single over 30, shame them for being single, and for asking in confusion, anger or pain, “why am I still single when I did X, as I was told to do?” and then tell them the fault must lie with them, not with the Christian faith, not with God, the Bible, or with doing X.
And the cherry on top? Tell these hurting, angry, or confused adult singles that they are “being bitter,” and they do not deserve a spouse for doing X – and when you were the one who told them for years to do X in the first place, you freaking jerk Pharisee.
A lot of Christian teaching, and reactions to you, when you actually follow their stupid teaching, is crazy-making.
That is one reason of many I no longer give much thought to Christian teaching on anything, nor do I any longer run my decisions through a filter of “Is this choice biblical? Is it pleasing to God?” (I could and may, write a whole other post on that subject alone).
I find that trying to live up to a lot of Christian teachings actually only ends in failure and disappointment, and adds a lot of unnecessary complication on to what should be simple decision-making.
There is no point in me following Christian teachings on anything, because, since I was naive in youth, I trusted Christians and what I read in the Bible, only to be told later, in my adult years, that following “Biblical Teaching X” made me prideful, or following X did not entitle me to help from God, or whatever.
If following Christian teachings on X or Z is not ultimately necessary, or teaching X does not apply as fully to adults as it does to teens, and that following “Teaching X” will bring me charges from Christians of being prideful, why should I bother following any Christian teaching at all, regarding topic X, Y, Z, H, Q, or Y, or whatever? I should not. That is the conclusion I have reached.
(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)